I knew it was going to be a struggle.
When I flicked to the last page and noted the page number (562) I let out an audible groan. It was a long book in a genre that didn’t interest me one bit and it was going to take a whole lot of willpower to get through.
This book both delighted and frustrated me. The info-dumps of the first few chapters pretty much had me dozing off… all these new names and places – Sardaukar, Harkonnen, Kwisatz Haderach – that didn’t mean a thing to me, weren’t presented in an engaging way. So I found my mind wandering. I’d get to the end of a chapter and feel lost, like I’d missed something (and probably had).
My lack of interest in the first few chapters caused issues later on. ‘Who’s that character?’ I kept asking myself, and would turn back to the earlier chapters to attempt to work it out – usually without success.
Then, just as I was about to give up all hope, the action began. The dinner in the great hall, the attack, the fleeing through the desert, the worms! This is when I began to enjoy myself. There was character development and brilliant descriptions of the landscape that made me feel like I was there on the sand, sucking on my Stillsuit to quench my thirst and listening for the sound of an approaching maker. I got to know Paul and Jessica, felt their pain and celebrated their success. The middle chapters were certainly what carried me through the book and gave me hope that I could make it through the 500-odd pages alive.
The ending was disappointing. But I expected it to be. Frank Herbert set up the ending to allow for future books and leave some questions unanswered, to lure people to keep reading the next installment.
So am I tempted to stray from my 100 book list and slip in the next book in the Dune series?
That’s a definite ‘no’.
However, am I glad to have experienced the sci-fi world Herbert created on the dunes of planet Arrakis?
Absolutely. A must-read on any classic book list.