What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan? Do you think that her convention added to the story?
You know, I wasn’t expecting this. I had imagined Irulan to be a historian some time in the future writing about Paul. I didn’t think that she’d be his wife. I really liked having the Princess Irulan writings at the beginning of each chapter to foreshadow future events and give us a look into Paul’s philosophy.
Were you satisfied with the ending? For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?
The ending was not what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew whenever I started reading that “Dune” was the first book in a series, so I didn’t expect it to resolve itself as neatly as it did. I expected it to be one of those books that doesn’t end. Instead, Herbert wrapped it up as one would conclude a standalone novel. As a reader, I appreciate that.
On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself. Was this convincing? Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?
Herbert’s use of Arrakis reminds me a lot of how Dostoevsky uses Petersburg in “Crime and Punishment.” I would consider Arrakis to be as important to the story as any of its characters. Both planets have harsh ecologies, making life difficult enough that only the strong can survive. This makes them an ideal breeding ground for elite fighters. Fremen culture also was built upon living on Arrakis, and the social structure was perfectly adapted to the difficult lifestyle that was necessary to survive. Speaking of Fremen culture, did anyone else get the impression that aside from the reliance on water, the Fremen’s most important beliefs came from outside influences? Fremen religion seemed to be based in part on Bene Gesserit prophecies, and the current decision to store enough water to change the planet’s ecosystem came from the Imperial ecologists.
When Paul threatened to destroy the spice, he was threatening to destroy the only thing that made Arrakis powerful. I think that he would have gone through with it, because if the worms were destroyed, it would destroy any real outside interest in the planet. It would be possible for the Fremen to do their own thing on a planet with enough water, but it would also eliminate any future source of income. It was a desperate move, but at the same time, the Emperor really didn’t have much of a choice other than to give in to Paul’s demand.
Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons. Do you agree with their choices?
I thought that it was very interesting that Paul decided to make the same decision as his father. With Leto, I was annoyed about his remaining single for political reasons, largely because the reasons seemed half-hearted. With Paul, I understood a lot more. Chani and Paul belonged together. I know that Jessica had good intentions trying to keep them apart, but it would have been a mistake. Knowing what position Irulan would be in after marrying Paul did make me think a lot, because she still seemed to have a lot of respect for him when she wrote about him. I’d be curious to learn what happened between the time that Paul meets Irulan and whatever time she wrote her histories.
What was your favorite part in this section of the book?
I really liked the scene with Alia and the Emperor. I liked Alia, and greatly enjoyed seeing her cause the Reverend Mother to freak out. My boyfriend, on the other hand, thought Alia was creepy.
One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.” What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?
I think that what Paul was seeking to avoid during the entire story was to become simultaneously a political and a religious figure, because blind loyalty inspires great destruction. Even though he tried to avoid it, he was pushed into such a position in order to minimize the destruction that would be found in other future scenarios. Paul kept getting upset with Jessica because he realized what would happen if started grasping for power, and didn’t want to go down that road. At the same time, I think that Paul’s reluctance to accept power makes him more fit to lead than anyone else.
I didn’t mind the use of the word “jihad,” even though it has different connotations in the post 9/11 world than it did when Herbert wrote the novel. I think that Herbert chose to use a Middle-Eastern influence on Arrakis because it shares a similar climate as Middle-Eastern countries, as well as to reveal that the futuristic world incorporated some elements of the past.