24

I'm really lucky, finally here in Spain all Frank Herbert's books will be published by the same editor in pocket edition! Unluckily all his works will be published in chronological order, and Dune has some prequels which I would read before the others (I have already read the classic six books saga), but I don't know what I should read before...

I think I should start with The Butlerian Jihad, followed by The Machine Crusade and The Battle Of Corrin, but.. what comes after? Maybe the three books of the three houses? Or should I read them before the The Butlerian Jihad ? And what comes after the Heretics Of Dune ?

In total 18 books of Dune will be published. Anybody can help me to put them in the right reading order?

  • Great news! do you know if such editor has a Latin America branch? – Matemáticos Chibchas Dec 28 '13 at 20:25
  • 4
    Start with Dune. Stop at God Emperor of Dune. Don’t read any more... only disappointment will result. – Stone True Feb 4 '18 at 1:11
26

I would recommend the following rough order:

  1. Herbert's Dune trilogy (main timeline), with 2 chronologically-inserted Anderson books from "Heroes of Dune" interquel and couple of KA/BH short stories:

    • Dune (FH)
    • Paul of Dune
    • "The Road to Dune" short story (FH)
    • Dune Messiah (FH)
    • The Winds of Dune
    • Children of Dune (FH)
    • Road to Dune set (2005, not related to FH's short story above) by KA/BH:
      • Alternate Dune story (Spice Planet)
      • Herbert's letters related to publishing Dune
      • Missing chapters
    • 2 short stories ("A Whisper on Caladan Seas", "Dune: Wedding Silk")

    The reason for this order is two-fold:

    • Many people (subjective opinion) consider Herbert's Dune series to be far better than Anderson+Brian Herbert's prequels. As such, it should be read first. However, the in-quel books are well regarded and can be read together, in chronological order.

    • If you read prequels first, the magic of the novel structure and revelations that Frank Herbert intended is going to be violated.

    • Jar-Jar Binks

    Once done with these, it's time to see how the Dune Universe got to where it is now, reading the prequels in in-universe chronological order.

  2. Prequels, far past ("Legends of Dune" series + short stories):

    • Dune: Hunting Harkonnens (short story)
    • Dune: The Butlerian Jihad
    • Dune: Whipping Mek (short story)
    • Dune: The Machine Crusade
    • Dune: The Faces of a Martyr (short story)
    • Dune: The Battle of Corrin
  3. Immediate Prequels and Stories ("Great Schools of Dune" and "Prelude to Dune" series):

    • Sisterhood of Dune
    • Mentats of Dune
    • Red Plague (short story)
    • Navigators of Dune
    • Dune: House Atreides
    • Dune: House Harkonnen
    • Dune: House Corrino
  4. Future books in chronological order:

    • God Emperor of Dune (FH)
    • Heretics of Dune (FH)
    • Chapterhouse: Dune (FH)
    • "Dune: Sea Child" short story
    • Hunters of Dune
    • "Dune: Treasure in the Sand" story
    • Sandworms of Dune
  5. Great Schools of Dune prequels

    Ideally, should be read after Prelude trilogy (putting them in correct chronological order), but this series is still being published, so for now it goes last. Once it's finished, it should go before future books.

    • Sisterhood of Dune
    • Mentats of Dune (scheduled 03/2014)
  6. I may have missed a couple of short stories, but you should read them in correct chronological order. Wikipedia has a great table showing which short stories go with which novels.

  7. Now, important: re-read Dune or even entire original trilogy.

    This is critical. Now that you have the information in prequels (yes, some not always as great as Frank Herbert's work, but many based on his ideas and outlines), re-read Dune and enjoy how the rich history of the Universe folds into the gem that Dune is.

  • NOTE: this answer should be updated circa 2015, to reflect the progress in Great Schools of Dune series – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 31 '13 at 1:34
  • Great answer, but ultimately I gave it a +1 just for the Jar-Jar Binks reference. – Omegacron Feb 20 '14 at 16:30
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    I am currently reading Paul of Dune and if this is one of the "well regarded" books, I'd hate to read one of the poor quality books. The narrative structure is very different, the character of Jessica is a robot and all of the characterisation feels wrong. And the characters are constantly announcing their thoughts instead of experiencing the world around them. – Stephen Nov 10 '16 at 5:30
  • Here is a direct link to a Wikipedia page with 'Universe' chronology: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(franchise)#Plot_arc. And here's another such listing that also interweaves the movie, TV series and comic book series: alltimelines.com/dune – KJH Jan 27 '18 at 17:41
  • I would start with Brian Herbert prequels (with Hunting Harkonnens) if listening on audiobook. The audible version of Dune has Baron Harkonen played by two different voice actors and it is almost impossible to follow. One of the actors sounds like Dearth Vader speaking through a voice disguiser; the other sounds like a cackling uncle Fester. It's bad enough to want to drop the series. It's a pity the franchise holder did not fix such a botched production. With characters cemented in my mind from the prequels, it is possible to make sense of it. – John Meyer Jul 27 '18 at 23:06
12

This is definitely a "personal choice" kind of question but my advice would be to stick with the strict chronological order of publishing if for no other reason than that the original Dune Series (written by Frank Herbert) is substantially better written than the later books written by Brian Herbert and you may be put off by the poor quality of the later books.

