Duncan Idaho (b. 10146 AG) was a swordmaster in the service of House Atreides, and one of Duke Leto's right-hand men, with Gurney Halleck and Thufir Hawat. Duncan Idaho was said to be very handsome. He had black, curly hair, a dark complexion, and green or blue eyes. During the days of the original Duncan Idaho, and during the time of the God Emperor, he was regarded as something of a ladies' man.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Atreides Service
- 3 Rebirths
- 4 Final Incarnation
- 5 Other Versions
- 6 Behind the Scenes
- 7 Appearances
- 8 References
Early Life on Giedi Prime
Idaho was born on Giedi Prime. His parents were minor government office workers but at an early age he and his family felt the wrath of the Harkonnens: his family, parents, uncle and two cousins were captured in an afternoon in Harko City. Idaho was Number 11368, and trained to be hunted for sport.
One time, Idaho managed to escape his captors. He entered a sunspensor tube where the guards could not use lasguns. When he saw a bullet-train approaching, he managed to fall in a hatch. There he was trapped, however the guards who found him later, told him that he "made it".
Duncan's family was visited by Glossu Rabban Harkonnen to be congratulated for his ingenuity and be taken for a second round with Rabban, who recently disappointed by a sandworm hunt on Arrakis. When he called the boy as "Number 11368", Duncan defiantly mentioned his true name; Rabban shot both his parents with a lasgun and his men forced Duncan outside.
The next time he was left outside in the open, armed only with a handlight, a rope and a knife. Duncan decided to use the knife and remove the tracer implanted on his shoulder. Using it as a bait, it lured one of the hunters in a rock opening, and then Duncan crushed him by pushing a boulder above him. Then, after cutting his throat he took a medpak and his lasgun.
With the medpak he managed to fix his shoulder wound, and then had some practice with the lasgun. He managed to drive away a gaze hound that attacked him. Using the handlight in the snow, he lured his trackers and shot some of them in a lasgun fray. With its charge running low, Duncan started to run towards a blinking light, which turned out to be a flitter. He entered it, only to be caught by Janess Milam, the woman who gave his family to the Harkonnens.
In the Service of Duke Paulus
Having to repent, she planned to send Duncan to the Atreides; she arranged with Renno the Second mate of a cargo craft that Idaho could board the ship and escape the planet. He found his way to Caladan and he was determined to find Duke Atreides.
He started to work as a farm worker in the rice paddies and then as a net-rigger on a fishing boat from the Southern Continent. As they reached a port on the Western Continent. He began hitching rides on groundtrucks and cars, and sneaked aboard tube trains and cargo ornithopters until he drove close to Castle Caladan. In conversations with other travelers, he was shocked to realize that the people there loved and respected their ruler instead of fearing him, much unlike the situation on Giedi Prime.
Eventually (after denied entrance and spending a night in the courtyard), he was allowed audition to the Duke. He narrated his full story and pledged his loyalty to the service of House Atreides.
Initially he worked in the stables under Stablemaster Yresk. After exposing the successful assassination plot of Lady Helena Atreides against the beloved Duke Paulus Atreides, he rose up to eventually become the Atreides' swordmaster and trusted advisor.
Training and Loyalty
Duncan came under the service of the Atreides after observing that they ruled in stark contrast to the Harkonnens. The Atreides appeared to garner fierce loyalty from those who served them, and Duncan was no different. However, as the Atreides Swordmaster he maintained a hypervigilance against potential threats to the Atreides, even within their own ranks. As a result, he developed a distrust of the Lady Jessica, as he knew that her Bene Gesserit origins were likely to involve some secret scheme against the Atreides. However, Duncan underestimated Jessica's love for her Duke, which was so strong that she disobeyed her Sisterhood. Indeed, in matters regarding the Lady Jessica, Duncan's judgment was somewhat clouded, since he was secretly in love with her.
