The Harsh Sands of Arrakis: A Guide to the World of Dune


Conner Sauer, Staff Reporter

The dry desert world of Frank Herbert’s Dune is vast and vibrant. With multiple books solely dedicated to world building outside the main series. It becomes clear that to transform the long winded story into one two-hour movie is an undertaking that is as arduous a task as any. While I always recommend reading the book before watching the movie, some do not have time to read the arguably difficult 1965 novel. Whether you have not yet seen the masterpiece of a film or are simply waiting for the second part, here is everything you need to know about Dune.

The story of the desert planet of Arrakis, in fact, begins thousands of years in the future. A future in which humanity has spread itself across the cosmos and forged a vast empire spanning through the stars. However, humans continuous crusade into the unknown was not an easy one.

Decades before the events of Dune, war broke out among the remnants of humanity and an unknown terrible enemy. The “Thinking Machines,” as they’re called, hyper-intelligent robotic monstrosities dedicated to the complete and total eradication of the human race.

As a last resort humanity created several orders of super humans. The most prominent of which being the “Bene Gesserit.” A secret order of all female psychic warriors dedicated to ensuring the progress of humanity. Other groups, such as the living computers known as “Mentats,” serve to replace the dangerous machines responsible for the intergalactic war. And the “Spacing Guild,” a group that navigates humanity’s journey through the stars.

These new developments introduce the desert planet Arrakis, the setting for a majority of Dune, to the universe.

“The Spice Melange” or simply “Spice” is the core resource of the known universe. It both enhances the Bene Gesserit’s abilities and is used to power the Spacing Guilds massive spaceships. However, the spice is only found on one planet throughout humanity’s ever expanding territory. The spice is only found on Arrakis. The spice is only found on Dune. The coveted resource sets into motion the plot of Herbert’s novel. The universe is teetering on the brink of war, and one planet remains at the center.

Dune’s central focus is a young boy by the name of Paul. He is son and hence heir to Duke Leto Atreides and of Bene Gesserit Jessica. House Atreides is part of a greater collective of noble houses called the Lansraad, who are under the rule of the empire. Though Paul is of noble descent, he is also of Bene Gesserit descent which causes a stir among the order.

For years, the Bene Gesserit have controlled which gender they’ve given birth to, and only have given birth to women. But, a prophecy that tells of a male born of Bene Gesserit blood. This boy would be called the “Kwistatz Haderach” and would bring the universe into a new age of peace and prosperity.

The story opens, and Paul receives news that will change his life forever. The House Harkonnen, who previously controlled the spice mining on Arrakis, have been removed and house Atreides are their replacement. This is a apparent attempt by the Emperor to draw out conflict between the two houses, as the emperor has grown jealous of Leto’s popularity. Though he knows this, no one can turn the Emperor down.

Since the time he was young, Jessica has bestowed upon her son the training a Bene Gesserit is supposed to receive. However, the leader of the Bene Gesserit highly disapproves. So when she arrives on the Atreides homeworld unannounced Jessica knows it can only mean one thing, Paul will be tested. In the late hours of the night, the young Atreides is asked to place his hand into a mysterious box. This box is the final test for all Bene Gesserit, a test of the strength of will.

Some viewers may wonder what is happening here but the book clarifies. Paul is experiencing more pain than is thought possible. In fact, Paul tolerated more pain than even the Bene Gesserit herself. Though she is still disapproving, Paul receives his Bene Gesserit training.

The day has finally arrived, House Atreides set off for Arrakis. By signing on to their voyage, Leto knows he is signing his death warrant. What mysteries lie among the sands? What secrets do the native people of Arrakis hold? What horrors lie in store for House Atreides? And what is the true nature of the massive spice producing Sand Worms?

You will just have to watch to find out.