Elantris | Book Review

I decided it was time to try a Brandon Sanderson book with the big announcement of the kickstarter. Three years ago when I started getting back into reading, I made a choice; this choice was between Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time or Sanderson’s Mistborn. I had picked up both The Eye of the World and Mistborn at the local book store. Because of the announcement for the Wheel of Time TV Series, I pursued The Wheel of Time. Flash forward to the kickstarter and I was captivated by the idea of getting a new book by the same author quarterly. I decided to try Elantris to see if I would like Sanderson’s work.

Why did I start with Elantris instead of Mistborn?

The answer is rather simple. At the moment I have so many series going right now, I thought it would be nice to read a stand-alone. I also thought it would be fun to start with his very first published work. I had zero expectations going into Elantris besides being excited to see how Sanderson writes magic systems. What I found was something truly special! I was absolutely intrigued by the story. I actually don’t remember the last time I read 200 pages of a story so fast. I kept coming back to it every night because I wanted to know more.

“Remember, the past need not become our future as well”

Brandon Sanderson

I was immediately pulled into the story by the amazing main characters – Raoden, Hrathen and Sarene. I felt each of the characters had depth and a compelling backstory that kept me interested from the first page to the last. Normally, I am not interested in the villains as much as the protagonists but Elantris really changed my opinion of that. There was quite significant character growth with our main three characters with Hrathen having the most growth. I think my favorite character in Elantris was Raoden. I loved his story and ties with the magic system.

One thing I liked a lot about Elantris was the new and refreshing spin on zombies. When I think of zombies, I immediately think of the nasty, mindless killing zombies found in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead or the movie Zombieland. But that isn’t entirely the case here. Sanderson crafted a unique version of zombies that works incredible well with the magic system.

I’ve read a few unique magic systems – Harry Potter and Wheel of Time – before I read any of Sanderson’s works. I would describe Harry Potter as more of a soft magic system and Wheel of Time a hard magic system. Elantris to me fell more in the soft magic system because we don’t know how it works or it’s limitations. This is a magic system we are learning about at the same pace as our characters. I like how it was really thought out and fed to us throughout the story. It was a mystery that we were solving together. I can see why everyone really likes Sanderson’s Magic system because of how unique it is and how much of a role it plays in his stories.

Overall, I really enjoyed Elantris. This was an easy 5 out 5 stars; one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read this year! I would highly recommend starting reading Sanderson works with Elantris. Maybe my tune will change once I read Mistborn but Elantris was a great stand-alone novel with a lot of interesting political and religious intrigue. Elantris was unputdownable. The main and side characters were fleshed out with interesting backstory and great character arc. I can’t wait to read another Sanderson story this year… maybe Warbreaker. What do you think? What Sanderson novel should be next for me?


The Sword of Kaigen | Book Review

“A student like you, who can absorb what he is told but also think beyond it, is capable of anything.”

M.L. Wang, The Sword of Kaigen

In January, I picked up The Sword of Kaigen as part of a buddy read on Instagram. I’ll even admit I considered not reading it just before January started…. But I am glad I decided to pick this up. The Sword of Kaigen is a standalone fantasy novel written by indie author M.L. Wang. She has also written two other stories – Theonite: Planet Adyn and Theonite: Orbit – which are in this universe and take place at a different time. This review of The Sword of Kaigen will be spoiler free. Let’s jump into the review!

Synopsis

The Sword of Kaigen is a Eastern Asian inspired story about politics, propaganda and survival. We follow the story of Misaka and her 14 year old son Mamora. Misaka is a mother married to Takeru, a master of the whispering blade. She left her adventurous life to settle down and raise a family. When trouble arises, she has to draw from her past to protect her family. Mamora is training at the school when he meets a transfer student and everything he thought he knew about the world changes. It forces Mamora to question what he’s believed in.

“A life of dangerous adventures might seem worth it now, when you are young and seemingly invincible, but one day you will have children, and you will not want that life for them.”

M.L. Wang, The Sword of Kaigen

Plot

I wasn’t quite sure where this story was going at first. I liked how the story unfolded from Mamora’s eye in the first half of the story. It set the tone of the story quite well. I also felt Mamora was an interesting character. I was drawn to his drive, passion and a sense of duty. I think Misaka surprised me the most. I found myself so intrigued by her character the more I read from her point of view. Her story was told through both flashbacks/memories and present day happenings. I felt the transition between present and past was a bit rough at first but the story that was told in the past gave her great character depth and growth.

