The Dune series is not something to try to read throughout one weekend.
There are seemingly unlimited pages to enjoy and a storyline that will immediately have you hooked. Frank Herbert’s Dune series is something you need to commit to, but you will never look back.
A lot of people think that the first volume is one of the most incredible sci-fi novels in history and we don’t disagree! The whole series has been among the top bestselling sci-fi novels and has won numerous awards.
This includes the 1965 Nebula Award for Best Novel and even the Hugo Award in 1966.
That is not all, though! Thanks to its major success, Dune has also been adapted into a mesmerizing 1984 film, a miniseries in 2000, and an incredible film in 2021.
Dune: Part Two is set to release in November 2023, and still includes Timothee, Chalamet, Zendaya, and a number of other big names like Florence Pugh and Austin Butler.
If the screen adaptations were enough to get you into Dune, you are probably wondering about the books now. With so many books, what is the right order to read them in?
If you would like to find out, then just keep reading. We’ll cover everything you need to know right here in this article.
Dune is a wonderful collection of sci-fi novels (If you like sci-fi, you might also like Kill Code By Clive Fleury. Check out this book review on it!). It is set in the future, in a world where anyone who controls the distribution of spice, has control of the universe.
There are feuds across society, and noble houses who control their own planets have pledged their allegiance to the powerful Padishah Emperor. This story centers around Paul Atreides and begins when his family accepts the stewardship of Arrakis.
The planet of Arrakis is crucial to the universe, as it is the only known place where the origin of the all-important spice can be found.
Everything from religion and politics to ecology and technology crashes when a number of forces in the empire band together to gain control of the planet. It is this drama that unfolds across the series and keeps readers turning page after page.
As we mentioned before, Dune has previously been turned into a 1984 film as well as a 2000 miniseries. The first adaptation got a lot of reviews from the critics, but reviews were greatly mixed, with Kyle MacLachlan playing Paul Atreides.
Overall, this film is seen to be a failure commercially and is largely ignored by today’s consumers.
The 2000 miniseries received much less attention compared to the 1984 film but still managed to get great ratings. This miniseries has Alec Newman playing Paul Atreides and is a much greater success.
The most contemporary adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel was released in 2021 and was a great success.
This film had a cast that couldn’t be overlooked, with Timothee Chalamet playing Paul Atreides, Zendaya playing Chani, Rebecca Ferguson playing Lady Jessica, Jason Momoa playing Duncan Idaho, and of course, Oscar Isaac playing Duke Leto.
Released in October 2021, the first part of Dune surpassed expectations. Because of this, we are expecting (and eagerly awaiting) the second film, set to be released toward the end of 2023.
The cast will include a number of our favorites, keeping Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides and Zendaya as Chani.
However, additions to the star-studded cast include Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, Austin Butler as Feyd Rautha Harkonnen, and Christopher Walken as Emperor Shaddam IV.
Before the film was released, Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, called this adaptation the incredible definitive film adaption of the classic Dune novels.
That is not all, though! Even the novel The Sisterhood of Dune will be adapted into a series called Dune: The Sisterhood. This series will stream on HBO Max and will be the movie’s in-depth prequels.
It will primarily focus on the Bene Gesserit, a secretive organization. As of yet, however, there isn’t a lot more information to know about!
Okay, it’s finally time to jump into the book series. There are two great ways to read these books in an order that makes sense, and we will go through each of these options separately.
The first reading option is in the order in which the books were published. This method is recommended if you are only just going to be doing your initial reading. It will allow you to experience the books as the author intended.
However, on your second read-through, you can switch it up! The second reading option will allow you to take in the books in chronological order.
This is a great option if you are familiar with Dune’s world, and want to enjoy a slightly different experience.
In our opinion, both methods are great. It just depends on whether you know the world of Dune yet or not. This is the kind of series that you will want to read more than once, anyway!
Below, we will list how you can read the Dune series in order of publication. This is how the author intended for these books to be written, and is recommended for a first-time Dune reader.
