The Dune Saga Podcast #7: Dune

On this, our seventh episode of The Dune Saga Podcast, we look at the one, the only, the story that launched the entire universe, Frank Herbert’s Dune.  Join us as we analyze and offer out views on this story that tells of the rise of Paul-Muad’Dib and the fall of House Harkonnen and House Corrino.  This is one you won’t want to miss.

Rate this book


Skip to comment form

  1. This was a good episode, but parts of it really turned me off.

    In no way should “Dune” be held accountable to the prequel novels. If Duncan Idaho in “House Harkonnen” is inconsistent with Duncan Idaho in “Dune,” then it is not due to anything other than Herbert/Anderson getting the character wrong in their books. You guys talked about that, and several other points of plot and/or character, as though Frank Herbert had somehow failed to do the prequel novels justice! In my opinion, that is an extraordinarily wrongheaded way to look at “Dune,” and I had a difficult time finishing the episode as a result. (I’m glad I did, though; there was plenty of good conversation, especially regarding some of the stuff in the appendices.)

    The problem with reading the books in order of the story’s chronology is that doing so weighs the prequels unfairly, and gives them weight and significance that they have not earned. The series began with Frank Herbert, and Herbert/Anderson are merely riding his coattails. They are doing so fairly capably; but still, pretending that they are doing anything other than harvesting crops out of somebody else’s garden is a major misreading of this entire series.

    The worst is yet to come, unfortunately. Despite the occasional inconsistencies, I enjoyed both the “Legends of Dune” and “Prelude to Dune” series. “Paul of Dune,” on the other hand, is a terrible novel, and it’s especially terrible in terms of the way it fits — or, in this case, doesn’t fit — in with “Dune” and “Dune Messiah.” I don’t know if I’m dreading listening to those episodes, or if I’m ghoulishly looking forward to them. A little of both, I guess.

    1. I hear what you’re saying here and I’m sure we’ll address it in more depth in the next Listener Feedback Show we record, but I wanted to respond now as well. I completely hear what you’re saying about the effects of reading the books in this order, it bugs me too. It really used to rub me the wrong way for sure. However in deciding to go down this path chronologically it’s opening up a lot of interesting doors of insight. I know for me I feel like I know the characters more deeply. You’re not the first person to bring up that you felt like we were holding Dune up to the standards of the prequels when it should have been the other way around. I don’t think this was how we meant to come across. Moreover we were trying to point out the differences that are there and fill in the gaps best we could. I’m gaining a greater love for the Herbert/Anderson books as we read along and as a result I know I’m starting to hold them at a higher level then I used to though. Not quite up to the original works, but also not as far bellow them as I had used to.

      As to why we chose to read chronologically, well 1. You really need the prequels at the least the Legends of Dune books for the last two to make any sense and 2. People rarely take a look at the series this way. It makes it a different experience because we’re putting the new and old up against each other in an unconventional way. As a result you’ll get those times where there are gaps to be addressed. I can only imagine the mind frell when we get to Hunters of Dune. haha!

      Thanks so much Bryant for coming on this journey with us! You’re support and contribution of thoughts means a lot to us. Especially when we’re being called out, that means you were really listening. 🙂

      1. I hear ya, David!

        Hopefully my comments did not come across as being too negative. I think reading the novels in that order is an interesting experiment if it is absolutely nothing else, so — just in case I didn’t get this point across in the various bits of feedback I’ve sent — I think the podcast is a highly worthwhile thing, and that you guys are doing a marvelous job with it. It’s just that for me, it was an experiment that was somewhat doomed to failure from the outset. Does that mean it wasn’t worth doing? Absolutely not!

        When the prequels have worked, they’ve worked pretty well. For example, I thought that both “Hunters of Dune” and “Sandworms of Dune” were pretty solid, all the more so because of the work Herbert/Anderson had put into the “Legends of Dune” trilogy. Is it as good as Frank Herbert? No. But it’s good in its own right, and that’s worth praising.

