Dune, volume 1 – complete. I haven’t read this kind of book in a long long time – not sci-fi, but heroic, filled with brave men and cunning adversaries. Maybe if I had read it 10 years ago, I would have forever been hooked on the Dune universe. Now – though I really appreciated and enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the flaws. The plot is smooth, never stagnating, developing in the most unexpected places; the characters commend your sympathy (or the exact reverse, but nothing much in between) and the mystique surrounding the Bene Gesserit never falters. Still, it all seems schematic and somewhat lacking in grays: the good vs. evil, the underdog rising to claim the throne.
The imperial terminology is a cocktail of Arabic, Latin & made up terms. Maybe in 1965 jihad or sharia weren’t exactly words one heard every day – but they still stood out for me. Oh, also – I don’t think I’ve ever read anything where the word presently would appear every other page. It sounds a bit unnatural. Oh, and speaking of 1965 – is it a coincidence that the bad guy’s name is of Russian descent or is it a trace of Cold War? 😀
But this is nitpicking really (and speaking of nitpicking, I have to say I was a bit pissed when Liet-Kynes died; I kept expecting him to make a last moment escape…). But above all is the epic dimension of Dune, its mythology, and its power to ensnare you so completely. You live and die with Paul Atreides, you roam the desert with the Fremen scouting for worms and, at times, you really start feeling conscious of the water in and around you. It’s within good reason that so many generations were captivated by this universe.
The Bene Gesserit sect, a sort of a worldwide (or universe wide) conspiracy has, so far, held to small a part. I’m really curious as to what their ultimate goal is and, more that that, I loved the idea of them planting the seeds of a religion and belief in several universes, seeds which one of their own could easily recognize and use to her advantage. It’s manipulation to thrill any fan of the conspiracy theories, and it proves that we’ve only just scratched the surface of their existence.
One of the best constructed aspects is Kwisatz Haderach’s prescient abilities as well as his simultaneous awareness that even the mere fact of seeing the future alters it. Time is not a flowing river, it has no beginning and no end and it can bend in infinite ways. Paul perceives all this; perceives blind spots, paths and the utmost violence at the end of many. Try as he might, he can only reduce those ending in total obliteration – if that. The looming of the jihad is upon him, he understands it will come to pass with or without is aid or presence, but he cannot share the burden with anyone. Muad’Dib perfectly illustrates the “it’s lonely at the top saying” and his hyperconsciousness makes it even harder to endure. Close friends and companions (like Stilgar), slowly turn into worshippers and the circle is drawing nearer and nearer. I honestly can’t wait to see what emperor Paul Atreides will be like. 🙂