There are six books in the original Dune series. These were all published from 1965 and 1985 before Frank Herbert passed away in 1986. You should always aim to read the original books first, even if you have started a newer one recently.
This series will guide you through several thousand years of crucial and fascinating history. These books were how Frank Herbert intended readers to first be introduced to the stunning world of Dune.
Unfortunately, Frank Herbert passed away before he could complete his series. However, Brian, his son, along with Kevin Anderson, who is another author, completed the story that Frank had started.
Since then, many more books that are set in the same universe have also been written and published for us to enjoy.
Read the original Dune series written by Frank Herbert in this order:
1. Dune (1965)
2. Dune Messiah (1969)
3. Children of Dune (1976)
4. God Emperor of Dune (1981)
5. Heretics of Dune (1984)
6. Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
The books written after this point were co-written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
To continue with the order that the books were published in, these are the next books in the series that you are going to want to read. It should be noted that the first section after the original author’s death are prequel.
So, while these books won’t resolve the cliffhanger that you find in Chapterhouse: Dune, they will provide you with a lot of important context.
This is focused on the main families within the series, as well as a lot of world-building. Although you might be tempted to skip these and come back to them, you will be missing out on a lot of important information, and you will no longer follow the publication order.
Read these books in this order next:
This one sticks out from the rest of the series. Fremen Justice was released as a limited run of an excerpt from Dune: House Corrino and just 750 copies were sold. These are all limited edition and signed copies, so if you can get your hands on one, great!
Read this book if you can:
The Legends of Dune trilogy is essentially the second prequel to the original series. Brain Herbert used all of Frank’s notes to collaborate with his co-author, Kevin Anderson, to shed light on the history of Dune.
Specifically, these books focus on a time that is often mentioned in the series, and one that readers are dying to know more about.
In this series, we learn about the war that humans fought in opposition to the thinking machines to gain their freedom. We learn a lot about the Zensunni Wanderers prior to them becoming the Free Men of Dune, along with the unearthing of spice.
Next, read the following books in this order:
Finally, in 2006, Brian and Kevin continued working on the fantastic original series that Frank Herbert started. In these two books, we go back to the original timeline and continue the epic adventure.
These will be a real treat after all the other reading between Frank Herbert’s origin six-book series!
Read the final two books to complete the original series storyline:
These Heroes of Dune books occur in between the books within the series.
Paul of Dune continues after the original Dune conclusion and before Dune Messiah. This book shows us how Paul created his powerful empire and became the Messiah.
The second book, called The Winds of Dune, continues on after the Dune Messiah. Within this novel, there is a focus on a number of side characters. These include Duncan and Alia, Jessica and Gurney, Bronso of Ix and Irulan, and Mohiam and Stilgar.
The co-authors also wrote a sequel to the prequel they published. This makes a lot more sense if you see these and read the books in chronological order the second time you read them.
Even in this published order, these are essential reads, though!
The books take place almost 100 years after the war between the thinking machines and humans. In the grand scheme of things, this is 10,000 years before the events in Dune.
The series focuses on the various struggles for the future of humanity, which shape the original series events.
Read the trilogy in this order:
Finally, the Caladan Trilogy is the newest addition to the magnificent Dune universe. Books are still being published, with Dune: The Heir of Caladan expected to be published in late November 2022.
This is yet another prequel to the original Dune series, and Brian and Kevin use Frank’s in-depth notes to show us more of the universe.
As the name suggests, this trilogy is about the House of Caladan and focuses on the Duke of Caladan, Leto Atreides.
Layer upon layer is revealed to the reader. In the first book, we dive into how Leto Atreides gained the Emperor’s favor, while also the hatred of House Harkonnen.
The second book is about Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother. This story focuses on all the repercussions of her actions in Dune. At last, the final book is about Paul Atreides and starts with him becoming the man that he needs to be to become the Muad’ Dib.
