If you choose to read Frank Herbert’s Dune books in order, know that you are committing to thousands of pages of science fiction. However, you will not regret making this decision.
Anyone who has read Dune will agree that the first volume is one of the best science fiction novels of all time.
The Dune series is one of the bestselling science fiction novels in history and it has won many awards, including the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and the 1966 Hugo Award. It was later adapted in a 1984 film, a 2000 television mini-series, and a 2021 film.
What is Dune by Frank Herbert?
Dune is a series of science fiction novels set in a distant future where those who control the distribution of a particular spice control the universe.
Reading the Dune series in order takes us through a society full of feuds in which noble houses controlling the individual planets have pledged allegiance to the Padishah Emperor. The story begins with young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. Control of this planet is critical, because it is the only place you can find the source of spice melange.
Religion, politics, technology, and ecology crash when forces of the empire plot against each other to seize control of Arrakis. The drama unfolds across these books with a riveting storyline to keep you hooked for the next installment.
In What Order Should I Read the Dune Books?
There are two different ways to read the Dune books in order and which reading order you choose depends on your familiarity with this world. If you have never read these books before then you should absolutely read the books in publication order.
This reading order will have you begin with the original books that Frank Herbert wrote before his death. After which, his son Brian Herbert and popular author Kevin J. Anderson began writing the series.
However, if you have already read the series before and are looking to experience the books in a new way, then you may wish to read the books in chronological order. This reading order will have you skip between authors by beginning with Brian Herbert and Anderson before reading the books Frank Herbert wrote.
At the very least, you should read the original six books written by Frank Herbert so that you have a thorough understanding of this world before you read the Dune books in chronological order.
Should I Only Read the First 3 Dune Books?
If the length of the series and the change in authors feels overwhelming to you, then it is possible to experience the world to varying degrees.
For example, Dune can be read as a standalone story. That is how it was written, but following its success Frank Herbert planned out an eight-book arc. So, you can easily begin with Dune and determine your interest in exploring the series further.
After that, there is what can be seen as a natural stopping point after Book 3 — Children of Dune — because there is a massive time jump. However, this is still all part of Herbert’s larger plan.
There is another stopping point after Book 6 — Chapterhouse: Dune — because this is the last book Herbert wrote before his death, but that will end on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Then, in the mid-2000s, Brian Herbert and Anderson completed the original eight-book arc after finding Frank Herbert’s outlines in a safety deposit box.
So, whether you should or shouldn’t only read the first three Dune books depends entirely on your interest in the characters and world. If you find the characters and premise captivating, you should definitely continue on past the third book to at least read the six Frank Herbert wrote, but if you find your interest waning, then reading the first book or the first three is sufficient.
#1 – Dune Books in Order of Publication
The Original Series
If you have not read any Dune books, or if you have only read the first book, you should read the original series first. The original Dune series contains six books written by Frank Herbert before his passing in 1986.
- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
These six books published between 1965 to 1985 will take you through thousands of years of history and were Frank Herbert’s intended introduction to the world.
However, in 1986, Frank Herbert died before he could finish the series. Thankfully, his son, Brian Herbert, along with author Kevin J. Anderson finished the story begun in the original Dune series by Frank Herbert. They have also wrote many more books set within this universe.
Therefore, it is important to note that all of the books listed below are written by Brian Herbert and Anderson.
Prelude to Dune
If you’re looking to continue reading the Dune books in order of publication, the first installments following the death of Frank Herbert are prequels. This won’t immediately resolve the cliff-hanger that concluded Chapterhouse: Dune; however, it will provide context into the main familial houses of the series and more world-building predating the Arrakis conflict.
The next installment in the series is Fremen Justice; however, this was a small, limited run of an excerpt from Dune: House Corrino. There were only 750 copies of these limited edition chapbooks printed, which were also signed.
- Fremen Justice (2001)
Legends of Dune
This next trilogy of books acts as a second prequel to the original series written by Frank Herbert. Using his father’s notes, Brian Herbert, in collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson, shone a light on an era that was frequently mentioned throughout the original series.
Legends of Dune predates the original Dune series as it depicts a war during which humans fought a war for their freedom against the thinking machines. In this trilogy we learn about the Zensunni Wanderers before they became the Free Men of Dune and the discovery of the lucrative spice melange.
