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.
Summary of 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.
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 October 20, 2023. Filming is scheduled to begin in July 2022.
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 series, which will stream on HBO Max, is a prequel to the movies and will focus on the secretive Bene Gesserit organization. However, there is still not much available information surrounding the project.
How to Read the Dune Books in Order
But now let’s dive into the books. To make things easy, we’ve compiled two ways to read the Dune books in order.
The first is by series in order of publication, which is the recommended way to read the Dune books for the first time. However, if you’re already familiar with the world, you might be interested in the second way to read the Dune books in order which is in chronological order.
#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 Kevin J. 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.
- Dune: The Duke of Caladan (2020)
- Dune: The Lady of Caladan (2021)
- Dune: The Heir of Caladan (Expected publication: November 22, 2022)
#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 (Expected publication: October 18, 2022)
- 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)
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)
A Summary of the Dune Book 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.
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides. He is heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, which is a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. It is coveted across the known universe, and melange is a prize worth killing for…
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will also bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
2. Dune Messiah
The second book in the Dune series continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known – and feared – as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne.
He also faces a conspiracy from within his own sphere of influence. But even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat comes to Paul’s lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s destiny.
3. Children of Dune
The Children of Dune are twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides. Their father, the Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, disappeared in the desert wastelands of Arrakis nine years ago. And just like their father, the twins possess supernormal abilities – making them valuable to their manipulative aunt Alia, who rules the Empire in the name of House Atreides.
However, facing treason and rebellion on two fronts, Alia’s rule is not absolute. The displaced House Corrino is plotting to regain the throne while the fanatical Fremen are being provoked into open revolt by the enigmatic figure known only as The Preacher. Alia believes that by obtaining the secrets of the twins’ prophetic visions, she can maintain control over her dynasty.
But Leto and Ghanima have their own plans for their visions – and their destinies.
4. God Emperor of Dune
Millennia have passed on Arrakis, and the once-desert planet is green with life. Leto Atreides, the son of the world’s savior, the Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, is still alive, but he is far from human. In an effort to preserve humanity’s future, he sacrificed his own by merging with a sandworm, granting him near immortality as God Emperor of Dune for the past thirty-five hundred years.
But Leto’s rule is not a benevolent one. His transformation has made not only his appearance but his morality inhuman.
Therefore a rebellion, led by Siona, a member of the Atreides family, has risen to oppose the despot’s rule. But Siona is unaware that Leto’s vision of a Golden Path for humanity requires her to fulfill a destiny she never wanted, or could possibly conceive.
5. Heretics of Dune
Leto Atreides, the God Emperor of Dune, is dead and in the fifteen hundred years since his passing, the Empire has fallen into ruin. The great Scattering saw millions abandon the crumbling civilization and spread out beyond the reaches of known space. The planet Arrakis – now called Rakis – has since reverted to its desert climate, and its great sandworms are dying.
And now, the Lost Ones are returning home in pursuit of power. As factions vie for control over the remnants of the Empire, a girl named Sheeana rises to prominence in the wastelands of Rakis, sending religious fervor throughout the galaxy. That is because she possesses the abilities of the Fremen sandriders – fulfilling a prophecy foretold by the late God Emperor.
6. Chapterhouse: Dune
The desert planet Arrakis, called Dune, has been destroyed. The remnants of the Old Empire have been consumed by the violent matriarchal cult known as the Honored Matres. Only one faction remains a viable threat to their total conquest – the Bene Gesserit, heirs to Dune’s power.
Under the leadership of Mother Superior Darwi Odrade, the Bene Gesserit have colonized a green world on the planet Chapterhouse and are turning it into a desert, mile by scorched mile. And once they’ve mastered breeding sandworms, the Sisterhood will control the production of the greatest commodity in the known galaxy: The spice melange. But their true weapon remains a man who has lived countless lifetimes – a man who served under the God Emperor Paul Muad’Dib.
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.
Looking for more books in order?
Check out our list of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones Books in Order.