Dune or Dune-Not?
October 20, 2006 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I just finished reading Frank Herbert's "Dune", and I am in love with it. Should I continue reading the series and/or see the movie adaptations, or will it ruin my fascination with the original book?

I can't believe what an incredible book "Dune" is! I first started reading it as a young teen, and got about 2/3 of the way through the book (literally; when I got to "The Prophet" I got distracted and didn't finish it). Now, years later, I've started fresh and read it in its entirety - and I'm in love!

I just finished reading it about an hour ago and I'm still worked up about it. I researched the other books and the movie and miniseries based on it, and I'm intrigued. However, I'm wondering whether I should read or see them, as I fear they will detract from my love for the original.

I should explain that I get very immersed in books and I have very clear views of the characters and environments based on the author's description (as do most people). We all know that rarely does a sequel, and more rarely does a movie, live up to the original work. In fact, seeing most movie-adaptations of books taints my perception of the original work, because now I can only see the actors and environments that the movie portrayed.

Similarly (though to a lesser extent), reading the sequels could alter my perception of the characters and events. I am very satisfied with the book, with the characters and the resolution, and I can't decide whether I want to risk altering my perception of said elements. I suppose that reading the sequels that were written by Frank Herbert himself could only improve upon my knowledge and appreciation for his universe, but I'm just afraid that suddenly I'll dislike Paul-Maud'Dib because of something revealed about him in the next book (just an example, it could be any number of things).

I suspect I should at least read the next book in the series but skip out on the movies, lest I corrupt my view of the written work. If I did see a film version, I would probably go for the Sci-Fi miniseries, as it seems to be regarded as a more accurate depiction of Dune.

What are your thoughts and recommendations on the subject? Sorry this is a lame question, but I'm just curious (and trying to keep my Dune fervor alive somehow ;))
posted by sprocket87 to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Dune is in fact an amazing book.

My opinion: The sequels range in quality from fair to awful, and forget the film/video versions.
posted by enrevanche at 6:04 PM on October 20, 2006

If you can stomach the last line of Dune then you should be able to get through at least books 2 and 3. The second book has a very different pace than Dune (was originally released as a magazine serial I believe). Book 3 both ties up most of the ideas and plot threads of the first two and starts to bring in the really weird ass stuff that dominates the rest of the series.
posted by Riemann at 6:14 PM on October 20, 2006

Skip the adaptations, and the ABOMINATIONS known as the prequels. I actually prefer the sequels that Frank Herbert wrote to the original novel-- Children of Dune & God-Emperor of Dune especially. Many people will disagree with me on that, but I say go for it.

At the least, continue on to the second book, which has a fantastic ending.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 6:17 PM on October 20, 2006

Oh, I feel I should mention that the prequels I referenced were (are being) written by Brian Herbert, Frank's no-talent kid.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 6:17 PM on October 20, 2006

You finished the good stuff. The rest pales by comparison.
posted by caddis at 6:18 PM on October 20, 2006

I also lovvved Dune, but the sequels really started to get too wierd for me and I stopped halfway through a book because of it. Ive been told that the prequels written by his son are excellent though and I plan to read those soon.

As far as the movies and whatnot, I enjoyed the mini series but of course it is not 100% accurate, when are they ever? I havent seen the movie but I havent heard good things so I probably wont ever see it.
posted by trishthedish at 6:18 PM on October 20, 2006

Oh I should also mention that I enjoyed the second one but it was wierd. The third one, do yourself a favor and dont try to read it.
posted by trishthedish at 6:21 PM on October 20, 2006

The prequels are trash. They are right up there with romance novels and R.A. Salvatore in asshatery. Avoid at all costs.
posted by Riemann at 6:22 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: I'll back the 2nd and third books for sure. they start to get really weird after that, you might enjoy that or not, basically they get a lot more theoretical and less "action".

also about the prequals, i dunno, i read all 6 and really enjoyed them. they certianly don't carry the same level of complexity as the original dune books, but they are to me, well written stories that take place in this fantastic universe. I especially enjoyed the crusade trilogy. i suppose it has to do with why you love the original Dune.

the movies should be viewed as having nothing to do with the books. the sci fi mini series was fun while I watched it, but still, nothing comes close to your imagination.

also, i'd say this is a highly contentious question, pretty much everyone loves the original Dune, then people start getting venomous about if the sequals were good, or when they stop being good, or if the prequals are great or garbage. the bottom line should be that you check them out and decide for yourself and not let pretentious snobs call you an idiot for liking something.
posted by teishu at 6:24 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: Don't see the movies.

