Fremen vs. Sardaukar: Who Is the Superior Force in ‘Dune’ Universe

Fremen vs. Sardaukar Uncovering the Superior Force in Dune Universe

One of the things that ‘Dune’ Universe is notable for is its extensive world-building especially when it comes to noble houses and warfare. We know that House Corrino has stayed on the throne for a long time due to their command of Sardaukar army forces, which were at the time golden standard of army forces lifted up to almost mythological levels. But, this changed near the end of the first ‘Dune’ book, and we’ve seen seemingly “primitive” Fremen going head to head and striking a debilitating defeat to Sardaukar forces taking over the planet. Despite that, Sardaukar still remained the thing of legends, so, taking everything into account, who was objectively stronger and which military force was the superior one?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Despite Sardaukar being technologically more advanced and having elite training on their side, they were still inferior to Fremen.
  • First, Fremen had Kwisatz Haderach on their side and it’s unlikely that something could go up against his prescient visions, second, Sardaukar had technology on their side but this means little in the dessert where Fremen had both the environment and sandworms on their side, which is something that Sardaukar don’t usually go up against and have no formal training against.
  • The third and likely one of the most significant arguments for the Fremen superiority is the fact that the Sardaukars that won the throne for the Corrino family were not the same elite force that lost it on Arrakis, both the noble family and the elite forces have suffered greatly being to convinced in their superiority for a long time until complacency settled in.

Sardaukar vs. Fremen: The environment

One of the most common arguments you will hear that support the Fremen superiority is the fact that the desert people of Arrakis have been born, brought up, and trained in harsh environments which made them tougher, faster, and more desperate to win than the rest of the military forces of the Galaxy. This is true yes, but it only works if Sardaukar faced their training in absolute leisure, and they didn’t.

The Sardaukar were typically trained from an extremely young age on Salusa Secundus, which served as the prison planet for the Corrino noble house. Why did it serve as a prison planet? Because of its environment which was absolutely detestable, it was believed that raising soldiers in a sich environment would lead to the creation of hardened superior people. It’s said that the Sardaukar training was so severe that only half of the children would live to see the age of 11, the rest dying under merciless training regimes and due to exposure to the planet’s horrific conditions.

Sardaukar forces

You can make an argument that Sardaukar were brought up in a more difficult environment and that their living conditions were even worse than those of Fremen because their lives were intentionally complicated while Fremen still had time for leisure and pleasure no matter how rare it is in the desert. There’s also the fact of the mortality rate. If the mortality rate of the Fremen was at 50 % for children, it’s safe to say that they would be extinct pretty soon as this is something severe and disastrous in the long run.

Still, despite the fact that Sardaukar had it worse than the Fremen, both armies were notable for being quite savage, elite in their skills, and having a religious-like fervor toward the battle. The two forces respected the other side, and following Paul’s ascent to the throne Sardaukar avoided going into the direct conflict with Fremen.

The Sardaukar (1 – 1) The Fremen

Fremen had the advantage of the desert, while Sardaukar had the advantage of the technology

Sardaukar were easily recognized by the gear they wore and the fighting style they used. Their melee weapons include the kindjal, Sardaukar knife, Sardaukar sword, shigawire garrote, and slip-tip. The flip-dart is a concealed needle used to deliver drugs or poisons, typically hidden in rings or wrist bracers. Ranged weapons consist of the hunter-seeker, lasgun, Maula pistol, needle gun, stunner, and Sardaukar throwing knife.

The Fremen were never quite as notable for their gear, except for their stillsuits which were designed to persevere as much water as possible under the harsh and unforgiving Arrakis sun. Despite other companies producing stillsuits, the Fremen, due to doing it for a long time had tradition and secret knowledge on their side and produced the most superior stillsuits, which greatly helped in the desert combat. The Fremen also hand sandworms on their side, and sandworms are easily one of the most terrifying things you can come across in combat.

dune stillsuit

As you can see, the Sardaukar had better gear, but only in the context of general fights, in the desert, they couldn’t be more prepared than the people who literally lived there for centuries and adapted to the natural environment, and learned to utilize the planet’s secrets.

The Sardaukar (1 – 2) The Fremen

Sardaukar had reputation and Fremen had Kwisatz Haderach

The second strong argument for why Fremen could never lose against Sardaukar was Kwisatz Haderach and his Prescience. Prescience allowed Paul to see in both past, present, and future and allowed him to take the most optimal path that would surely lead to victory. When you have a leader who is literally able to project each move inside his head and see what would be the direct outcome of that movie, it kind of makes fighting easier.

Fremen would at least certainly struggle much more against Sardaukar if they did not have Kwisatz Haderach on their side. Every move is the winning move when you can see into the future.

On the other side, during the last few decades of Corrino rule, Sardaukar were living mostly on their reputation as legendary fighters. The dynasty and the throne have grown “Fat and complacent” in their riches and power that they thought of themselves as undefeatable and when you lose your guard, that’s when you are at your most vulnerable, it’s likely that the training for the latter generations of Sardaukar wasn’t the same as at the beginning of the elite order, and they were mostly being celebrated based on prior victories but in actuality, they took part in few battles at the time. This ultimately led to their defeat.

The Sardaukar (1 – 3) The Fremen


‘Dune’: “Fear Is the Mind-Killer” Quote Explained

So who wins?

We don’t have to speculate on who wins as the Fremen wiped out Sardaukar on Arrakis. Following that grave defeat and the fact that Corrinos lost the throne, the Sardaukar retreated into obscurity and became a marginal force, continuing to act as the standing army and guardians for the newly-deposed House Corrino.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments