Like a lot of people, I read Dune and I thought it was awesome. Then, I didn’t want it to stop, so I keep on reading. Two books later, it was not as good as it was at the beginning, so I took a break. After a long while, I thought I might pick up where I left off, thinking I would be easy. Wrong, things get more complicated the further you go in the series. So, I tried to compile what I found and this is the result.
What is Dune?
Well, it’s a classic and a franchise. Written by Frank Herbert and published in 1965, Dune is a science-fiction epic set in a distant future where the one who controls the “spice” controls the universe — it’s the over simplistic way to introduce the story.
Dune takes us in a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses controlling individual planets had pledged allegiance to the Padishah Emperor. The story began with young Paul Atreides whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis where you can find the only source of the “spice” melange. Politics, religion, ecology and technology collide when forces of the empire plot against each other in order to seize control of Arrakis.
What’s Dune reading order?
That’s the one-million-dollar question. For some, there’s nothing good after the original Dune, but if you are here, you probably want more than that. So, here is a possible reading order. It’s not a chronological one, because I think that the best way to start is with the first book published.
- Dune — The first and only entry point that makes sense. This is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family—and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
- Dune Messiah — Paul Atreides, prince turned revolutionary leader and messiah of a fanatical religious sisterhood, is to be brought low by the very forces that created him. Yet foreseeing the plans of his enemies, he determines to drive on towards his own, shockingly different, vision of the future.
- Children of Dune — The sand-blasted world of Arrakis has become green, watered and fertile. Old Paul Atreides, who led the desert Fremen to political and religious domination of the galaxy, is gone. But for the children of Dune, the very blossoming of their land contains the seeds of its own destruction.
At that point, you can stop. Well, if you want more, I prefer to continue with Frank Herbert’s work. That said, there’s what’s known as Heroes of Dune : Paul of Dune and The Winds of Dune. Half of the story of Paul of Dune takes place between the first Dune and Dune Messiah .Well, it’s more complicated. Idem with The Winds of Dune. I refer you to the chronological reading order, it’s easier for me.
- God Emperor of Dune — Centuries have passed on Dune, and the planet is green with life. Leto, the son of Dune’s savior, is still alive but far from human, and the fate of all humanity hangs on his own sacrifice.
- Heretics of Dune — The Lost Ones are returning home from the far reaches of space. The great sandworms are dying. And the children of Dune’s children awaken from empire as from a dream, wielding the new power of a heresy called love.
- Chapterhouse: Dune — The desert planet Arrakis, called Dune, has been destroyed. Now, the Bene Gesserit, heirs to Dune’s power, have colonized a green world–and are turning it into a desert.
Chapterhouse: Dune ends with a cliffhanger. With Frank Herbert’s death in 1986, there was no conclusion in sight, until Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson published two sequels based on notes left behind by Frank Herbert:
- Hunters of Dune — The exotic odyssey of Duncan’s no-ship as it is forced to elude the diabolical traps set by the ferocious, unknown Enemy. To strengthen their forces, the fugitives have used genetic technology from Scytale, the last Tleilaxu Master, to revive key figures from Dune’s past.
- Sandworms of Dune — The end with a lot of answers about the origin of the Honored Matres, the tantalizing future of the planet Arrakis, the final revelation of the Kwisatz Haderach, and the resolution to the war between Man and Machine.
Another possible ending. Now, if you really are into going further into the story, you can go back in time with the prequels.
The Dune prequel series
This trilogy is known as Prelude to Dune, the story leads to the first Dune novel.
- House Atreides — As Emperor Elrood’s son plots a regicide, young Leto Atreides leaves for a year’s education on the mechanized world of Ix; a planetologist seeks the secrets of Arrakis; and the eight-year-old slave Duncan Idaho is hunted by his cruel masters in a terrifying game from which he vows escape and vengeance.
- House Harkonnen — As Shaddam sits at last on the Golden Lion Throne, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen plots against the new Emperor and House Atreides — and against the mysterious Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit.
