Dune has been on many radars ever since it was adapted into a movie starring Timothee Chalamet. Some sci-fi fans knew about the Dune books before Star Wars became popular. It was said that Dune is to Star Wars what the Lord of The Rings books are to the Lord of The Rings movies.
When a LOTR movie fan wants more, he must read Tolkien’s books. When a Star Wars fan wants relevant literature, he explores the Dune books.
Now, Dune is coming into its own with well-deserved movie and TV adaptations that are increasing general interest in the series.
But it isn’t as simple to follow, which is why this article covers the Dune books in order alongside information on the life and influences of its primary author, Frank Herbert. But before we get into that, here are the top Dune books.
Our Best Dune Books at a glance:
Frank Herbert: The Genius Behind The Dune Books
Frank Herbert was a science fiction author who wrote six novels in the Dune series. Initially, Dune was published as a standalone novel set in a world with expansive mythology.
Because of the worldbuilding of Dune, there was room for further storytelling, which was done across five sequels by Herbert himself and nine books by other authors.
Herbert is a multidisciplinary figure who also penned poetry, gave lectures, and took exhibition-worthy photographs. Frank Herbert was heavily influenced by Arab culture, which informed a bulk of The Dune’s thematic and cultural undertones.
Herbert became a journalist before he became a novelist. He faked his age to get his first job at a newspaper (The Glendale Star). Frank Herbert had enough newspaper experience to get more journalism jobs despite not finishing university.
His son maintains that Herbert wanted to study only what he liked, which prevented him from finishing any specific curriculum.
One of his assignments had him researching the dunes in Florence, Oregon. By then, Herbert had been reading science fiction for a couple of years.
The setting of the Oregon dunes inspired him to plan a story set in a similar environment. It took him another 3 to 5 years before he wrote his first science fiction story.
Herbert asserted that he didn’t write science fiction until he had spent 10 years reading it. And his first science fiction work was a short story independent of Dune. Herbert began researching the Dune in 1960. He wrote the first novel, which would be released in two parts in a serialized fashion.
It was rejected by multiple publishers, including one who said, “I might be making the mistake of the decade, but…” And when the Chilton Book Company published the novel, The Dune became an overnight commercial success, and critical acclaim followed soon after.
Dune Books In Order Of Publication
The Original Frank Herbert Series:
- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson series:
- House Atreides (1999)
- House Harkonnen (2000)
- House Corrino (2001)
- The Butlerian Jihad (2002)
- The Machine Crusade (2003)
- The Battle of Corrin (2004)
- Hunters of Dune (2006)
- Sandworms of Dune (2007)
- Paul of Dune (2008)
- The Winds of Dune (2009)
- Sisterhood of Dune (2012)
- Mentats of Dune (2014)
- Navigators of Dune (2016)
- The Duke of Caladan (2020)
- The Lady of Caladan (2021)
- The Heir of Caladan (2022)
- Dune: The Official Comic Book (1984)
- Marvel Comics Super Special #36: Dune (1985)
- Dune (1985 series)
- Dune: House Atreides (2020–2022 series)
- Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 (2020)
- Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar (2021)
- Dune: A Whisper of Caladan Seas (2021)
- Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib (2022)
- The Road to Dune (1985)
- A Whisper of Caladan Seas (2001)
- Hunting Harkonnens (2002)
- Whipping Mek (2003)
- The Faces of a Martyr (2004)
- Sea Child (2006)
- Treasure in the Sand (2006)
- Wedding Silk (2011)
- Red Plague (2016)
- The Waters of Kanly (2017)
- Blood of the Sardaukar (2019)
- The Illustrated Dune (1978)
- The Dune Encyclopedia (1984)
- The Making of Dune (1984)
- The Dune Storybook (1984)
- Songs of Muad’dib (1992)
- The Road to Dune (2005)
- Tales of Dune (2011)
- Tales of Dune: Expanded (2017)
- Sands of Dune (2022)
The Best Dune Books:
The best Dune book by far, in terms of both popularity and critical acclaim, is the first novel in the series. It follows the journey of Paul Atreides, who is born into a noble family that accepts the stewardship of a nearly inhospitable planet with a rare resource.
The story sets up Atreides on a journey to one of the most dangerous planets in the known universe and sets up the rarest resource in existence as one of the stakes, aside from Atreides’ heritage and legacy.
