Dune Reading Order To Best Enjoy The Saga

The original Dune books were praised by the great Arthur C. Clarke as being comparable to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Such was the saga’s breadth, depth, and complexity that it was ranked alongside that epic tome by Frank Herbert’s fellow science fiction writer.

Dune Reading Order To Best Enjoy The Saga1

It certainly is an intricately woven mosaic of characters, worlds, and times. Frank Herbert wrote the first six books and after his death his son, Brian took up the mantle with Kevin J. Anderson.

The original book was awarded the Hugo Award in 1966 and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel.

It is often cited as the world’s best-selling science fiction novel. Unfortunately, the first Dune movie was not well received and flopped at the box office.

Denis Villeneuve’s more recent adaptation of the book has been more successful and received six Academy Award nominations. The second movie will be released in 2023.

About Dune

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Dune is set in the far future. It is the story of an intergalactic feudal society in which noble families fight for power, political influence, and resources.

The House of Atreides takes control of the planet Arrakis, a brutal, barren place but with an important resource.

Arrakis is the only place where melange, a psychoactive substance also called ‘spice’ can be mined.

This drug allows humanity to unlock their minds and achieve things that would be impossible without it.

The planet is inhabited by giant sandworms and a race of people known as Fremen who have learned to survive in its inhospitable environment with water as their most valued resource and currency.

When a House of Atreides descendant, Paul is marked as a possible messiah to lead the galaxy to a new era it sparks a war of epic proportions.

Dune Books In Order

Dune

Dune

Heir to the rule of planet Arrakis, source of the coveted ‘spice’, Paul Atreides is betrayed, an action which could destroy his family.

His evolution into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib could save his planet and bring to fulfillment humanity’s most unattainable dream.

Pros

  • Blend of adventure and mysticism

Cons

  • Difficult to get into initially

Dune Messiah

Dune Messiah

Now Emperor of the known universe and hailed as the messiah by the native Fremen, Paul Atreides is surrounded by enmity and not only from his enemies.

His lover and unborn heir may prove to be the biggest threat to his rule.

Pros

  • Elaborates on the first book

Cons

  • Focuses on the political intrigue

Children Of Dune

Children of Dune

Paul Atreides has disappeared and Alia, his younger sister has assumed rule of the Empire. But it is his twin children’s supernormal abilities that she wants to manipulate in order to cement her position and fend off her enemies.

Pros

  • Caps off the story of Paul-Muad’dib

Cons

  • A divisive book among fans

God Emperor Of Dune

God Emperor of Dune

More than 3,500 years into the future and Arrakis is no longer a desolate desert, it is full of life. This is more than can be said for Leto Atreides, son of Emperor Paul Muad’Dib.

Despite sacrificing his humanity to save humankind’s future, his rule is far from benevolent.

Pros

  • Builds on the original trilogy

Cons

  • Lacks action

Heretics Of Dune

Heretics of Dune

God Emperor Leto Atreides is dead and 1,500 years later the planet Arrakis has reverted to its desert-like condition.

The Scattering saw millions flee to beyond the reaches of known space. But someone may be about to fulfill the prophecy of the late emperor.

Pros

  • More action than its predecessor

Cons

  • Complex story

Chapterhouse: Dune

Chapterhouse: Dune

Arrakis, called Dune, is no more and the remnants of the Empire have been absorbed by the violent Honored Matres.

But the heirs to Dune’s power have colonized a new world, Chapterhouse, and are intent on rebuilding. And they have a secret weapon.

Pros

  • Excellent world-building and character development

Cons

  • The last Dune book written by Frank Herbert

Dune: House Atreides

Dune: House Atreides (Prelude to Dune)

Written by Frank Herbert’s son Brian and fellow author Kevin J. Anderson this is a prequel to Dune.

It tells the story of the generation before Dune and provides a history of what would later develop in terms of ecology, religion, and politics.

Pros

  • Gives good background to central characters

Cons

  • Not as gripping as the original stories

Dune: House Harkonnen

Dune: House Harkonnen (Prelude to Dune)

The second of the Dune prequels continues to explore the history behind the feuds and the backstories of the original books’ characters.

