[Book Review] Dune: House Harkonnen

Part two of the Dune Houses trilogy.

General Information

Dune: House Harkonnen
Dune: House Harkonnen

Author: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Original Publication Date: August 2001
ISBN: 0-553-58030-2
Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca


(From Amazon.com) Don’t even think about reading House Harkonnen without reading its predecessor Dune: House Atreides; anyone who does so risks sinking in the sands between Frank Herbert’s original Dune and this prequel trilogy by Herbert’s son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson. The purist argument that had Frank Herbert wanted to go backwards he would have done so is, at least in part, negated by the sheer narrative verve, and by the fact that Anderson and Brian Herbert manage to pull some genuine surprises out of this long-running space-opera. House Harkonnen is a massive book, and there are places where it becomes plot heavy, but in following the story of Duke Leto Atreides and the conflicts with House Harkonnen, the authors succeed in spinning a gripping adventure while going off in some unexpected directions. Anderson, who has written many successful Star Wars novels, has noted his particular admiration for The Empire Strikes Back, and his desire to emulate that film’s dark take on the genre. In House Harkonnen, the conflict encompasses the tragedy of nuclear war, marked by grief and horror, vengeance and torment, and all while the complex intrigues continue to unfold.

High Point

Liet’s entire subplot. It’s not only great to see deeper into the Fremen mind set, but he’s an interesting character that we lose too quickly in Frank Herbert’s original.

Low Point

As with the first book, the intrigues aren’t as deep and methodical as the original, however the authors are getting better as the series progresses. I have one specific complaint: They do a weak job with Dr. Yueh’s character. His overall role in the series is far too important to skimp.

The Scores

Originality: As the title suggests, the focus shifts (slightly) towards the Harkonnens. And they tend to be fairly unique in everything they do. 4 out of 6.

Imagery: Again, the authors outdo Herbert’s original by be more descriptive about the worlds of Dune. 4 out of 6.

Story: By using Abulurd’s character, we’re left in the dark about what’s going to happen to him, though his ultimate fate is a foregone conclusion. 4 out of 6.

Characterization: Again, the characters are well-done and deeper portrayals of existing icons. I am, however, perplexed at their skimping on Dr. Yueh. 5 out of 6.

Emotional Response: Same old prequel problem. We know what’s going to happen. It’s only a matter of when. 3 out of 6.

Editing: Good work. Those short chapters are growing on me. 4 out of 6.

Overall: Just as much fun as House Atreides. 5 out of 6.

Total: 29 out of 42

Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.