"Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert"
Frank Herbert - Dune
This has been one of the longest books that I've read in the last year but also one of the most thrilling. I would recommend Dune to anyone of my friends who wanted to revel in the science fiction world that Frank Herbert creates. I started reading Dune about two months ago. The story is around 600 pages long it is set on a fictitious desert planet known as Arrakis, also known as Dune. The story occurs during the year 10,065 and it is about a young boy named Paul who is in a royal family that is relocated from their home planet to Arrakis. This is an epic saga of how Paul is dismissed from his world, rich with water, and forced to live on a parched planet that has more than meets the eye. The plot has everything from political turmoil, assignation, love stories, epic fight scenes, mysticism disguised as genius, and even epic sand worms that consume everything in their path .... what fun!
I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the fact that an entirely new world was created right before my eyes. I'm sure it takes a lot of energy and risk as an author to create such a world. Secondly, I really enjoyed the characters Herbert created. He did a great job of establishing characters that you cared about and that made me want to turn each page.
Paul Leto is the book's protagonist that was relocated by an evil Emperor with the rest of the Leto royal family. This new relocated world is harsh not only because of it's environment, but because it is a world whose success was contingent upon the extraction of a resource known as 'the spice'. The spice was used to induce euphoric out-of-body experiences, and at a more refined level, could slow down the aging process. With the extraction of this resource being the chief goal, a lot of different character groups struggled to maintain this monopoly, which resulted in corruption, murder, and political strife.
As the book progresses you see Paul and his family go through a lot of hardships. Certain family members are killed off in order to maintain power over the spice regime. As Paul's bloodline is almost wiped out, what remains of his family is forced into exile and picked up by the most unlikely folks, the Fremans.
The Freeman population can most aptly be described as the native population to this harsh planet. From an outsider's perspective, the Fremans are seen as primitive and simple people. Although, once Paul and his mother Jessica are picked up and brought into their culture they come to realize that the Fremans are extremely loyal, resourceful, and intelligent people who have successfully survived on Arrakis for centuries for many secret reasons.
The book itself touches on some really intellectual and philosophical ideals. Throughout the book, you see the Freman population being exterminated by a powerful hateful family known as the Harkonnen. At first the extermination is easy because the Fremans are not united under a leader, but that changes as soon as Paul enters the picture. Herbert studied psychology at an early age, so he writes in a very detailed manner when it comes to the thought process of his characters.
For anyone interested in reading this book I highly recommend it. Having majored in an anthropology in college, I found this book extremely interesting because it created a new culture with similar upbringings to that of the Native Americans, and more importantly, displayed the advantages of a culture whose knowledge about the land was more important than knowledge of politics.
One thing that I did not enjoy about the book was that it did take a while to get going. I would say the first hundred pages were the hardest ones to digest. There is an appendix, maps, and a glossary in the back of the book, but for me reading on a Nook, I could not go back and forth each time without having some frustration there.
Nevertheless this book was written in 1965, it is a marvelous feat to see some of the technology Herbert creates being used in today's society as if he knew such technology would be invented today. It is a book to be compared to Lord of the Rings but in a science fiction capacity. I highly recommend this book.