Here is my Dune book review- I’ve looked forward to posting this. This review does not contain spoilers.
There are books that capture you through descriptive language, intriguing philosophical concepts and rich worldbuilding. And then there is Dune– which manages to do all three of those things, as well as a whole lot more. Set on a desert wasteland-like planet, we go through the trials and triumphs of Paul, who learns harsh lessons regarding power, society, and faith.
Through the novels five hundred pages, we are treated to a slow burn of a story. Frank Herbert is the sort of writer who does not reveal information until the most impactful moment. As we trail amongst the declining empires and ecological horrors, Herbert’s skill comes with great appreciation from the readers. This is because Dune represents what science fiction can achieve: timeless stories that inspire reflection among the horrors and delights of the landscape.
Herbert’s prose is elegant and dry, and I can why Dune can cause strong reactions against it. Yet the author’s ability to not drench his words with melodrama or needless angst works in the books favour. Because of Herbert’s creative decisions, the stakes are high in Dune. Not only does every word serve a purpose- but every violent action leaves an impact.
Dune also works as a strong argument for learning history and reflecting from it. I quite enjoyed the quotes by Princess Irulan that acted as epigraphs before the unfolding chapters. Not only did they add clarity for my reading, but they also added onto the novels rich themes. Because of that, Dune’s remarkable factor stems from not its commentary on the future, but from what it has to say about our past and present.
An explicit example of that can be found in Paul’s progression. Not only does Herbert interrogate post-war ideals about superheroism, but Paul is a unique character. He embraces traditional hero archetypes, yet at the same time, is doomed by them. We, as the readers, can only read on. Because of that, Paul’s journey is intriguing- as are the main players such as Jessica.
To wrap up this book review, I will say that every moment of Dune works like a literary painting. This is a gorgeous book, and whilst I was originally intimidated by the novels scope and ambition, I am glad I embraced the epic. Dune speaks to me: it inspires my writing and my thoughts. The language used is evocative and powerful. Every sentence, every moment, every thought is constructed with great care and precision. Because of that, Dune is brilliant.
After all, science fiction and fantasy does not belong in the back of dusty bookstores. It belongs in discussions about society and history.
There is no other way to say this- Dune is a triumph. It works, and it deserves all the acclaim it has ever gotten.