The Dune series has captivated readers for decades. Its unique blend of science fiction, political intrigue, and environmental themes has made it one of the most acclaimed novels of the genre–but taking a leap into the wondrous world of the beloved saga might feel a little daunting for new readers. That’s where this complete reading guide comes in! Keep reading to find all Dune books by Frank Herbert ranked from best to worst, so you can know where to start first!
About Frank Herbert’s Dune Books
Frank Herbert was born on October 8th, 1920, and published his first science fiction story, Looking for Something, in the April 1952 issue of Startling Stories. He became a novelist in 1955 and published his most iconic novel a decade later.
Dune takes place in the distant future, and the story occurs in a universe where interstellar travel is made possible by a resource known as spice melange. The story primarily revolves around the desert planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune.
The novel follows the Atreides family–particularly the protagonist, Paul Atreides–as they engage in a power struggle with their longtime enemies, the Harkonnens, who are determined to reclaim control of the planet.
Dune is a multifaceted narrative that explores themes of politics, ecology, religion, power, transformation, and philosophies.
Does that sound like your cup of tea? Keep reading to see all Dune books ranked in this complete reading guide! We’ll first be looking at the original six-book series that Frank wrote, then the novels that his son, Brian Herbert, and Brian’s Co-author, Kevin Anderson, have written.
All Dune Books Ranked From Best to Worst
Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Naturally, the start of the infamous series is at the very top of this ranking!
With it being the very first introduction to the Dune universe, it’s best to let its summary speak for itself!
“Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness.
Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined.
And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.”
Children of Dune (1976) by Frank Herbert
The third book of the series is the second best if you ask me!
The sand-blasted world of Arrakis is now green, watered, and fertile, but the danger is imminent.
Leto and Ghanima–heirs of Paul Atreides–face the decline of sandworms and economic catastrophe. As fanatics rise against the Atreides empire, the future of the planet hangs in the balance, and solutions must be found before it’s too late.
Dune Messiah (1969) by Frank Herbert
In Dune Messiah, Paul Atreides, the ruler of the known universe, faces internal and external threats to his dynasty.
He’s trying to locate the spies in his midst while dealing with the matter of his succession plan–plus, his concubine and true love is pregnant, and there are many who want to take advantage of her vulnerability.
Will Paul persevere in his violent conquest, or will he be forced to succumb to his enemies?
God Emperor of Dune (1981) by Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune takes place nearly three thousand years later. Leto Atreides, the God Emperor of Dune, possesses near-immortality, but to ensure the survival of his race, he must engineer his own downfall.
Heretics of Dune (1984) by Frank Herbert
Set 10,000 years after the events of the original Dune, Rakis (formerly Arrakis) is once again becoming a desert.
The return of the Lost Ones and the dying sandworms pose challenges.
And the Bene Gesserit and Bene Tleilax vie for control, while the children of Dune’s descendants awaken with a newfound power called love.
Chapterhouse: Dune (1985) by Frank Herbert
In the final book of the original series, the desert planet Arrakis, or Dune, lies in ruins, conquered by the Honored Matres, a violent matriarchal cult.
The remaining threat to their dominance is the Bene Gesserit, led by Mother Superior Darwi Odrade. Colonizing a green world on Chapterhouse, the Bene Gesserit aims to control the spice melange through breeding sandworms.
Their secret weapon is a man with countless lifetimes of experience who once served under the God Emperor Paul Muad’Dib.
The Lady of Caladan (2021) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Frank Herbert’s eldest son, Brian, and his co-author, Kevin, have continued developing the Dune universe for several decades!
In one of their more recently released novels, the second book in the Caladan trilogy, The Lady of Caladan, Lady Jessica, mother of Paul and Leto Atreides’ consort, faces the consequences of her choices.
Betraying the Bene Gesserit, she must now confront whether her loyalty to the Sisterhood outweighs her love for her family.
The Heir of Caladan (2022) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Book three of the trilogy takes us on Paul Atreides’s journey from boyhood to a pivotal leadership role while exploring the consequences of Lady Jessica’s betrayal and Paul’s transformation into the legendary Muad’Dib.
House Harkonnen (2000) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In book 2 of the house trilogy, Shaddam takes the Golden Lion Throne while Baron Vladimir Harkonnen schemes against House Atreides and the Bene Gesserit.
Leto Atreides faces a momentous choice between friendship and duty, safety and destiny. For House Atreides to survive, they must strive for greatness or face utter destruction.
The Butlerian Jihad (2002) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
“Throughout the Dune novels, Frank Herbert frequently referred to the war in which humans wrested their freedom from ‘thinking machines.’ In Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson bring to life the story of that war, a tale previously seen only in tantalizing hints and clues.
Finally, we see how Serena Butler’s passionate grief ignites the struggle that will liberate humans from their machine masters; here is the amazing tale of the Zensunni Wanderers, who escape bondage to flee to the desert world where they will declare themselves the Free Men of Dune.