The story pace was excellent. There were a few slow portions of the story but when the action started…. wow this story was off it’s rails. About 30% in and I was fully invested and on the edge of my seat. The climax of the story happens around the 70% mark and it does not disappoint. This left for a longer falling action which I’m not used to reading a sereis like the Wheel of Time and the rising action is long and the climax and falling action happen so fast. But M.L. Wang crafts a well thought out ending that wraps up everything to a “T”. My old complaint is I wish there was a sequel! I just want to keep reading and see where their story goes from here! I felt so invested in this wonderful story! ….And Chapter 27…. If you don’t know or haven’t read this yet…. all I have to say is WOW!

I had so many emotions while reading this story. There were moments I felt like crying or was angry and wanted to throw my book across the room. Other times I was straight up laughing. The rollercoaster of emotions I felt in this story surprised me but added so much more depth. Writing emotion is one of M.L. Wang’s greatest strengths.

“But if I learned one thing from Firebird, it’s that a person’s tragedy doesn’t define them or cancel all the good in their life.”

M.L. Wang, The Sword of Kaigen

Magic

I enjoyed this avatar-esque magic system. One thing I felt this story succeeded with was power scaling in the magic system. I feel like I struggle with many stories with teens because usually young inexperienced characters quickly learn and master techniques that adults spend years learning and mastering. M.L. Wang could have easily made Mamora a god but I appreciated how M.L Wang managed the power scaling throughout the story. I loved the additional powers/abilities certain families had. The Whispering Blade and Blood Manipulation were rather intriguing and add more variation to combat then just manipulating water, air and earth.

Final Thoughts

I am extremely happy I decided to read The Sword of Kaigen. This is an early forerunner for Book of the Year for me. This was one of the easiest books to give 5 stars. I haven’t read a book recently that has drawn so many raw emotions from me. Beyond just the emotion I felt, I enjoyed the amazing character development. Every character went through a life changing journey. I can’t stress enough how great this story is. I highly recommend reading The Sword of Kaigen.


The Last Watch | Book Review

J. S. Dewes knocks her debut out of the park with her first entry in the The Divide series. I remember seeing this cover last year and being super excited and curious what this Science Fiction novel would bring to the genre. It’s no secret that Sci-Fi is my favorite genre so I had to read it! I’m glad this was my first read in 2022! This review will be spoiler free.

Synopsis

This story follows two main characters, Adequin Rake and Cavalon Mercer. Adequin commands a crew of Sentinels that protect the edge of the universe called The Divide. Cavalon finds himself being stationed on the ship called the Argus. Anomalies start to happen with the Divide and force the crew to fight to survive.

World Building

I found that world building was one of the strongest attributes about The Last Watch. J.S. Dewes masterfully crafts believable backstories for the characters. She successfully gives great moments where we learn about the characters life through the stories Adequin and Cavalon share between each on their adventure. I found this didn’t feel like large information dumps for the sake of needing something but it felt like natural moments in which people would share their life in a meaningful way. I liked the Universe was lived in on the level of a series like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time. We know of other stations that crews like Adequin’s are working on. We hear about the Inner Core and Outer Core of the galaxy. The story might take place in a small area of the universe but it feels like there is so much happening everywhere. There are mentions of wars the galaxy and even the main character went through. It wouldn’t be a Sci-Fi story with out a different species that inhabits the Universe as well. I thought The Last Watch represented World Building magnificently!

Plot

I enjoyed using a similar idea like the Wall from Game of Thrones and putting it in space. It’s an interesting concept that I think works really well. I always thought there could be amazing side stories or events that happen that could take place there. This certainly filled that void for me. I found myself turning the page and wondering what will happen next and how will they solve the problems that arrived. The Last Watch is certainly a fast paced story with lots of interesting twist that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Characters

The characters were written in a way I felt drawn to them. I really enjoy Cavalon and his storyline as it unfolded. The opening line of the book really sets the expectation for tone with Cavalon’s character. Maybe it was a little too convenient that he could answer or solve a lot of answers but I still enjoyed the value he brought to the crew. Adequin was a character I fell in love with right away. I liked how she was the hero who had fallen from grace. I felt her story resembled the likes of Ender from Ender’s Game. Adequin is definitely on the hero’s journey. There are a lot of things she is still trying to overcome and I loved that about a main character.

The one thing that made the characters – main characters and side characters – stand out in the story was everyone felt like they were distinct. They came from different background and different walks of life. They had many different personalities. This made it easy to remember who was who as the story continued to move and add new characters to it.

