Dune saga: In which order should I read prequels, books and sequels
I'm really lucky, finally here in Spain all Frank Herbert's books will be published by the same editor in pocket edition! Unluckily all his works will be published in chronological order, and Dune has some prequels which I would read before the others (I have already read the classic six books saga), but I don't know what I should read before...
I think I should start with The Butlerian Jihad, followed by The Machine Crusade and The Battle Of Corrin, but.. what comes after? Maybe the three books of the three houses? Or should I read them before the The Butlerian Jihad ? And what comes after the Heretics Of Dune ?
In total 18 books of Dune will be published. Anybody can help me to put them in the right reading order?
I would recommend the following rough order:
Herbert's Dune trilogy (main timeline), with 2 chronologically-inserted Anderson books from "Heroes of Dune" interquel and couple of KA/BH short stories:
- Dune (FH)
- Paul of Dune
- "The Road to Dune" short story (FH)
- Dune Messiah (FH)
- The Winds of Dune
- Children of Dune (FH)
- Road to Dune set (2005, not related to FH's short story above) by KA/BH:
- Alternate Dune story (Spice Planet)
- Herbert's letters related to publishing Dune
- Missing chapters
- 2 short stories ("A Whisper on Caladan Seas", "Dune: Wedding Silk")
The reason for this order is two-fold:
Many people (subjective opinion) consider Herbert's Dune series to be far better than Anderson+Brian Herbert's prequels. As such, it should be read first. However, the in-quel books are well regarded and can be read together, in chronological order.
If you read prequels first, the magic of the novel structure and revelations that Frank Herbert intended is going to be violated.
Once done with these, it's time to see how the Dune Universe got to where it is now, reading the prequels in in-universe chronological order.
Prequels, far past ("Legends of Dune" series + short stories):
- Dune: Hunting Harkonnens (short story)
- Dune: The Butlerian Jihad
- Dune: Whipping Mek (short story)
- Dune: The Machine Crusade
- Dune: The Faces of a Martyr (short story)
- Dune: The Battle of Corrin
Immediate Prequels and Stories ("Great Schools of Dune" and "Prelude to Dune" series):
- Sisterhood of Dune
- Mentats of Dune
- Red Plague (short story)
- Navigators of Dune
- Dune: House Atreides
- Dune: House Harkonnen
- Dune: House Corrino
Future books in chronological order:
- God Emperor of Dune (FH)
- Heretics of Dune (FH)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (FH)
- "Dune: Sea Child" short story
- Hunters of Dune
- "Dune: Treasure in the Sand" story
- Sandworms of Dune
Great Schools of Dune prequels
Ideally, should be read after Prelude trilogy (putting them in correct chronological order), but this series is still being published, so for now it goes last. Once it's finished, it should go before future books.
- Sisterhood of Dune
- Mentats of Dune (scheduled 03/2014)
I may have missed a couple of short stories, but you should read them in correct chronological order. Wikipedia has a great table showing which short stories go with which novels.
Now, important: re-read Dune or even entire original trilogy.
This is critical. Now that you have the information in prequels (yes, some not always as great as Frank Herbert's work, but many based on his ideas and outlines), re-read Dune and enjoy how the rich history of the Universe folds into the gem that Dune is.
NOTE: this answer should be updated circa 2015, to reflect the progress in Great Schools of Dune series
Great answer, but ultimately I gave it a +1 just for the Jar-Jar Binks reference.
I am currently reading Paul of Dune and if this is one of the "well regarded" books, I'd hate to read one of the poor quality books. The narrative structure is very different, the character of Jessica is a robot and all of the characterisation feels wrong. And the characters are constantly announcing their thoughts instead of experiencing the world around them.
Here is a direct link to a Wikipedia page with 'Universe' chronology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(franchise)#Plot_arc. And here's another such listing that also interweaves the movie, TV series and comic book series: https://www.alltimelines.com/dune/
I would start with Brian Herbert prequels (with Hunting Harkonnens) if listening on audiobook. The audible version of Dune has Baron Harkonen played by two different voice actors and it is almost impossible to follow. One of the actors sounds like Dearth Vader speaking through a voice disguiser; the other sounds like a cackling uncle Fester. It's bad enough to want to drop the series. It's a pity the franchise holder did not fix such a botched production. With characters cemented in my mind from the prequels, it is possible to make sense of it.