A graduate of the Ginaz school, Duncan was charged by Duke Leto with training his son Paul (and possibly the Duke's armies) in the art of war. This involved hand-to-hand combat and military strategy. These skills Duncan imparted on the young Paul in conjunction with Thufir Hawat and Gurney Halleck. When compared to Gurney, Duncan appeared to fight with more finesse but Gurney was regarded as more lethal, typically beating Duncan six times out of ten. This seemed to give Paul a well-rounded education.
War of Assassins
During the War of Assassins of 10,187 AG between House Moritani and House Ecaz, the Atreides family became involved as collateral damage when Ilesa Ecaz, the intended bride of Duke Leto, was killed just before marrying him. The entire planet went on lockdown, and Paul was left to Idaho's care in Castle Caladan. After Duke Leto left with an attack force to meet the Moritani's on their home planet of Grumman, Paul was attacked shortly thereafter in his bedchamber.
He and Duncan had to flee into the night, where they arranged through ornithopter flight to escape and travel to Caladan's sparsely populated Eastern Continent. While fleeing, Paul and Duncan were ruthlessly hunted throughout all of the continent's dense forest overgrowth. The two eventually made friends with the Caladan primitives, who helped them escape from the assassins over the course of the following week.
- "I have no room for compassion toward people who are trying to slaughter us, Paul. I kill them so you don't have to"
- ―Duncan Idaho, Paul of Dune
After two more nights in the jungle, Duncan arranged for he and Paul to gain entry to the abbey of the Sisters in Isolation, home in exile of Paul's grandmother, Lady Helena Atreides. The two rested and refreshed themselves, as Idaho re-met the cold-hearted woman who had killed Idaho's beloved Duke Paulus. After the Moritani assassins found Idaho and Atreides they bombarded and burned down the entire abbey, killing almost everyone inside, including Paul's grandmother. Swain Goire, the Lady's bodyguard, was present, as he had joined Helena years later as his punishment for his crime against Victor Atreides, Leto's first son. He fought the Moritani assassins single-handedly, and gave his life, in a last ditch effort to allow Duncan and Paul to escape. Later, in the deep jungle, the Caladan primitives set traps for the assassins, and killed the Moritani murderers, as they came to understand the kindness of the Atreides' family, and their just rule over the planet.
Attack on Grumman
When the time arrived for House Atreides to converge with House Ecaz at Grumman; Duncan, of course, went along. As House Atreides attacked the Grumman forces, with Ecazi re-inforcements, it seemed evident that Ritka, capital of Grumman would soon fall to Leto's and Armand's forces. As a way of acting as "the peacemaker", the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV himself, arrived with Sardaukar in tow, to end the War, and to enforce the cease-fire.
Hundro Moritani announced that he had all of the great pawns in the place where he wanted them. Leto, Armand, Shaddam, and even secretly, Rabban was there, fighting for an incognito House Harkonnen. Hundro announced that House Moritani was descended from disgraced House Tantor, whom had blown up Salusa Secundus almost 10,000 years earlier. He then told the entire delegation that he was going to kill himself, and all nobles and armies present, with the atomics stockpiled by his House. However, the Viscount's bodyguard, Hiih Resser, a friend of Duncan's from the Ginaz Aacademy, had decided to disobey Hundro, and had never set the charges to the detonators on the nuclear devices.
Move to Arrakis
Later, when the Atreides gained the Arrakis fief, under the order of the Emperor, Idaho became Duke Leto's ambassador to the Fremen, the people native to Dune that Leto hoped would ally with him in the feud against House Harkonnen. Idaho was so impressed with the Fremen, that he took dual allegiances, one to the Atreides, one to the Fremen.
When the Emperor launched an attack on Arrakeen in the guise of Harkonnen troops, Idaho was killed by the Emperor's Sardaukar by a blow to the head, but not before he dispatched no less than seventeen Sardaukar soldiers single-handedly. In so doing, he rescued the Duke's son Paul Atreides, who later became the first Emperor in the dynasty of House Atreides, and Duke Leto's concubine, the Lady Jessica.