Read these final books in this order:
There are a number of short stories that are in Tales of Dune. These are great companion books and will be listed below for chronological reading along with the other books.
As we said before, you should only read these books in chronological order if you already have a good understanding of the Dune universe. You should have at least read the first original Dune books by Frank before reading the whole series in the following order.
If you don’t, there will be a lot of confusion, and you probably won’t understand enough about the world yet.
To read the Dune books in chronological order, follow the list below:
If you find yourself falling in love with Dune and want more, there are a series of companion books to enjoy, too! These companion novels will add more depth to the whole series, and give you something great to sink your teeth into.
Last, but not least, there are a series of graphic novels to enjoy. These are a wonderful adaptation of the original Dune book by Frank Herbert. This project’s first volume was released back in November 2020, and the second was released in mid-2022.
There are also some additions to the original graphic novels. These are the adaptations of the prequel Dune: House of Atreides.
The first Dune book is primarily set on Arrakis, the desert and barren planet. It follows Paul Atreides, the heir of a noble family who has been tasked with ruling the planet. There, the only valuable thing is spice, an incredibly powerful drug that people will happily kill to have.
House Atreides gets betrayed, and Paul is forced to go on an incredible journey to fulfill his great destiny. He gradually turns into the mysterious man called Muad’ Dib, the one who will make humankind’s impossible and ancient dream.
The book continues following Paul Atreides as Muad’ Dib.
He is now Emperor of the Known Universe and wields unimaginable power. Paul is worshiped by the Fremens but faces the hostility of all the other political houses that were deposed when the throne became him.
He has to face a conspiracy within his own circle of influence. As House Atreides crumbles around him thanks to his enemies, Chani, his lover, and their unborn heir are in danger.
This third book follows twins Ghanima and Leto Atreides.
Their father Paul disappeared into the desert almost a decade ago, allowing the children who have supernormal abilities to be manipulated by their Aunt Alia.
While Alia runs the Empire as the head of House Atreides, her rule is not unquestionable, and she faces rebellion. House Corrino plots against the throne, while the Fremen are in open revolt thanks to the mysterious figure known as The Preacher.
By learning the secrets that the twin’s prophetic visions hold, Alia believes that she can stay in control of her dynasty.
The twins, however, have their unique destinies to follow.
In the fourth book, millennia have elapsed. Leto lives still but is no longer human due to his effort to save humanity by merging with a sandworm.
Although he has ruled as God Emperor of Dune for over three thousand years, his rule has not been benevolent, as both his appearance and morality are not inhuman.
Because of this, a rebellion is led by another member of the Atreides family, Siona. However, Siona doesn’t know that the vision of a Golden Path by Leto will require her to fulfill her unwanted destiny.
It has been over a thousand years since Leto Atreides’ passing, the Empire has crumbled into disarray and ruin. Millions abandoned their homes and scattered beyond the reach of any known space in an event called the Scattering.
Arrakis is now known as Rakis, and the sandworms are dwindling.
The Lost Ones are returning to pursue power, and factions seek control of what remains of the Empire.
Sheeana becomes a prominent figure in the Rakis wastelands and sends religious fervor through the whole galaxy, possessing the Freman sandrider ability, and fulfilling the key prophecy echoed by the God Emperor.
Arrakis has been ruined, and the violent cult known as the Honored Matres has consumed the remnants of the Old Empire. Now, only one faction, the Bene Gesserit, remains, and are heirs to the power of Dune.
The Bene Gesserit colonized a luscious world and is transforming it into a great desert. Once they master creating sandworms, the faction will be in control of the fabrication of the most important commodity in the galaxy, spice.
Their one true weapon, however, served under the God Emperor Paul Muad’ Dib and is a man who had lived countless lifetimes.
Dune is a thrilling series that every sci-fi lover will enjoy. Now that you know about two ways to read these extensive books, you need to get out there and enjoy them.
Read the books in order of publication if you are a first-time reader, or enjoy them in chronological order if you are well-versed in the Dune universe.