Although none of the sequels are as strong, they are fascinating. The second book is rather weak. If you get past it and find that you're still interested, keep going through Frank Herbert's original six volumes. The sequels have a different tone and nature than the first book. They get more political. There are some wonderful concepts here, but there's also a lot of tedious stuff.

My wife had read the series three times over twenty years, but says the last time through was torture. She feels no need to do so again. I read the entire series once, and the only book I really liked other than the first was the last book. (I hated the second and third books, unlike teishu.) But, as I say, they are fascinating books.

All this is to say: don't jump right into them. You're fine if you never read anything else. Dune really works best as a standalone novel. Give it a couple months. If you're still curious, then move on to the second book.
posted by jdroth at 6:30 PM on October 20, 2006

I enjoyed the prequels, and the sequels. The David Lynch movie was awful. I didn't see the other movie. I also liked Frank Herbert's biography Dreamer of Dune. I read the original Dune in high school in the 80s, read it again in the 90s, and then recently I read all the books, prequels, Dune, and sequels, in order.
posted by Melsky at 6:34 PM on October 20, 2006

Follow the Golden Path and read all of the Frank Herbert Books.
I also loved the Dosadi Experiment, but only on my second try.
posted by Chuckles at 6:35 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you are going to see any of the filmed adaptations, stick with the big Hollywood version that came out with a super-extended version relatively recently. Sure, I detest some of the casting pics, most of the directing choices, and the special effects in some of the shots were just hideous.

Having said that, the final scenes with the Bene'Gesserits getting their due are ....delicious.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:37 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: What is it that you especially liked and or didn't like about the first book? The answer to that would go a long way towards determining whether you should read the others.

I can tell you this. If you liked Dune, then you should certainly read Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh (assuming of course that you haven't already). If you liked the political aspects of Dune, you'll probably like Cyteen as well, and since it's in a completely different universe from Dune, there's no worries about screwing up your impressions of Dune.

I LOVED Dune. It's my favorite book. I also liked the next two in the series. They're good, but they aren't as good. They do provide a different perspective on Paul, and the future path that he was struggling to avoid. They don't have very much to do with Paul though. So, whether I would recommend them for you would depend a lot on what you liked about the first book.

I was happy that I read the rest of the books by Herbert in the series. I didn't think they were as good, but I wanted to soak up every drop of Dune that I could. Even still, I never read any of the Dune books written by anybody else, and I don't really plan to.

I liked the miniseries a lot, but many fans didn't, so I'd definitely stay away from that given what you've said above about what movies do to your enjoyment of a book.
posted by willnot at 6:42 PM on October 20, 2006

I tried and failed to read the second book. It was crap.
posted by popechunk at 6:44 PM on October 20, 2006

I'd say go for it and read books 2 and 3 (I liked them). Afterthat things get hairy, and I really don't have any interest in the son's stories and prequels. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say I like the david lynch movie too. Just see it after you've read all the books you want.
posted by maxpower at 6:53 PM on October 20, 2006

If you do decide to read the rest of the original Dune series, know that the 6th (and last) book ends with a major cliffhanger. Unfortunately, it is never resolved because Herbert died before he wrote the 7th (supposidly final) novel. I agree with other posters that the books start to get really weird after the third book, and none are as good as the original.

You might try the original movie though - who knows, you might like it. Plus, it has Sting and Patrick Stewart.
posted by thewittyname at 6:55 PM on October 20, 2006

I would say that the second and third book are worth reading, although very different and not quite as mind bending. The original movie sucks, but the SciFi mini-series version (watch the european cut that's not so careful to cut out the romance/sex sences) is actually quite good. I wouldn't say it does justice to the book, but it's not offensive as the first movie is.
posted by tiamat at 6:59 PM on October 20, 2006

I loved the first book (although in the interest of honesty I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Scott Brick). I tried to read the second one about three different times. I haven't seen any of the movies.
posted by Lucinda at 7:00 PM on October 20, 2006

STOP NOW. I love love love Dune and have read it several times, but the films and sequels/prequels have done nothing but disappoint. The second one is the least awful, but I still considered my time spent on it as wasted.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2006

I actually really like Lynch's Dune, and thought the recent SciFi series was trash. See Lynch's Dune, if only because the production design was so influential for SF movies to come. Appropriately trippy. The Sci Fi Channel's series was cheap and badly acted and uninspired.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2006

I thought the sci-fi channel movie with William Hurt was quite good. The Lynch movie is crap, although I haven't seen the long version.

