My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Review: Dune

Dune Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the ‘Dune’ trilogy as a young teenager without knowing what to expect (before it obtained the level of fandom it now enjoys); it was one of the few great stories which helped establish my initial reading addiction. I immediately identified with the main protagonist, Paul Atreides, as he struggled to overcome tremendous adversity to reach his destiny ... his was the traditional ‘Hero’s Journey’ that forms the main plotline of the story. The most interesting aspect at this time was Paul’s Mentat (human computer) training ... which would morph into a pseudo-transhuman philosophy popularized by one of my favorite TV characters – Mr. Spock.

But there is more ... I reread Dune as a young (and better read) adult and I really appreciated that the author didn’t feel the need to spoon-feed the reader; he trusts us enough to figure it all out (with difficulty perhaps, but successful none-the-less). I started to use story elements to explore ideas outside of Dune ... such as the curious luddite aversion to [some] technology. This brought a new understanding of the power of creation and the responsibility of the creator. I grew fascinated by the very convincing religious concepts within the messianic/eugenic sub-plots, leading me toward further study (and acceptance of) of other religions (specifically Islam and Zen) and comparative mythology (popularized by Dr. Joseph Campbell). I even looked at the formation of the Freman society by the harsh conditions of the desert as a mini-Darwinian theme that would be duplicated in many of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy books I read after.

Every time I reread ‘Dune’ I find more to think about: ethics, politics, ecology, fanaticism, addiction, technology, etc. Frank Herbert has built a complex and enduring world which survives quite well outside his original stories; it is this world that inexorably pulls me into many of the lesser quality stories that continues to fill out Herbert’s universe based upon his surviving notes. Every time I come back to this world, I like it more then before.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.