Dune is not a novel that needs a review. First published in 1965 this is still a classic of the genre and one that encompasses politics, religion, ecology, environmentalism, and much, much more.
I first read the novel back when I was a teenager and it had a huge impact on me. I have re-read the novel a couple of times subsequently but, with Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation on the way, now seems like a good time to revisit the novel again.
The plot revolves around political intrigue amongst feudal powers in the far future and this is set against the background of a planet that is both impossibly brutal and unbelievably valuable. Into this emerges Paul Atreides, a ducal son bred and trained to fulfil a prophecy and finding himself careering towards an unavoidable fate.
Along the way we see religious manipulations, an exploration of other cultures and the way in which a culture interacts with its environment. We also see a discussion of the nature of power and much else besides.
I’m not doing justice to the novel here and I don’t think I can, it’s too big summarise. Additionally, one of it’s many strengths is that it can be read in multiple ways — the themes you picked up on previously may not be the ones you pick up on today, and the themes that strike me may not matter to you. This, to me, is why the novel has managed to remain so relevant for so long — it’s about people, societies, cultures and the way in which everything interacts.
What did strike me this time around, though, is just how immersive the novel is. The worldbuilding is still as superb as ever and, because of the far-future but non-technological setting, it still feels current today. The themes remain as dense as ever and when I was able to sit down and really spend time in the world of Arrakis the novel remains as rewarding as I remember. It’s something of a shame, therefore, that it has become rare that I am able to sit and do nothing but read for a couple of hours.
Dune is a novel with convincing characters, a powerful plot and a denseness that rewards re-reading. This will not be the last time I read it and, not only I am really looking forward to seeing what Villeneuve does with it, but I’m also considering revisiting David Lynch’s 1984 effort.