Dune group read- Round 1 by

15 July 2011

Call no:

A week or so ago a blog post from Carl about a Dune group read popped up in my reader[1] And I thought to myself, Dune, hmmm, that’s one of those classic sf books I’ve never read. Full Disclaimer I have however memories of the film. I don’t mean that I watched it, but I did somehow manage to buy the film’s picture book yoke, so I know vaguely what the story is. So, I decided that what the hell, I was going to give the group read a go. So round one’s questions are below.


  1. What, if any, preconceived ideas did you have before you started reading Dune and how has the first section measured up to those preconceptions?
    (Alternate Question for those who’ve read the book: Did you see anything in this first section of the book that either you hadn’t seen before or that you had forgotten about, anything that stood out to you?

    Hmm, preconcieved notions, I guess I thought it was a big messy book. But I think that is because the film was a mess, or at least condensing the film into a much, much shorter picture book made whatever storyline there was a mess. So far it hasn’t been messy at all. Big, perhaps, but everything makes sense and although the world/universe is huge the plot doesn’t concern itself with too many characters to keep track of.
  2. What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?
    I quite liked that. It allowed us to see that the Duke was correct to trust Jessica, and yet also see why others would distrust her. It meant that I, as a reader, wasn’t distracted by whodunnits and could instead focus on the story of how Paul, Jessica, and the Duke all interacted. And it made their betrayal all the worse because as a reader we knew who it was, and could see all those signs that the characters picked up on but never put together.
  3. What was your favorite part of this first section? Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
    I have to say that I really enjoyed the scene where the sandworms make their attack on the spice harvester. I think it really showed what sort of a man the Duke was, to put people ahead of profit. And also showing how dangerous the worms are.
    As for characters, I’m a bit ambivalent about Paul himself. I know that all his life he has been “in training” but somehow it still seems a bit forced that at only 15 he is so mature and wise. I like Jessica a lot, and the interaction between her and the Duke. Although I dislike the fact that he “bought” her, and all that implies.
  4. Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you?
    Well, it did and it didn’t. It made literary sense, in that all through the book so far we had been hearing how the Duke and his family were enemies of the Harkonnens, so it made sense to subvert that by having the enemy within, and not actually the enemy at all.
  5. Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book. Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring? Just share what you are thinking thus far.
    I have to say that I’m enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. Somehow I had an idea that it was a difficult book, but I don’t find it that at all. It is easy enough to follow, but not too easy that your mind might wander :)
    I’m not too fond of the role of women as its been portrayed so far. And the “absolute” badness and evilness of the Baron is a little OTT. I do tend to prefer a less black & white version of the world. But we’ll see how things go.

Other answers to the questions can be found on the following blogs:
Beauty is a sleeping cat Little Red ReviewerTBMShelleyKailanaJim BlackShazGraceReed PorterWilsonpage 247 – And of course, Stainless Steel Droppings

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18 Responses

  1. Carl V. says:

    I was hoping that you would get around to answering these. Did you put a link in the Mr. Linky in my post?

    I hadn't thought about how the absence of wondering who the traitor would be does actually give the reader the ability to focus more on the characters, but that is true and is a very good explanation for why although I initially thought it would bother me that I actually ended up liking it.

    The worms are such a fascinating part of this story.

    Despite knowing the overarching story really well because of multiple viewings of the film, I too always thought that Dune would be one of those really difficult, weighty books. Instead I find it to be an interesting page-turner with some very intelligent and intellectually stimulating ideas but not something that makes me feel overwhelmed. I'm enjoying that aspect of the book and look forward to talking about the next section.

    I'll be interested to read your thoughts on the women, mainly Jessica, as her role changes/expands and she comes into her own more in the second section.
    Carl V.´s last blog post ..Beat the Summer Heat Tip #317

    • Fence says:

      I'm behind the schedule, so I can't really be accused of jumping ahead, but so far in the middle section she is a bit overwhelmed with grief. I know she does have an important function, and of course there is the daughter as well. So should be interesting.

