Dunecember: Week 8 Roundup

Japanese Dune Cover

Here we are: halfway through book three, most of the way through Dune. Crazy things are still happening: our main character(s) are still finding their place in their world. The protagonist and the antagonist haven’t even met yet, and we’ve only got about 50 pages left (plus the appendices)!

Thus far in Book Three, the focus has partially been on bringing the Atreides crew from Book One out of hiding. We find that, two (or is it three?) years later, Thufir Hawat, the mentat, is still in service of the Harkonnens. He has been busy, however. We find that he is playing multiple sides against each other, making it look as if each is the sole beneficiary of his schemes. Taking his sketched-out plans on the whole, it looks like he is going for revenge against the Baron, his chosen successor, and the emperor. His plans are also working to drive Arrakis into the hands of Paul, though he may not know it.

A word on the Baron real quick: I think Herbert’s emphasis on his huge fatness belies the power, intelligence, and scheming that the Baron seems capable of. He has plans layers and layers deep, keeping everyone who could be of any use to him beholden to him in some way. Every person who works with him or deals with him has an exploitable weak spot that the Baron is not afraid to take hold of and squeeze. This guy is a pretty great foil compared with the young, quick Paul. And they haven’t even met!

At the end of our section, Gurney Halleck (how awesome of a name for a fighting man is Gurney by the way?) rejoins Paul and Jessica. He has spent the time as a spice smuggler, and is still motivated by thoughts of revenging his Duke. He’s not the schemer that Hawat is, but it seems he was, in a way, the soul of Duke Leto’s former crew. He provides some of the more emotional moments in the book, I think.

Paul’s story is really coming to a head as a bildungsroman. He’s fathered a child. He goes through the Fremen rite of manhood in catching and riding a maker. He’s gone from reacting to things that are happening or are about to happen to planning for the future. Paul seems to have a lot of schemes laid out as well. I really really like his philosophy of compromise. He sees two distinct futures ahead of him and constantly tries to have it another way. It’s, in a certain sense, youthful rebellion; it’s also the sign of someone who refuses to just accept his fate and give up fighting. I am thoroughly convinced by his speech explaining the compromise of being leader while keeping Stilgar alive and in charge of the seitch (it makes Stilgar…governor while Paul is…president?). And I think he is up to some craziness with the ending of the chapter. What he has decided to do makes sense with his take-charge-instead-of-waiting method of leadership, even though it’s nuts.

This is our last week! Read to THE END OF THE BOOK! I’ll try to get a roundup in by Thursday or Friday, and then write another one for some Appendix discussion. Also this week I am looking to have some guests discuss their favorite characters or scenes or locations or technology or whathaveyou in Dune. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in sending me ~500 words on stillsuits (or whatever).

The picture up top is stolen from Brandon Graham’s livejournal. He’s one of my favorite comic book guys–his book King City comes out roughly monthly from Image. And, because I haven’t made a Star Wars connection in a while: Fremen with stillsuits = Tusken Raiders???