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Dune Timeline: From Ancient Humanity to the Spice Sands

Denis Villeneuve’s big-screen adaption of Frank Herbert’s Dune was the biggest deal in 2021. His ability to bring the Dune universe to life including the oh-so-gorgeous planet Arrakis left fans salivating for more. 

From the giant sandworms the size of small mountains to the menacing Bene Gesserit honing the Gom Jabbar, we just couldn’t get enough of Dune Part I. And now, we have Dune Part II, which further explores the story of Paul Atreides and his battle for the planet Arrakis

The Dune universe is wide, with 23 novels, six of which were penned by Frank Herbert himself and the rest by his son Brian Patrick Herbert in collaboration with best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson. The Dune universe also spans over 15,000 years, so if you’re trying to wrap your head around this having not read the books, here’s a great place to start. 

Pre-Dune Era (Unknown Date – Battle of Corrin)

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10,000 years before Frank Herbert’s events of Dune, the Butlerian Jihad (Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson) sees the last of free humans wage a war against thinking machines led by the malevolent Omnius. Humanity is enslaved for nearly 900 years by AI and aggressive machines until a Jihad erupts.

From this Jihad comes the Battle of Corrin, where House Corrino emerges victorious. In this timeline, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson unleash The Machine Crusade and The Battle of Corrin where Vladimir Harkonnen destroys the last thinking machines. These events lead to the formation of the Guild (navigators who control space travel) and the Sisterhood of Bene Gesserit (a breeding program to create superhuman beings).

Early Dune Era (Year 10,140 – Dune) Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

This is closer to Frank Herbert’s Dune, as we are formally introduced to the Bene Gesserit and their plans and influence, the Mentats, and various houses like Atreides, Harkonnens, and Corrino. Here still are several books by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson including:

·        Sisterhood of Dune: The origins of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood and how they came to be so powerful, plus their political machinations. 

·        Mentats of Dune: The mentats were like replacements for computers after the Butlerian Jihad. These were humans trained to peak mental performance.

·        House Atreides: The history and rise of House Atreides.

·        House Harkonnen: The brutal reign of House Harkonnen on the planet Giedi Prime.

·        House Corrino: Focuses on the political machinations of House Corrino, the Padishah Emperors.

·        Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune: A continuation of Frank Herbert’s last novel Chapterhouse Dune.

Year 10,191 – Dune (Frank Herbert)

This is probably the most popular book in the Dune series and Villeneuve starts his soon-to-be trilogy here. It starts with Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s father, being entrusted with the stewardship of Arrakis. Arrakis or Dune is the desert planet that produces the valuable spice melange. 

This great house Atreides is betrayed by the Harkonnens scheming with the Padishah emperor who fera their rise in power and control of the valuable spice. The events set in motion lead to the death of many of House Atreides. Paul and his mother Jessica are exiled to Arrakis where they meet the Fremen and embrace there way of life. 

Eventually, Paul rises to become the Muad’Dib, the prophesied leader of the Fremen. With thsu in motion he sets on revenge against the Harkonnens who murdered his family and the scheming emperor. 

Year 10,196 – Dune Messiah (Frank Herbert)

Paul is now firmly emperor, but the consequences of his Jihad become evident. Billions across the galaxy have died and plots against his rulership emerge from powerful circles including the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild.

Paul’s concubine, Chani, gives birth to two twins Leto II and Ghanima. Later, a conspiracy against Paul leaves him blind, while Chani dies in childbirth. Paul’s blindness leaves him with heightened abilities. His children are also born with some of the abilities he inherited from his Beni Gesseret heritage. Paul finally leaves the empire in the hands of his sister Alia as regent, with the Fremen taking care of his children. He walks into the desert in the tradition of the Fremen.

Year 10,201 – Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune (Frank Herbert)

Leto II, Paul’s son merges himself with spice trout and radically transforms into a sandworm, thus gaining superhuman strength. Through his power of prescience, he looks into the future and sees multiple futures where humanity doesn’t survive, but only one called the Golden Path. He declares himself emperor and comes to be known as the God Emperor of Dune.

Leto rules for 3500 years, guiding humanity through the Golden Path, the path he thinks is necessary for humanity’s survival.

Other major events here are that Arrakis is terraformed from a desert into a lush, green landscape. The production of spice is thus stopped and Leto II controls all the remainder. Leto’s rule begins the Scattering, where imperium citizens are forced into other galaxies and planets.

Year 15202 – Heretics of Dune (Frank Herbert)

1500 years after the assassination of Leto II, humanity is firmly on the Golden Path. With the emperor’s death, powerful forces start to emerge from the great Scattering, with new civilizations emerging.

These include the Ixians who can pilot through space without spice, the Bene Tleilax who can now manufacture spice, and the old Bene Gesserit. A very powerful order called the Honored Maitres also emerges which are a society of women bred and trained for combat and sexual domination. The novel ends with the destruction of the planet Arrakis by the Honored Maitres.

With Heretics of Dune you’ll explore themes like religion, social change and the cyclical nature of history. That’s something to keep in mind as you work on your essays or research papers on the topics of Frank Herbert or Dune. Check out this RoyalWriter review to find out cool tips on how to get your academic papers done in a flash, or even useful research you can include in your papers.

Year 35,463 – Chapterhouse: Dune

This continues the previous struggle of the Bene Gesserit against the Honored Maitres who have now become the most powerful force in the universe. The Matres also destroy the entire Bene Tleilax civilization, with only one survivor left.

Wrapping Up

You can see that there is plenty for you to read about and engage with in the Dune universe. So, from the synopses provided which is your favorite Dune book?

Don’t forget to check out the newly released Dune Part II which continues the struggle of Paul Atreides on the desert planet Arrakis. You can also download or purchase e-book copies of any Dune book to dive into the intense action. See you on the next one!

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