Book review: Dune FTI

Dune FTI

Frank Herbert

Hodder & Stoughton

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

If the nerds in your circle are acting a little strange, worry not.

They are not high on melange (drug spice in the book), they are probably just full of jittery excitement because the first of the much-anticipated, and pandemic-delayed, Dune movies may finally be released later this month.

Publishers have also cashed in on this anticipation and have rereleased new editions of the celebrated 1965 novel on which the movies are based − hence the FTI (Film Tie In) in the title.

For die-hard fans of the series, there is nothing new added to this reprint; no stills from the movie, or cast interviews, etc, just the original content in a fancier cover. For those who have never encountered the series before, there can be no better initiation into nerdom than this novel.

Set in a far distant future, this first novel in the Dune series introduces the story of Paul Atreides.

Fifteen-year-old Paul is the heir to a dukedom but he is no doughy-fleshed nobleman. From a young age, he has been arduously trained by highly skilled masters in politics, history, religion, warfare and martial arts. His mother too has been secretly teaching him the mysterious arts of her Bene Gesserit heritage, which some in their universe consider akin to witchcraft.

The story starts when Paul’s father, Duke Leto, is given stewardship of Arrakis, otherwise known as Dune, a perilous desert planet, rife with cruiseliner-sized carnivorous sandworms.

But it is not the worms which pose the greatest threat to the Atreides family.

The stewardship of the planet has been transferred away from the Duke’s arch-enemy, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, a sadistic, power-hungry psychopath who is so morbidly obese that he attaches electronic, anti-gravity suspenders to his body to aid movement.

The planet is the only source of the most valuable resource in the universe, spice melange. This spice, which is both mind-altering and life-extending, is mined in the heart of the worms’ domain.

The transfer of the planet’s stewardship is highly unusual and everyone, from the mysterious witch-like reverend mother to the overlooked desert tribes on Arrakis, smell a trap.

What’s more, clues point to a possible traitor among the Atreides.

Frank Herbert is to sci-fi what Tolkien is to fantasy. The multi-award-winning novel is intensely packed with politics, warfare, mythology and religion and is billed as being the best-selling sci-fi classic of all time.