I doubt that the sequels will change your impression of the first book much. Each book is a completely different beast. I especially liked God Emperor of Dune. Didn't read the prequels.
posted by bingo at 7:09 PM on October 20, 2006

Skip the movies, especially the mess David Lynch slapped together. The Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries is just this side of acceptable, but not worth sweating over.

I would, however, recommend completing the first trilogy - snap up Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune. Brilliant, challenging work. While reading Children, I found myslef longing for the days of Paul's adventures as a simple member of a Fremen Seitch. A few chapters after first experiencing this longing, I realized Herbert had caused me to feel this way. Young Atreides felt as I did, that life was simpler before his rise to power.

Part four left me more confused than anything. I've yet to complete part five. The prequels are as skippable as The Phantom Menace.
posted by EatTheWeek at 7:21 PM on October 20, 2006

The first book was a great novel. I was in your situation and hoping against hope that the sequels were as good. I started reading the second book and couldn't convince myself it was the same author. I heard it wasn't as good, but it really did start to spoil the series just knowing that the original Dune was as good as it was.

I've continued to read the later sequels over a period of about three years, never really getting quite interested enough to finish them quickly. I believe the sixth is still sitting on my nightstand somewhere. There's some interesting stuff -- but nothing like Dune in terms of focus or breadth or depth. If I were in your situation and could stand it, I wouldn't read the sequels. Although I do hear tell that the Dune Encyclopedia is good.
posted by ontic at 7:21 PM on October 20, 2006

The second one is okay. The third and fourth are bad but possibly worth a shot if you have a lot of free time. The fifth and sixth are just useless.

I think the Lynch movie is worth seeing. It's not very faithful, nor is it a great movie, but it's got some interesting sights.

None of these things have altered my perception of the original at all.
posted by equalpants at 7:22 PM on October 20, 2006

Oh, and the mini-series will not increase your understanding of the first book at all. The second one even perverts it a little bit.
posted by ontic at 7:23 PM on October 20, 2006

Dune is fantastic. No doubt of that. The second and third books have their moments, I don't regret reading them. I slogged through God-Emperor. It was interesting but I don't think I can recommend it. I read the book after that and can't be bothered to even remember its name.

I'd say you should stop with the first book or read the first four since they're tied together, but don't bother with any past that.

For what it's worth, I enjoy Lynch's adaptation of Dune. Sue me.
posted by lekvar at 7:25 PM on October 20, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for the incredible outpouring of comments (I just finished up the final Appendices before checking for replies; you all are amazing!).

Most of your comments are confirming my suspicions that the later books get a little "out there". Some of you asked what I enjoyed so much about the original "Dune", so I'll try to address that briefly:

For me there were a couple major elements that really attracted me. First was Paul-Muad'Dib's character - this is a truly phenomenal character. Most everyone, and possibly myself more than some, is attracted toward a true Hero. A protagonist that makes good and right decisions, that is pure and honest, that is admirable and decent. Paul upheld all of these virtuous qualities and had so much more: Every facet of his personality, mental and physical capabilities was supremely entrancing. The build-up of slow revalations about Paul's awareness and capabilities throughout the novel only increased my love for him as a character; in a way I feel as did the Fremen that followed him as a Prophet, with the utmost respect and admiration. Yes, Paul it the ultimate protagonist, and is probably my main reason for enjoying "Dune" so thoroughly.

Another reason lies in the culture of the Fremen: Frank Herbert detailed a truly amazing subset of people that was enthralling to read about. The gradual revelations were captivating, from their mastery over the lethal desert environment to their control of the ecology and even the sandworms. I soaked up every bit of the Fremen, and the fact that they are a group of "underdogs" of sorts only increases your sense of appreciation for them.

Finally, I really love the intricate universe that Frank Herbert created: The level of detail is truly insane, though at times overwhelming. His style is beautiful in that he introduces some very complex thematical ideas or specific (fictional) terms as if you were already familiar with them, even though you're quite ignorant thusfar, but then through the course of the chapters that follow gradually explains what you've been reading in such a manner that you don't even realize that you're learning and becoming immersed in his worlds. It's truly amazing, though as I mentioned, at times overwhelming. Initially (mostly during the first Book of the three "Dune" sections), the political and religious elements are somewhat confusing: The Great Houses and the Imperium are basic enough, but things like the Landsraad, the CHOAM corporation, and elements of the Guild are presented in a very confusing light. Throw in the Bene Gesserit, which didn't become totally managable to me until the Appendix, and it's a bit much. However, as I stated, throughout the course of the novel Frank did an excellent job of progressively increasing the amount of light on these intricately related elements.