After Paul's ascension to the throne, Idaho was returned to life as a ghola, a clone made by the Bene Tleilax and gifted to Paul Atreides, which was supposed to tempt the Kwisatz Haderach into becoming that which he despised. Known as 'Hayt' in his ghola incarnation, Idaho was trained as a Mentat and a Zensunni philosopher. He had no memory of his former life, but constantly felt vague hints and reminders of his previous incarnation that made him hope he could recover those memories (this had never previously been possible with gholas).
Failing to destroy the Emperor psychically, Hayt was programmed to kill Paul against his will. In ensuing the trauma imposed by his inability to reconcile his programming and his innate love for the Atreides, Hayt recovered his memories as Duncan Idaho, up to and including his death at the hands of Imperial Sardaukar. He stopped the attempt on Paul's life, and became once more a loyal Atreides servant. This became the crux of a Bene Tleilax plot to overthrow Paul by demonstrating that they could create an exact equivalent of his dead wife Chani, but only if he abdicated his throne.
After Paul's "Death"
Immediately after Paul's "death" and disappearance of him "walking into the desert", Idaho became concerned for Paul's sister, Alia, and her assumption of Imperial Regent to Paul's children, Leto and Ghanima. Duncan secretly welcomed the Lady Jessica and her aide, Gurney Halleck, back to Arrakis, as they too expressed concern about Alia's paranoia against foes, real and imagined.
Even as Alia created the super-religious, fanatical Mahdinate, to deify the Atreides family, he found himself increasingly attracted to her. Idaho ignored her suppression of all forms of dissent, ignoring her execution of Paul's childhood friend, Bronso Vernius of Ix.
Idaho married Alia, Paul's sister and Imperial regent to Paul's children Leto II and Ghanima. However, Alia became possessed by the memory-ego of her ancestor, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, who sought to destroy the Atreides empire. Recognizing this, Idaho remained loyal to the Atreides and escaped to the desert to protect the children. In order to get Stilgar to join the Fremen opposition to Alia's rule, Duncan killed Javid, Alia's secret lover, on the neutral ground of Sietch Tabr, then insulted the naib Stilgar so deeply that he was forced to kill Idaho. Ducan's second death, as Duncan knew it would, brought the Fremen into direct opposition to Alia.
Idaho then reappeared as a series of gholas when Leto II ruled as a human-sandworm hybrid for approximately 3,500 years. After the death of every ghola, Leto would have him replaced with a new one. Thus, Leto continually had an Idaho ghola to serve him as Swordmaster at all times, and as leader of the Fish Speakers. To Leto, Idaho represented loyalty, humanity and the spirit of the unknown, something which the God-Emperor, having perfect prescience, knew nothing of (Leto also implied that Duncan was needed for the Golden Path to come to fruition). The ego-memories of Leto I and Paul within Leto II loved Duncan, which was another reason why the God Emperor enjoyed Duncan's presence.
The Idaho gholas, with their memories restored, fought to deal with what the Atreides had become in Leto II, which Duncan saw as a corruption. Prior to Leto II's rule, the hallmark of Atreides rule was justice. However, Duncan believed that Leto II's reign was one of godhood and oppression. Idaho's old-fashioned conscience would rebel, leading some of the Idaho gholas to attempt to kill Leto (who was invulnerable to all but water and the extreme violence of a sandworm). Leto noted that only nineteen of "his" Duncans had survived long enough to die of what was considered "natural causes". In just about all of these rebellions, the Idaho ghola was killed by the God Emperor himself.
After a brief period of mourning, the God Emperor would order another Idaho ghola from the Tleilaxu. The man usually showed up believing he had gone insane, in shock at how the Universe had changed since his "death" (as the Duncans only possessed memories of the original Duncan). If the new ghola survived Leto II's first interviews, he would serve the God Emperor until his almost inevitable rebellion.
After the death of Leto II, the Bene Gesserit became the consumers of Idaho gholas. However, the Bene Tleilax kept killing the gholas after only a few years. Not knowing exactly what purpose Idaho would serve, the Bene Gesserit suspected that the Tleilaxu were using the gholas to control the timing of his release upon the universe, implying some Tleilaxu purpose in addition to their own. However, the twelfth ghola survived.
