Well this is it, after three weeks of reading Dune, today is the day for the last group discussion. This event was hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. The final questions were provided by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures. If you would like to follow everyone’s discussion please click here.
Before I start my discussion I would like to thank Carl for putting this group read together. This was my first group read and I have really enjoyed the discussions with everyone. It has been nice to be able to discuss the novel and all the other topics that came out of the discussions. Thank you Carl and thanks for everyone who participated. It was been a treat.
Once again, please note that there will be spoilers in the discussion below.
1. What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan? Do you think that her convention added to the story?
I was surprised by her identity. From the snippets I gathered from her, I knew she was close to the action, but I didn’t know that she would be the emperor’s daughter. Maybe I should have seen this coming since political marriages were referenced a lot in the previous pages. But I didn’t put that together with Princess Irulan.
Also I was shocked by the pairing of Paul and Princess Irulan. It seems that she will be in a loveless marriage and that her only purpose is to smooth things over between the two ruling parties. Since I am just a normal person I have been allowed to choose my own destiny and my own spouse. It is easy to forget that the powerful are “trained” differently. Especially for those who grow up to be kings, queens, and emperors. I do think that adding this element to the story is intriguing.
2. Were you satisfied with the ending? For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?
To be honest, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. The first two parts were gripping and then the last third covered a lot of territory in a short amount of time. I would have preferred more explanation for the final battle. Also, I don’t see this as a standalone work since I feel that there are many unanswered questions. If I didn’t know that there were other books in the series, then I would have found the ending to be powerful. However, I do know that there are other books and now I’m like, “Well, what’s going to happen now?” I hate that feeling. Now I’ll have to buy more books and put them in my spreadsheet!
3. On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself. Was this convincing? Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?
For me Herbert was extremely convincing that ecology was one of the bigger characters in the novel. Most of our lives are impacted each day by the environment and it is refreshing for a writer to recognize this fact and to write such a haunting story of what happens when the ecology can dictate everything. When you think of a stage play, most of the action is dictated by the size and versatility of the stage. The same thing is true with history. One’s geography, ecology, and environment dictate the action, hence history. Why does Poland have a history full of war and being conquered? It doesn’t have any natural boundaries. It could be invaded from all sides. Why couldn’t Napoleon conquer England? England was surrounded by water and had the best navy. There is a great description of Napoleon standing on the shores of France looking in England’s direction shaking his head since he knew he could not conquer it even though he had succeeded (briefly) of taking over a lot of Western Europe. You can only control so much. And no matter how hard humans try to rule over nature, it is my belief that nature will always win.
In my opinion I think Paul knew that he wouldn’t have to destroy the spice. The spice was too important. He might have destroyed some of it, to bring people back to the bargaining table and to get them to listen to him. He had all the cards and seemed confident that no one would call his bluff.
4. Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons. Do you agree with their choices?
Personally I don’t agree with their choices. However, I’ve never had to make decisions that have implications for thousands of people who I rule over. And thank goodness since I would follow my heart. But I’ve been raised to follow my heart. Paul and Leto were raised differently. And who am I to judge?
5. What was your favorite part in this section of the book?
I was on the edge of my seat when Gurney returned and he still believed that Jessica was the traitor. I had forgotten that many of the people believed that it was Jessica since it was made clear to the reader that it was Yueh.
6. One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.” What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?
The use of the word jihad did not work for me. This word is often misunderstood and misused on all sides. And since his usage of the word didn’t work for me, I was somewhat confused about his message about religion and politics. He threw in so many different elements of different religions that I found it confusing and somewhat disappointing. Maybe he was trying to take parts of several religions and blend them into one saying that everyone’s religion is correct. But I don’t know for sure.