Dune by Frank Herbert

The basics

Title: Dune

Author:

Series: Dune #1

- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)


Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for...

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

Read a full summary of Dune by Frank Herbert below. If you can’t remember what happened in Dune and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Dune?

  • Reverand Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (i.e. the Emperor’s Truthsayer) visits Paul and his mother, Jessica. She needs to test Paul to see if he’s the Kwisatz Haderach.
  • Paul takes part in the gom jabbar test. He has to stick his hand in a box while the Reverend Mother
    holds a needle against his throat. Paul starts to feel more and more pain in his hand but he keeps still
    and passes the test. This means that Paul is human.
  • The Reverand Mother tells Paul about the machine’s revolt, and how important it is to develop your
    mind after that. Now the Reverands Mother’s people, the Bene Gesserit, are trying to breed the Kwisatz
    Haderach – someone who can see into masculine and feminine pasts.
  • Baron Harkonnen, Piter, and Feyd-Rautha are chatting about Arrakis (a planet also known as Dune).
    Harkonnen is planning on defeating Duke Atreides, who has refused a meeting request from the trio.
  • It turns out that Piter is a machine disguised as a human. Piter’s human body is addicted to Spice,
    which I suppose isn’t good.
  • The trio talk about their plans. The Duke will be going to Arrakis, and when he arrives in Arrakeen the
    trio plan to kill the Duke’s son, Paul. They’re hoping Dr Yueh will go unnoticed and Jessica will be a good
    scapegoat.
  • Paul tells Jessica and the Reverand Mother about the dream he had. He dreamt about a girl with blue
    eyes.
  • Paul is studying when the Mentat Hawat comes to speak to him. They talk about Arrakis and the sand
    that is everywhere. Hawat explains that water is precious there.
  • Yueh gives Paul an Orange Catholic Bible. Yueh gets upset because Paul opens the book on a
    passage that was the favourite of Yueh’s dead wife.
  • The Duke comes to speak to Paul and they chat about Arrakis and spice and all sorts. Paul wonders if
    going to Dune is a mistake, and it could be a trap.
  • The Duke knows that the Emperor has a load of spice and is supporting Harkonnen.
  • Jessica and Duke Leto discuss their new home. They have a new housekeeper called Mapes, who is a
    Fremen who really wanted to work for Jessica.
  • Mapes plans on giving Jessica a dagger as a gift. Jessica draws some blood from Mapes in some
    weird ritual. Mapes thinks Jessica is the One.
  • Jessica and Yueh talk about the lack of water on Arrakis because it doesn’t make geological sense that
    water is missing. They also discuss Jessica’s non-marriage to the Duke. She hasn’t married him so that
    other houses will believe there’s still a chance with him.
  • A hunter-seeker looks for Paul but he stays still so it can’t see him. It tries to attack Mapes but Paul
    stops it and destroys it.
  • Mapes fills Jessica in on what happened.
  • Jessica finds a letter warning of the Baron’s plot. She shows the letter to Paul, and they wonder
    whether Hawat might be behind the assassination attempt. Jessica thinks he’s just old, rather than a
    traitor.
  • Paul tells Duke Leto what happened and Leto gets understandably annoyed.
  • Leto discusses the spice hunters with Gurney and says he needs to convince them to stay on Arrakis.
  • Leto holds a meeting that’s all to do with money. House Atreides will have to fix the mess that the
    Harkonnens left. This will cost a lot, but will probably be worth it.
  • Idaho arrives, followed by a Fremen called Stilgar. Idaho needs to get the Fremen to cooperate with
    House Atreides.
  • Hawat reveals he thinks Jessica is the traitor. Leto plans to spy on her.
  • The group meets with Kynes. Paul impresses him by putting the stillsuit on properly the first time. They go and fly over the mining station. A sandworm is heading the same way. They rescue the people from the factory.
  • Idaho gets drunk and has to be put to bed.
  • Jessica asks Hawat if he’s the Harkonnen agent. Jessica thinks this whole thing may be a red herring.
  • Leto goes to explain to Jessica what has been going on. He gets hit by a poison dart though. It’s
    revealed that Yueh is the traitor, but for good (?) reasons. He puts a fake tooth in Leto’s mouth so that
    Leto can chew on it when he’s close to the Baron, and release some toxic gas and kill him.
  • Leto passes out from the dart.
  • Jessica is captured and put into an ornithopter. Paul uses the Voice to get them to remove Jessica’s
