Spice It Up with Dune by Frank Herbert

Click here to get the Dune novel on Amazon

Click here to get the Dune picture book on Amazon

Click here to get the 2021 Dune movie on Amazon

I read this sci-fi masterwork on the eve of the second Dune movie release in March 2024, to find new writing inspiration outside my usual genres. Published in the sixties, it’s a lot older than me and I don’t read sci-fi (er, yeah – I have some catching up to do).

My read was triggered when the first movie appeared on Netflix a month back. I wanted to see how the book translated onto the screen.

The movie follows the book’s storyline though they feel worlds apart. 🤣 While the movie took me to a future universe somewhere, the book and audio oddly sent me back to early 1900s colonial Britain, with coffee and lads mixed with laser guns and fancy flying machines. 🤔 In retrospect, sci-fi often reveals its age more than what could be.

If, like me, you see the movie first and love it, the audiobook could be a real shocker. I heard Brits in tunics and togas acting out an ancient myth somewhere in the Islamic Middle East or North Africa (albeit with future tech again). The audio needs updating.

As you’d expect, the movie incites the story with an antagonist and gives the protagonist, Paul, a prescience, a capability and a destiny. In the book, he only really ‘arrives’ in the second half. The story evil is a lot more visible in the movie’s middle, which also wheels out giant machines and fancy tech early on. The movie characters are less chatty than in the book and, if they’re your bag, the movie delivers a smattering of wise words which seem perfectly packaged for Instagram memes (there’s a couple below).

I’d recommend the picture book for a story shortcut with fab illustrations. Its world and characters may have inspired the look and feel of the movie.

The movie finishes around two thirds into the book (book 2 of volume 1🤔). Maybe the new installment will pick up the rest and The Messiah which follows.

There’s just one thing: Spice is literally the story’s gold dust which everyone’s fighting over, but I wasn’t sure how an arid desert world devoid of plants gets it everywhere. The book doesn’t tell but Google thinks it’s worms.

The new movie arrives in March, though I’m outta there if Muad’Dib is hailed more than once. 😫

Overall Verdict: Dune’s an early hero’s journey epic which really comes to life on screen. It’s a mature sci-fi which takes its time with thought and attention to detail without shoving its toys in your face. Oddly, the audio (and book) took me back to an early 1900s British Colonial Middle East. They’re great in their own way but the audio showed its age after an initial shock. For fab visuals, I’d recommend the 2020 picture book which may have been inspired in a similar style to the movie.

Movie & Picture Book:


Some favourite quotes:

“Haven’t you heard stupid? No showers down here. You scrub your arse with sand.”

“When your opponent fears you, then’s the moment when you give the fear its own rein. Give it the time to work on him. Let it become terror. The terrified man fights himself.”

“They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show to a man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

Click here to get the Dune novel on Amazon

Click here to get the Dune picture book on Amazon

Click here to get the 2021 movie on Amazon


Other interesting reviews which you may have missed (click the title name):

The Hunger Games series (including The Ballad of the Songbirds): Tyrannical games first person bestsellers with internal drama and light action, though the mix of kids and violence isn’t for everyone. A new third-person male protagonist and sinister Dr. Gaul make a memorable Ballad.

The Road to Surrender: Focuses tightly on a handful of politicians and senior military officers involved in America’s decision to nuke Japan, as well as Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Checkmate in Berlin: Loved it! I was glued and thrilled beginning to end. You must read this book first, and take it with you if you visit Berlin with an eye on history. It also illuminates Russia’s war in 2022 in many ways.

Slaughterhouse-Five: Very readable WW2 fiction, if you can get over the odd combination of Dresden vs aliens and Eternalism, and an ambiguous ending.

Astronaut Wives Club: A great non-fiction book which does exactly what it says in the title.

Rocket Men: Another amazing book which retells mankind’s first foray to the moon on Apollo 8.

The Book of Daniel: A thriller, echoeing the fate of the real Rosenbergs, convicted and executed as American Communists during the fifties Red Scare.

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