Final Thoughts

The Last Watch was hard to put down! I found myself invested in the story from the opening line to the last page. As soon as I put down The Last Watch, I ordered The Exile Fleet. I am excited to see where the story will go from here and can’t wait to get back into this series very soon! If you are looking for a gripping space opera with tons of drama, intrigue, mystery and suspense this is the story for you. I highly recommend The Last Watch!


Scion of the Oracle – Book Review

Good afternoon bookworms! Nocrackedspines here with another spoiler free book review!

Scion of the Oracle was an eARC I received from the author E.A. Robins back in September. I’m really happy and excited that I was given the opportunity to read this story. Scion of the Oracle is a YA Fantasy novel. This story is also an Of Metal and Magic core series. Multiple authors write in the same fantasy world and currently there are 3 books in this series – Call of the Guardian, Pariah’s Lament and Scion of the Oracle. E.A. Robin’s story was a standalone story from the other novels and I didn’t need to read them to understand her story at all. Let’s get into the review!

Characters

I normally don’t read a lot of YA Fantasy but I found myself enjoying main and side characters. Most of characters felt relatable and distinct. In this fantasy story, we follow a teenage florist Dali and her mentor Kip. I fell in love with the passion and drive Dali had even though at times it drove her towards danger instead of running away from it… but what fantasy story is fun if you are running away from trouble! I also liked Kip because it felt like he balanced her out and kept her grounded. I appreciated the humble beginnings of two people that are working a business together but Dali has other plans with her life and wants to be apart of a secret society.

We had several recurring side characters that helped bring the world to life. Of the side characters, I enjoyed the plot surrounding Eren. I thought way he flowed in and out of the story was great and provided a lot of depth as well. There are a lot of side characters for readers to fall in love with. It didn’t feel confusing like a Wheel of Time book where you are presented 10 new characters in every chapter where you feel like you might have missed someone who might be important. E.A. Robins manages to give us impactful moments when we meet characters for the first time.

Plot

The story is broken up into 10 episodes. Each episode moves you through the story and locations well. We get a lot of action and story telling in each episode. I enjoyed the casual drops of information and world building throughout. I felt the world was well lived in and had a rich story for reader to get lost in. Scion of the Oracle had a lot of twists and turns readers will love and keep them interested from start to finish. I don’t want to talk specifics of the story but readers will find friendship and betrayal, secrets and magic and an epic adventure.

Magic

The magic system feels very mysterious at first and I personally like that. I felt I was discovering it at the same time as the characters. Magic plays a huge role in where the story goes. I didn’t have all of the answers on how the magic work but I think that was awesome because it gave me something to look forward to in the sequel.

Prose

I enjoyed Robins prose. It was clear and well written. I felt like I understood the action scenes which resonated well with me. I don’t particular like it when I am confused about what is happening during action sequences but this was written well and Robins nailed it for me. There is a quality here that felt was accessible to both teens to adults.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed Scion of the Oracle a lot! It was fast-pace and kept me on the edge of my seat! The characters were fun to follow and I can’t wait to read what happens next. I would definitely pick up the sequel. Scion of the Oracle also makes me interested in the other stories that share the same world. Overall, I would definitely recommend picking up this novel. I enjoyed every minute of it!


Book Review | A Crown of Swords

Hi bookworms! It’s nocrackedspines here again with another book review! A Crown of Swords is the seventh book in the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. This will be a spoiler review. I took a several month hiatus from the Wheel of Time after finishing Lord of Chaos back in February. I did this for several reasons. I wanted to recharge my batteries before I started working my way towards the end of the series; there are still seven more books left. I also wanted to read several other books and series. I won’t lie after the ending of Lord of Chaos it was quite difficult to take a break! Wheel of Time has been a series that is always on my mind. It felt like coming home when I opened A Crown of Swords and stepped back into the world of the Wheel of Time.

Spoiler Review

Warning Spoilers will follow! Turn back now! You’ve been warned!

A Crown of Swords picked up right away after the battle at Dumai’s Wells. It almost felt like this was supposed to be part of Lord of Chaos (Book 6). The battle of Dumai’s Well’s was one of the greatest highlights for me so far in the entire series. Robert Jordan is a master of packing a huge punch in the last 100 pages of the story. The ending of A Crown of Swords did not disappoint in that department either! I was absolutely shocked and surprised by the moves Jordan made. I’m definitely picking up A Path of Daggers as soon as I can.

