How to read the 21 novels in chronological order
So you’re excited about Dune on the big screen, and you’re ready to dive into the world of Frank Herbert’s beloved sci-fi novels. Congratulations! You have an exciting literary journey ahead of you. What if you’ve dabbled in Dune before or if you’re completely new to the wild world of Arrakis, there’s something for everyone to love in this titanic series about power, violence, and fate.
Published in 1965 by an automotive textbook publisher, after twenty (!) Mainstream publishers rejected the story, Dune is the world’s best-selling science fiction novel of all time. It is also considered one of the best books of all time, as well as a flagship work in the science fiction genre. The massive success of the book inspired Herbert to write a number of sequels, which brought the total number of novels in the series to six upon his death in 1986.
More than a decade after Herbert’s death, his son, Brian, teamed up with science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson to co-write a trilogy of Dune prequels. (This would come to be known on Prelude to Dune series.) Herbert and Anderson remained dynamic collaborators over the ensuing years, together producing more than a dozen novels. But what’s the right way to go through all of these books and their complicated timeline? There is no right answer; some argue that books should be read in chronological order of fictional chronology, while others argue that they should be read in order of publication.
Here’s our advice: read Frank Herbert’s six novels first, then try out the unauthorized spin-offs as you see fit. Since many of the spinoffs are grouped into smaller series that exist in the larger story, you can sample chunks of the universe. This is the beauty of DuneâIt’s a detailed series that rewards completion, but there are many entry points.
Read on for a full breakdown of the books, listed here in the order they were published. Happy reading, spice heads!
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Dune is set far into the future, in an intergalactic feudal society where mighty noble houses fight for control of resources, armies and planetary power. House Atreides is ordered to take control of Arrakis, an arid desert planet with a brutal climate, but it is the only place to mine Melange, a natural resource that produces a drug called Spice, which enables humanity to free his mind to be able to play very complex tasks. On Arrakis, House Atreides is betrayed by rival House Harkonnen, who starts a battle for the precious planet. The planet itself is inhabited by giant sand worms and an indigenous population known as the Fremen, who over generations have learned to survive with water as their most precious resource and currency. When House Atreides’ offspring Paul is targeted as a potential messiah to lead the planet – and the galaxy – to a new era, an epic story of war, betrayal, and mysticism unfolds.
Messiah of the dunes, by Frank Herbert
In Herbert’s first sequel, Paul Atreides, now known as Muad’Dib, rules the universe known as the most powerful emperor of all time. Adored as a messiah by the people of Arrakis, Paul faces enmity from the warring political houses under his control. Is a single ruler supposed to have such absolute power? He will find out soon.
Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert
Children of Dune finds Leto and Ghanima Atreides, the twin children of Paul Atreides, nine years after the mysterious disappearance of their father in the wastelands of Arrakis. The twins’ prophetic abilities are coveted by their manipulative aunt Alia, who leads the Empire, but these two young prophets refuse to be anyone’s pawns.
Emperor God of Dune, by Frank Herbert
3,500 years after the events of Children of Dune, the once desert planet of Arrakis is now a lush paradise, and Leto Atreides sits on the throne. Millennia ago, Leto merged with a sandworm to grant himself immortality, but the cost to his humanity has been enormous. Can a rebellion led by Siona, a rival kinsman, overthrow this formidable despot?
Heretics of Dune, by Frank Herbert
Leto Atreides is dead, Arrakis (now called Rakis) is once again a wasteland, and the Empire has fallen into disrepair. A young girl named Sheeana appears to be fulfilling a prophecy foretold by the late Emperor God, sending religious fervor across the galaxy. Is Sheeana destined to restore the Empire to its former glory?
Chapter room: Dune, by Frank Herbert
In Herbert’s final Dune novel, Arrakis has been destroyed and the fate of the Empire rests in the hands of a mysterious matriarchal order known as the Bene Gesserit. On the planet Chapterhouse, the sisters raise sand worms and seek to control the production of spices, with the goal of remaking the galaxy for a better future.
AtrÃ©ides House, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Prelude to Dune the trilogy begins with this story from the generation before Dune; namely, Leto Atreides, father of Paul. In AtrÃ©ides House, we see how Leto’s rivalries and relationships sowed the catalyst events of Dune.
