Dune: House Atreides

Dune: House Atreides  
US 1st ed. cover art
US 1st ed. cover art
Author(s) Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Cover artist Stephen Youll
Country United States
Language English
Series Prelude to Dune
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Spectra
Publication date October 5, 1999
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 624
ISBN 0-553-11061-6
OCLC Number 40754615
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 21
LC Classification PS3558.E617 D86 1999
Followed by Dune: House Harkonnen

Dune: House Atreides is a 1999 science fiction novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. It is the first book in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy, which takes place before the events of Frank Herbert's celebrated 1965 novel Dune.[1] According to the authors, the Prelude to Dune novels draw from notes left behind by Frank Herbert after his death.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Plot summary

The novel begins on the planet of Arrakis, 35 years before the events of the original novel Dune. The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has just taken over the governorship of Arrakis (also called Dune) from his younger brother Abulurd, who has allowed spice production to decrease heavily. The Baron sees an opportunity for large profits and begins to store up illegal spice hoards.

On the Imperial Capital planet Kaitain, the young planetologist Pardot Kynes has just arrived from his homeworld of Salusa Secundus for an audience with the Padishah Emperor Elrood Corrino IX. The old Emperor is giving Kynes the mission of going to the only known source of melange, Arrakis, in order to find out how the precious substance is produced. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince Shaddam and his minion Hasimir Fenring are plotting against Elrood. Shaddam is not getting any younger, and it seems that the already 157-year-old Emperor could rule for another 50 years. Shaddam decides to poison his father in order to speed up his succession to the throne.

Duke Paulus Atreides of the planet Caladan is planning on sending his young son and heir Leto to the court of Earl Dominic Vernius on Ix in order to study politics with the Earl's son Rhombur. Leto's mother, the Lady Helena, does not like the idea. Not only is she a very religious woman, but her father is also the Count Richese, who is the main rival of the Earl Vernius.

The Bene Gesserit are getting closer to their quest to breed the Kwisatz Haderach; only three generations remain. The next step is to send the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam to Giedi Prime, the Harkonnen home world, in order to conceive a child with the Baron Vladimir. This child would in turn be married to Leto Atreides to produce the eventual mother of the Kwisatz Haderach. The Baron is initially not interested, but after being blackmailed with the secret of his spice hoards, he has sex with Mohiam and a daughter is conceived.

Meanwhile, the young Harkonnen slave boy no. 11368, Duncan Idaho, is trying to escape the forests of Giedi Prime, where the na-baron Glossu Rabban is trying to kill him as a part of a game he and his friends are playing. Duncan finally manages to escape the planet, boarding a heighliner en route to Caladan.

Pardot Kynes arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule there, and is getting more and more interested in the native Fremen of the desert and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.

Leto finds himself at home at the Earl's home at the Grand Palais of Ix. Not only has he found an equal in Prince Rhombur, but he has also fallen in love with the Earl's daughter, Kailea. But all is not perfect on the planet Ix. The suboids building the heighliners in the depths of the cave cities of Ix are becoming more unsatisfied with their living conditions and the blasphemy of their work.

Emperor Elrood himself is beginning to show signs of senility from the slow-acting poison Fenring had administered. A Tleilaxu delegation arrives and they begin discussing the possibility of producing melange in laboratories; Elrood becomes very interested in this "Project Amal". The Tleilaxu have one demand in exchange for allowing the Emperor to invest in the project: he must give them military support in their takeover of the planet Ix, which they claim has the technological and industrial resources necessary for their experiments. The Emperor, who is already feuding with the Earl of Ix, is willing to give them a hand.

After saving three Fremen youths in the desert from Harkonnen troops, Pardot is taken to a Fremen sietch. The leaders (naibs) decide after a long debate to execute him. But as the chosen assassin encounters Pardot and hears about his plans for a possible terraformation of the planet and the hope this vision gives, the would-be assassin kills himself instead. Seen as a sign, the Fremen name Pardot a prophet. Pardot stays with the Fremen, marries a Fremen woman and together they have a son named Liet.

The Harkonnen offspring born on Wallach IX is not at all what the Bene Gesserit were expecting, and is too weak to produce the mother of the Kwisatz Haderach. They have no other choice but to go back to Giedi Prime to blackmail the Baron for another Harkonnen daughter. The Baron is ready for them and impregnates Mohiam through a violent rape. Mohiam avenges the assault by giving the Baron an incurable disease which over time will make the Baron obese, destroying his beautiful body.

Ix is suddenly attacked by a joint Tleilaxu/Sardaukar army. Leto, Rhombur and Kailea manage to escape in the nick of time and make it back to the Atreides homeworld of Caladan. To divert attention away from the children, Earl and Lady Vernius disappear into obscurity, becoming renegades from the Imperium. The Tleilaxu establish a new government on Ix, renaming the planet Xuttuh.

Leto and the Vernius heirs are welcomed on Caladan by Duke Paulus. Lady Helena, however, is bitterly opposed to giving the Ixian children sanctuary due to her hatred of House Vernius and her belief that Ixian technology is blasphemous for having violated the most sacred commandment that arose from the Butlerian Jihad: Thou shall not build a machine in the likeness of the human mind. She begins plotting against her husband, the Old Duke. Meanwhile, the young Idaho has reached the grand Ducal Capital of Cala City on the West Continent. After an audience with the Duke Paulus, the boy is welcomed in his Court to work in the stable.