    gag, and so Jessica is able to use her own Voice to get the Harkonnen men to fight each other.
  • Jessica and Paul run away.
  • The Baron has Yueh killed to “join his wife”.
  • Leto releases the gas from his tooth and kills everyone… except the Baron. There are some
    promotions and Rabban is put in charge of things.
  • Jessica and Paul talk in a stilltent about what’s happened. Paul tells Jessica that she is the Baron’s
    daughter and thus they’re both Harkonnens.
  • Idaho and Kynes make it to Paul and Jessica. They take them to a Fremen safe house.
  • Paul plans to offer to wed the Emperor’s eldest daughter in order for the Emperor to stop trying to kill
    them.
  • Paul and Jessica have to leave again because the bad guys arrive. Idaho stays behind to fight them off.
  • The Baron has Hawat interrogated.
  • Paul and Jessica make it through a sandstorm. Paul has to land the ornithopter, and this attracts a
    sandworm. After resting, they start walking again. They step on a drum and have to run to some rocks to
    escape another worm.
  • The Harkonnens dropped Kynes in the desert and he’s trying to figure out how to survive. He is blown
    up by spice gases.
  • Some Fremen find Paul and Jessica. Stilgar is there and he accepts Paul into the tribe. They consider
    Jessica a burden, though, and both she and Paul have to fight the Fremen off. Jessica offers to teach the
    Fremen to fight like her.
  • Chani shows up and she’s the girl from Paul’s actual dreams.
  • The group head home to some caves. Paul has a vision of himself with a knife in his chest.
  • Jamis stops Jessica from talking and using her Voice.
  • Paul kills Jamis in combat. A funeral is held. Paul accidentally proposes to Chani.
  • Paul sees the lake of water that the Fremen don’t touch. They protect it from the “little makers”.
  • Some gladiator fights happen on Geidi Prime and the Baron talks to the Count.
  • The Fremen learn of Kynes’ death. Chani was his daughter. Paul now has to look after Jamis’ wife and
    children for a couple of years.
  • Jessica is made to drink some spice drugged water and she enters the Other Memory. She is able to
    speak to the Reverend Mother there. The Reverend Mother dies and Jessica takes her memories.
  • Chani and Paul decide they love each other.
  • Hawat tells the Baron that the Emperor wanted to get rid of House Atreides because they had the best
    army. He also warns that the Fremen are a threat.
  • Chani is currently back from the south to watch Paul take his test. He’s going to ride a worm. The two
    talk about how weird Paul’s sister, Alia, is.
  • Harah talks about how the Fremen are put off by Alia because she makes weird adult jokes and
    comments even though she’s just a child. Jessica explains that the memories and Bene Gesserit training
    got passed onto Alia so she is super developed mentally. I’m not sure that makes it better?
  • Paul rides a worm and spots some ornihopters. They’re ridden by Gurney and his men. Paul goes to
    greet them and reveals that he’s still alive. Paul asks Gurney to join him. He takes Gurney and his men
    to the caves and Gurney realises Paul is Muad-Dib.
  • The Fremen tribes want Paul to kill Stilgar, which is rude. Paul refuses.
  • Jessica asks to speak to Chani. Jessica tells Chani that Paul has been poisoned and Chani needs to
    help revive him. Chani gets Paul to smell the Water of Life and it seems to work. Paul tells them he has
    been in the Other Memory and he takes Jessica there.
  • Paul uses his vision powers to see that the Baron and Emperor are now in orbit around the planet.
  • A storm arrives, because of course it does. It hits the shield wall.
  • Paul’s son, Leto II, dies.
  • The Emperor asks the Baron about Muad’Dib.
  • Alia shows up in the audience chamber. It’s implied that she let herself get kidnapped. She’s probably
    up to something.
  • The Emperor is super unhappy with the Baron and thinks he was unprepared and a bit useless to work
    with.
  • Alia kills the Baron using the gom jabbar.
  • The shield falls and the Emperor has to retreat.
  • Paul has to marry Princess Irulan to make everyone happy politically. Jessica warns that he should
    marry Chani, but Paul thinks that’s a bad idea.
  • Chani tells Paul about Leto II. Paul says they’ll have more sons.
  • Paul forgives Hawat.
  • Paul kills Feyd-Rautha.
  • Paul is trying to negotiate with the Emperor, who doesn’t really seem to know what he’s doing. The
    Emperor tries to get Fenring to kill Paul but he won’t do it. The Emperor will be banished to Salusa
    Secundus.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Dune by Frank Herbert. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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