This is, by far, one of the most epic Sci-Fi stories I’ve ever read. I found it a little tedious to get through at times, but Frank Herbert’s extraordinary world-building skills made it worth the effort. (The missing half-star is for the slight tediousness.)
Contrary to many science fiction stories out there, Dune feels like a painstakingly sculpted piece of art. The level of detail and complexity blew me away. I love Herbert’s embedding of Arabic and Islamic words—and Middle Eastern culture in general—into the fabric of Dune. Understanding what these words mean brought a special kind of joy to my heart. And just as the story is set thousands of years in the future, so does the borrowed language appear to have gone through centuries of linguistic evolution. Such mastery is hard to come by.
Now that I think of it, there’s an interesting blend of Islamo-Christian concepts in Dune. I hear there is a bit of Persian and Hebrew influence as well, but since I don’t speak either of those two languages, I can’t confirm.
Another aspect I love is how precious water is on the planet Arrakis, and how deeply that has influenced the people’s culture. To provide an example from the book, spitting in front of someone is seen as a sign of respect. That is because you are “letting go of your body’s moisture”. How creative!
I know I haven’t said much to hint on what the story is about. In simple keywords, it’s about some spice, a prophet, interplanetary politics, super-humans, giant worms, culture, sand-people, philosophy, religion, war, and a thousand other things. But it’s also about so much more, and I fear I can’t do it justice, so I’ll stop here.
Some notable ayat:
“What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises—no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.”
“I’m sorry, Gurney.” “You’re not sorry enough!”
“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”
“Do as she says, you wormfaced, crawling, sand-brained piece of lizard turd! Do it or I’ll help her dismember you! Can’t you see the worth of this woman?”
“Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere.”
“We thank you, Stilgar, for the gift of your body’s moisture. We accept it in the spirit with which it is given.” And Idaho spat on the table in front of the Duke. Aside to the Duke, he said: “Remember how precious water is here, Sire. That was a token of respect.”
“My son displays a general garment and you claim it’s cut to your fit?” Jessica asked. “What a fascinating revelation.”
“..Here are the ayat and burhan of Life. […]” It reads like the Azhar Book […] Has a Manipulator of Religions been on Arrakis?
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
The Fremen were supreme in that quality the ancients called “spannungsbogen”—which is the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing.
“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement become headlong—faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”
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