We follow three main plot lines – Rand and Perrin, the Ebou Dar group and Egwene. The Ebou Dar group consists of Mat, Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha, Thom, Juilin and Brigette. The Ebou Dar group progresses the most for me in this story. A lot happens around Mat, Nynaeve and Elayne. This was the first book I felt Aviendha was just along for the ride and that rather disappointed me. Ever since The Eye of the World, Thom hasn’t served much purpose besides watching over the girls – Elayne and Nynaeve. I personally didn’t like that Robert Jordan brought Thom back after he fought the fade in The Eye of the World but I’m curious if Thom will ever play a bigger role again.

Rand and Perrin

I did, however, really enjoy Rand’s story in A Crown of Swords. Rand is still very stubborn and makes rash decisions… and he’s lucky to even be alive. Before I can tackle this poor decision making, we have to talk about a new character in the series – Cadsuane! Depending how you read the series this could your first introduction to her. I read New Spring (Prequel) after The Fires of Heaven (Book 5) and briefly encountered her towards the end of the story. I had a feeling she would be an interesting character when I meet her in the main series. And she did not disappoint!! She is currently the most feared and most powerful Aes Sedia since the Age of Legends. I loved how she walk in to talk to Rand and just commanded the room. I have a lot of feelings about Cadsuane. I really hope she is one of the “good” Aes Sedia because I feel she will be a powerful person to have at the Last Battle on his side.

Rand decided to take Min and go to see the Rebellion outside of Cairhienin. Padan Fain again torments Rand, wounding him with the dagger Mat stole from Shadar Logoth. Cadsuane heals him enough to save him and her group gets Rand back to safety before saving him further.

I felt the last chapter was rushed way too much for me. Rand decides to take the Asha’man to Illian to battle Sammael. Rand and Sammael end up in Shadar Logoth before Rand ends up taking down another Forsaken. Maybe I am wrong but I felt that was too simple for Rand. I feel Sammael is still alive. I will have to continue reading and see if I am right or wrong on this one.

“The trumpets of war shall sound at his footsteps, the ravens feed at his voice, and he shall wear a crown of swords”

I was rather disappointed with Perrin’s storyline. It’s no secret Perrin is without a doubt my favorite character in the series. I was rather excited to see him get more page time but it didn’t really do a whole lot of me. He spent a lot of time worrying about Faile on his return from Dumai’s Wells. When he finally met up with her, he spent more time worrying about his relationship with her and trying to stay away from Berelain, who also likes him. It seems like no matter what he does Berelain will always be chasing him throughout this series even though he is happily married to Faile. There was some set up for Perrin’s storyline in the future. Perrin, Faile and Berelain leave Caemlyn and traveled to Ghealdan. I’m not really sure where this will go in the next book but I’m definitely curious how Perrin will deal with the Faile and Berelain situation.

Ebou Dar

The Ebou Dar group can really be broken down into two groups at this point. Robert Jordan splits Mat and the women – Elayne and Nynaeve – apart. A lot of this has to do with Elayne and Nynaeve’s feelings towards Mat. For Nynaeve this stems way back to The Eye of the World when she was a Wisdom and it only got worse for Nynaeve when Mat rescued Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve. I struggle to like Nynaeve entirely because it’s always her way or the highway. I think this is a great character flaw but it drives me insane, especially since the Wheel of Time is not just Rand’s story but the Emond’s Field five – Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene and Nynaeve.

Nynaeve and Elayne are searching for the Bowl of the Winds and their search has taken them to Ebou Dar. They’ve been hunting for this Bowl for over a month with no luck. I found it intriguing that they discover a hidden organization lead by a group called the Knitting Circle. This is basically a large network of women that were let go from the White Tower. I can see how this will eventually play into Egwene’s hands as she is looking to unite as many women under her. Besides finally finding the Bowl of the Winds, I felt like that was the biggest take away for them in the story.

I found Mat’s story to be intriguing. He hasn’t had a lot of page time since The Shadow Rises but I feel we get a lot of him in A Crown of Swords, which excited me at first. I was not prepared for the direction that his story would take though. I was not expecting Mat to be raped. It was honestly a crazy gender role flip Robert Jordan plays here. The Wheel of Time already reverses the gender roles with Women being in power but this took this to another level. There were many cues I felt that lead to this moment, which made his story more tragic for me.