Back at Wallach IX, another Harkonnen daughter is born. She is given the name Jessica, meaning wealth in an ancient language. She is to be the grandmother of the Kwisatz Haderach if the breeding program goes as planned.

One evening at a bullfight, the Duke's favorite game, the Old Duke is killed by a drugged Salusan bull. Duncan is accused as a Harkonnen spy of having drugged the bull. Leto knows of course that it is his own mother, Helena, who was behind the assassination, and sends her to the monastery of The Sisters In Isolation on the Eastern Continent to avoid gossip. Leto becomes the new Duke Atreides.

On the other side of the galaxy, the Padishah Emperor Elrood IX has died. Shaddam has finally reached the Golden Lion Throne and is soon to be crowned Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV of the Known Universe. He plans a grand coronation ceremony on Kaitain and invites nobles from across the Imperium, among them the new Duke Leto and his guests the Vernius heirs, but also Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

The Baron, however, has a plan. A Richese scientist in his service has just discovered a new function of the Holtzman effect that can make a ship totally invisible, and undetectable by sensors. With this new technology, the Baron sends his nephew Glossu Rabban to attack a Tleilaxu delegation and make it look like an attack from the Atreides. To avoid a disastrous armed confrontation that could spark an interstellar war, Duke Leto opts for a trial by his peers before the Landsdraad council of nobles. This appears, initially, to be a suicidal course as only one noble has ever been acquitted through this procedure in the history of the Imperium.

The Bene Gesserit, however, determine to save Leto as they need him for their breeding program. They provide him with evidence they discovered that suggests some connection between the soon-to-be-crowned Emperor and the Tleilaxu. Leto uses this to blackmail Shaddam. While Shaddam has no interest in the outcome of Leto's trial, he can't risk exposure of his involvement in the takeover of Ix and the artificial spice-production experiments being carried out there. Therefore, he uses his influence to convince the court to summarily find Leto innocent before any testimony is heard. After Shaddam is crowned Emperor, Leto, again uses threat of revealing his knowledge to blackmail Shaddam into granting amnesty for Rhombur and Kailea. Shaddam grudgingly agrees. But, the repeated blackmail attempts begin to breed enmity between him and Leto.

Meanwhile, on Dune, the Fremen are uniting in ways never seen before behind their "Umma" (prophet), Pardot Kynes and his dream of making their home into a lush, green paradise.


  1. ^ "SCI FI Channel Auction to Benefit Reading Is Fundamental". PNNonline.org (Internet Archive). March 18, 2003. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070928005501/http://pnnonline.org/article.php?sid=4302. Retrieved September 28, 2007. "Since its debut in 1965, Frank Herbert's Dune has sold over 12 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling science fiction novel of all time ... Frank Herbert's Dune saga is one of the greatest 20th Century contributions to literature." 
  2. ^ "Dune 7 blog: Conspiracy Theories." (December 16, 2005). DuneNovels.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 12, 2008. "Frank Herbert wrote a detailed outline for Dune 7 and he left extensive Dune 7 notes, as well as stored boxes of his descriptions, epigraphs, chapters, character backgrounds, historical notes — over a thousand pages worth."
  3. ^ Neuman, Clayton (August 17, 2009). "Winds of Dune Author Brian Herbert on Flipping the Myth of Jihad." AMCtv.com. Retrieved August 19, 2009. "I got a call from an estate attorney who asked me what I wanted to do with two safety deposit boxes of my dad's ... in them were the notes to Dune 7 -- it was a 30-page outline. So I went up in my attic and found another 1,000 pages of working notes."
  4. ^ "Before Dune, After Frank Herbert." Amazon.com. Retrieved November 12, 2008. "Brian was cleaning out his garage to make an office space and he found all these boxes that had "Dune Notes" on the side. And we used a lot of them for our House books."
  5. ^ "Interview with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson." Arrakis.ru (2004). Retrieved November 12, 2008. "We had already started work on House Atreides ... After we already had our general outline written and the proposal sent to publishers, then we found the outlines and notes. (This necessitated some changes, of course.)"
  6. ^ Ascher, Ian (2004). "Kevin J. Anderson Interview." DigitalWebbing.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved July 3, 2007. "... we are ready to tackle the next major challenge — writing the grand climax of the saga that Frank Herbert left in his original notes sealed in a safe deposit box ... after we'd already decided what we wanted to write ... They opened up the safe deposit box and found inside the full and complete outline for Dune 7 ... Later, when Brian was cleaning out his garage, in the back he found ... over three thousand pages of Frank Herbert's other notes, background material, and character sketches."
  7. ^ Adams, John Joseph (August 9, 2006). "New Dune Books Resume Story." SciFi.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved December 19, 2007. "Anderson said that Frank Herbert's notes included a description of the story and a great deal of character background information. 'But having a roadmap of the U.S. and actually driving across the country are two different things,' he said. 'Brian and I had a lot to work with and a lot to expand...'"
  8. ^ Snider, John C. (August 2007). "Audiobook Review: Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson." SciFiDimensions.com. Retrieved February 15, 2009.

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