Dune Wiki
Dune Wiki
Enc2 This article or section refers to elements from the Dune Encyclopedia.
There are separate pages for this subject as it appears in the other canons, the reasons for this are explained here


Alia Atreides

Alia Atreides, aka Saint Alia of the Knife and Womb of Heaven (10191 AG - 10219 AG), born in planet Arrakis. Posthumous daughter of Duke Leto Atreides I and his Bene Gesserit concubine Lady Jessica, was the younger sister of Paul Atreides.

Regent of the Atreides Empire, she established an autocratic government based in the cult of her personality. In 10219 AG she committed suicide after being overpowered by Leto II and having succumbed to the possession by her grandfather, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.



While Jessica Atreides was pregnant with Alia, she went through the Water of Life ceremony to become a Reverend Mother. The Fremen did not know she was pregnant, but she could not refuse the "illuminating poison", even if she knew the effects; Alia's consciousness was permanently altered and became the first of the Atreides pre-born, something Jessica's Bene Gesserit superiors had long feared.

Early years[]

Alia was born in 10191 AG, with full awareness and knowledge of her ancestral memories. After only a few moments of crying, she looked with focused eyes around the birthing room, as in taking in every detail. Fremen women present at her birth, with knowledge abut the Abomination, spread the word that the child would bear careful watching. With a curious life she drank the Water of Conception fed to her by Harah, her godmother.

The superstitious Fremen were impressed by her from the first moments, with precocity to every matter. When only 8 months old, she could walk, and exercised thoroughly the water discipline, known to her by accessing the Fremen memories. Her first words were "I love you, Harah". She used to sit alone at the edge of the desert practicing Bene Gesserit exercises.

This odd sight was enough to make the Fremen consider the shameful Test of Possession, but the stature of her brother as the Mahdi, and her mother, saved her from it.


When she was only 2 years old, in 10193 AG, she witnessed the last engagements between her brother and Shaddam IV, and Muad'Dib's Fremen. Rather than telling her brother about the death of his son during the fighting, she allowed the Sardaukar to capture her, and take her to the Emperor. Standing before Shaddam IV, his Truthsayer Gaius Helen Mohiam and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (whom she recognised as her grandfather), she unnerved them with her poise and intelligence. Mohiam recognised to her the Abomination the Sisterhood long feared and demanded that she be killed at once, but Shaddam futilely tried to frighten her to learn her brother's whereabouts. The Baron dared to seize her, and in turn was struck with a poisoned needle.[1]

That year Mohiam sent a report to the Bene Gesserit General Council concerning Alia's existence and nature, which caused great consternation. The Bene Gesserit immediately ordered secret assassinations of both Jessica and Alia in spite of the enormous risks, but more rational thought prevailed, and they decided to study this Abomination for information needed to destroy her, while wooing her mother back into the ranks.[1]

When Alia was just 14 years old, Paul gives her to a ghola of Duncan Idaho as a reward for fealty.[2]

As a young woman during the days of Muad'Dib, Alia led crowds of pilgrims in prayer and prophesied for them. Being the sister of the Mahdi she was revered as Saint Alia-of-the-Knife, the divine huntress who sought out the faithless, who could not be deceived, and "The Womb of Heaven", her most popular title.[1]

Alia attended the funeral of Chani Kynes. Harah had restrained her from driving Irulan Corrino out of the cavern on sight.[3]



Alia as Imperial Regent

Paul disappeared into the desert in 10209 AG, and with his children Leto and Ghanima still too young to effectively rule remained under Stilgar's guardianship. Alia went from being a Princess to being the Imperial Regent Alia VIII of the Atreides Empire.[1] Jealous of the love Ghanima had for Harah, she removed her when she was 3.[4]

One of the first acts of her regency was to execute all those who had conspired against Paul, including Mohiam, despite Paul's orders, obviously aware that she was her grandmother. This decision mared her first deviation from Atreides behavior. However she spared only the repentant Princess Irulan Corrino.

Dune alia1

Alia on the Golden Lion Throne.

In the first month of her regency, Alia married Duncan Idaho-10208, the Atreides swordmaster. Hundreds of thousands of Imperial subjects atended The ceremony in the capital city of Arrakeen, which followed the Fremen rites. Alia opted to omit only those sections of the ritual which involved removing her crysknife from its sheath at her waist, as showing it before a crowd of out-freyn, would alienate the Fremen.

In the next year of the Regency she dissolved the Fedaykin.

With Jessica in Castle Caladan, and Stilgar content to defer to her, Alia was in complete control of her twin niece and nephew. She knew they were pre-born like her, knew their capabilities and what large doses of melange had done to Alia and avoided it at all costs, fearing the effects of the spice-trance.[1] Ghanima was both terrified and empathetic, seeing in her what she would easily become.[4] Alia encouraged them otherwise, hoping they would share with her the visions of prescience they could tap into. Their lack of cooperation puzzled, annoyed and infuriated Alia.[1]

Into Abomination[]


As Abomination, Alia takes comfort in the metaphorical arms of Baron Harkonnen

As rebellions were put down and problems solved, however, Alia found herself more and more subject to her ancestral memories seeking a second chance, at her expense. She managed to silence them thanks to Bene Gesserit litanies and Zensunni rituals (which she knew from Fremen memories), but they grew stronger over time time as did the heavy doses of melange she used to take. Her decisions were harsh and her "divine rages" were infamous to her aides. She ignored the advice of Idaho, and those closest to her to spare herself more.

The strain against the maddening internal voices finally became too great and to avoid fragmentation of her personality, in 10217 AG she made an alliance with the strong memory of Vladimir Harkonnen. Both strong personalities acting in concert they managed to shut out the voices. Around that time she started Bene Gesserit techniques to maintain her young body.

