Frank Herbert’s Dune is a science-fiction franchise that is considered by many to be the best ever, comparable to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a franchise that rules over the fantasy genre. And where Tolkien himself wasn’t a fan of Dune, a lot of people are and it made the franchise what it is.
In this article, we are going to give you a list of the best Dune books and audiobooks. The list is going to be informative, as well as evaluative.
You’re going to find out just how many books comprise the Dune franchise, as well as which one among them is the best. We’re also going to rank the best Dune books and audiobooks in separate sections for you to enjoy!
How Many Dune Books Are There?
The Dune franchise can be divided into two distinct parts. The first part, which consists of books written solely by Frank Herbert himself, has six books. The second part contains books and stories written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and contains more than a dozen of novels and stories.
In order to make the situation more clear, here is a chronological outline of all the works in the series, as arranged by Brian Herbert and Anderson:
|The Butlerian Jihad||2002|
|The Machine Crusade||2003|
|“The Faces of a Martyr”||2004|
|The Battle of Corrin||2004|
|Sisterhood of Dune||2012|
|Mentats of Dune||2014|
|Navigators of Dune||2016|
|Paul of Dune (Parts II, IV, VI)||2008|
|The Winds of Dune (Part II, excluding Interlude)||2009|
|Dune: The Duke of Caladan||2020|
|Dune: The Lady of Caladan||2021|
|Dune: The Heir of Caladan||TBA|
|“Whisper of Caladan Seas” (concurrent with Dune)||2001|
|“The Waters of Kanly” (concurrent with Dune)||2017|
|“Blood of the Sardaukar” (concurrent with Dune)||2019|
|Paul of Dune (Parts I, III, V, VII)||2008|
|The Winds of Dune (Part IV, excluding Interlude)||2009|
|“The Road to Dune”||1985|
|The Winds of Dune (Parts I, II: Interlude, III, IV: Interlude, V)||2009|
|Children of Dune||1976|
|God Emperor of Dune||1981|
|Heretics of Dune||1984|
|Hunters of Dune||2006|
|“Treasure in the Sand”||2006|
|Sandworms of Dune||2007|
As you can see, the scope of the whole franchise, with both the stories and the novels, is absolutely breathtaking and the Dune franchise is one of the richest in terms of works. This is why we decided to give you this chronological list so that you can if you ever want to, see how you should read it.
Dune Books Ranked
Now, knowing how complex the whole franchise is, we have decided to make things a tad less difficult by focusing solely on the six novels written by Frank Herbert. In this section, we are going to order them by their quality, going from 6th to 1st place.
6. God Emperor of Dune (1981)
Leto takes on the responsibility of ruling the entire known universe. Because of his transformation, he can grow many times older than the usual human being. In order to control everything in the known universe, he restricts the issuance of spice.
All those in power must come begging him to get a small amount. For this, he sets strict requirements and thus imposes severe penalties during the annual determination of the quota of each group. His goal is to carry out the golden path that his father did not dare to take in the universe.
The goal of the golden way is that individuals are no longer visible to the presenting gaze. As a result, no one can influence the future anymore. For this, he sends the propagation of his own female private army, the Fish Talkers. The entire planet is now full of trees, plants, and other vegetation, except for a small area of the desert too small to let worms live in.
In the end, Leto manages to create a girl who is invisible. This girl will pass on the trait through her bloodline. In order to guarantee her life, Leto eventually sacrifices herself.
5. Heretics of Dune (1984)
The story begins thousands of years after the fall of God-Emperor Leto II who ruled the empire with a tight hand for hundreds of generations. His death was followed by the Scattering of his former subjects across the universe. Of these trillions, small numbers are now finally returning to the realm: profoundly changed, and an unnameable threat emanates from them.
Some have apparently acquired new mental faculties over there, putting the ‘old’ person in the shadows.
The women of the Bene Gesserit and the fanatical life artists of the Tleilaxu, two closed societies almost as old as history, have gradually recovered from the dislocations of the subjugated period during Leto II and are already fighting each other for survival – initially without themselves realizing that their changed former ilk returning from the Scattering also have plans.
Rakis – once Arrakis or Dune, again turned into a desert world where the giant sandworms of the past reign undisputed – will be the ultimate battleground.
4. Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
Several years after Heretics of Dune, the battle between the Sisters of the Bene Gesserit and the warlike Honorable Matres of the Scattering, their psychopathic adversaries, reaches a violent climax. The Bene Gesserit, a closed Order of the Sisters almost as old as history, has been committed to the maturing of humanity since its inception.