Essential

Frank Herbert;

  • Dune (1965)

  • Dune Messiah (1969)

  • Children of Dune (1976)

  • God Emperor of Dune (1981)

  • Heretics of Dune (1984)

  • Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)

Optional:

Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson:

  • Prelude to Dune series:

    • House Atreides (1999)

    • House Harkonnen (2000)

    • House Corrino (2001)

  • Legends of Dune series:

    • The Butlerian Jihad (2002)

    • The Machine Crusade (2003)

    • The Battle of Corrin (2004)

    • Hunters of Dune (2006)

    • Sandworms of Dune (2007)

  • Heroes of Dune series:

    • Paul of Dune (2008)

    • The Winds of Dune (2009)

  • Great Schools of Dune series:

    • Sisterhood of Dune (2012)

    • Mentats of Dune (2014)

2

Dune is the only essential book in the entire series, as Frank Herbert (as well as his son Brian, writing with Kevin J. Anderson) makes his entire postulate in that volume. Having said this, if you enjoy the original, keep going until you feel it's no longer entertaining. I read the originals years ago before he died and felt increasing disappointment with each successive book. I picked them up again 30 years later and didn't enjoy the original as much as I'd remembered, but found the sequels much better than before.

At this time, I read all the Dune books written by Brian and Kevin also. While they have a much different writing style than Frank, it's not always a bad thing. On the down side, Miles Teg went from being an amazing general (as written by Frank), allowing him to plan for otherwise-unforeseen circumstances that allowed him and Duncan to escape, to a completely incompetent ship's security chief (as written by "the others"), which allowed crew members to be repeatedly killed and replaced by Face Dancers while he cluelessly tried to figure it out. On the up side, Frank often bogs down the narrative with endless internalization that doesn't progress the plot or add anything new, just beats a dead horse until he's tired of belaboring the point, while "the others" keep a more active pace in the writing.

This being said, I wouldn't recommend a first-time reader to start chronologically (at The Butlerian Jihad at this point, counting only novels), although I enjoyed the Legends and Great Schools books immensely. I really enjoyed reading about the events that made the universe the way it came to be in the time of Dune. Also, two of my favorite Dune-universe characters came out of these books: Vorian Atreides and Norma Cenva.

If you've made it this far, and enjoy Dune itself, I would continue with the original series through Chapterhouse: Dune, then continue with the next two books chronologically (Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune), which gets you to the end, then I'd start with The Butlerian Jihad and continue chronologically from there.

Those are just my two cents.

1

It depends on whether you are new to the saga or a newcomer. Anyway, I read Dune first in 2001, for a better understanding I would recommend reading classic Dune first (i.e. the six FH novels). When you re read the saga, do it as follows (please note reading order does not reflect publishing order):

  • Dune
  • The Road to Dune (Dune missing chapters, A Whisper of Caladan Seas short story)
  • The Road to Dune (Spice Planet)
  • Paul of Dune
  • Dune Messiah
  • The Road to Dune (Dune Messiah missing chapters)
  • Winds of Dune
  • Children of Dune
  • God Emperor of Dune
  • Heretics of Dune
  • Chapterhouse: Dune
  • The Road to Dune (Sea Child short story)
  • Hunters of Dune
  • Sandworms of Dune
  • House Atreides
  • House Harkonnen
  • House Corrino
  • The Road to Dune (Hunting Harkonnens short story)
  • The Butlerian Jihad
  • The Road to Dune (Whipping Mek short story)
  • The Machine Crusade
  • The Road to Dune (The Faces of a Martyr short story)
  • The Battle of Corrin
  • Sisterhood of Dune

I have not yet read Mentats of Dune

1

Having read all of these books when they were first published, and re-read many of them, I can in all honesty say Dune is the most essential of all of them. Read that first. Then follow with the other five by FH. Everything after that is a long haul, but if you enjoy the story, worth the trip.

Usul has called a big one! Again it is the legend.

  • 1
    Can you expand on this? Maybe give reasons for your opinion? – Meat Trademark May 21 '18 at 22:00
-1

Start with Frank Herbert's "Dune".

Just realize that is just jumps right in, using terms that a first time reader won't know. It's a genre convention. So just roll with it.

-1

Start with Dune, this is by far the best and you could just finish it just there. If you want to go on, things do slow down with the remaining 5 books and you'll need patience to get to the interesting stuff but for me, they are still worth it for showing the completeness of his vision and contributing depth to the plot and characters in Dune. FH never finished the series, he wrote six out of seven books before he died. The sequels and prequels written by Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert are not worth it. Not at all. They are just milking the Herbert cash cow and their writing is simply not in the same league as Frank's. IMO that time would be better spent reading something by Lem, Heinlein, LeGuin etc.

  • 3
    Given the original person asking the question specifically wants to know about the prequels and sequels, I suggest you make a comment on the reading order of those. On this site we're looking for objective answers as opposed to subjective ones. Take a look at our tour for more information. – Edlothiad Mar 13 '18 at 13:06
  • Also, I kinda already made the point about the post-FH prequels and sequels being of a lower quality – Valorum Mar 13 '18 at 15:28

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