Dune (round iii) by

Call no:
Genre:
Setting:

The final questions for the Dune group read are:

  1. What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan? Do you think that her convention added to the story?
  2. Were you satisfied with the ending? For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?
  3. On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself. Was this convincing? Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?
  4. Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons. Do you agree with their choices?
  5. What was your favorite part in this section of the book?
  6. One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.” What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?

Dune

What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan? Do you think that her convention added to the story?

I didn’t think that it was a surprise, I got the impression as I was reading the book, and her little titbits, that she was connected to Paul somehow, and it stood to reason that she may have been his wife, especially given the marriage as political tool that was common in the world of Dune.

Were you satisfied with the ending? For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?

To be honest I thought it was a little sudden. I did like the appendices though as they gave more insight into the universe at large and not just the small corner of it that we saw.

On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself. Was this convincing? Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?

I can believe that a harsh environment will make for tough soldiers. Although I think that proper training is probably a lot more effective. After all, if the environment is so harsh that children growing up are suffering deprivation then there may be physical reasons for them to be less than ideal soldiers.

At the same time, however, I was convinced while reading the story, which is the important bit I suppose :).

Would Paul have destroyed the spice… I think he would. But it was more that he could see that the Guild could foresee their own end, and so it was never really a bluff or a guess. He could *see* that they would not risk that, and so it wasn’t a bluff but a perfectly judged threat.

Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons. Do you agree with their choices?

No. I hate the idea of marriage for political ties. So I can never agree with it. But, given the practicalities of the situation I can understand why and I can agree that it was the correct more. Does that make sense, I both agree and disagree with the choices :).

Leto’s choice to not marry left political manouveres open, but he never took them. He valued Jessica more than that. For Paul though, in order to prevent a war, he couldn’t give Chiani that. But I have to say that I do feel sorry for Princess Irulan. Afterall I doubt that she would get the same option to play away from home. Double standards?

What was your favorite part in this section of the book?

I really liked Alia’s interactions with the Emperor and the Baron. We often see precocious children in books, but never with such a good reason. I would have liked to read more about her, but I think that Herbert was probably correct not to spend more time with her. It was Paul’s story after all.

One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.” What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?
That’s a big question. I think that a lot can be seen in the Bene Gesserit’s saying:

When religion and politics ride the same cart, when that cart is driven by a living holy man (baraka), nothing can stand in their way.

Nothing can stand in their way, so it is a positive but also a negative, because truth, love, etc cannot stand in the way as well as any negative things.
As for the issue of jihad, well, technically it means a struggle, doesn’t it? But nowadays we know it more as holy war. And I think that is how Herbert is sees it. If it were written now I don’t think that term specifically would have been used without some explanation or reasoning.

It is very easy to read things into books, some things I’m sure that the author intended, but I’m sure there is plenty a reader may see that escaped the author totally. So I don’t want to read too much into certain words that Herbert used, given that it was years ago, and a lot has changed since then. I think that Herbert probably used the word in order to convey the intensity of the word, and because he has an Islamic origin for the Freman. Is it a question of using Muslims as an “other” to be led by the white man? I don’t think so. Neither do I think that he went out of his way to put women in more domestic roles, and to make a man always the centre of their lives, but that is what happened, and I think that when reading any book it is important to recognise problems with it. Doens’t mean the book is a bad book, or anything at all like that, simply that I can see a difference between how I would *like* things to be, and maybe that a different point of view would be nice from time to time :)

Overall I’m really glad that I read Dune, the story is interesting, and has clearly had an influence on other sci-fi writers. And while not perfect it was a very good read that I enjoyed.

I’ll see about doing a proper review of the book as a whole in a day or so, in the mean time why not read some other thoughts on Dune:

Stainless Steel Droppings ; Beauty is a sleeping cat ; Jim Black ; TBM ; Little Red Reviewer ; Grace ; Shelley

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6 Responses

  1. Shelley says:

    I have yet to tackle the Appendices–I just skimmed a bit. I can sense already thought that they make the world Herbert has created come across as even more in-depth, detailed, and complex. It all adds to a wonderful suspension of disbelief.

    Your comment about the environment made me think of the Spartans who would throw a weak baby off the mountain. Only the strong could become warriors.
    Shelley´s last blog post ..Dune Readalong: Part Three

    • Fence says:

      They do, plus they give a bit of background to the whole verse, you know, like religions and space travel and stuff.

      I haven't read them carefully, just a quick spin through, but there is plenty there.

  2. Carl V. says:

    So great to have you join us in this Fence, it has been fun.

    I see a difference here between what Herbert did in regards to his writing and what many other classic works of science fiction do, which is why I don't see Herbert's portrayal of women, politics, etc. to be a problem.

    You can pick up many works of classic science fiction, especially from the 40's and 50's and see that the author was trying to envision our future and yet for all their wonderful imagination about the advances we would have in science and technology and even in social/cultural relationships, the couldn't imagine a world in which women didn't hold a subservient role. That is a problem and it does taint the work to some degree.

    However I don't see Herbert writing that kind of novel. I don't feel that Herbert was writing a novel about our future so much as he was writing a book about humanity's evolution (socially, societally, culturally) in a different galaxy. In his world there was advanced technology but the practice of the people were obviously still at a place that seemed more equivalent to ancient Rome and early Middle-eastern tradition. As such this is more of a historical novel with science fictional elements and thus it works differently than a novel in which the author just couldn't see a woman's place changing in the future.

    Of course this is just my opinion and ultimately it matters little, but I do think it is important to judge a novel by what it was trying to do. I also don't see this novel working on any important level if there weren't such things as concubines, if Irulan's fate wasn't as sad as it was, if we didn't see that at this point in their history that it was still a male-dominated society. That all works *for* the story Herbert was trying to tell rather than just being the side-effects of a a male author writing in his time period.

    Of course I could just be giving Herbert too much credit, but I see him as a better storyteller than that.

    • Fence says:

      I don't think you are giving him too much credit Carl. The world is imperfect, and to create a fiction world where it is would be just unrealistic. So I don't have a problem-problem with the role of women etc in Herbert's work, I just think that it is important to point out these flaws in his created society. Every society and culture has its flaws, so it makes sense that Dune would have too.

      I also agree that he wasn't trying to create any sort of utopian future so he wouldn't have speculated about roles changing like that.

  3. Caroline says:

    This last part felt rushed and I see know why, if Dune Messiah was intended to be part IV it makes sense.

    I also hate the idea of marriage for political reasons. It's a sad outcome, I thought, sad for both women. Maybe Paul will enjoy it, who knows?

    I haven't read the appendix yet but know I should and will.

  4. Fence says:

    I think that arranged marriages are sad for everyone.

    I was just reading about Game of Thrones, and the political marriages there, and whether or not the sex in those marriages counts as rape. And in a way, of course, it does, but in many cases it isn't as though the man had a choice either, so both man and woman, in many cases are unwilling but forced into a relationship.