And here is the backward, nearly forgotten planet of Arrakis, where traders have discovered the remarkable properties of the spice melange….”
Sisterhood of Dune (2011) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In Sisterhood of Dune, 83 years after the Battle of Corrin, the remnants of a defeated enemy stir new conflicts.
Vorian Atreides, Raquella Berto-Anirul, the descendants of Harkonnen and Venport, and the Butlerian movement all play a role in the struggle between Reason and Faith. As tensions rise, each character and faction must make fateful choices that will shape the destiny of humanity.
In Navigators of Dune, the origins of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, the human-computer Mentats, and the Navigators of the Spacing Guild are revealed.
As reason clashes with fanaticism, a crucial battle unfolds, shaping the future of the human race.
House Atreides (1999) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In the very first book of the House trilogy, Emperor Elrood’s son plots a subtle regicide; young Leto Atreides leaves to pursue an education on the mechanized world of Ix; a planetologist named Pardot Kynes seeks the secrets of Arrakis, and the eight-year-old slave Duncan Idaho is hunted by his cruel masters in a terrifying game from which he vows to escape and seek vengeance.
The Duke of Caladan (2020) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The untold story of Leto Atreides unfolds in The Duke of Caladan.
As a ruler of Caladan, Leto earns the favor of the emperor and incurs the wrath of House Harkonnen. But as his power and influence grow, unseen enemies plot his downfall.
The Machine Crusade (2003) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In The Machine Crusade, the epic battle against thinking machines wages on, led by Serena Butler and Irbis Ginjo.
As human worlds grow weary, the fearsome comes plot to regain power, the fighters of Ginaz become elite warriors, and Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva seek a groundbreaking discovery.
Meanwhile, on Arrakis, Selim Wormrider and his outlaws, the Fremen, prepare to change history.
The Battle of Corrin (2004) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Fifty-six years have passed since the events of The Machine Crusade. Humanity’s struggle against the thinking machines reaches a critical point as Synchronized Worlds and Unallied Planets are liberated. However, Omnius unleashes deadly plagues, shifting the tide against humans.
The epic Battle of Corrin will decide the fate of both humans and machines.
The Winds of Dune (2009) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The Winds of Dune picks up right after the events of Dune Messiah!
Paul Atreides is presumed dead, while Jessica and Gurney are on Caladan. Alia struggles to maintain the Imperial government, and Duncan supports her. Bronso of Ix emerges as a leading opponent to House Atreides.
House Corrino (2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In the final chapter of the Dune prequel trilogy, the intricate web of politics, power, and prophecy reaches its climax.
Emperor Shaddam IV seeks to control the spice by creating a synthetic version, while Duke Leto Atreides plans to free Ix from its oppressors. Lady Jessica’s disobedience leads to unexpected consequences, and a cataclysmic battle looms as forces collide in a struggle for the fate of the universe.
Hunters of Dune (2006) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In Hunters of Dune, Duncan Idaho, and a group of refugees navigate the uncharted galaxy, pursued by the fearsome Honored Matres and a mysterious Enemy. Reviving key figures from Dune’s past, they must overcome deadly challenges to ensure the survival of humanity.
Sandworms of Dune (2007) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The second book in the conclusion to Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles, Sandworms of Dune, delves into the mysteries of the Dune universe, including the origin of the Honored Matres, the fate of Arrakis, the truth about the Kwisatz Haderach, and the ultimate resolution of the war between Man and Machine.
Paul of Dune (2008) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The final book in this ranking, Paul of Dune, delves into how Paul Muad’Dib built his empire and became the Messiah. As the Muad’Dib’s jihad sweeps through the galaxy, Paul faces enemies who seek to undermine him, and doubts begin to plague his mind.
The Dune series is rich with intricate plotlines and unforgettable journeys that take place in captivating worlds. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a first-time reader, I hope this ranking will be able to help you navigate this extraordinary saga!
Is Dune easy to read?
Dune can be a difficult novel to read. The storytelling and narrative can be confusing to some. There isn’t much context provided at the beginning of the novel, which means you’ll have to put the pieces together yourself–although you will be in the loop by the middle of the novel.
There’s also a lot of complex worldbuilding, which makes the story totally immersive, but the amount of new information may be overwhelming and difficult for some to process at first.
What grade level is Dune?
The novel is considered to be at the 9th-grade reading level. However, it may still be difficult for kids in that age range to read. It also has some violent and sometimes disturbing themes, so it’s best suited for a mature audience.
What is the message of Dune?
According to Frank Herbert himself, the main message of Dune is this: “The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better to rely on your own judgment and your own mistakes.”
Is Dune a YA novel?
It’s a science fiction novel, but it’s still a great choice for teenagers and young adults. The protagonist is a teenager, so teens maybe be able to find some relatability with him.
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