  2. I had noticed it earlier this year and now I’ve gone back to doing research on it, I am surely convinced that the legends of Merlin have in some way made it into the Dune series. I was looking at Norma Lorre Goodrich’s book, Merlin, a study of the historical Merlin and who he might have been and in it are written his prophecies

    I’ve found many of the prophecies striking resemblances to different situations but here are a few that I know people will realize without much thought. I take into consideration that we don’t know what notes Brian and Kevin have so everything they have written could literally be what Frank had planned, so I might refer to a couple of the new books. I also skip over a few lines here and there because I figure you will understand what i’m trying to get across.

    “North Wales [Gwynedd] shall be red with mother’s blood and six brothers shall slaughter the line of Corineus.

    “Their descendents shall climb up to fly over the lofty summits, but public favor of these new men shall be disappointing”

    Not taking to the literal text, I believe this here represents the downfall of the Corrino and the rise of the Atreides Emperors almost perfectly.

    “Barely shall the German dragon reach its caverns because vengeance for its treason will overtake it.”

    “It will grow strong for a while but a plague in Nuestria will decimate it”.

    “Two dragons shall succeed them of whom the one shall be suffocated by invidious envy, and the other shall remain hidden under the shadow of a name.”

    “The lion justificer shall succeed them, at whose roaring the towers of Gaul and the insular dragons shall tremble.”

    I can see several ways in which this one could be used but the one instance in which this represents to me is Shaddams and Fenrings relationship with each other and how they killed Elrood. Or, I just thought of this, Leto’s trial and then he gains popularity amongst the Landsraad then he has Victor who then dies but Paul is born under the name of his grandfather. Like I said several instances in which this could refer.

    “From his mouth shall issue rivers which will water the dry throats of man.”

    Could be taken as a reference to Muad’Dib.

    “The fountain of healing water shall be turned into blood and two kings shall fight in single combat at the ford of the scepter.”

    The water of life converted into drinkable water and the fight between Paul and Feyd.

    These are only a few of selected lines and these could very well be coincidences but they do “put my mind in motion.” It wouldn’t be to odd if Herbert did take this prophecies into consideration when writing Dune because he wrote of how the Bene Gesserit often use prophecies and religions in their workings but, again, probably nothing more than coincidence.

    • Chris on July 23, 2014 at 3:20 am
    • Reply

    I find it interesting that Feyd used the hypnotically impressed safe word during his slave fight on Geidi Prime (“scum”) and Paul, put into a similar situation (fighting for his life in single combat…against Feyd) refused to use the Bene Gesserit safe word hypnotically conditioned into Feyd by the Lady Fenring. Possibly a reference to the differences in their individual characters?

    Also, what about Count Fenring and his refusal of the Emperor’s order to kill Paul? That act (or lack of an act) changes the course of history. Any theories as to why? Perhaps Fenring saw a less chaotic future if Paul was allowed to rein as opposed to the chaos that would follow without a definite ascension to the throne?

    • Matt on March 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    • Reply

    Hello @ all.

    I just stumbled into your podcast this week and since I`m a great fan of the dune series I really enjoy listening to your podcasts. But first of all I`m German and therefore my english could sometimes a little be hard to read in my comment. Apologies for that straight at the beginning.

    I want come directly to the point which hurt me most in this podcast. It`s when it comes to Duncan Idaho. Yes he takes not space in words in the whole book, but he plays one of the most important rules in Dune, mereley the most important. (As well in all other Frank Herbets books – He is always the one who keeps things going and changing). I try to make proof of it in five scenes where Duncan Idaho appears:

    1. Encounter with Paul on Caladan
    2. As Leto sends him to the Fremen to make them friends
    3. Meeting of Duncan, Leto, Stilgar and Paul
    4. Drunken Idaho scene
    5. Killing of Duncan Idaho and Pauls escape

    Scene 2 – Duncan Idahos main task on Arrakis is to gain the fremen as friends for Hous Atreides on behalf of Duke Leto. The most intriguing thing about that is the hope of Leto that the Fremen will judge the Atreides on the character of Duncan Idaho. This thought is so deep, so strong and so immense. In this scene it is explained what Duncan Idaho is for the Atreides. They Atreides took Duncan Idaho as the prototype of an Atreides (and genetically he is obviuos not Atreides) or at least how an Atreides should be. Duncan Idaho is the Atreides compass of their own character or better the tower of their morality.