I fear that the sequels may be too political for me, being less about the story of DUNE and more about the rest of Frank's (amazing but not necessarily pertinent) Universe. Does Arrakis, House Atreides, the Fremen, and planetary ecology play a significant role in the sequels? Or do they get wrapped up in the "bigger picture"?

I suspect, based on your comments, that I will opt not to see the theatrical renditions of the book. I get the impression that they will not add to my appreciation for the book, and could possibly detract from it.

However I am still considering reading the sequels, only maintaining the attitude that they are somewhat separate entities from the first novel.

willnot, thanks especially for your comments and for your suggestion of Cyteen; I will definitely look into that!

Further comments appreciated, thank you all!
posted by sprocket87 at 7:27 PM on October 20, 2006

Kull wahad! I have to say that Brian Herberts prequels were the most disappointing piles of no-talent crap it has ever been my misfortune to open. Not only are they horribly written but they bear only the faintest relation to the original novels (which I've read many many times). I can see that Brian Herbert was trying to give backstory to the characters his father wrote, but he only succeeded in completely f*cking them over in the most superficial, cack-handed way possible. Avoid at all costs.

The David Lynch movie is very flawed, but still (I think) an entertaining couple of hours, if only for the sandworm footage.

The Sci-Fi channels reworking of the stories is patchy. I couldn't finish watching the first installment after Princess Irulan visits Dune - it's the sort of plot-hacking that I detest and smacks of either a writer or a director going "I can improve on this!". The later episodes seemed to settle back down and weren't completely horrible, although the Ghanima/Leto thing was just plain weird.

Read the novels. Reread Dune. You'll keep getting different things from these fabuolous books for years to come.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:29 PM on October 20, 2006

Response by poster: Riemann, you said "If you can stomach the last line of Dune then you should be able to get through at least books 2 and 3." What do you mean by that?

I actually loved the last line! I thought it was a marvelous line and I smiled as I read it. In fact, in my edition of the book, the last line is at the very bottom of a right-side page, so I didn't know it was the last line until I turned the page and saw a blank sheet! I was suprised at the abruptness but as I reflected on the final dialogue I realized how perfect it was. IMO :)
posted by sprocket87 at 7:36 PM on October 20, 2006

I think if you read the others expecting them to be another Dune you'll be very disappointed, but if you go into them expecting good books set in an interesting universe, you'll be fine. Dune is one of my favorite works of fiction, but I still like the next 5 to varying degrees, with God-Emperor probably being my favorite among them.

I liked some of Lynch's movie, but he got some details wrong that I thought showed he didn't really "get" some of the book. The Sci-Fi channel adaptations were pretty standard Sci-Fi channel works in that they were good and I'm glad I watched them, but I have no particular desire to watch them again.

One interesting thing about the other works--they help demonstrate just how good Dune is. If I'd never read Dune but read the other 5, I would rate them as varying, but on the whole, pretty good books. But when compared to Dune, it's clear Dune is just so obviously on another level.

I've never read any of the non-Frank Herbert Dune books (other than the Dune Encyclopedia), so I can't comment on them.
posted by blm at 7:46 PM on October 20, 2006

From your comments I think you will enjoy books 2 and 3, I certainly did. After that it got a little to out there for me personally. The second and third books don't focus on Paul much, but he is still a minor character and I find his children interesting as well.
posted by meta87 at 7:48 PM on October 20, 2006

Seconding Cyteen here. It's truly complex and fascinating, on political and personal and technological levels. I read it and re-read it many times.

I loved the first Dune book when I read it years ago, disliked the sequels and was deterred from continuing. The movie has unfortunately trumped the book in my mental imagery, and that's a shame because the book was so much better.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:51 PM on October 20, 2006

I loved Dune. I wish I had not read any of the others. I made it to about half-way through God Emperor of Dune before I threw my hands up in disgust.
posted by Rubber Soul at 8:05 PM on October 20, 2006

Based on what you said you liked about the book, I suspect you would NOT like the second book very much. Paul and the Fremen have been changed by years of war. They've done unpleasant things, and it's had an impact on them. These are the characters you grew to love to an extant, but they aren't as innocent, and you might not like them as much.