Miles Teg, the Bene Gesserit Bashar was commissioned to restore the memories of Duncan Idaho and managed to do so. However, when Murbella, a captured Honored Matres tried to bond with Duncan, the Tleilaxu plan came into play, and all of the memories of the previous Duncan Idaho gholas were released. Over the next few years, Murbella and Idaho sired four children.
Idaho was later used to tutor and condition a young Miles Teg ghola, but later escaped with his ward and Sheeana and others, aboard the no-ship Ithaca into unchartered space to escape from the now-combined Gesserit/Matres group, the New Sisterhood. Exhibiting prescience abilities, Idaho was the only person that could see the Tachyon net that the pair of mysterious and powerful elderly-looking entities known as Daniel and Marty had cast out to ensnare the Ithaca. To escape this net, Duncan Idaho deleted all of the navigation records of the no-ship, rendering those onboard truly lost.
Alternate Universe and Gholas
After escaping from the tachyon net of the mysterious pair, and entering another universe;, Duncan Idaho continued to be the captain of the Ithaca. He was especially interested in the training of his friend, the ghola of Miles Teg in the arts of the Ginaz Swordmasters. After being in the alternate universe for 4 years, Idaho was contacted by the Oracle of Time - the guide of the Spacing Guild - and with her help, was able to make a blind foldspace jump, this time emerging back in the familiar universe.
It was during this time that Sheeana and the other Bene Gesserit sisters that she had brought along, decided to create gholas from the nullentropy tube that Scytale, the Tleilaxu Master, had brought with him. Gholas from Idaho's past; Chani Kynes, Paul Atreides, Jessica Atreides, Leto II, Thufir Hawat, Stilgar, Liet Kynes, and Wellington Yueh, were resurrected in a short period of time over the next few years.
After another 10 years had passed, bones of dead Reverend Mothers were found in a previously unexplored room of the no-ship. As the funeral ceremony for the Mothers commenced, Idaho once again saw the threads of the tachyon net once again thrown out by the Enemy. Both Teg and Idaho raced to the bridge of the Ithaca, and as Teg reached first, he was able to activate the Holtzman engines to escape.
The ship came out of fold-space again at a planet that had been heavily colonized by human-kind during The Scattering. All of the buildings on the planet were covered with ivy, and been over-grown with plant life. Once again, Duncan stayed on the ship as a crew went to investigate further. Sheeana and Garimi, leading the investigation, activated a holo recording of an Honored Matre leader named Rikka, who had contacted a dreaded plague. Rikka explained to those who watched that the plague came from those "with many faces". It was then that Sheeana realized that the planet had been devastated with a plague similar to the Omnius Scourge, and all human-kind on the planet had died. The group immediately went back to the vessel.
Planet of the Handlers
Sabotage began aboard the ship, as someone released water into space, which showed where the no-ship was. Duncan feared the return of the elderly couple, called the crew back onto the ship, and encouraged the ghola of Miles Teg to engage the engines, which he did, folding space again. The ship came out of fold-space above the planet of the Handlers, keepers of the genetically-engineered half-man, half-feline Futars. After some of the Ithaca crew, and Hrrm and his clan of futars bounded down to the planet, they met the leader of the Handlers, Orak Tho.
He divided the group into two, led them to observation towers, and together they watched a Futar-hunt of five Honored Matres. As Hrrm and his group killed some of the Matres, the last Matres remaining killed a Handler, who reverted to an Enhanced Face Dancer. It soon became apparent to all that most of the Handlers were nothing more than Enhanced Face Dancers.
The watching crew, having been split into 2 separate groups, raced back to the Ithaca, the first group led by Sheeana made it back quickly. The second, led by Hawat, had to make a death-defying jump onto the ship, as the ship pulled away from the planet's atmosphere. The Handlers tried to ram and board the ship, but were unsuccessful, as the ship folded space and disappeared again.
