When I first read this science fiction classic, I was 14 and probably read it purely as an adventure story. (I still remember it vividly. I read it in two or three sittings on a long plane trip.) When I reread it as an adult, I came at it from the perspective of a character-driven political novel that happens to be set on an alien planet. It works both ways. Herbert has created a world that is so complex and layered that the reader has to tease it apart to gain full understanding of all the themes at play. I suspect even more rereadings may be necessary.
One new thing I noticed during the latest reading was how much human political and religious history is infused in the alien societies Herbert created, with a particular emphasis on Islam, which makes this messianic war story just as apropos for our time as it was when it was written 40 years ago. The depiction of life on a desert planet where water is the most precious of commodities and every action is about survival remains fascinating as well. The only thing that fell short for me this time was that the story was so epic and so grand that certain aspects of it had to be glossed over; some characters got short shrift, and some plotlines got lost. But that’s nitpicking. This classic of the genre still stands.
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