I hate to say it, but you might be better off leaving well enough alone.
posted by willnot at 8:17 PM on October 20, 2006

My advice: read the trilogy only. If you want to see a film version, watch Lynch's extended version with the sound off. It's got striking visuals, but Lynch himself has admitted he didn't do the tale justice.

(For a good time with big worms churning through dusty tracts, watch Tremors.)
posted by rob511 at 8:22 PM on October 20, 2006

I highly recommend the Lynch movie, especially the Alan Smithee version. The production design is amazing, the half-hour animated introduction to the Dune universe is fascinating, and Patrick Stewart has a Chapman Stick solo. Watch it, just don't expect an experience anything like reading the book.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:01 PM on October 20, 2006

rob511 has the link to the version I was talking about. But sound on, please! Otherwise you can't hear Patrick Stewart's solo!
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:05 PM on October 20, 2006

I liked Dune Messiah, in that it seemed to provide a sense of closure that was missing from Dune. But once the story's over, it's over; the further you go in the series, the more the weaknesses of the original book (and, yes, there were weaknesses there) come to dominate the story.
posted by SPrintF at 9:35 PM on October 20, 2006

I second arcticwoman: STOP NOW...The second one is the least awful, but I still considered my time spent on it as wasted.

And equalpants: The second one is okay. The third and fourth are bad but possibly worth a shot if you have a lot of free time. The fifth and sixth are just useless.

To me, the first one is so good that I needed an explanation for how the others could be so bad (I invented scenarios: he started mentally declining, his wife wrote the first one and then passed away, leaving him to try to pull off a sequel alone). If you need to feel like you got all you could out of Dune, read the second, but realize that it's still light years better than the ones that follow. A disembodied brain suspended in a vat of liquid, etc.
posted by salvia at 10:24 PM on October 20, 2006

Salvia, I did exactly the same thing -- making up scenarios. I suppose some people just have one good book in them. However I consider the second one the worst of the bunch.
posted by ontic at 10:49 PM on October 20, 2006

I loved the first book. The second and third book are fairly straightforward continuations of the original story, and I think not essential, but if you love the world, still worth reading.

The fourth book, if I remember right, was pretty mindblowing and definitely took the whole series in another direction. I don't know if I'd recommend it as a stand alone, but I'm fairly sure I would recommend it to anybody who loved the first book, just because the concept of the half-man half-sandworm is so cool.

I couldn't get into the fifth book and stopped about 50 pages in, I think. The 80th time they bring back duncan idaho from the dead was too much. He was never that great a character to begin with.
posted by empath at 11:05 PM on October 20, 2006

Count me in as those that liked the SciFi Channel's take on it. The focus was properly on the politics and not the prophecy, which was really what the books were about. Lynch liked weird prophetical metaphors, while the SciFi Channel take is very pragmatic. Plus, the effects, acting, and costume design are excellent. Not to mention Chani being hotter than Sean Young's Chani (and I like Sean Young).
posted by smallerdemon at 11:11 PM on October 20, 2006

In some ways I find Dune Messiah to be a better book than Dune. More moving and profound, but less of the action/adventure element. It's a must read, and completes the story of Muad'dib in much the same way that Speaker for the Dead completes Ender's Game. The tone of Children of Dune is sort of a midpoint between the two, but is also compelling reading.

It took me a few tries to enjoy God Emperor, but it's worth tackling, though nowhere near the quality of the trilogy. I've never completed the next (was it Heretics) and gave up after a couple of attempts.
posted by Manjusri at 11:57 PM on October 20, 2006

Read all the Frank Herbert books and love them up. Yeah, as they progress they get wacky, but it's all part of the trip.
God Emperor Of Dune is not just "out there," it's deep. And really good.
The Lynch version is a fun watch, but that's all I can say for it.
I found the prequels poorly written and it made me sad.
posted by BillBishop at 12:42 AM on October 21, 2006

I agree that you should read all of the original books. Some are better than others, but if you love Herbert's originality and vision, and you do, you will enjoy them as well. Just don't expect them to be as stunning as Dune. The Lynch Movie is heartbreakingly bad, the mini-series has its moments, and should only be watched years after finishing the last of the original books (if at all). I listened to half two audiobook versions of the prequels and they were extremely boring. Can't recommend them at all.
posted by sic at 5:53 AM on October 21, 2006

Read them all, but read 2 and 3 quickly. They aren't his best, and were begged out of him. He had no plans beyond Dune. After book 3, he gets back into some sort of groove and seems, to me, to be writing for himself again. You need 2 and 3 for the background - without them 4,6, and 6 make less sense. But they're not particularly good. interesting, just not as good.