However the influence of Harkonnen corrupted her mind, resulting to a different way of decisions and actions, becoming more self-protective and less representative of the old Atreides codes. Alerted by the change, the Sisterhood sent a delegation to Caladan, asking the help from Lady Jessica to investigating her daughter. Jessica knew that the purpose of her Sisters would be to destroy the Abomination, so she accepted to help Alia to save herself. Soon after she arrived to Arrakeen, Jessica was a captive of House Corrino and Alia expanded her control of the Imperium: Leto was presumed dead, and Ghanima who would ascend the throne, was to be engaged to Farad'n Corrino.

Jessica, Leto, Ghanima, Farad'n, even Idaho and Halleck planned against her in 10220 AG. Alia put an assassin against Halleck, but when the attempt failed, she took greater risks. Idaho's death forced Stilgar to flee to the desert with Irulan and Ghanima. Her ally spent more time lusting after the young men in her court than he did helping her.

Zia brought to her Buer Agarves as her new aide who would later replace Javid as Alia's plaything in bed. Early in his service, Alia sent them to Sietch Tabr with messages, and Agarves returned reporting that Stilgar had killed Idaho after Idaho had killed Javid. Agarves lied that he was not present, fearing for Alia's reprisals if he admitted that he did nothing to protect them. Alia commanded him to kill Stilgar promising him to become Naib of Tabr. During one of his reports, Alia lied that that her initial command was a result of ravaging grief but now she had forgiven him and only wanted Stilgar to return to Sietch Tabr; Alia also gave him as a parting gift new boots, where a transmitter was secreted. The transmitter let Alia's forces to Stilgar's refuge, and Agarves' death.[5]

She secured Irulan and Stilgar in her dungeons and even persuaded Ghanima to accept Farad'n. But she had spread her forces too thin.



Leto's Return

Leto's return and Alia's suicide

Leto was now protected and strengthened by his sandtrout skin, arrived at Alia's Temple and could overcome her legendary prowess at hand-to-hand combat. Defeated, Alia exerted the force of her own personality one final time. In spite of the protests of her inner voices, she took her own life rather than to submit to a Fremen Trial of Possession. As she flung herself to the Temple courtyard, she performed her first independent act in years.

Her body was removed from the courtyard and processed through the nearest deathstill; the water was carried into the desert to evaporate in the fierce sun, a Fremen way of disposing with the water of one convicted of Possession, and indicative of the low opinion held of her by that time.


From her youth, Alia chose isolation, and as she grew older, Alia often mentioned her loneliness from the rest of humanity, increasingly blaming her mother for this condition. In certain aspects, she surpassed her brother. Jessica understood what had happened to her daughter as best as she could (for someone who had not experienced such an awakening) but could provide only little comfort.[1] Whenever her presence was not commanded, she absented from the Court; as a Regent she was mostly unavailable except for official duties.

Lacking her brother's prescient abilities, Alia indulged in massive doses of melange to broaden her vision although the spice-trance most often failed her. Her heavy melange consumption was just another means of maintaining contact with her internal advisors.

She ruled as a power-hungry woman, aided by the memories of ambitious and greedy rulers, and most of her actions had the aim to solidify her position, such as her marriage, and manipulation of her nephews.[6]

Alia had few close, genuine relationships, largely due to her mentally and emotionally imbalanced state. Her relationship with her mother was strained at best, and simmered with deep resentment. And her interaction with Fremen was tarnished at an early age by their fear of her abilities and knowledge.


After her water was poured into the sand, her family seldom spoke about her, but Ghanima told her children about the pains of being human and in contact with their past.[4]

Princess Irulan, one of a number of Bene Gesserit spies who were introduced into Muad'Dib's household posing as retainers, was close to the Lady Alia even into her Regency and even until her death. Their observations, along with those of various Reverend Mothers who came into contact with her, provided the basis for the Report on Alia Atreides, after which the Bene Gesserit Judiciary Council condemned Alia as an "Abomination to be Abhorred" in 10211 AG. The authors (Sisters) of the final draft of the Report after Alia's death unanimously declared that Alia wilfully chose Abomination's way for herself, spurning all attempts to save her humanity. Her suicide relieved the Sisterhood.[6]

The impact of Alia's religious powerbase was long-lived. Many considered her a revered figure for several hundreds of years after her death. While worshipped during her life, as a reflected image of Muad'Dib, carrying on his work, after her death she was worshipped as a divine godhead of her own. Her title as "The Womb of Heaven" was adopted by the Cults as a far more hallowed connotation (her lesser titles were discarded). The first recorded Cult of Alia was established in Arrakeen in 10970 AG during the rule of Leto, with The Book of Alia dedicated to her divinity.

In The Dune Catastrophe, Harq al-Ada makes the very point that Alia was capable of encompassing each of the contradictory personalities with which she has been credited, citing the opinion of Ghanima Atreides: "My aunt chose her own course at many junctures, but the opportunity to choose was not always given her. Leto and I pitied her even as we feared her, and I believe that she often felt the same mix of emotions toward herself."[1]

Bronso of Ix, in the Atreides Imperium, dismisses Alia as "a self-made disaster". A similar opinion is held by Lors Karden author of the Truth and Fancy in the Oral History.[6]

Preceded by
Paul Muad'Dib
Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe
10209 AG - 10218 AG
Succeeded by
Leto II Atreides

References and notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Atreides, Alia
  2. Atreides, Paul
  3. Atreides, Chani
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Atreides, Ghanima
  5. Buer Agarves
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Alia as Abomination