Prelude to Dune, why do we keep reading the Atreides saga?

When it comes to cinematographic transpositions, it is always emphasized that cinema and literature are two average different, two means of expression that require a different language and a different approach. It is a reflection that very often tends to create a dividing wall between the two forms of art, without stopping to think how often cinema can help literature and vice versa. It is an emblematic case Dunes, cornerstone of science fiction literature which, after a first attempt made by director David Lynch, reached the general public thanks to the film signed by Denis Villeneuve, which has been able to restore the imaginative splendor present in the books of Frank Herbert.

The success of the film with Timothée Chalamet And Zendaya it has made many entirely new readers approach the world of Arrakis, this science fiction world full of political intrigues and a founding philosophy, which allows reflections on both power and climate change. A success that led to the rediscovery of the prequel series, which were signed by the son of Frank Herbert, Brian, together with Kevin J. Anderson. Mondadori, in fact, he began releasing prequel series, from The Duke of Caladan And The Lady of Caladan, until the new piece, Prelude to Dune, which includes the complete and hitherto unpublished trilogy composed of the novels Casa Atreides, Casa Harkonnen and Casa Corrino.

What is Preludio a Dune about?

Prelude to Dune – which arrives on the market with an extremely accurate giant edition, translated by Alan D. Altieri and Gaetano Luigi Staffilano and enriched by the presence of the short story Bridal silk – it is a work that transports the reader to the beginning of the saga. The trilogy, in fact, focuses on a young Duke Leto Atreides who, after having lost his father in a rather violent way, is preparing to inherit the title that will make him the lord of the planet of Caladan, teaching him what honor is but also sacrifice. Meanwhile, Emperor Shaddam is looking for a way to maneuver and exploit the mysterious spice, the melange, that lurks in the depths of a desert planet, Arrakis. In an ever-changing socio-political context, where a potential threat lurks around every corner, the three main noble houses – Atreides, Harkonnen and Corrino – will do everything to not only find their place in a threatening and corrupt world, but also to emerge victorious from their personal struggles, whether for the good of a planet and a house, or to take revenge on the Bene Gesserit, the order of “witches” that dominates the world of Dunes.

An epic of honor and survival that acts as a bridge

The great admirers of the founding work of Frank Herbert often wrinkle their noses with a bit of snobbery and a bit of contempt in approaching the works signed by Brian Herbert And Kevin J. Anderson, as if these two authors had somehow betrayed the work done by Frank Herbert. This is because the two original trilogies have a very different style from that of those who have inherited the task of continuing the epic of Dunes. If Frank Herbert’s style was reflective, with extended times in which broad and profound reflections on themes that were never predictable and never superficial found space, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson opted for a much faster and more flowing style, almost immediate. Prelude to Dune it makes no difference: it is a reading that focuses above all on action, on narrative twists. Not an action that devours everything and is satisfied with being a juxtaposition of events: but an action that focuses on the construction and evolution of the characters, resting on the doubts and fears of the protagonists, without however concentrating on the construction of the world except for the elements that are necessary for understanding and that can give the reader some reference points during reading.

This means that the three novels that make up the work can be read quickly and with great pleasure, giving the reader the feeling of having returned to the masterpieces of the traditional Urania series, where the watchword was entertainment and quality, where science fiction it became the tool to paint a humanity that needed to look at itself through the warped mirror of science fiction. Undoubtedly the focal point of the work – despite the construction of the socio-economic context that Paul Atreides will have to face in the first novel by Dunes – is represented by the Duke Leto Atreides. This character, who in the two main trilogies had a limited time, has always been a foundation in the universe of Dunes because it is through his example and sacrifice that Paul Atreides can become what he is meant to be. In Prelude to Dune, Leto has the opportunity to take back his space, to show himself before the eyes of the reader, with the doubts of a teenager forced to grow up too quickly: a man in progress who must find his place and his creed, who must learn to be a Duke capable of respecting his father’s memory, but also of earning the title and the respect it entails. And it is precisely in the humanity of characters, in their facets rendered with disarming honesty, that we must seek not only the success of the Atreides family, but also the beating heart of a reading not to be missed.

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