Published in 1965, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a classic science fiction novel about Paul Atreides. Paul is fifteen years old and is small for his age, but he is smart: he already sees the future in his dreams sometimes. House Atreides is preparing to leave its home of twenty-six generations, Castle Caladan, for Arrakis, a desert planet more commonly known as Dune. This planet is home to the “spice,” a substance that gives people a number of abilities, such as the ability to navigate safe routes through space. The Atreides are taking over the desert planet from their bitter enemies, House Harkonnen, and Paul’s family stands to gain considerable power through this new asset. However, Paul well understands what his father’s Master of Assassins, Thufir Hawat, means when he warns that Duke Leto, Paul’s father, has been given this task because of his popularity, but “a popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful.” Thufir Hawat is a Mentat, which means that his mind is trained to calculate and analyze probabilities, and there is a great probability that Dune will mean the death of Duke Leto.
Thufir’s fears are well founded. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is plotting to destroy House Atreides and is in league with the Padashah Emperor Shaddam Corrinio IV, who controls the galaxy thanks to his elite Sardaukar soldiers. The baron has corrupted the loyalty of Leto’s servant, Doctor Wellington Yueh. When Leto takes control of Dune, he will be betrayed from within while Dune is invaded by Sardaukar troops wearing Harkonnen livery. Harkonnen’s own Mentat, Piter, reports that the possibility of the Atreides family surviving is small. Leto is well aware of the dangers of Dune, but he cannot openly defy his emperor. Furthermore, there is a great potential for House Atreides to prosper if they can survive the trap.
Although Paul is excited by the coming move to Dune, he is also anxious. He quickly settles his mind by practicing “mind-body” meditation that he has learned from his mother, Jessica, Leto’s concubine and a member of the Bene Gesserit. Paul is accustomed to seeing people treat his mother with respect, so he is surprised when the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Jessica’s Bene Gesserit superior, treats the Lady Jessica like a “common serving wench.” Paul is not sure what she means to do with him, though he overhears her referring to him as the “Kwisatz Haderach.” When he meets the...
(The entire section is 1700 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Dune Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
In 1965 Dune received the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula award for best novel, and in 1966 it received the World Science Fiction Convention's Science Fiction Achievement Award, the "Hugo," for best novel. In spite of these awards, most critics panned Dune when it was first published. The handling of controversial issues in Dune angered some of them. For instance, Herbert's creation of a desert society of "Fremen" disturbed some anthropologists, who believed that he misunderstood how such a society would truly function. However, the novel- focused on environmental questions that were becoming general public concerns, and these questions gave the book new critical life. Today some science fiction critics regard Dune as the outstanding science fiction novel of the 1960s, and some historians of the novel even consider Dune one of America's major postwar novels.
(The entire section is 135 words.)