Sunday, February 6, 2011
"Dune" by Frank Herbert
I don't know where it says that I have to review new books. I want to talk about the books I want to talk about, and by gum, I'm gonna talk about Dune. It's one of my all-time favorites (I've probably read it through a dozen times at least), and it's the one that got me started on science fiction. Up to that point, I was almost exclusively fantasy, starting with the Chronicles of Narnia which were read to me by my mom as a child.
The thing about reviewing a book like Dune is that it's a classic. Most readers that like science fiction have already read it, and many that don't like the genre have too, just because it's one of those books. But I figure there's a group of younger readers who maybe haven't made their way there yet. And if I can be the one to point them in that direction... Hallelujah!
So, for the vast majority of people reading this blog, this may all be old hat. Guess what? I don't care! Okay... well, I care a little bit, but not enough to pick a different novel this week. So there. :)
Because if there's even one person that I can introduce to this novel, it was worth writing the blog. Dune is one of the most imaginative, detailed and comprehensive novels I've ever read. In terms of world-building, it's right up there with The Lord of the Rings. The characters are fully realized, compelling and flawed. And the story line is as exciting as any I've read. This is the trifecta, as far as I'm concerned: amazing universe, incredible characters and fully engaging plot.
I read Dune when I was about ten, so there may be some youthful bias here, but I've gone through so many subsequent re-reads in more recent years that I'm confident of its strengths. I was then, and am now, transported every time I open up this amazing, although admittedly long, novel.
The only criticism I can level is more at the series rather than at Dune itself. Reading the rest of the extended series, two things typically happen. First, the reader realizes they are FAR less intelligent than Herbert. Secondly, the reader at some point discovers that the series has jumped the shark more than once. Up through God Emperor of Dune I was still with Mr. Herbert, following blithely wherever he led (after a severe hiccup with Dune Messiah, the shortest and densest of the bunch). But again, this is the series, not Dune itself. For me, the two brightest points in the Dune universe are the original and Children of Dune.
But don't take my word for it. Read Dune if you haven't already. Read the rest as well (and then decide whether or not to venture into those written by his son Brian). Yes, he's smarter than me. Yes, the train jumps the tracks. But I'm also really glad I read every single one of those books.
You can purchase Dune here.