Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 5 / 5 stars
As far as science fiction books go, Dune is hands down my favourite of all time – it has a lot of competition, but when it comes down to it, it’s my first pick. Enough so that I reread this first novel in the iconic series, about once every 18months or so pretty regularly and have for years.
I say all this so you can be aware how much I’m a fan of this book and that my expectations and weariness at coming across an audiobook edition of this novel were very high!
The book itself is a true masterwork by one of the most amazing writers in the history of the genre. Telling the story of a vast interstellar monarchy with fiefdoms and any number of medieval tropes and power-games is at its most basic an entertaining enough premise to delve into, but this book is so much more than that. Herbert builds a nuanced and layered world that is rich with history about how humanity has reached where it has, of the elements of our past that have survived, of ways in which we’ve grown and some where we’ve regressed. The book explores and raises provocative questions about human nature, about the interplay of power and desire and duty, it touches on the role that religion can and does play in society and both the power and danger of such a thing – and then pushing up from it’s science-fiction roots, it reaches into the nature and consequences of prescience, genetic manipulation and things like dependance on technology and basic human needs.
Not a book to be taken lightly and one that is a staple in every good sci-fi library and reading list, even if it is not your favourite -this is a powerhouse book that any fan of the genre and even people who are fans of a fantastic, intelligent and provocative novel should read because there are few like it in my experience.
I’ve only recently started on audiobooks as a medium and this was the proper dive-in after my first toe in the pond with The Legend Of Drizzt.
At a length of 21 hours and 8 minutes, this is not a short run and you are in it for a while – but as noted in the story review above, it’s well worth it from a narrative point of view. However, I can imagine it’s challenging to be doing audio-only as a means to tell such a story over such a long swathe of time, something that even the live-action adaptations of this have struggled with doing all these years with visuals and such thrown in to make it easier.
The biggest benefit of this edition (and why I would recommend it over possible others) is that there is a proper cast of people as opposed to a single narrator. Granted a single person could have done voices and if skilled enough, done a decent enough job. But the presence of the mix of male and female voices and the variety of manner that they brought to the reading was definitely a bonus and made it far more appealing.
The makers were minimalist with things like sound effects and atmospheric sound, but that actually seemed to work in their favour as the dialogue and narration got clear focus with just enough extra sound and music and ambient noise here and there to add a little “colour and flavour” to the proceedings without being distracting – something that I personally liked a lot. Even battle sequences which one could easily have imagined might be ripe for weapon effects and fight-sounds were kept to a relatively low-volumed minimum and I’m very thankful to whomever made that call.
I’ve read this whole book multiple times over, read the rest of the series, seen multiple adaptations in movie, television and even video-game and even after all that, I was impressed by how engaging, fresh and effective this version was and give huge kudos to the production team for crafting an excellent adaptation here.
Bottom line, this is a fantastic book and if ever I was to recommend an audiobook to a non-reader, this would be it in a heartbeat.
If you can afford it’s not-un-hefty price tag, I would say don’t even think twice and give it a shot.
Thanks for stopping by folks, hope you liked that review – I have others here on this blog but if you prefer using Goodreads, click View all my reviews here and head on over there!