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Loved Dune 2? Read all the 23 Dune books in chronological order

From the seminal Frank Herbert saga to the prequels and sequels to follow

Lois Borny
Thursday 04 April 2024 10:41 BST
Here’s how to kickstart your Dune reading voyage
Here’s how to kickstart your Dune reading voyage (The Independent )

With awesome visuals, a Hans Zimmer soundtrack and starry cast members like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya Coleman and Austin Butler, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part 2 landed on the big screen on 1 March – and it’s the must-see film of the moment, whether you’re a sci-fi fanactic or not.

For the uninitiated, the Dune films (both Dune: Part 1 and this latest second installment) are based on the first book of the seminal sci-fi Dune saga (1965). Written by Frank Herbert, the original series spans six books, which he completed before his death in 1986. Since then, the core series has ballooned, with sequels and prequels written by Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and sci-fi writer Kevin J Anderson.

Now, there are a whopping 23 books to get your teeth into. If the film has inspired you to delve into the depths of the Dune world, but you’re not sure where to start, there are a few ways you can tackle it – and we’re here to help. Firstly, you could choose to read the books in the order that they were published, or you could pick them up in chronological order. And, of course, you can also just read the first book as a standalone and stop there, if you wish.

Here, we take a look at where to buy the first six novels and, to help you kickstart your Dune reading voyage, we’ve also listed the complete series in both orders below.

‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert, published by Hodderscape: £8.99,


Published in August 1965, the first book in the Dune series introduces us to Arrakis, an inhospitable desert planet. Here, rival factions are vying for a precious, psychedelic drug called “spice” – created by enormous sandworms, this coveted substance can extend human life and enhance consciousness. Expect to explore themes of religion, technology, and our relationship with our environment in this seminal sci-fi tome.

Buy now

‘Dune Messiah’ by Frank Herbert, published by Hodder Paperbacks: £7.78,

(Hodder Paperbacks)

The second book of Herbert’s Dune saga, Dune Messiah, was published in 1969. Following the conflict in the first book, House Harkonnen has been defeated, and Paul Atreides – now named Muad’Dib – is the immensely powerful emperor of planet Arrakis. But with unrest still raging across the universe, he must deal with the threat of being dethroned, and hopes to lead mankind to a future less doomed.

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‘Children of Dune’ by Frank Herbert, published by Gollancz, £8.97,


The third book of the series is Children of Dune, published in April 1976. It’s nearly a decade since Paul Atreides has vanished, lost to the barren Arrakis deserts. His two children, twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides, are able to foretell events. This is a prophetic skill which their aunt Alia, the new ruler of the empire, hopes will help her to hold down her reign, while she faces uprisings and treason, and a revolt, led by a mystifying figure, “The Preacher”.

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‘God Emperor of Dune’ by Frank Herbert, published by Gollancz: £9.19,


Herbert’s sci-fi epic continues with God Emperor of Dune, the fourth book of the series, published five years after Children of Dune, in 1981. We’re now thousands of years on, in the wake of the happenings of Children of Dune. Paul Muad’Dib’s son Leto, the God Emperor of Dune is now almost immortal, but at the cost of his human morality. In a bid to preserve the human species, which he knows to be doomed unless they follow his plan, “The Golden Path”, he becomes a tyrannical ruler, and an uprising ensues. The plot explores themes of politics, total power and the human condition.

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‘Heretics of Dune’ by Frank Herbert, published by Gollancz: £7.11,


Published in 1984, the penultimate book in Herbert’s six-book original Dune series, is Heretics of Dune. Hundreds of years on from the previous book’s events, planet Arrakis (which is now called Raki) is thriving no longer, now barren and desolate once again. Many people left as civilization collapsed, but now, they’re back, fighting for whatever is left. Featuring a supernatural sisterhood called the Bene Gesserit, and a girl named Sheeana, who can control Arrakis’s sandworms, the book touches on religious themes.

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‘Chapterhouse: Dune’ by Frank Herbert, published by Gollancz: £7.14,


That brings us to the final novel in Frank Herbert’s six-book series, Chapterhouse: Dune, which was published in March 1985. Arrakis lies in ruin, and a violent matriarchal cult called Honored Matres has been chasing supreme power, conquering every planet and faction to get it. The novel’s name refers to the planet Chapterhouse, a secret base for the mystical sisterhood Bene Gisserit, as the group won’t be giving up so easily, with the spice-producing sandworms at their disposal.

Buy now

How to read the Dune series in order of publications:

How to read the Dune series in chronological order:

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