Was Dune meant to be a trilogy, which Children of Dune finished, before Frank Herbert decided to write more? The first three books are often grouped together, and have a similar time-frame and subject matter, so I wonder.

If there is no information on this matter, letting me know of that (whether as an answer or in the comments) would also be helpful.

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    It wasn't originally a trilogy (as stated in the answers below) but I like to think of it as a quadrilogy. After all, the first four books are the only good ones. ;P
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 19:37
  • Was not the original concept and outline written by someone else who when he was dying passed the notes on to Herbert?
    – Vouty
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:18
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    @Vouty - If this is a question you'd like answered, then search the site to see if it's already been covered - if not, ask it as a new question.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 21:13
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    @Vouty: I think you're remembering a very garbled version of how Brian Herbert (Frank's son) published the prequel novels. Frank Herbert died a decade after Children of Dune was published, and even Chapterhouse: Dune was published a good year or so before he died.
    – Martha
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 22:00

4 Answers 4


Dune was originally published as two shorter serialised novels called Dune World and The Prophet of Dune, and I know of no evidence to suggest that Herbert was already planning any other sequels at that time. So Dune was originally a two-part novel rather than a trilogy, and both parts are contained in the novel now published as Dune.

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    Might be worth mentioning that they usually did this due to a book overflowing the maximum pages they could bind. They obviously have gotten a lot better at this these days :) Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 10:16
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    Not in the 1960s, they didn't -- that's more an 80s or 90s thing. In the 60s, nearly all SF novels were first published as serials in magazines, with Dune being no exception, and they wouldn't run a serial lasting more than four months or taking up more than a certain amount of the magazine.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 11:54
  • The end of the third book also sets up future books, so i feel if he had a trilogy in mind he would not have ended children of the dune in the way he did.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 13:09
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    Originally it was to be an article called They Stopped the Moving Sands. That article wasn't published until much later as part of The Road to Dune. Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 14:09
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    The editions I had were labelled "The Dune Trilogy" and "The Second Dune Trilogy".
    – Jon B
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 2:46

According to an article from The Verge:

Herbert began work on what he envisioned as a trilogy of novels, but eventually packaged the three together into one massive tome that was eventually serialized in Analog Science Fact and Fiction in the first half of 1965. Dozens of publishers passed on publishing the novel until Chilton (a publisher of thick automotive repair manuals) bought the rights and released the first edition in December 1965. Ace Books produced a cheaper paperback edition in 1966.

Even as Dune gained considerable popularity in the 1960s, the effort of writing and publishing the novel had worn its creator out. It wasn’t until 1968 that Herbert began to write a sequel called Dune Messiah, that continued the story of protagonist Paul Atreides, and his new role as a messiah and emperor.

He did not plan the first three novels (Dune, Messiah, and Children) from the beginning. He planned for the material covered in the first novel, Dune, to be a trilogy. Instead, he included it all in one novel. It does not appear he initially planned out a story stretching over Messiah and Children.


If I remember right from one of the (fairly) recent anniversary editions of Dune (don't have it in front of me at the moment, think it was the 50th), the forward written by Frank Herbert says that he did tons and tons of research into economics, agriculture, religion, and more for writing Dune, and he did so much preparation for the novel that by the time he finished writing Dune he had the material and plans for writing the first three novels. I think the second was mostly finished when Dune was published, and the third was at least all planned out.

I don't remember it saying how the stories were originally published in magazines. He may not have started with the intent of writing a trilogy, but when he was done he knew it would be a trilogy and more.

I may try to update this answer with excerpts from the forward when I have a chance to check it.


My understanding is that Dune was originally published by Frank Herbert serialized in a magazine. His original intention was not write a trilogy. That happened purely due to pressure from his publisher.

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