Sunday, July 27, 2008

What I didn't like about DUNE

The last couple of posts told what I liked about Dune. In this post, I want to say some of the things I didn't like.

- A little short on back story: I can't put my finger on specifics, but throughout the book, despite the way Herbert expertly works in back story, I wanted more. A little bit more of how the universe got to where it was.

- Just short on explanation: Many times I felt things happening in the book were not explained as clearly as I would have liked. I felt I lacked understanding on some things, and that was disturbing.

- Pagan-like religions: I am never comfortable reading about pagan religions, or witnessing their rituals, even if only in words. At several points after Paul and Jessica joined the Fremen, Herbert gives us this paganism. I read it, but didn't particularly like it.

- Barron Harkonnen: He was too much a villain. From his obesity to his evil intents to the implied homosexuality (with that shown in a vile way), he was evil. The best advice I have seen on creating villains is that they must have some redeeming qualities, not be 100 percent evil. The fat Barron was, and that was a negative.

- the emperor's gambit: I never did understand why the emperor set up Duke Leto, ordering ordering the Harkonnens off the planet then ordering Duke Leto to take over Arrakis, but then aiding and abetting the Harkonnen's recapture of it. Why? What was he after? Late in the book was a suggestion that Duke Leto was so nice in the way he dealt with subjugated peoples, and he was so effective at training his fighting personnel, that the emperor felt threatened and had to do away with him. Maybe that was it, all of it, but I wish it had been better explained.

- the change in Paul: When Paul had his visions, described as prescient memory, and his personality changed, he was a less-likable character. And less understandable. I could probably write a whole post on this, but I'd have to go back and pick out some specific examples. I'll just say I didn't like Paul as much after his change than before.

Well, that's it for Dune, I think. If you haven't read it, I suggest reading it. It's long, and sometimes tedious, but well worth the read.


Proteinstar said...

The change in Paul Atreides does not stop with the first book of DUNE. By the time you reach the book entitled GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE, his son Leto II will a man/sandworm hybrid with a lifespan of 3500 years. The books get infinitely more involved as the story continues. The first was definitely the best.

David A. Todd said...


Thanks for this comment. It helps me to know what's coming, but also deters me from reading too much more. I have a 16-book reading list, with the next two in the Dune series sandwiched in. I may adjust the sandwich layers and put them closer to the bottom. Hold the mayo.