The “witches” had to endure severe trials under the millennia-long reign of the God-Emperor Leto II. With their ruthless supremacy, the Honorable Maters now subdue one planet after another, and scorch the strongholds of the Sisters from space—like the ancient Dune, now only a smoking clump of cinder.
They have not yet located the Chapterhouse of the Bene Gesserit. Ultimately, the Sisters must deliver great feats of mind to stand any chance of self-preservation in the decisive showdown, the final battle.
3. Dune Messiah (1969)
Finally, Paul Muad’Dib, the Messianic Messiah, assembles his army, leading them to attack the palace ruled by the Harkonnens. Paul Muad’Dib wins the battle and strips Harkonnen of power. He marries an imperial princess, Irulan, for political reasons.
Chani remains Paul’s beloved concubine – just as Paul’s mother, Jessica, was the son’s father, Leto’s concubine. At the end of the book, Paul goes alone into the wilderness to death after realizing that Muad’Dib would not lead loyal Fremen to freedom. He feels betrayed by the indigenous people and deserved to die.
2. Children of Dune (1976)
The blind Paul Atreides, Muad’Dib, and the Emperor, went into the desert. Power was seized by his sister Alia (regent under Paul’s minor children, Leto II and Ghanima). However, power over Alia herself was gradually seized by the grandfather, “living” in her genetic memory, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
A preacher is announced in the capital of the empire, denouncing the Alia regime and the cult of Muad’Dib. Many, however, think that this preacher is Muad’Dib. The Bene Gesserit Order is once again organizing a conspiracy against the government, the Corrino dynasty, overthrown by Paul, also does so independently.
To do this, the conspirators want to kill the children of Paul’s heirs. Those are still small, but ancestors also live in them, as in Alia. The plans of the children themselves are not taken into account until it is too late.
1. Dune (1965)
The events are set in the distant future where most of human history so far has been forgotten, but some cultural and religious traditions have been preserved. It describes a feudal interstellar empire controlled by families through the story of young Paul Atreides, heir to Duke Leto Atreides of the Atreides family, whose family moves to the planet Arrakis, which becomes their feud.
Arrakis is a desert planet, which is why it is called Dune; it is the only source of a substance called Spice in the universe. Soon, the Atreides family finds themselves in a dangerous political game that includes the rival Harkonnen family, the astronaut guild, the mysterious female order of Bene Gesserit, and the emperor himself.
The story thus intertwines the influences of politics, religion, technology, ecology, and the human psyche, creating a complex backdrop for exploring human development.
Dune Audiobooks Ranked
The audiobooks based on Dune are truly a great way to enjoy the franchise if you’re not a fan of reading (or you just don’t have the time to read through the whole series). There are different audiobooks available, but the ones produced by Audible, which also includes The Dune Audio Collection narrated by Frank Herbert himself, are the best.
In this section, we are going to rank the Audible audiobooks from worst to best:
6. Dune Messiah (2007)
Narrated by: Scott Brick, Katherine Kellgren, Euan Morton, Simon Vance
Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
Release date: 01-10-07
5. Chapterhouse: Dune (2009)
Narrated by: Euan Morton, Katherine Kellgren, Scott Brick, Simon Vance
Length: 16 hrs and 42 mins
Release date: 17-02-09
4. God Emperor of Dune (2007)
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
Release date: 30-12-07
3. Children of Dune (2008)
Narrated by: Scott Brick, Simon Vance
Length: 16 hrs and 51 mins
Release date: 05-02-08
2. Heretics of Dune (2008)
Narrated by: Simon Vance, Scott Brick
Length: 18 hrs and 4 mins
Release date: 14-10-08
1. Dune (2006)
Narrated by: Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Simon Vance, Ilyana Kadushin, Byron Jennings, David R. Gordon, Jason Culp, Kent Broadhurst, Oliver Wyman, Patricia Kilgarriff, Scott Sowers
Length: 21 hrs and 2 mins
Release date: 31-12-06
Why Is Dune the Best Dune Book?
The original Dune is – surprise, surprise – by far the best book in the whole franchise. Why? Well, it’s more than obvious! First of all, it was so good that it launched a whole franchise of books and that it became a symbol of modern science-fiction, inspiring authors and filmmakers for decades to come. Its cultural and literary impacts are enormous.
Secondly, the book has everything you need. It was well written, it has a captivating plot full of intrigue and surprises, and great characters who you’ll definitely want to see again. And thanks to the book’s success, you can, as Herbert wrote an additional five books thanks to the debut novel’s success.
And that is why Dune is the best Dune book of all.