I have been intrigued by the Dune universe ever since I first saw the David Lynch movie all those years ago. I finally read the novel 3 years ago or so. But, I recently decided I wanted to read it again, and was wondering which of the Dune books were worth reading. Is the entire series by Frank Herbert worth following through to its end? What about the prequels by his son and Kevin Anderson?

I can take a certain amount of punishment in an effort to see a story through to its end. I forced myself to make it to book 9 in the Wheel of Time series, and book 8 in the Sword of Truth series before I finally admitted they weren’t worth it by way of comparison. So how do the other Dune books stack up to the original?

Dune readers probably break down into three categories – people who just read the first one, people who balk at the beginning of the 4th one, and people who read them all.

1, 2, and 3 tell a reasonably connected story that takes place over about 20 years and involve the same characters. Book 4 takes place 1000 years in the future, and they get crazier after that.

I have read and enjoyed them all (the Frank-penned ones. I haven’t read any of the newer ones), but the first 3 are the most appealing.

The prequels are an abomination against Mankind.

In my opinion, read the original, then stop. If you really want, read the next 2-3 (Messiah, Children, and maybe Emperor), then stop.

edit: Haha, JPR got it exactly correct.

I’ve read the first two of the “House” prequels and while I wouldn’t call them an “abomination against Mankind” I would have to say they tend to fall into the “mostly crap” territory. Parts are rather interesting considering how some things flow into Dune, but some sequences are just completely stupid and pointless filler. The result is… ugh. I can’t really recommend them so far.

Unfortunately since I already own the last of the “House” trilogy and two of the historical prequels (dealing with the ancient war against the machines)–happily all bought used–I’ll probably finish up with the rest eventually just to get them over with. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the two sequels (Hunters and Sandworms) because I hadn’t really read the rest of Frank Herbert’s cycle, though I’m familiar with what happens generally.

— Alan

The first six books are absolutely terrific. I wasn’t so sure about the second book, but all of them are well worth your time. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about getting married to the series.

I’ve only read the first and have always taken the advice of friends to avoid anything after, but I’ll probably read the second some time this year and see where that takes me.

At the very least, if you dug Dune you should give Messiah and Children a ride as that pretty much completes a cycle. After that it gets… funky.

— Alan

The first one is great, the second and third are pretty good, the rest that he wrote aren’t all that great, and the stuff his son wrote is pretty bad.
I mean, if you have nothing else to do, it’s better than twiddling your thumbs, I think, but not by much.

Now you got me all excited about the series again. I even considered re-reading the first but I doubt I’ll go that far because the memories are still quite vivid after fifteen years.

The House trilogy by his son and Kevin J. Anderson is basically split between two poles. Pole one is the writing, which is indescribably awful. Quite probably the worst I have ever read. Pole two, the ideas, which are some of them quite nifty. I believe the books were written based on notes Frank Herbert left behind when he died, which suggests that the good ideas were his, though I can’t confirm that. I’m not entirely sorry I read them, but I am very sorry to have owned two of the three and rectified that with all due haste when I was done.

I originally read just Dune and Dune Messiah, having been told that it was downhill from there. Children, when I eventually did read it, tuned out to be quite good, so I would say that those three are the peak and it is downhill from there.

…but, that peak is so high, that it is actually worth continuing to read. God Emperor is slow and at times more like a philosophy text than a novel, but it has plenty of interesting Sci-Fi stuff going on. Heretics and Chapterhouse are like another mini-series, with Hunters and Sandworms completing the story. Those books are all of about the same quality: worth reading if you like the universe, but not classics by any stretch.

The other stuff by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson I would describe as worth it if you absolutely love the universe but aren’t a hard-on about what you think things should have been like in the time periods they cover. In other words, if you are willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy the universe, they are good. Especially the Butlerian Jihad stuff, which I would read before Hunters and Sandworms.

So, my recommendation is, in order of worthwhile-ness:

Dune Messiah
Children of Dune

Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse Dune

The Butlerian Jihad
The Machine Crusade
The Battle of Corrin

Hunters of Dune
Sandworms of Dune

God Emperor of Dune
House Atreides
House Harkonnen
House Corrino

Not to go all ‘movie’ in the BCTVM forum but…

Happened across a showing of Dune on a movie channel the other week. Had been a long time since seeing it the first time and longer still since reading the book (I think I only ever read the first iirc). Pretty faithful to the source (if still incomplete in the dreaded book-adapted-to-even-a-3hr-movie sense) and full of Lynchian wierdness and that certain 80’s cheesiness esp. with regard to special effects. I tend to howl now at what used to be considered, 20 - 30 years ago, “great!!1” special effects. Also, Asia doing the movie score… bitchen!

This thread makes me want to go back and re-read the first and then take on the 2nd and 3rd.

Asia? I think you mean Toto.

— Alan

LOL! Of course. (Always getting my 80’s prog-rockers mixed up… so embarrasing.)

And IMO, the Dune novels culminate with God Emperor. You can’t read Heretics or Chapterhouse without God Emperor, it sets the stage for those.

I agree with Jakub. But it’s kind of a pity – Heretics and Chapterhouse are so good, but it’s a real schlep to get through “God Emperor.”

Interesting. God Emperor is probably my second favourite novel after the first one. I just think the concept of that figure trying to teach humanity a lesson is an interesting one…

“The Butlerian Jihad
The Machine Crusade
The Battle of Corrin”

Of the prequel books, those are my favourites. They expand on a lot of backstory that we take for granted in Dune, plant the seeds for later feuds and so on. I found them a fun read. But probably more so after reading Dune than if I had discovered them before.


They try to explain the origin of almost every faction and organization in the Dune universe… I found it pretty obnoxious. It doesn’t all have to date from the time of the Jihad. The writing itself is also pretty terrible, and only gets worse as the series progresses.

Good God, the Butlerian Jihad books are awful. It’s like a manual on how not to write. I’m not even being hyperbolic – you can see a whole host of classic errors before the first chapter ends. Lifeless conversations, excessive description, heck even a misplaced modifier or three. They read like fanfic, not like something written by an experienced author (this is being generous, apparently) and the son of a brilliant author.

Thanks for the input everyone. I think I have a good place to start now.