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Nerdist Book Club: DUNE, Part 3

Nerdist Book Club: DUNE, Part 3

Note to self: Never read about a sandworm attack right before bed. Not even if you’ve read Frank Herbert’s Dune multiple times. The way Herbert introduced the sandworms makes you respect the creatures and fear them. In my case, it caused a bad dream. Other than the sandworm encounter, we also met the Arrakis planetologist and learned more about the Fremen.

What happened

It’s time to learn about the concept of desert power. It’s a new territory for the Atreides. To say the Duke is out of his depth wouldn’t be entirely true, but he’s certainly in a different sort of territory and among new enemies and allies. Surviving on Arrakis is an adjustment. They’ve already faced a serious threat in the form of an assassination attempt, and the seeds of distrust have been planted. The Duke is worried about Thufir Hawat and about the Lady Jessica. We know that neither of them are the Harkonnen’s secret weapon, and it already hurts to think about the pain that’s likely ahead.

Some of the many challenges the Atreides face on Arrakis were outlined in the chapter. There are the basics like having enough properly functioning equipment to mine the spice and maintain profit margins, then there are fuzzier problems like gaining the Fremen as allies. The Duke wants to have five battalions of Fremen troops on the side of House Atreides. This concept sounds absurd to me. Here, the Duke reminds me of a CEO I used to know–someone who wanted it all even when it was impossible. You could say that’s respectable ambition, or you could say it’s irresponsible.

Dune harvester concept by Filip Dudek

The Duke does have an advantage with Duncan Idaho now being part of the Fremen. Duncan’s pledge of allegiance gave us our first encounter with a Fremen leader and taught us more about the important crysknife. The weapon comes with a lot of rules, and I doubt we’ve explored all of them or seen the last of it.

Besides getting to know more about the Fremen, we met Dr. Kynes. The planetologist of Arrakis works for the Emperor, and we know he’s meant to betray the Atreides. He’s already torn about his mission. Prophecies planted by the Missionaria Protectiva have the general population thinking Paul is their messiah, their Mahdi or Lisan al Gaib and Kynes finds himself susceptible these legends when he sees how they apply to Paul.

The Atreides outing with Kynes led to a proper introduction of sandworms. Herbert gives the creatures of Arrakis a grand entrance that makes a statement. If you had any doubts about why the worms are spoken of with fear and reverence, you probably don’t any longer. They’re a formidable threat but dealing with them is part of harvesting spice. As far as the galaxy at large is concerned, it’s a necessary risk. But, Leto surprised Kynes by putting more value on human life than spice. It speaks volumes that Kynes is taken aback by the Duke’s actions.

Favorite quotes

“Who asks for justice? We make our own justice. We make it here on Arrakis—win or die.”

“Someday I’ll catch that man without a quotation and he’ll look undressed.”

“You never talk of likelihoods on Arrakis. You speak only of possibilities.”

“There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man—with human flesh.”

Discussion questions

– Paul notices how Leto has the right amount of fatigue in his voice when addressing his men. Do you think being a little manipulative is key to being a good leader?
– Kynes is surprised by the type of man Leto shows himself to be. Do you feel it will affect his plans?
– What do you think of the Fremen culture based on what we know so far?
– The Missionaria Protectiva has paved the way nicely for Paul Atreides. What are your thoughts on how the people of Arrakis view Paul?

Bonus material

Sandworm Spice Cookies – Now that we’ve had our first encounter with a sandworm, it seems like an appropriate time to eat them. Yeah, that makes sense. Kitchen Overlord goes over everything you need to make your own sandworms. You get bonus points if you serve them on a sea of sand-colored edible sugar. If you do this, please tweet photos to me.

Poseable Sandworm Toy – After David Lynch’s Dune came out in the ’80s, LJN released a line of toys. One of these toys was a 14 inch poseable sandworm, and it is fabulous.

If this is your first time reading Dune, I’m curious to know about your reaction to the sandworm. Did the description and power of the creature line up with your expectations? Did you think about Tremors? Even though I knew what was coming and am familiar with what sandworms are capable of, I still got chills. I think about the worms any time I walk through the desert and try to walk a little quieter. Head to the comments and share your thoughts about sandworms and Kynes, answer discussion questions, give me your theory on who Irulan is (no spoilers from those of you who have already read the book, please)–whatever you want to discuss.

Remember: We’re taking a week off so we can all recover from Comic-Con. Return on July 20 to discuss pages 205-262.

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