I was not expecting the return of the Seanchan after their appearance in the end of The Great Hunt. The Morgase chapter was quite interesting. We saw the Seanchan return from her point of view and she finally escape from the White Cloaks. I expect her storyline to eventually end in tragedy only because I see it as the only way for Elayne to finally take the Throne. We not only see the Seanchan return from her point of view but from Elayne, Nynaeve, and Mat’s point of view. I can’t wait to find out what happens with Mat since he was still in the city during the invasion.

Egwene

I was bored by Egwene’s storyline. We barely got anything with all of page time she received. We knew Moghedien and Logain have escaped from the Salidar Aes Sedia but that was covered in the very ending of the Lord of Chaos. Egwene’s entire story felt like it was more about the black mail she was receiving from the newer novices. Honestly, Moghedien had a more interesting story compared to her. It was awesome to find out how she escaped and what is happening to her now. Reading her story kept making me wonder if we will ever find out who killed Asmodean. We are running out of Forsaken to be a problem for Rand before he faces the Dark One.

Final Thoughts

I am really hoping Robert Jordan gives Perrin more meaningful page time in the next few books. I feel like he peaked back in The Shadow Rising, which saddens me greatly. I enjoyed his time in Lord of Chaos but it wasn’t enough for me. I have similar feeling with Egwene ever since she took over as Amyrlin Seat of the Salidar Aes Sedia. I have great expectations of where she might go as a character but dealing with some black mail from novices just didn’t do it for me. As tragic as Mat’s story was in this book, I expect to see him continue to step forward as a favorite. I still remember the moment in The Shadow Rises where Mat is undressing to go into Rhuidean and the Aiel are impressed by the amount of knives he is carrying. I need more Mat moments like that! Mat also has some series talents that I think play a huge roll in the later portion of the series. As for Rand, I expect his stubbornness to continue. I am hoping the introduction of Cadsuane will help Rand. Maybe I’m mistaken and should suspect that Cadsuane doesn’t want to help Rand but I’m going to believe she has good intentions. We will see….

Overall, I really loved A Crown of Swords! I definitely think this was a bit slower than the other books but there was a lot of set up. I felt the ending was a bit rushed especially with Rand and Sammael. I was definitely expecting more after all of the set up between the two since at least The Shadow Rising. There were a few storylines I loved and a few I just didn’t care for like Perrin and Egwene’s story. This also didn’t feel like a slog either. I’ve read a lot of things where people consider A Crown of Swords the start of the slog but I though this was an excellent story with a lot of set up. I would rate A Crown of Swords 4 stars. Let me know in the comments did you like A Crown of Swords? Did you like it?


5 Sci-Fi Series I Want to Read

One of my goals for 2021 was to actively seek out science fiction stories as part of my reading goal. Recently, I’ve read some incredible sci-fi stories – Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, Dune by Frank Herbert and A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. If you haven’t read these stories, I highly recommend giving these books a read! This got me thinking about some of the other amazing Sci-Fi series I keep hearing about and what should move to the top of my TBR. Without further ado…. let’s find out what sci-fi stories I’m interested in reading!

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey

The Expanse has been on my radar for a long time now! I remember hearing about this series back when my wife and I started watching the Game of Thrones TV series back in 2017. This was well before I picked up reading again. We were searching for a new TV Show to watch and started watching a few episodes of The Expanse before stopping. I decided I would rather read the series before getting invested in the show. Flash forward 4 years…. I still haven’t started reading The Expanse. Why? At the time I only wanted to start series that were finished and back in 2017 the books weren’t complete. This won’t be my excuse anymore with the 9th and final book Leviathan Falls coming out November 30th. The Expanse will be the next big series I will be tackling after I finish The Wheel of Time!

The Divide series by J. S. Dewes

The first thing that made me interested in this series was the title and cover. There is something so exciting about the title The Last Watch. “They’re Humanity’s Last Chance” To me this already has epic written all over it. J. S. Dewes is a very active author on Instagram. She made a video a while back of what her inspiration for The Last Watch was. Mass Effect was a huge inspiration for the series. I personally haven’t played the Mass Effect games but this definitely makes me curious enough to want to pick up a copy and try it. The Last Watch came out early this summer and shortly after that the sequel The Exiled Fleet came out. I’m excited I won’t have to wait to read the sequel! It was also announced that the third book in the Divide is coming in 2023!