- House Corrino — The blood feud between Duke Leto of Caladon and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen reaches its climax, as the emperor Shaddam – leader of House Corrino – is finally forced to curb the powerful Harkonnens or risk losing his own throne.
This trilogy is known as Legends of Dune, the story takes place over 10,000 years before the events of the first Dune novel.
- The Butlerian Jihad — The tyrants translated their brains into mobile mechanical bodies and created a new race, the immortal man-machine hybrids called cymeks. Impatient with human beings’ endless disobedience and the cymeks’ continual plotting to regain their power, the world-controlling planetary computershas decided that it no longer needs them. Only victory can save the human race from extermination.
- The Machine Crusade — Earth is a radioactive ruin. But the initial campaign of the Butlerian Jihad has given new hope to mankind. Serena Butler, whose murdered child has become a symbol for oppressed humanity, inspires a war against the thinking computers led by Xavier Harkonnen and Vorian Atreides.
- The Battle of Corrin — The universal computer mind Omnius has retreated to its last stronghold, where it plots a devastating new strategy that could undo the victories of the Butlerian Jihad. The surviving Titans are creating new lieutenants to do their will when at last they return to attack the human beings they once ruled.
This trilogy is known as Great Schools of Dune, this story is a sequel to the Legends of Dune trilogy and takes place nearly a century after the events of Dune: The Battle of Corrin.
- Sisterhood of Dune — It is eighty-three years after the last of the thinking machines were destroyed in the Battle of Corrin, after Faykan Butler took the name of Corrino and established himself as the first Emperor of a new Imperium. Great changes are brewing that will shape and twist all of humankind.
- Mentats of Dune — The Mentats, the Navigators, and the Sisterhood all strive to improve the human race, but each group knows that as Butlerian fanaticism grows stronger, the battle will be to choose the path of humanity’s future―whether to embrace civilization, or to plunge into an endless dark age.
- Navigators of Dune — The story line tells the origins of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and its breeding program, the human-computer Mentats, and the Navigators, as well as a crucial battle for the future of the human race, in which reason faces off against fanaticism.
A new Dune adaptation is coming and Brian Herbert wrote with Kevin J. Anderson a new trilogy for the occasion. It’s called The Caladan Trilogy and it focuses on Duke Leto, Lady Jessica, and Paul, leading directly to the events in Dune.
- Dune: The Duke of Caladan — Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan and father of the Muad’Dib. While all know of his fall and the rise of his son, little is known about the quiet ruler of Caladan and his partner Jessica. Or how a Duke of an inconsequential planet earned an emperor’s favor, the ire of House Harkonnen, and set himself on a collision course with his own death. This is the story.
- more to come…
If after all that you still want more, there are short stories. I put them in the chronological reading order.
Dune’s chronological reading order
This is the mostly official chronological reading order, apparently. It’s useful if you want to know when to read the short stories or if you are one of those who want to try to read it that way. If it’s that case, good luck to you.
- Hunting Harkonnens (short story)
- The Butlerian Jihad
- Whipping Mek (short story)
- The Machine Crusade
- The Faces of a Martyr (short story)
- The Battle of Corrin
- Sisterhood of Dune
- Mentats of Dune
- Red Plague (short story)
- Navigators of Dune
- House Atreides
- House Harkonnen
- House Corrino
- Paul of Dune (Parts II, IV, VI)
- Wedding Silk (short story)
- The Winds of Dune (Part II)
- Whisper of Caladan Seas (short story)
- Paul of Dune (Parts I, III, V, VII)
- The Winds of Dune (Part IV)
- The Road to Dune (short story)
- Dune Messiah
- The Winds of Dune (Parts I, III, V)
- Children of Dune
- God Emperor of Dune
- Heretics of Dune
- Sea Child (short story)
- Chapterhouse: Dune
- Hunters of Dune
- Treasure in the Sand (short story)
- Sandworms of Dune