This was a long read nevertheless an enjoyable one.
The most fascinating thing about this book is that at no point will you realize that it was written in 1965. There are no remnants of the time during which it was written, left in the book except maybe the names of characters. The book being Sci-fi has something to do about it, obviously, because the whole point of sci-fi is to peep into the future. However, Dune has a certain quality about it that makes it uniquely modern.
For further context, I searched for other books published in 1965. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Harold Pinter’s Homecoming, The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne Du Maurier are some of them, yet Dune seems to be far away from all of them.
The story begins in the water planet Caladan, where Duke Leto is the ruler. Due to politics and upon the order of Emperor Shaddam IV the Duke must now forfeit his home planet and go to the desert planet of Arrakeen, better known as Dune, along with his son Paul Arteides and his concubine Jessica.
From the beginning, Paul is prophesied to become the Kwisatz Haderach, a supreme being who will change destiny (like always). His mother Jessica is a part of an elite league of women, called the Bene Gesserit, who possess superhuman powers. Jessica had been passing down all of her training to Paul from a young age with the hope that the prophecy might be true. There are other powerful soldiers like Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck, Mentat Thufir Hawat who teach Paul various things.
Very soon after taking up his position as Duke of Arrakeen, Leto is betrayed by his own medical team Yueh and taken to the Harkonnen (rival house) Baron. Paul and Jesicca escape with help from Yueh. From here on the story follows the development of Paul from boy to all that the prophecy claimed him to be.
But interestingly Frank Herbert does not glamourize the role of savior that Paul dons. Instead, he is weighed down by the enormity of his power and his responsibility. This is revealed through peeks into the mental agony and confusion that Paul faces.
There are a number of undercurrents in the books that will reveal on multiple readings I am sure. One of the things of note is the use of different religions like Buddhism and Islam in the book. Another one which famously is the ecological factor which becomes increasingly relevant today. I am sure that if you read all the books in the Dune universe it will make much more sense. For now I am really happy I read this book and hope that someday I will pick up the rest in the series.