As for the movies: The Lynch version provides an amazing library of visuals for your mind to use whilst reading the books. In other respects, it is pretty lame. The Scf-fi channel version of Dune has its merits, but mis-characterizes Paul for about the first hour. In the first hour or so, he is a petulant, spoiled punk of a kid, which Paul is not. After the first hour, though, he gets into the role.

While Lynch provides the most beautiful/horrible vision, the sci-fi channel movies provide a more accurate telling of the story.

That said: If you love Dune, then the movies are worth watching if for no other reason than to see how other people see it. They're interesting. Even when they're bad, it's for interesting reasons. The Dune series is very cerebral, which is very very hard to translate into film of any sort.

Oh - and regarding the prequels - don't listen to the haters. The writing is, as they said, not great. But it is functional. The quality of writing is certainly no worse that the writing of the most horridly beloved of all sci-fi Asimov. Like Asimov, the ideas are fascinating. The facts and events very interesting, as they are derived from Herbert's notes. The writing, any mediocre writer could do. But reading the prequels is not about the writing. It's about the ideas, and some of them are gems. They answer such question as how did the vendetta with the harkonnen (sp?) begin. What was the butlerian jihad and why are there no computers? Etc. etc. etc.

My best advice is read and watch everything. Decide for yourself. None of it will be a waste of time. If you hate a piece, skip it next time you read the series, because you will read it again.
posted by jaded at 6:37 AM on October 21, 2006

I think that you should read the rest of the original Herbert books (but do yourself a favor and skip the Brian Herbert material... it's crap).

I would compare the progression in the Dune novels to the 'Matrix' trilogy. The first one blew me away, I was a lot less impressed by the final ones.

From reading your comments above regarding the development of the characters and the staggering amount of detail that Herbert imbued into his universe, I would suggest that you read A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. It is fantasy, but reads more like historical fiction (there isn't any blatant magic or things that gives fantasy a bad name). Martin was heavily influenced by Herbert. The first book is A Game of Thrones. The series has won a bunch of awards (Hugos, etc).

GRRM is much more consistent than Herbert; the series just keeps getting better as you move through it.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2006

Completely off-topic, but I can't let this comment remain unchallenged:

The first book is A Game of Thrones. The series has won a bunch of awards (Hugos, etc).

Whether or not Martin's books are any good (I can't get through the first one, though I do not hate it), they have not won "a bunch of awards". Martin's awards for the series are not top-tier awards. He hasn't won a Hugo or Nebula for any book in the series, though a promotional novella from the first book did win. The books have been nominated several times, though.

Having read half of Martin's first book and all of the Dune series, I can see that here are parallels, but I'm not convinced that someboy who has read and enjoyed the first of Herbert's books is necessarily going to enjoy Martin. I certainly wouldn't recommend Martin to my wife, who loves Dune.
posted by jdroth at 7:49 AM on October 21, 2006

Minority opinion:
I actually love the Lynch movie - if you don't go into it expecting a 100% faithful adaptation, and instead view it as Dune filtered through the crazy mind of David Lynch, you might be pleasantly surprised. I thought the SciFi miniseries, while more faithful to the book, was boring and badly acted.

The sequels? Go ahead and read them - the few I read were mostly ok and entertaining.
posted by sluggo at 7:55 AM on October 21, 2006

Lynch's Dune is a poor adaptation of Herbert's novel, but it's a pretty good Lynch movie. And it's the only time you'll get to see what Lynch would do with a big budget.