More Years on the Ithaca
In his personal life, Duncan strongly wished to be free of the imprinting that Murbella had put upon him decades earlier. Still full of youth from the melange from the ship's storage, Sheeana broke Duncan free from the strong imprint-bond that Murbella had laid upon him. Idaho reflected upon his life, and the previous lives he had led, and realized that he truly felt sorry for all types of people, as he had accumulated lifetimes of memories to build up compassion for human-kind.
Over the next few years, the Ithaca was very careful in their travels, but the incidents of sabotage increased aboard the ship. Even though a ghola of Alia Atreides was birthed, someone killed the gholas of Xavier Harkonnen, Serena Butler, and Gurney Halleck, that Sheeana had decided to raise in their war, if needed, against the Enemy. Yueh, being tricked by the Jewish Rabbi, purposely killed a ghola of Leto I, being raised in the ships Axlotl Tanks. Tensions increased as air recycling systems and food storage units were ruined and destroyed on the vessel by the unknown saboteur(s). This increased Duncan's feelings of helplessness and loneliness, as the ship, what he now felt was his ship, forced into another random jump, to find a way to replenish supplies.
Idaho was surprised, as were all aboard, as the Ithaca came out of fold-space above the fruitful, but dying planet of Qelso, and he began to wonder if he had prescience in the choosing of fold-space timing and direction. Qelso was a seed world that Mother Superior Odrade had sent sisters to, and had been seeded with sand-trout to begin a spice cycle. The inhabitants were openly hostile to the Bene Gesserit for this reason, and held hostage some of the crew that went down to the planet. Duncan, who stayed invisible to the Enemy as long as he was on the ship, decided to lead a rescue team of the group.
The group, which consisted of Sheeana, Teg, and notable others was released; but Stilgar and Kynes stayed behind to help the bitter natives adapt to the encroaching desert and the ever increasing number of sandworms on the world. Idaho had made himself vulnerable to the watchful eyes of Daniel and Marty, and the Ithaca had to fold space again to safety.
Final Sabotage and Capture
Later, when Leto II went to commune with the sandworms that were in the hold of the ship, Hawat went to guard him should the giant beasts turn on the young man. The worms reared up when Hawat entered the hold, and immediately killed Hawat, and showed him to be an Enhanced Face Dancer. This led to a ship wide search for other saboteurs that might be involved in subversion. To question everyone aboard at the same time, all of the inhabitants of the Ithaca were called to the main assembly hall.
Scytale used the old Tleilaxu Whistling language, which caused all Face Dancers muscles and visages to momentarily become jumbled. It was revealed that the Rabbi was indeed an Enhanced Face Dancer, and the Dancer stole away to the vessel's bridge, and locked himself in. The Dancer immediately began to destroy the ship's navigation, cloaking, and engine systems; and the ship returned to visibility. Idaho remembered back, and realized the Dancers must have boarded years earlier, at the planet of the Handlers.
Immediately the tachyon net reappeared, and Thinking Machine starships began to surround the no-ship. Alia managed to sneak into the cockpit of the Ithaca, killing the Dancer, and opened the area. Idaho and Teg raced into the control room, Teg then went into hyper-movement, and raced around the ship at sonic speed, and repaired all of the ship's systems. As Duncan engaged the Holtzman Engines, a Machine starship rammed the Ithaca, and forced it into submission. Idaho signaled surrender, and the ship was brought to the Machine Capital of Synchrony, as the inhabitants of the no-ship realized that their Enemy were Thinking Machines.
The Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach
As the Day of Kralizec began, Omnius thought that Paul Atreides was the final super-being; Paul and his immediate family and friends, sans Duncan, were brought to the heart of the capital, in the Cathedral. There, Paul and a clone of him, Paolo, dueled to the death; with Paolo rendered into an irreversible Ultraspice coma, and Paul had to heal himself from Paolo's near-fatal stab wound. As Duncan decided to enter the Cathedral, Paul came back from the brink of death. Both Paul's recently restored power of prescience and the Oracle of Time revealed that Duncan was the Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach! Only Idaho had a multitude of a lifetime of experiences to refine his persona and abilities; not Paul, nor any other Atreides, nor any of their descendants.