  2. Caroline says:

    I keep on forgetting about those sandworms but they are a great invention. Quite creepy. I did think that Jessica wasn't really bought insofar as the Bene Gesseritt strike me as very manipulative. I think they are bought because they want it to look that way but maybe I overread something.

    I found it very difficult to get into but I also had absolutely no idea about the book and not seen the movie, and, as I wrote, the dialogue bothered me. I wouldn't say it was messy, but the talking did distract me.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Quiet Corners of Paris – Paris au Calme by Jean-Christophe Napias (2006)

    • Fence says:

      Yes, there is that they are manipulating the situation. Given that we *know" Jessica's parentage it makes sense that they wanted her allied to Leto. But at an individual level she was used by the Bene Gesseritts as a whole.
      Fence´s last blog post ..Dune group read- Round 1

  3. Shaz says:

    I'm not entirely thrilled by the way this book protrays women either. But it's much better than, say, Star Trek TOS. Actually, for it's time and given the decidely male slant of sci-fi in general, it was quite progressive in it's veiw of women.

    • Fence says:

      I do have to keep that fact in mind, it was written years and years ago, so while I can criticise it I do think I should make certain allowances.

      And yes, Star Trek: TOS is much worse, but still fun to watch :)

  4. TBM says:

    The sandworms are creepy and I love that scene when the Duke saved the people and not the spice. It really made me like him as a leader.

    I don't know how to take Paul's character either. He seems wise but I have a had time since I keep remembering he's 15.

    I haven't seen the movie, but a lot of people aren't speaking very highly of it. I usually like to watch the movie after reading the book, but I may pass with this one.
    TBM´s last blog post ..Reason 122 why I work

  5. redhead says:

    I felt the same way about telling us so early that Yueh is the traitor, it allows there reader to focus on everything else, instead of worrying about who the "bad guy" is. and Poor Yueh, he gets so screwed!

    I'm happy you joined in, looks like you are enjoying the book. :)
    redhead´s last blog post ..not including what I got from the library

    • Fence says:

      He does, doesn't he. But Herbert does a good job with him. We know he's a bad guy, but we can still sympathise, and empathise with him.

      Unlike the Baron who is totally evil with no redeeming characteristics. (that I've come across yet)

  6. Kailana says:

    Glad to see you are joining in! I bowed out, but I seem to be alone in my extreme dislike of this book…
    Kailana´s last blog post ..Friday Reads

    • Fence says:

      Well if we all liked everything the world would be pretty boring. And I guess joining in the beginning of the read means now you *know* you hate it :)

  7. Gypsi says:

    I agree: Paul's character hasn't fully captured my imagination yet, but as I read the second part, I am finding him more interesting.
    Gypsi´s last blog post ..Dune Group Read, Round 1

  8. Jim Black says:

    This is one of the best page turner novels of its size. You are not alone in thinking it would be messy because of the size.

    Most of the comments, so far, have not talked about the sandworms. I'm glad to see you brought them up. I really like the cover with the sandworm at the top of your post.
    Jim Black´s last blog post ..Torchwood Miracle Day Episode 1: The New World

    • Fence says:

      I bought it for my ereader so I don't get to see the pictures, but it is the sf masterworks version so it should match.

      It is a page-turner, and I have no problem sitting and reading it for ages and ages.

  9. Shelley says:

    I'm ambivalent about Paul too. I can accept that he is beyond his years due to the training, but I don't really like him.

    I think the portrayal of the roles of women is complex. It seems like there are strong women who at the same time are demeaned by the social conventions of the time. I wonder if it will move beyond that?

  10. Shelley says:

    Oh, dear! I posted a long comment and I think it got lost. In a nutshell, I am ambivalent about Paul too, and find the roles of women complex in this novel and don't know what to make of it yet.
    Shelley´s last blog post ..Dune Readalong: Part Two

    • Fence says:

      I checked the spam queue and rescued one or two comments, but don't think yours was among it. Hate when that happens!

      I've just finished the second section and am still ambivalent about the women, but at least there are a few more of them showing up. :)