Harkonnen House, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In Harkonnen House, Leto Atreides’ longtime rival Baron Vladimir Harkonnen appears. We also meet Abulurd Rabban, brother and foil of the baron. It turns out there are some good people in the Harkonnen house, who knew?
Corrino House, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
In Corrino House, Brian and Anderson conclude their prequel series, bringing the story to the climactic events that will unfold in Dune. This tapestry of politics, warmongering and spice battles ends with the birth of Paul Atreides, drawing us into the saga we know and love (and now, have already read).
The Butler Jihad, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Working from Frank Herbert’s notes titled “Dune 7”, Brian and Anderson again expanded the series to Legends of Dune, a new trilogy. The first installment, The Butler Jihad, looks at an event Herbert refers to often, but never captured on a large scale: the war of long ago when humans fought to free themselves from “thinking machines.” Located 10,000 years before Dune, the familiar chess pieces appear in this volume.
The Machine Crusade, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Legends of Dune continue with The Machine Crusade, fixed two decades later The Butler Jihad. The thinking machines retaliate, refusing to enter quietly into this good night; Meanwhile, on Arrakis, a gang of outlaws take their first steps to become the Fremen, a race of people that OG Dune fans know and love.
The Battle of Corrin, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Check out that sandworm on the cover! The Legends of Dune the trilogy ends with The Battle of Corrin, which triggers a final apocalyptic confrontation between humans and robots. Fans of Dune know how this one ends, but it’s really fun to see how Herbert and Anderson get there.
Dune hunters, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Dune suites, a two-volume spinoff series, concludes the screenplay for Herbert’s original six novels, with a glimpse of a long-lost outline that was found hidden in one of Herbert’s safes. In Dune hunters, we take back the fleeing fugitives last seen at the end of Dune of the chapter house, as they strengthen their powers and fight for the future of the human race.
Towards the sands of the dunes, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Herbert and Anderson tackle more burning questions in this second volume of the Dune suites series: namely, the future of Arrakis and the outcome of the war between Man and Machine.
Paul de Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The Hero of DunThe spin-off series opens with this story by Paul Atreides, which takes place between Dune and Messiah of the dunes. Dune ends with Paul’s reign over Arrakis, while Messiah of the dunes opens with Paul ruling the galaxy. How did Paul take control of the Empire? Read Paul de Dune discover.
Winds of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Heroes of Dune continues with this second and final part, which takes place after the events of Messiah of the dunes. Winds of Dune resumes after the disappearance of Paul Atreides in the desert of Arrakis, leaving the Empire in crisis and the line of succession in question. Who will hold it all together?
Sisterhood of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The Grandes Ecoles of Dune the trilogy opens with Sisterhood of Dune, which takes place almost a century after the revolutionary Battle of Corrin. With the thought machines destroyed, political and religious movements rise, triggering an epic conflict between reason and faith.
Mentats of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
With the thinking machines destroyed, a new school is opening to teach humans the effective techniques of thinking machines. But the Butler jihadists fiercely oppose any machinist lifestyle and choose a dangerous fight with the Mentat School. What follows is an epic showdown for the future of humanity, with a potential Dark Age at stake.
Dune browsers, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Want to learn more about the Bene Gesserit fraternity from Herbert’s original novels? Then Dune browsers is the book for you. In this third and final volume of the Grandes Ecoles de Dune trilogy, we learn about the origins of the Bene Gesserit fraternity and see their secret way of life develop.
The Duke of Caladan, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Brian and Anderson’s latest trilogy, The Caladan trilogy, starts with The Duke of Caladan, a prequel to the life of Paul AtrÃ©ides. How did the ruler of a planet out of nowhere become such a powerful player in a galactically fateful story? If that’s the question you’re on your mind, this is the book you should read next.
The Lady of Caladan, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Herbert and Anderson take it all the way back to OG Dune in this prequel about Lady Jessica, mother of Paul Atreides. In The Lady of Caladan, Lady Jessica counts on her choice to betray the Bene Gesserit, her former maternal order, as fate converges around her husband and son.
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