Continuation of the Original Series
Now, if you’ve been patiently waiting to read the conclusion to the main series, you’re in luck. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson returned to the timeline Frank Herbert was writing before his death to write two more books and conclude the original series.
Heroes of Dune Books
The Heroes of Dune books take place between books in the original series. The first, Paul of Dune, picks up after the conclusion of Frank Herbert’s original Dune and before the events of Dune Messiah. It documents how Paul came to create his empire and become the Messiah.
The next book in this series, The Winds of Dune, picks up after the events of Dune Messiah. The book focuses on the lives of the supporting characters: Jessica and Gurney, Alia and Duncan, Mohiam and Stilgar, Irulan and Bronso of Ix.
The Schools of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have also written a sequel to the second prequel, which sounds a bit confusing, but will appear clearer when you examine these books in a chronological context.
These books also predate Frank Herbert’s original Dune books and begin 83 years after the war between humans and the thinking machines. In other words, this timeline takes place 10,000 years before Dune. The trilogy depicts the struggle for humanity’s future, which shaped the events within the original series.
The Caladan Trilogy
Lastly, the most recent addition to the Dune universe is The Caladan Trilogy. This is another prequel to the original series, in which Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson use Frank Herbert’s notes to depict more of this vast universe and its depth.
This trilogy focuses on the House of Caladan. While most of the books within the Dune universe focus on Paul, this series begins by peeling back the layers of his father: Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan. The first book explains how Leto earned both the favor of the emperor and the ire of House Harkonnen.
The next book focuses on Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, and the consequences of her actions within Dune. Finally, the trilogy will conclude with Paul Atreides himself. It begins with him as a boy becoming the man he needs to be in order to become the Muad’Dib.
Newest Dune Book
Details are sparse about the newest Dune book. It covers the backstories of Paul Muad’Dib’s wife in name only, Princess Irulan, and the love of his life: Fremen Chani. Where exactly this falls in the timeline is also unknown at this point in time.
- Princess of Dune (Expected: October 3, 2023)
#2 – Dune Books in Order of Chronology
Our list of the Dune books in order also includes short stories that can be found in Tales of Dune, which we’ve listed below in the category for companion books.
As previously mentioned, reading the Dune books in order is only recommended if you have already read the first six books written by Frank Herbert and have a thorough understanding of the world. Otherwise it will be confusing to begin the books in this order as they were not intended to be the introductory novels or stories.
We have also identified where the original Dune books fall into the chronological order for easy reference.
- Hunting Harkonnens (Tales of Dune)
- The Butlerian Jihad
- Whipping Mek (Tales of Dune)
- The Machine Crusade
- The Faces of a Martyr (Tales of Dune)
- The Battle of Corrin
- Sisterhood of Dune
- Mentats of Dune
- Red Plague (Tales of Dune)
- Navigators of Dune
- House Atreides
- House Harkonnen
- House Corrino
- Wedding Silk (Tales of Dune)
- The Duke of Caladan
- The Lady of Caladan
- The Heir of Caladan
- Princess of Dune (Expected: October 3, 2023) (Tentative Placement)
- Dune (Original Book 1)
- A Whisper of Caladan Seas (Tales of Dune)
- The Waters of Kanly (Infinite Stars)
- Paul of Dune
- Dune Messiah (Original Book 2)
- The Winds of Dune
- Children of Dune (Original Book 3)
- God Emperor of Dune (Original Book 4)
- Heretics of Dune (Original Book 5)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (Original Book 6)
- Sea Child (Tales of Dune)
- Hunters of Dune
- Treasure in the Sand (Tales of Dune)
- Sandworms of Dune
If you are looking for even more Dune content, you may enjoy reading the companion novels to this series.
- The Road to Dune by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson (2008)
- Tales of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (2017)
- Dreamer of Dune (2004) (Frank Herbert Biography)
- Sands of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (2022)
Graphic Novels & Comics
There have also been graphic novel adaptation from the Dune series. The first is an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s first book, Dune. The first volume in this project has already been released with a second volume to be released in July 2022 and a final volume still expected.
In addition, the second graphic novel adaptation is of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s prequel, Dune: House Atreides.
- Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1: Dune (2020)
- Dune: House Atreides, Vol. 1 (2021)
- Dune: House Atreides, Vol. 2 (2021)
- Dune: House Atreides, Vol. 3 (2022)
- Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad’Dib (2022)
- Dune: House Harkonnen #1 (2023)
- Dune: House Harkonnen #2 (2023)
- Dune: House Harkonnen #3 (2023)
- Dune: House Harkonnen #4 (2023)
- Dune: House Harkonnen, Vol. 1 (Issues #1-#4) (Expected: October 24, 2023)
- Dune: House Harkonnen #5 (2023)
Dune Screen Adaptations
As previously mentioned, this beloved science fiction classic has been adapted multiple times.
The 1984 film, Dune, starred Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides. However, this first adaptation received mixed reviews from critics and is considered a commercial failure.
The next adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel came in 2000 with the release of a TV mini-series. While the mini-series has not received as much attention as the 1982 film or the latest adaptation, when it first aired on SyFy it smashed previous rating record highs. It stars Alec Newman as Paul Atreides.
Finally, we come to the third and most recent adaptation: Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune. The 2021 iteration features a star-studded cast, including Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Zendaya as Chani, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto, as well as Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho.
The film also received positive critical and commercial success, cementing its future as the first film in a two-part adaptation. It premiered in October 2021 and the scheduled release date of Dune: Part Two is March 15, 2023.
Prior to the first film’s release, Brian Herbert hailed the 2021 iteration of Dune as the definitive film adaptation of his father’s classic novel.
Also, the novel Sisterhood of Dune is being adapted into a television series, Dune: The Sisterhood. The prequel to the movies will stream on Max and focus on the origins of the secretive Bene Gesserit organization.
The prequel hit a speedbump in February 2023 when production took a pre-scheduled hiatus as both the director and sat of the project stepped away from the series due to creative changes. Shirley Henderson was slated to be playing main character Tula Harkonnen prior to her departure.
The series will now air in 2024.
A Summary of the Dune Books in Order
If you’re now eager to begin reading these popular books, we’ve included the summaries for the original six novels below, so you can begin your reading journey within this universe.
Dune is about a boy named Paul Atreides, who is the heir of a family in charge of an inhospitable, desert planet whose only worth is a spice called melange, a drug that grants extended life. When his family is betrayed, the destruction of everything he once held dear sends him on a journey toward a greater destiny of bringing to fruition mankind’s oldest and most unattainable dream.
2. Dune Messiah
Paul Muad’Dib is now Emperor and holds more power than anyone should have. Political houses have allied against him and he faces a threat from within his own circle. But as his house crumbles, the greatest threat is to Chani and Paul’s unborn heir.
3. Children of Dune
The Children of Dune is third book in Frank Herbert’s Dune series about twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides. The two possess special abilities, just like Paul Muad’Dib, their father. This makes them important to Alia, their aunt, who rules the Empire in Paul’s place since he went missing nine years earlier.
4. God Emperor of Dune
Thousands of years later, the once-desert planet is flourishing with life. Leto Atreides, the son of Paul Muad’Dib, is still alive, but no longer human. In order to save humanity’s future, he sacrificed his own humanity by merging with a sandworm which gave him immortality for the past thirty-five hundred years.
Unfortunately, Leto’s rule is not a kind one. So, Siona, a member of the Atreides family, has risen to rebel against him.
5. Heretics of Dune
Leto Atreides is dead and fifteen hundred years have passed. The Empire is in shambles. The people have scattered and the once lush planet has reverted back to a desert.
Now, the Lost Ones are returning home to find power. A girl name Sheeana rises as factions fight for control of what’s left of the Empire.
6. Chapterhouse: Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune is the sixth book written by Frank Herbert and the last penned by him before his passing. Dune is gone. The Old Empire is destroyed.
A group called the Bene Gesserit are destroying the lush planet of Chapterhouse mile by mile in an effort to control production of the galaxy’s greatest commodity: Melange. But their real secret is also their greatest weapon: A man who lived and served under Paul Muad’Dib thousands of years earlier.
If you’re on your first journey to Arrakis then we hope you enjoy this iconic science fiction series that has withstood the test of time and remained a steady favorite in the hearts of many readers. However, if you’re already a fan of this beloved series, then you probably already knew that. Either way, if you are a new or an old fan, we hope you have found this article on how to read the Dune books in order helpful.