The Oracle realized her life mission was to banish Omnius forever, and took Omnius with her to the alternate universe permanently, ending his rule as the Evermind. As a test of Duncan's powers, Erasmus ordered his killing robots to attack Idaho. Duncan used super-human speed to kill them, easily destroyed the units, and confirmed his future role as the final super-being. Overwhelmed by the unexpected revelations, Duncan decided to take Erasmus' advice to unite humanity and the thinking machines, rather than bring about the absolute destruction of intelligent technology for the second time in history.
Duncan assumed the responsibility of mediator between the two sides; with Erasmus' willing participation, the savant AI being the new Evermind. Erasmus then shared with Duncan all of the codes and sequences of the Machine Empire, and caused Duncan's human super-being to be endowed with all the aspects of the Evermind, as a type of human-machine hybrid. Erasmus then voluntarily "died", while remaining in Other Memory speaking to Duncan. Duncan became the final Kwisatz, and immediately caused a truce to occur between the Machines and Man, who were locked in bitter war over the planets of Junction and Chapterhouse.
The New Evermind Super-Being
Duncan then forced peace between man and machine on all inhabitants of the Known Universe. Idaho had Murbella, the mother of his children, brought to Synchrony, where she could view the events of the truce, which allowed her to rest from her decades-long struggle against the former enemy. Then both Idaho and Murbella traveled back to Chapterhouse, where Duncan met his daughter, Bashar Janess Idaho.
Sheeana was given Synchrony by Duncan, to be a place where she raised up a traditional Bene Gesserit school. Synchrony also became a place of the sandworms, where Leto II had released them during the Kralizec struggle.
Idaho visited the realms of the galaxies where he guided millions of Machine units into helping human-kind; and some machines forged their own civilization on barren, air-less worlds. One such helped place, for example, was Qelso; where Kynes and Stilgar were given hundreds of machines to help divide the world into a place of desert, and the other half a place of greenery that could support all human life. The future of mankind and machine was bright as Idaho guided them both, after several millennia of conflict, into a trustworthy destiny.
According to The Dune Encyclopedia Duncan Idaho was a native of Caladan and entered the service of House Atreides as a young man after having been discovered in one of the houses routine evaluations among the planets population.He rose quickly through the ranks and eventually became a protegee of Gurney Hallecks who supported the young man being trained as a swordmaster.
Prelude also differs from Original Dune by having had Duncan in mortal fights before the Grumman conflict, while both original Dune as well as the Encyclopedia state that Grumman was the first time he had killed.
Behind the Scenes
Idaho is the only character to appear in all six original Frank Herbert Dune novels, albeit in different incarnations. He also appears in all of the Expanded Dune novels, except the Legends of Dune novels that occur deep in humanity's past. Despite only having a relatively minor appearance in the original Dune; the character was to become the focal point of the over-all saga, and his existence as a series of gholas was to serve an Ultimate purpose. Throughout the series, Idaho developed from a relatively minor role to that of one of the main protagonists.
In the 1984 Dune movie, Duncan Idaho was played by late actor Richard Jordan and is killed earlier in the story, during the attack on Arrakeen where he tried to save Paul and Jessica inside the palace. He was killed by a hunter-seeker which penetrated the shield and stabbed his head). In the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries he was portrayed by James Watson who was killed by weapons fire from a Harkonnen thopter, while the first Duncan Idaho ghola was portrayed in the Children of Dune miniseries by Edward Atterton.
- Dune: House Atreides (expanded dune)
- Dune: House Harkonnen (expanded dune)
- Dune: House Corrino (expanded dune)
- Paul of Dune (expanded dune)
- Dune Messiah (ghola)
- The Winds of Dune (ghola) (expanded dune)
- Children of Dune (ghola)
- God Emperor of Dune (ghola)
- Heretics of Dune (ghola)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (ghola)
- Hunters of Dune (ghola)(expanded dune)
- Sandworms of Dune (ghola)(expanded dune)