This post is a part of the readalong hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. I should have posted it Saturday, but I was camping and didn’t even have a cell phone signal, let alone internet.
1. What, if any, preconceived ideas did you have before you started reading Dune and how has the first section measured up to those preconceptions?
I actually didn’t have any preconceived notions about “Dune.” I had heard that it was a classic of sci-fi, and had been meaning to read more science fiction. The picture to the left is the cover from the edition of the novel that I read, which doesn’t really give much of any idea what the book is about. When I mentioned to my boyfriend that I was reading it, he claimed that it was a quintessential nerd book.
One of the things that I really like about the novel is that even though it’s sci-fi, it reads a lot like well-written epic fantasy. The worldbuilding is so good that you pretty much forget that it’s supposed to be sci-fi. I also really like the way that each chapter is framed by a piece of writing written by Princess Irulan. These segments are to have been written after the story has already taken place, and serve as foreshadowing of events to come.
2. What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?
This plot device made me want to slap several major characters for their inability to see what was obvious to me. It makes the first segment a bit like watching a train wreck–you know what’s going to happen, but at the same time, you are fascinated and can’t look away.
3. What was your favorite part of this first section? Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
I rather enjoyed Paul’s first encounter with the Bene Gesserit. In his meeting with the Reverend Mother, he kept being a smart ass even though he was supposed to be taking everything seriously. It reveals a lot about Paul’s character that he’s willing to question authority, and to question the motives of characters who we as readers have no real reason yet to distrust.
Edit: I forgot to answer the second part of the question! I really like Gurney Hallack’s character. Even though I may criticize some authors for having too many characters that are artists and musicians (Charles de Lint, I mean you!), the truth is that I am drawn to such characters. Gurney is a seasoned fighter, but he is also a bard, and has a quotation or song for every occasion. I think that’s pretty cool, and gives him a sense of humanity that can be harder to see in other militant characters.
4. Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you?
Not particularly. The Bene Gesserit are a creepy fertility cult that are obsessed with making genetically perfect babies. I figured that Jessica’s lineage was a deep dark secret for a reason, and guessed that it was either going to involve political problems or incest. Since this isn’t “Game of Thrones,” politics win.
5. Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book. Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring? Just share what you are thinking thus far.
I actually finished reading “Dune” on Thursday, mostly because once I got started, I couldn’t put the book down. I didn’t expect to read it so quickly. I don’t think I really expected to enjoy it nearly as much as I did.
Out of curiosity, has anyone here read the rest of the “Dune” series? I’ve heard mixed reviews about whether they are worth reading, and I know that some authors’ work tends to go downhill after the first book. If they are close enough in quality to the first book, I’d be interested in reading more.