The Foundation Trilogy by Issac Asimov

Let’s take a step back into time to 1942 when Foundation was published. After enjoying Dune, I found out that Dune was inspired by Foundation. I don’t really know what to expect with this story. Issac Asimov has been on my list for a long time. A lot of people are familiar with I, Robot whether they saw the movie featuring Will Smith or read the short story. The biggest reason I have him on the list is I want to see how he inspired the sci-fi genre and what some of his futuristic ideas were. Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation make up the main trilogy. There are two prequel novels – Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation – as well as two sequels, Foundation’s Edge and Foundation and Earth. There is a lot of content to read outside the original trilogy!

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game has been on my list since High School. I was looking for sci-fi series similar to Star Wars so I picked this up because it was a popular sci-fi book. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t read this story after buying it. This is probably one of my biggest reading mistakes. In college I picked up the movie because it had Harrison Ford in it and I knew I had interest in the series… If you haven’t watched the movie do yourself a favor and read this book first. The twist at the end of the movie entirely ruins wanting to read the story. It’s quite an interesting surprise that I wish I read first. I’m not really sure if the movie was a success in the box office but I actually enjoyed. Now I’m more curious how close of an adaption the movie is to the book. There are 18 books in the Ender’s Game series and 5 in the Ender Series which is the series that Ender’s Game takes place.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

I recently was doing some digging into podcasts that tell stories and stumbled across this title. Welcome to Night Vale is a popular podcast that airs a new story twice a month. You can find this series on a multiple platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Youtube. This series has quite a lot of content! At the moment of writing this there are 195 episodes, 3 stand-alone Novels, Live Shows and music! The Episodes of the show have also been compiled into four collections for people to read. I also discovered they are going to be doing a Live Show next year in a city really close to me! If I manage to read and listen to all of the content maybe you will find me there!

I’m really excited about these five science fiction series. I’m curious what sci-fi series you are interested! Have you read or listened to any of these titles? Do any of ours align? Let me know in the comments below! Happy Reading!


BOOK REVIEW | DUNE BY FRANK HERBERT

Hi everyone! I am Arthur, also known as nocrackedspines on instragam! I’m really excited to be working with Sam and her team over here at The Book in Hand blog! I will be reviewing Dune by Frank Herbert!

Years ago one of my closest friends recommended Dune because I like Sci-Fi but I never really got around to reading it until now. I am really disappointed I slept on this book for as many years as I did. This past July and August, I held a large read along on Instagram for Dune since the new movie is being released in October. After finishing Dune, I can see how it has influenced so many books, stories and movies like Star Wars, Wheel of Time, Tremors and even the popular miniature wargame Warhammer 40K.

Dune was written by Frank Herbert in 1965. It is the first book in his 6 book series. Beyond the original six books, Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) has published many books in the Dune Universe alongside sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson.

Synopsis

We follow young Paul Atreides and his family’s quest to govern the desert planet of Arrakis. Melange, the coveted “spice” of Arrakis, drives the Houses to conspire against each other. Dune explores different cultures, religion, a unique planet ecology and interesting sci-fi technology.

Characters

Dune has a rather large cast of characters. Despite not being excited about some of the names of the characters like Paul or Jessica, I quickly discovered how much I really enjoyed following their story. Even side characters like Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck and Stilgar were fleshed out, enjoyable characters. Frank Herbert succeeded in creating great relationships between many of the characters. Some of my favorites were the interactions between Paul and his mother Lady Jessica and Duke Leto and Lady Jessica.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will not permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain”

World Building

Arrakis is a essentially a waste desert planet with only one unique item – Melange or “spice” – that makes it so popular among the houses in the empire. Frank Herbert dug into the ecology of the planet Arrakis from the giant sandworms to the importance of water and how the empire wants to terraform the world into a green planet. I never thought about how interest ecology would be in a sci-fi / fantasy story. Even though Dune was written in 1965, it reads like a fantasy story feels like a modern sci-fi. Dune has aged incredibly well.

Beyond just the ecology of Arrakis, I found the different houses and politics to be absolutely fascinating. Normally I have no interest in politics but it was woven into the story extremely well. The conflict between House Atreides and House Harkonnen was well fueled by the “spice” and how everyone wanted to control Arrakis. I can see the influence Dune had on George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Frank Herbert laid the foundation for so many amazing stories. Dune is a story I think will continue to stand the test of time.

Final Thoughts

I had an absolute blast reading Dune. Honestly, it surprised me. I didn’t think Dune would grab me as well as it did. I was nervous this would feel outdated or difficult to read but I felt it was the complete opposite. Dune was fast-paced, modern and rather easy to read. It definitely took me a few chapters to get used to his writing style. I would definitely recommend Dune to anyone. For me, Dune was a home run. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year!