Arrakis, also known as "Dune", and later "Rakis" after the fall of God-Emperor Leto Atreides II, was a harsh desert planet located on the far edge of the Old Imperium that was later became the Imperium's center under Muad'Dib's empire. It was the original and for a long time sole source of the Spice Melange.
Arrakis was the third planet in the Canopus star system, and lay far from the major populated worlds and their trade routes. It was orbited by two moons: the first and larger of these bore a formation which looked like a human fist; the second had a formation that resembled a kangaroo mouse.
Main article: Fremen
To the native Fremen, the fight for survival had long dominated their cultural identity. The brutal environment of Arrakis, necessitated the frugal use energy and resources, especially water. Additionally, their history with cultural persecution mandated the need for combat knowledge. These two aspects saw them emerge as efficient and hardy warriors, who used their skills and the environment of Arrakis to fend off off-world opponents who often possess far superior technology and formal training.
The Fremen typically lived in patriarchal collectives, known as sietches, which were led by a Naib. Each sietch resides within one of the numerous rocky formations that dot the sands of Arrakis. Collectively, all Fremen belonged to the Ichwan Bedwine, or broad brotherhood.
The surface of Arrakis consisted almost exclusively of dry dune deserts, and was the reason for the planet's alternative name "Dune". Various weathered mountain ranges stretched across the planet, breaking up the deserts and providing shelter to the limited native lifeforms. Rock outcrops also littered the planet's surface.
The atmosphere comprised of nitrogen and oxygen in measures compatible enough to allow human beings to live on the planet without the need for respiratory equipment. The production method of atmospheric oxygen sufficient to sustain limited biological life in this manner was unclear.
Vast reserves of water were located deep within the mountains of the planet, as well as within countless sand trout. Small amounts of water vapour existed in the atmosphere, and were harvested via wind traps.
The northern pole of the planet sat on a large plate of bedrock, and was ringed by mountain ranges. Thus it was protected from sandworm incursion, until the Fremen, led by Paul Atreides, used atomics to destroy the Shield Wall shortly before he proclaimed himself Emperor.
This geography, combined with the milder climate, made human habitation at the pole more comfortable, and explained the presence of the capital city Arrakeen.
Little native life survived on Arrakis, due to its scorching heat and dry climate. The various lifeforms that did endure were eclipsed by the sandworms, which roamed the deep deserts of the planet. The sandworms played an important role in the production of melange, and aggressively protected their desert territory from humans and other sandworms alike.
The Fremen, traditionalist human clans, also eeked out a life on the planet, existing in the caves of rocky outcrops and mountain ranges that broke up the planet-wide desert.
Other lifeforms on Arrakis included sandtrout (which interplays heavily with the sandworm); the sand kangaroo; and the desert mouse, known to the Fremen as Muad'dib. Some forms of flora existed on the planet, including the creosote bush. Various birds and bats were also known to exist in the ecosystems of the planet. Some of these were domesticated by the Fremen.
Arrakis was known to the Old Empire, which dispatched a team of scientists shortly before its fall. After concluding that the planet offered no tangible benefits they were called back due to the unrest being caused by the rise of the Cymeks. ==References and notes==
By the time of the protracted war between Omnius and the League of Nobles Arrakis had become a remote trading outpost and haven for fugitives. Shortly after the rise of the thinking machines and prior to the creation of the Spacing Guild, various pacifist Zensunnis crashed onto the planet in a prototype warp vessel to escape the wrath of both humans and sentinent machines. On Arrakis they started a barely self-sustaining culture that shunned outsiders. This culture, with the addition of later off-world religious refugees, would later evolve into the Fremen. ==References and notes==
Before the discovery of the Spice Melange on the planet, Arrakis was of little tactical, biological or geological interest to the inhabitants of the Imperium. However, the powerful effects of the spice, especially with regard to space travel, quickly made it an essential resource and a focal point for the empire. The discovery of the Spice Melange noticeably increased the Arrakis's importance, until by the time of Paul Atreides it had become a critical component in the Corrino Empire.