    Scene 3 – Duncan Idaho achieved that. The book does not explain how, but i come back to this point later. So he returned with Stilgar to the Duke. On this point the base of the Atreides and Fremen alliance is forged. And this base is Duncan Idaho in himself. Stilgar traded the water of his deaths for Duncan Idaho, but Leto insisted as long he is alive he should stay at least sometimes in his service when he is needed. There was some bargaining about this but in the end Duncan Idaho became Fremen and stayed Atreides at the same time.

    Scene 5 and consequnces – This is the crucial point in the book, what happend there is much more than just the word, but Frank Herbert stressed and prounced the scene over and over again in the book, that there must be more about that than just the word. In this scene Duncan Idaho just saved the lifes of Paul and Jessica by fighting the Sardaukar on lost hiss life in that fight. Anf if it was just that the book was over in that very moment, because the Fremen-Atreides alliance was impoersoned in him and no one else. Clear win for Harkonnen. We know it was not. But why?

    Because Stilgar simply stook to this alliance as they encountered Paul and Jessica in the dessert. Stilgar renewed this alliance. But what has to be done. Duncan Idaho died whilst serving as his Atreides half, therefore House Atreides has to trade someones water in again, and this was Paul himself. In this very moment Paul became Fremen and Atreides at the same time as Duncan Idaho in the first place. Just to made this point clear it was not the Mahdi thing what Paul saved his life – because this still had to be proven first – it was the acceptance of Paul as substitute for Idaho. And also this was main point in Jamis challange of Paul by the Amtal Rule. By winning that fight Paul didn´t not only save his life, but a few more things happend. He became Fremen and far more he proofed stigar right by the descision of renewing the Atreides-Fremen alliance in Paul. But remeber clearly what was not proven. It didn´prove that Paul was the Mahdi or Lisan al Gaib. And is was not proven that Jessica was a gain for the tribe – her place still was to be found. And just think about the struggel Jessica had to stay alive, using and playing all tricks of the Missonaria Prectectiva, untill she found her place as Reverend Mother of the Fremen. And then think, how the f… Duncan Idaho achieved full acceptance of the Fremen as one of their without all that by just being Duncan Idaho.

    This alliance plot again bacame very clear at the end of the book in the great meeting of Fremen, where all them wanted Paul to challange Stilgar for leadership before the fight against the Emperors troops on Arrakis. Paul saved Stilgars life by turning thia alliance the over way round. Stay Fremen but make your Duke (showing the ring of his farther). – I thought a long time about this very point: Did Paul started the Jihad at this very point by himself? And I deny it, because the Fremen would have done it by themeselves at the very point as Paul had taken the Thraone of Shaddam. I think Paul wouldn´t loose Stilgar, because he needed someone to control his own fremen and soften the effects of the Jihad. – And be awrae of the absurdity only fanatics will accept, if you read it literally: “Stay free men, but call me your Duke!” And the beginning of that was Duncan Idaho.

    But who is Ducan Idaho really. To explain it I referre on earlier podcasts where the disscussion was about a quote about face dancers. I cannot quote it right but it`s about that we are all kind of face dancers by ourself, because we play different rules and use different masks. But not when it comes to Duncan Idaho. Duncan Idaho is simply ever Duncan Idaho. I come to scene 1, the encounter with Paul. Yes Paul kind of loved him by being Duncan Idaho and in this he was something different then Gurney Halleck. Gurney played diffrent roles Gurnes as teacher, Gurney as protector, Gurney even as friend, but in every role he acted in different way to Paul. In scene 3, the drunken Idaho scene, Jessica pitied him as Duncan Idaho but insisted he´s acting strange. But did he? No, he didn`t. Jessica simplay wanted to see what Duncan saw in that very moment that Atreides became less and less Atreides and more and more Harkonnen themselves with all that distrust amongst them. And again only Duncan Idaho simply stayed Duncan Idaho.

    Duncan Idaho is the great constant in Frank Herberts universe. If you don`t get this you don`t really understand the oncoming books.

    It`s always Duncan since the beginning! 😉

    Just my 5 cents,

    • Kashi on July 20, 2016 at 11:00 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Matt! Good Points, nice Reading You.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.