It has all the elements of an epic adventure and is a complete journey, unlike many multi-part fiction series.
You should read Dune as an introductory text in Frank Herbert’s bibliography. But even if you’re not a big fan, you can read this volume as its own story.
This is the third book in the Dune series, written by Herbert, and it is the second most popular among Dune readers. It’s also the first science fiction book to become a bestseller.
However, a few aspects of the Children of the Dune are different from the original Dune novel.
Mainly, there is a lot more setup and a few open threads, probably emerging from Herbert’s confidence in the publication of future books.
It picks up nine years after the events of the second Dune book and follows Paul’s twin children as they try to manage the throne of Akkaris, which might be rendered unable to harvest the spice if it is further terraformed.
The main dilemma of the Children of the Dune is that the emperor expects the stewards of Akkaris to continue making Akkaris more hospitable.
There are political machinations afoot, and the reader is on the edge of his seat up until the very end.
The second book in the Herbert Chronology, Dune Messiah, is often considered the third most popular Dune book. It reverses a lot of Paul’s accomplishments in the first book and is almost a beat-by-beat tragedy that mirrors the comedy that is the original Dune novel.
Though parts of it were written before the Dune novel was published, a few narrative portions feel like they deliberately prolong the cycle of events in Paul Atreides’s life.
From the original Dune trilogy, this is the book with the least standalone value but is far from skippable in the overall continuity. It is not recommended for anyone who hasn’t read the first Dune novel and is the most recommended for the one who has.
You can read the original Dune book as a standalone volume. But if you try to read Dune Messiah as a standalone book, you will not be able to enjoy previous books as future books spoil the events of Dune history.
If you didn’t find any similarities between Dune and Star Wars, then this book will clear your doubts. Star Wars draws quite heavily from this for its second and third installments.
The peak of the God Emperor’s strength in this volume dwarfs the level of control exerted by the Empire in Star Wars.
The plot of this book continues the journey of Pual Atreides’s son Leto, who has become immortal and is fused with a sandworm body, giving him a monopoly over the Spice, the rarest resource in the universe.
The terraforming of the planet Arrakis has led to the extinction of the giant sandworms, leaving behind no other means to access the Spice for anyone except the god Emperor Leto.
The story doesn’t maintain the status quo and can be viewed as a commentary on the cyclical nature of human existence. You have to read the original Dune novel to appreciate this book.
God Emperor of Dune is more philosophically significant and important for the genre than it is narratively important and relevant for the story. If you skip this volume and continue reading the next, you can get a feel for the overall storyline.
But it is best not to skip it as it works wonderfully in setting up the stakes for Heretics volume.
Is Dune About Muslims?
Dune isn’t about Muslims but is influenced by Arab culture and Islamic themes. The desert planet Akkaris, though inspired by the Oregon Dunes, seems to have a historic Arab culture.
What Language Is Spoken In Dune?
English is the primary language spoken in Dune, but there are languages like Fremen and Galach, which are made up of and borrowed from Arabic and Slavic languages.
Some hypothesize that the English version of Dune is a translation of a Fremen story, while others take a more pragmatic view that the story was written in English and the Fremen words and Galach terms, most of which are borrowed from real-world languages are there only created a believable air of the foreign.
Is Fremen Arabic?
The Fremen race speaks a version of evolved Arabic that is mixed with Chakobsa (a fictional language). There are real-world Arabic words in the Fremen language, which show that the Dune’s Akkaris-dwelling folk were Herbert’s version of space Arabs.
Which Novel Is The Dune Movie Based On?
The Dune movie is based on the first Dune series novel written by Frank Herbert. The title of that novel is Dune.
Is The Dune Series Over?
The Dune series is over as far as the written word goes. But its adaptations are just beginning to hit screens, and the franchise is far from having realized its full commercial potential. Aside from the upcoming Dune II movie, there is a miniseries in the works as well.
Whether you’re curious about the book that inspired Star Wars and is now becoming a movie franchise on its own or you want to read a lore-heavy space epic involving interstellar travel and a generational story, Frank Herbert’s Dune series is worth reading.
The saga was continued by his son alongside an excellent sci-fi writer, based on the unfinished notes left behind by Herbert. It is one of the few fiction series that is unanimously admired by fans despite having multiple authors.