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Advent Review #24: Dune – Messiah by Frank Herbert (Book Review)

It is quite fitting that I post this review today. I’ve just finished watching a movie that had me really emotional in its final act, and Ive been going through some rough times lately which means that my emotional bar is pretty low at the moment. And yet, this is the holiday of good cheer, and its the day of good cheer too, what with Santa dropping by shortly to deliver some Christmas presents for people who believe. In many ways, Frank Herbert’s sequel to his award-winning, critically-acclaimed and completely untraditional Dune is perfect reading material for Christmas because of what it symbolises.

I’ll admit that three weeks back is the first time that I ever read Dune: Messiah. Since my high school library never had the book (the one copy we did have was extremely battered and completely unreadable as a result) and I never went back to read it for some reason. Always skipped it when I read the other books. Then last year I listened to the audiobook from Macmillan, and I was blown away by how poignant it was. The second half of the book really hits you hard with the emotions, and it never stops, even unto the end when you turn the last page. Its a novel about sadness and hope and a resurrection of sorts even. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, comparable to to Dune itself.

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Why I love Dune

I first came across Dune, if I remember correctly, in late fall of 2002, when I was still in high school, 10th grade to be exact. It was a time when I was really getting to explore the wider world of speculative and contemporary fiction than just Animorphs or Enid Blyton. To give a few examples, this was when I discovered Warhammer 40,000, John Grisham, Dungeons & Dragons, Raymond E. Feist, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell’s 1984 and many, many other things. Dune, and the entire Dune-verse, has been obsession of sorts for me for ages now, going on 10 years, and when I was listening to the first half hour of the Dune audiobook yesterday, narrated by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Mortan, Simon Vance & Co., I started to think about why I liked Dune so much.

After all, in the summer of 2007, on my 20th birthday, when I was out and about at The Grove mall in Los Angeles and me and my friends walked into the Barnes & Noble there, I held up the book to them and told them that Dune was the best Science-Fiction novel ever written. An old gentleman who was browsing the same shelves turned to me and said: “You got that right, kid.”

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