Dune. October 24, 2020

I first read Dune back in 2015, and I didn’t really like it at all. I think my main problem with it was that Paul is too perfect of a hero: it seemed that nothing bad could ever happen to him, all of his setbacks were really minor. As such, the action didn’t feel very exciting, and the book was a bit of a slog to get through.

This time around, I was able to appreciate a lot better the world of Dune and the mythmaking that happens throughout the novel. Frank Herbert borrows from many sources – different religions, languages, historical characters and events, and his own life – and manages to create something mysterious but coherent, a world that feels odd and esoteric but at the same time familiar. The first few chapters of the book can be a bit daunting, because of the many new terms that get introduced. (There’s an appendix with a glossary which might help, but I only discovered it after finishing the book; I read it on a Kindle.)

I’m still a bit bothered by Paul’s too-perfect heroics. I can see how it serves the narrative because the Fremen regard him as a kind of messiah. (Plus, all the Bene Gesserit predictions.) But it makes the story less compelling to me. Also, I don’t find Frank Herbert’s action writing very good. I was glad that two of the main battle sequences were basically skipped.