A Corrino plot to develop a spice alternative or synthesise it lead to the Arrakis ecology becoming of some interest to Emperor Shaddam IV. Previous experiments had seen sandworms die shortly after they were transplanted from Arrakis to another world, regardless of how faithful a reproduction of their ecosystem was made. As a result, Shaddam sent his Imperial Planetologist Liet Kynes to analyse the planet's ecosystem. Kynes' analysis of Arrakis convinced him that the planet was once a lush and fertile world. He believed that through careful and multi-generational planning, Arrakis could once again become a paradise. The Fremen, enchanted by Kynes' stories of large bodies of water, greenery and mild temperatures not requiring stillsuits, followed him with fervour. Kynes became so fascinated by the planet and its people that he married into a Fremen tribe, eventually being absorbed by their culture and coming to be known as a leader among the Fremen. He saw so much potential in the planet and its people that he sought to hide its secrets from the Emperor. This lead eventually to Kynes' death, but not before leaving a legacy and a vision for the Fremen people.
In 10,191 A.G., House Atreides arrived on Arrakis, and took over control of the planet and spice production. By this time, the planet had for some years been under the brutal control of Atreides enemies House Harkonnen, who managed spice mining operations on behalf of Emperor Shaddam IV. The Atreides rule was cut short, however, through a betrayal in a conspiracy by Harkonnen and Imperial forces.
House Atreides went into hiding, but after seeking refuge with the Fremen, they quickly became their leaders through their inherent ability to command loyalty, and through their promise that Kynes' vision would be realised through their rule. Three years later, Paul Atreides under the Fremen name of Muad'Dib, using Atreides Family atomics, created a gap in the Shield Wall that had been protecting Arrakeen since the dawn of time. Riding into the city on sandworms, the Fremen defeated Harkonnen and Corrino forces, and Paul Atreides declared victory and ascended to the Golden Lion Throne. Arrakis became the new seat of power for both the Empire and the religious jihad that Paul unleashed upon the known universe.
Eventually, Paul's limited interpretation of the 'Golden Path' led to the terraforming of the planet, carried out by Paul's son Leto Atreides II, the long-lived God-Emperor. Over several thousand years, Arrakis was transformed into a green and temperate world much more habitable to humans, just as Kynes had hoped. Ultimately however, the new ecology was dangerous to the giant sandworms, and they all but became extinct under Leto II's rule. During this time, new mountain ranges, forests, and rivers came into existence. Off world animals were introduced and took root on the planet. Only Leto's Sareer remained evidence that Arrakis was once a desert planet.
After some 3,500 years of rule, Leto II died while crossing the Idaho River after the Guardian Wall of the Sareer opened. Leto fell into the river, and his worm-body was destroyed by the water, which was toxic to him. His body decomposed into sandtrout that absorbed water, eventually leading to a recreation of the conditions required for the sandworms to appear. Over the next 1500 years, Arrakis gradually returned back to desert. Also during this time, many names for places had become shortened. Arrakis eventually became known as Rakis, while the city of Arrakeen became known simply as Keen. After Leto's death, control of the planet was turned over to Leto's Fish Speakers, the Rakian Priesthood, and the Bene Gesserit.
In an attempt to destroy a Duncan Idaho ghola, the planet was eventually decimated by the Honored Matres, an action that totally destroyed all biological life from the planet's surface, which would render it barren for thousands of years. However, their efforts did not succeed and the Bene Gesserit managed to escape with Duncan and a single sandworm to Chapterhouse. Somehow, the sandworm managed to survive the transplant, reviving hopes in the Bene Gesserit that they may recreate Arrakis, or "Dune" once more.
Behind the Scenes
The length of day and night on Arrakis' at the poles were not explained clearly in the novels by Frank Herbert.
Very little information of the pre-Imperium history of the planet was mentioned in the original novels by Frank Herbert. However, the non-canon prequel novels by his son Brian Herbert and co-author Kevin J. Anderson stated that the existence of Arrakis was known to the Old Empire.
It is anticipated that in one of the forthcoming Dune novels (Dune 7 and Dune 8), being written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson but based on Frank Herbert's notes, Arrakis will be featured, though possibly in a limited context. It might, or not, explain the length of day and night at the poles on Arrakis.
The name Arrakis is believed to come from the Arabic name ar-rāqiṣ, meaning "the dancer", originally a star-name for Mu Draconis.