I read the Dune novels about fifteen years ago, and remember thinking that 1 was great, 2 and 3 were pretty good, 4 was very good, and 5 and 6 weren't worthwhile.
posted by Prospero at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2006

I love Dune, I remember liking it as a kid, but what prompted me to reread it as an adult (and thereby realize just how awesome it is - I literally couldn't put it down, I'd walk to and from the subway reading it as I walked) was the miniseries, oddly enough. It's not that the miniseries was great (although I do like it a lot), it's that it captures some of the essence of what makes Dune so great. So yeah, I'd watch the (first) miniseries at least, it's certainly not going to ruin Dune for you or anything, and it might give you some interestingly different ideas about the book. I'm another one who likes the Lynch movie, even though it is deeply flawed, I very much like the imagery and tone of the movie, and the longer director's cut is much more coherent than the theatrical release was. It's worth seeing even if only because it looks like Dune. I haven't reread any of the other books yet, but I probably will at least do the first two sequels.
posted by biscotti at 8:56 AM on October 21, 2006

I can't see how reading any of the prequels/sequels or seeing the films would detract from appreciation of the characters from the first book. Dune is at or near the top of my all-time favorites list, and though I didn't like the way he or his universe turned out in the sequels, they didn't change my love of the story, the characters or the writing of the first book.

I recently re-read Dune for about the tenth time (it's just as good as it was the first time, I swear) and have been debating about whether to re-read the sequels, all of which I've read once. I'm thinking "no." Things were fine just as they were left at the end of Dune. You can almost see the end of Paul's story, because Paul's prescience shows him the various choices, and we know all too well how the visions of great leaders are corrupted or changed by those who come after them.
posted by lhauser at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2006

As a dune fan you should be chomping at the bit to see Lynch's Dune movie. Try to get your hands on the long extended version. Its visually amazing, the acting is good, and the story is mostly faithful. As far as the books go, the further down the sequel path you go the farther you get away from the original tale. Hell, God Emporer takes place 3,000 years after the original.

The only real piece of advice you need is as a new Dune fan is that this kind of stuff (like star wars, star trek) is dominated by the male nerd stereotype thus all the purists and dismissing critics. I'd take this kiddie mentality with a large grain of salt. There's a lot of Dune related goodness out there. I honestly cant imagine a big dune not checking out the sequels or the Lynch film on purpose because some people on the internet told them to do so.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:32 AM on October 21, 2006

Having read what you took away from this reading of Dune, I think you should definitely read the second and third books; then reread Dune. You will probably enjoy reconsidering the virtues of Paul Muad'Dib as a hero - does he succeed or fail in what he is striving to do?

The Lynch movie is wonderful fun, and sufficiently unfaithful from the book that there is little danger of it 'spoiling' your enjoyment of the novel.

The miniseries adaptation is, well, interesting. Read "Children of Dune" first, as it covers that material too. You will see some of the most hilarious cheap effects and wooden acting this side of Plan 9 From Outer Space. The CGI desert mouse and the oaf that played Gurney Hallek are side-splitting.

The fact that the original novel is a million times better than its sequels or adaptations means that it is immune from any bad perceptions you get from them. It stands on its own and nothing can ruin your enjoyment of it. Not even Jean luc Picard's baliset solo.
posted by nowonmai at 4:15 PM on October 21, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, thank you all again so much!

I was discussing this with a friend of mine in person this morning. He loved the original Dune as well, and has purchased the entire Frank Herbert Dune series. He hasn't had a chance to try reading any of the sequels yet though and offered to let me borrow them, so I think I'll ask to borrow Dune: Messiah from him and give it a try.

Based on some of the comments I think I'll be able to keep the original book separate from anything the sequels offer, and even if I don't enjoy them it shouldn't hinder my appreciation for the original.
posted by sprocket87 at 6:08 PM on October 21, 2006

General "loved the book" movie advice - wait a good long while before seeing the movie. Its nearly impossible for the book to match up with the movie (SO much more detail in the book) - which I think makes it impossible to be charmed by the movie if the book is fresh in your head.

If your goal is to see how much the book and movie differ - then go and gorge yourself on the movies.
posted by AuntLisa at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2006

I've read the six by Frank Herbert. (Dune, about 8 times; books 2-4, two or three times each, and 5 and 6 once each.) 3 was actually my second-favorite (behind the original, of course). 2 and 4 are pretty good too. I haven't read the Brian Herbert books.

First was Paul-Muad'Dib's character - this is a truly phenomenal character. Most everyone, and possibly myself more than some, is attracted toward a true Hero. A protagonist that makes good and right decisions, that is pure and honest, that is admirable and decent.

Besides the original, I think the third book captures this aspect best.

Finally, I really love the intricate universe that Frank Herbert created: The level of detail is truly insane, though at times overwhelming.

I think the fourth book does this pretty well, too. And it's set a few thousand years after the first three books, so there's plenty of new detail to be absorbed in reading it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:01 PM on October 23, 2006

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