Is Dune as good as people say?

I watched the new Dune movie recently, and I mostly enjoyed it, although it did have some problems. I read the first book (and never quite finished the second book…) in middle school, and I remember enjoying it, but one of the smartest people I’ve ever met calls it his favorite book so I feel like I need to reread it now as an adult and with my current perspective. I enjoyed the movie enough to make me want to read the book; from what I vaguely remembered and also from what I could sort of feel out, I could tell that the movie was clearly glossing over a lot of details or background that likely would have been elaborated in the book and have been super interesting.

So without spoilers, do people think Dune (the book) holds up? Is it as brilliant as people say? Does the problematic white exceptionalism / white savior stuff from the movie get subverted later like I vaguely remember, or is that a thing I’d have to compartmentalize in order to appreciate the rest of the book?

And again, without spoilers, are there any particularly noteworthy details, pieces of lore, subtext, etc., that may or may not have been fully present in the movie, that might make me appreciate the setting more?

Because ya, this feels tentatively like something that if I reread it I would enjoy it and find a lot of inspiration in it, but I think I just need like one or two more enticing factoids to get me all the way there.


Unusual suggestion but: skip it for now, as in go and read “God Emperor of Dune” or listen to the audiobook (it is excellent), plenty of Dune heads rate that book top 1 or top 2 and you will get a lot of lore, subtext etc.


I don’t think I am capable of doing that lol but that’s an interesting suggestion. But if I do decide to get back into Dune, I will probably just power through at least the first three (I hear after that they get more muddled and there’s some question over how much of it was actually Frank Herbert vs. his son piggybacking off of his name?..)

The Dune saga was really influential for me when I read it about 10 years ago. The big scifi ideas, the epic tone and tackling stuff like futuristic religions were awesome.

I liked the movie, but my experience owes a lot to what I remember from the books. A lot of the concepts and characters get fleshed out later, and I was able to enjoy them “early” because of prior knowledge. The movie might work best as a companion to the books.

The first book is sort of a self-contained scifi adventure story, and can feel a little white savior-y, but I think the story develops into something very different later. And in contrast to Avatar and such stories, there is a good reason to Paul’s success, and why he is so readily accepted - the Kwisatz Haderach thing.

The story didn’t fully come together for me until God Emperor of Dune. Even if those later books aren’t as exciting plot-wise, they play with some really cool ideas, and the big story arch is worth following!

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Dune is two things. You can just read the first book and stop there, for a satisfying story. Or you can keep going to find out what Dune is really about :smiley:

If you do keep going, you should read God Emperor too, it kinda finishes the storyline.

Frank Herbert wrote the first 6 books. After that his son took over the series. I’ve only read the first 6 books. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to stop after the 4th one.

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Haha ok if I restart it, I’ll just take it one at a time but with an aim for the first six then 0.o…

I’ve moved the thread from #general to #the-waterfall since it’s more at home here.

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Honestly, I’ve tried to read the books or listen to the audiobooks (both in English and Italian) more times that I can keep track of. For me, it never worked.

It’s not that they aren’t good, but Dune has inspired so many other works that I’ve already read, listened, watched and played so many iterations of the (very) good ideas that make it click. It’s like reading Ancient Greek comedy: the jokes are good, but people have been reusing them for three thousand years and thus you can spot where they are going early enough to stop them being fun.


That was a possibility I was concerned about as well. My hope is I read it and realize that, while some of that is true, there are a lot of hidden gems, or slightly different context, that make it worthwhile, but perhaps not. Like, I read Neuromancer at one point, and if you had asked me immediately after reading to explain the plot, I could not tell you a single detail lol. It completely failed to absorb whatsoever, because, even aside from being totally overwritten, sure it practically invented the cyberpunk genre, but now that’s all old hat. At the time it would have been revolutionary, but reading it now, it feels derivative, because it’s the thing that everything else derived from (and added to).


I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, but I do play a lot of games, and watch movies, and I don’t think I’ve seen Dune’s best stuff put into use elsewhere. Jodorowsky’s awesome-looking Metabarons comic is heavily Dune-inspired, to the point it feels like a pastiche. edit: Ursula K. LeGuin’s scifi stuff has great depth and scale a bit reminiscent to Dune.

It’s hard to discuss Dune’s merits without spoilers, but the huge timescale projects such as the Kwisatz Haderach and the Jihad are not something I come across often. Plus all the different specialised languages (battle language for example) are rarely seen. I also dig the blending of magic & technology, as Dune’s psychics feel very grounded & pragmatic, not spiritual. Like its a skill we could all learn with a bit of practice and a few millennia of genetic engineering. :slight_smile:

I can relate to not being able to read them though, as I found some of them quite slow and maybe undramatic.

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that’s a whole lot of “people say” there pardner. People say all sorts of things, and many of them are uncomplimentary to “Dune”.
Personally, I thought it was a dry expectant cough of a soulless science fiction film.

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Pajiba’s review succinctly describes what I have heard from others: that the movie lacks the context of the books but is great if you have read them.

If you enjoyed the movie as is, then I can only say you’ll love the books. Dive in! The water’s fine.