Saturday, July 09, 2011

Dune Read-a-Long - Part 1

Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud’dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family—and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction. Frank Herbert’s death in 1986 was a tragic loss, yet the astounding legacy of his visionary fiction will live forever.

Today is day one of the read-along I am participating in for Dune by Frank Herbert. This is the farthest I have ever made it in the book, so I am happy about that! Carl asked the questions and I am probably the slowest about getting my post up, but here it is! Hopefully by the third week when it is my turn I will be a bit more timely...

1. What, if any, preconceived ideas did you have before you started reading Dune and how has the first section measured up to those preconceptions?
I was not sure what to make of this book. I knew it was relatively popular and have had people recommend it to me. My copy has been on TBR pile for years and remained unread. The last few years I have planned to read it for the Sci-Fi Challenge, but that never seems to happen. I thought maybe it was my old paperback copy that was turning me off, so this year I requested an e-book version from the library. I managed to read the first chapter... Today I manged to finish the first section. I was late, but at least I finished! I think I was expecting to blown away by this book, but so far I am not overly impressed. When a book is as popular as this book tends to be, you just expect greatness because otherwise, why would people love it so much? I might have had too high of expectations.

2. What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?
I read the chapter where Yueh was revealed as the traitor and I actually got to the end and thought, what just happened? I didn't retain any information at all! I had to go back and skim through it before moving on to the next chapter. I think this book suffers from an information overload, but no real action. I was trying to keep names straight and all these things were being revealed, but it seemed like it took forever for things to play out. I don't think it helped that I knew things were going to happen and found myself flipping through the pages hoping that this would be the chapter. I suppose the point was for build-up, but I just found myself wishing something would happen!

3. What was your favorite part of this first section? Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
I have to admit that for me, the book didn't really pick up until near the end of the first section. There was enough foreshadowing and hints that I am actually curious about the second section. I think my favourite character is probably Jessica. For the time that this book was written and the genre as a whole, it is always interesting to see female characters in relatively strong roles. It wasn't perfect, but it was overall an interesting portrayal. Her son, Paul, kind of annoyed me at times and her husband was basically made to look stupid by us being witness to what other people were thinking of him.

4. Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you? Why or why not? Thoughts.
I have to admit I had to go read Carl's post to understand this question. I thought there was something important that happened that I missed entirely! When I look at it the way he actually meant it to look, yes, I was actually very surprised about the revelation. It wasn't something I was thinking about at all, but I suppose I should have been. I am not going to go into details because I don't like spoilers, but if you want to know you can visit Carl's blog. The revelation is actually one of the reasons I am interested in the next section.

5. Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book. Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring? Just share what you are thinking thus far.
What am I thinking? For most of the first section, is it over yet? I kept flipping ahead to see how much longer I had. I started to get a bit caught up in the story, though, and then I was actually surprised when the first section ended. As I said above, I find the story overall dragged and I wanted something to happen. Sometimes I think knowing what is going to happen destroys a book because you just sit there waiting for it. And, I actually found parts of it difficult to follow. There are too many characters and a few times stuff happened and I forgot who people were. I found the second chapter, I think, confusing. I honestly had no idea what was happening for most of it. That is partly not paying as close of attention as I maybe should, though.

Also, what a boring cover!

Other Points of View:


  1. Hello! I didn't think of it at first, but you are right. Having Jessica as a strong female is quite different than how a lot of women were portrayed when Herbert wrote this book. I'm with you, I found Paul's character somewhat annoying but I was also intrigued by him and his role. I'm curious to see how he develops from this point.

    I hope you enjoy the second part more than the first.

  2. I'm actually reading a worn paperback with that same cover rather than my 40th Anniversary trade because this one has been easier to take with me all over the place.

    I'm glad you stuck it through and hope the second half picks up for you. I have to laugh at what different experiences we all have because I think back on it and think a lot happened during this section. Betrayal and accusation and the removal to another planet. The testing of Paul to see if he perhaps was the K.H. and on and on. But then again I am bringing my intimate knowledge of the film to it so the whole story (such as I know it) is all wrapped up together.

    I suspect had I not watched the film so many times and was coming to this cold I might have found the whole thing jarring to the point of not actually reading it. Keep in mind how many years I've said I was going to read this and hadn't done so! And still wouldn't have if it wasn't for you suggesting it as our next buddy read, which turned into a group read (very exciting!!!).

    Jessica is a great character. She is someone who I hope is explored a bunch more in the rest of the book because she is way under served in Lynch's film and I don't remember the mini-series well at all. She has such power that it seems she is holding back on. I really enjoyed her interactions with Hawat when they went toe to toe verbally.

