It has been a while since I wrote any form of book review. I find that as much as I enjoy reading 40K novels, they’re all decent and enjoyable so I’d stopped bothering. A few people have given me mixed reviews about Dune, and after seeing (and loving) the film I thought I would read it and see what I thought for myself.
I had wondered whether the novel would suffer from ‘old book syndrome’ – wherein a book was written so long ago that the language makes it difficult to understand. Written in 1965, I found Dune an easier read than some more ‘modern’ counterparts (Neuromancer, I am looking at you).
Don’t get me wrong, the book does make the reader do some of the work. Explicit descriptions are left out in many parts of the book, unlike most 40K books I have read recently. It makes you think and lets your mind fill in the gaps, which I enjoyed a great deal. Some of the concepts are not explained within the novel either – though there is a handy appendix at the end in case you need reminding, or something explaining. The novel expects the reader to accept that some concepts are so ingrained in the social norms of the book, that they do not need explaining.
I liked how House Atreides’ members had familiar names, whereas the Harkonnen and Fremen characters had more exotic ones. It is a good way of earmarking the ‘familiar’ and ‘other’ without it being explicit. All the characters – and there are a few of them, are well written, thought out and have a purpose. There is a large variety of characters within the novel, and not one of them felt like a stereotype. They have a decent balance within them, and I felt it easy to relate to some, and easy to dislike others. I always felt as though I was supposed to feel this way, rather than them being poorly written.
I also loved the use of dramatic irony within Dune. Several of the characters, both protagonist and antagonist, allow the reader in on what they are thinking, so the reader has specialist knowledge that other characters do not. It has been a long time since I have appreciated this technique and it is done masterfully by Frank Herbert.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dune. I will say this: We all know that the true heroes of this story is the Giant Sand Worms – go and read the novel for them!