It expands on some storylines only hinted at in the first books, but there is a lot of unnecessary repetition.

Pros

  • Very good character development

Cons

  • Lacks subtlety in foreshadowing

Dune: House Corrino

Dune: House Corrino (Prelude to Dune)

House Corrino is the third Dune prequel and centers on Shaddam Corrino IV, Emperor of the Known Universe.

He has caused the overthrow of powerful families while raising others to power, playing a galactic game of chess in his efforts to create a substitute for melange.

Pros

  • Fast-paced with good plotlines

Cons

  • Lack the depth of the originals

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

The Butlerian Jihad : Legends of Dune

This book goes right back to the beginning of the story. If reading the saga in chronological order this would be where to start.

Humans are facing extermination at the hands of the android-like cymeks and their planetary computers, Omnius.

Pros

  • Fascinating story

Cons

  • Chapters are very short

Dune: The Machine Crusade

The Machine Crusade (Legends of Dune 2)

Another story in the pre-history of the Dune universe which gives explanations to events and backgrounds of characters in the original books.

The Machine Crusade is the story of the fight by the last free humans against the thinking machines led by Omnius.

Pros

  • A good foundation story

Cons

  • Too many storylines

Dune: The Battle Of Corrin

The Battle of Corrin

The Battle of Corrin is the last installment of the history of Dune. It brings the pieces of the story together for what will be the basis of the Dune series.

The story also lays the foundation for the all-consuming feud between the Houses of Atreides and Harkonnen.

Pros

  • Gives good background knowledge for the original books

Cons

  • Complex storyline

Hunters Of Dune

Hunters of Dune

The story of a group of refugees looking for a new Dune while fleeing the monstrous Honored Matres.

Duncan Idaho, Bashar Miles Teg, and Sheeana, a woman who talks to sandworms, join them in preparation for a final confrontation.

Pros

  • Imaginative expansion of the Dune universe

Cons

  • Strays far from the original intent

Sandworms Of Dune

Sandworms of Dune

In this story, the heroes of the Hunters of Dune meet the enemy who followed the Honored Matres back to their universe.

The thinking machines, once exiled, are back and the human race is once again threatened with annihilation. Can these heroes save humanity?

Pros

  • Closes out the Dune saga, tying up plot threads

Cons

  • The richness of the original Dune books is missing

Final Thoughts

The Dune series of books, or at least, the first six written by Frank Herbert have been acclaimed as some of the best science fiction writing of all time.

As we have seen, even the distinguished Arthur C. Clarke thought highly of his accomplishments.

Unfortunately, before he could write a seventh novel Frank passed away.

He did however leave behind notes and outlines that his son, Brian took up in order to continue the Dune series.

Much, in the same way, J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher did with the Silmarillion.

But despite the notes and outlines many people feel that Brian Herbert wasn’t able to match the writing of his late father.

Of course, he didn’t work alone but with the help of Kevin J. Anderson. Together they continued the saga of Dune to the point of writing prequels.

It is perhaps unfair to expect the same level of literary accomplishment from Brian Herbert when his father’s work was so widely esteemed. The mantle passed to him was very heavy.

The best way to enjoy the books is to acknowledge that the characters, locations, and events may be familiar, but the writing may not be.

Accepting this fact will allow the reader to enjoy the stories for what they are.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Dune A Trilogy Or Six Books?

Frank Herbert wrote the first six books. The first three cover the characters and their families over two generations, the next three jump forward thousands of years to a new era.

What Order Should The Dune Books Be Read In?

The Dune books can be read in the order of their publication, starting with the first novel in 1965 and ending with the closing of the saga in the Sandworms of Dune.

Should I Only Read The First Three Dune Books?

The first three books can of course be read without the need to continue reading the rest of the series. But books four to six expand on the Dune universe and its characters and events.

Is Dune A Difficult Read?

No one can claim that Dune is a series that can be read and understood with ease. Frank Herbert developed an intricate universe of religion, politics, philosophy, and ecology

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Anna Davis