    Not sure I saw the Duke looking stupid, can you give some examples? I thought the book really fleshed him out more, giving him a chance to play a political chess match that he knew he had a great chance of losing. I was annoyed with his decision to allow Jessica to be used as bait, but that annoying decision on his part made for some interesting story lines. Still, I hate that they didn't have their own moment of reconciliation and that it had to come through Paul repeating his father's words.

    Look forward to section 2 and the next round of questions!

  3. **TBM: I thought it was pretty impressive for a book that came out 40 years ago. It isn't perfect, but it is an attempt to break the norm. It reminds me of Star Trek: TOS and how they put a woman on the bridge, but at the same time didn't seem to know what to do with her. It is like trying to be different, but not totally knowing how to do it.

    I am curious about Paul, too, actually. He annoyed me, but I am still a bit intrigued and hope that he develops into an interesting character.

    **Carl: I have the same worn paperback, but I also have a newer version. I have been flipping back and forth depending on where I am reading.

    I have never seen the movies. I always figured I would when I finally read the book.

    I hope to see more from Jessica, too, and yes, I did enjoy the scene with Hawat. That was entertaining, I must admit. :)

    Okay, maybe stupid was a bad word... I just didn't agree with him and obviously other people didn't either. He just had bad luck more than anything, I guess. He gets captured and then he dies without killing the person he is trying to take out with him.

    Hopefully section 2 will go a bit better for me!

  4. Well he definitely did make some poor decisions, being somewhat bull-headed about doing what the Emperor was telling him to do while at the same time suspecting he was being set up. You would have hoped he had done more to prepare but then again his betrayer was someone who theoretically should not have been broken so he ultimately had the same foolish self-confidence that anyone has when they hit a 'pride goeth before the fall' moment.

    I'm for sure going to track down the mini-series, which I've only seen once and don't remember, when we are all done with this. Would be fun to have some post-read conversation about the film adaptations.

  5. **Carl: Yeah, that is the polite way of looking at it. I just thought for a Duke he made some very bad decisions. Maybe not stupid decisions, but bad ones... He just irked me or something.

    I noticed at my friends house the other day they had either the movie or the mini-series or maybe even both. I can ask when we finish. :)

  6. Yes, we say it in other words but I would say we felt the same about it. I also looked at the page numbers all the time, calculating how much more was still left and going back because I had missed information. It numbed me a bit. Information overload is well said. I was happy every time he described something but the descriptions and actions were only ever such brief interludes. I read the first 30 pages of part 2 and there is slightly less dialogue! I'm hopeful again.

  7. **Caroline: Glad to hear it! I am giving my today off from it and then I will resume reading it tomorrow. :)

  8. :) I finally read Dune a couple of years ago, after years and years of hearing people say how much they loved it. I did enjoy it, but can't say I remember much about it!

  9. I always forget how little action there is in these books. Yes, it's epic and space opera and what not, but Dune is mostly dialog and politicking and intrigue, and hardly any action till the very end of the book.

    I'm reading the 2nd section right now, and I keep coming across references to "consequences", and that i think, is what this book is all about. hmmm, but i better wait till next weekend to start talking about that!

  10. **jenclair: I am hoping it will pick up a bit for me soon!

    **redhead: I started the second section today. I was going to wait until tomorrow, but I was worried if I stopped I wouldn't get back to it...

  11. Hmm... my first comment didn't post right, so I'm trying to get in everything that I had said before.

    You weren't the last to post; I just posted mine this morning. The second and third parts of the novel go way faster than the first, as the first part spends a good deal of time setting up the scene.

    I viewed Leto as more of a tragic figure. We kept seeing in the first half how he would do honorable and good things, putting his men above profit and being a decent person. We see the way that he takes care to make sure to take care of Jessica's feelings in case something would happen to him. I get the feeling that he's a good guy, he's just not in the right place at the right time. At least he tries.

  12. It's hard not to have too high of expectations with a book as well known and loved as this.
    While I do like that Jessica is strong, I can't totally like her yet. I can't really pinpoint why, and maybe that will change.
    The second hundred pages definitely flew by in comparison to the first. From what I remember (which is very little), I think the rest of the book moves at a faster pace. We'll see...

  13. **Grace: I am sorry about your comment. People seem to have problems with that, but I haven't decided if I want to switch away from blogger...

    I think my response to this book overall was just sour because I had a hard time getting into it. Hopefully I will get into it more with the second and third part.

    **Shelley: I will have to see how this books get going. I found the first part dragged, but hopefully the second part will be better for me.

  14. Paul didn't impress me all that much in the first part either, but he's really growing on me in part two.

  15. **Gypsi: I am glad he is working better for you... I am not sure if I will ever read the second section or will just call it quits on the book period.


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