I’ve been meaning to read Dune for decades now, but the thick paperback on my dad’s shelf always intimidated me a little. I’ve had some knowledge of the book, being aware of the Avalon Hill game and having started Westwood’s Dune II once. And none of the expectations that were generated by those were wrong.

Overall, it’s a very good book, though there were some concerns. I didn’t have too many problems figuring out the general outline of the story from near the beginning. Some of that is just because I have some idea what I’m getting into, but considering all that’s going on, I have to wonder if a certain amount of ‘telegraphing’ was intentional on Herbert’s part as a mirror to Paul’s own abilities to sense the future. However, the final climax has an extremely sudden raising of the stakes that feels out of place. There is an explanation, but it comes down to a single line much later, and the entire end just feels extremely disjointed from the rest of the book, since it is a situation that several points in the rest of the book say won’t happen.

The worldbuilding is very good, with the exception of being another SF setting with a time scale that is unlikely, with institutions existing for thousands upon thousands of years. But that’s a somewhat common feature of SF of the time. And it’s easy to ignore for all the things that are well done. Arrakis is that staple of SF, the one-terrain planet. But there’s a lot of nuance put into that terrain and ecology, and some very good inventions mixed in with parts that are more familiarly terrestrial. As the focus of the book, no other world gets any sort of real detail, but what is needed is given, and we’re shown just enough to see that it exists.

I can’t unreservedly praise Dune, but it is very well written, and certainly one everyone needs to read at some point.