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House Atreides is the first book in the Prelude to Dune trilogy, a prequel to the Dune series, set before the events of Frank Herbert's original works. The trilogy was co-authored by Frank's son Brian Herbert and science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson.

Plot synopsis[]

Spoiler warning! Plot and/or ending details follow.

The novel begins on the planet of Arrakis, 35 years before the events of the original Dune novel. The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has just taken over the governorship of Arrakis from his younger brother Abulurd, who has decreased spice production heavily. The Baron sees an opportunity for large profits and begins to illegally horde spice.

On the Imperial Capital planet Kaitain, the young planetologist Pardot Kynes has just arrived from his homeworld of Salusa Secundus for an audience with the Padishah Emperor, Elrood Corrino IX. The old emperor is giving Kynes the mission of going to the only known source of melange, Arrakis, in order to find out how the precious substance is produced. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince Shaddam and his close friend Hasimir Fenring, the Imperial Eunuch, are plotting against the ruler. Shaddam is not getting any younger, and it seems that the already 157-year-old emperor could rule for another 50 years. Shaddam agrees to Fenring's scheme to poisoning his father using chaumurky, in order to speed up his succession to the throne.

The old Atreides Duke Paulus Atreides in the duchy of Caladan is planning on sending his young son and heir Leto to the court of Earl Dominic Vernius on Ix in order to study politics with the Earl's son Rhombur. Leto's mother, the lady Helena, does not like the idea. Not only is she a very devoted orange catholic, but her father is also the Count Richese, who is the main rival of the Earl Vernius.

The Bene Gesserit are getting closer to their quest to breed the Kwisatz Haderach; only three generations remain. The next step is to send the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam to Giedi Prime, the Harkonnen home world, in order to conceive a child with the Baron Vladimir. This child would in turn be married to Leto Atreides to produce the eventual mother of the Kwisatz Haderach. The Baron is initially not interested, but after being blackmailed with his spice hoards he has sex with Mohiam and a daughter is conceived.

Meanwhile, the young Harkonnen slave boy no. 11368, Duncan Idaho, is trying to escape the forests of Giedi Prime, where the na-baron Glossu Rabban is trying to kill him as a part of a game he and his friends are playing. Duncan finally manages to escape the planet, boarding a Heighliner en route to Caladan.

Pardot Kynes arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule of the planet, and is getting more and more interested in the desert natives known as the Fremen, and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.

Leto finds himself at home at the Earl's home at the Grand Palais of Ix. Not only has he found an equal in Prince Rhombur, but he has also fallen in love with the Earl's daughter, Kailea. But all is not perfect on the planet Ix. The suboids building the Heighliners in the depths of the cave cities of Ix are becoming more unsatisfied with their living conditions and the blasphemy of their work.

Emperor Elrood himself is beginning to show signs of senility from the poison Fenring has been administering. A Tleilaxu delegation arrives and they begin discussing the possibility of producing melange in laboratories; Elrood becomes very interested in this Project Amal. The Tleilaxu has one demand for allowing the emperor to invest in the project: he must give them military back-up in their take over of the planet Ix, which they claim is needed for their experiments. The Emperor, who is already feuding with the Earl of Ix for stealing his imperial concubine Shando, is willing to give them a hand.

After saving three fremen youths in the desert from Harkonnen troops, Pardot is taken to a fremen sietch. The naibs decide after a long debate to execute him. But as the chosen assassin encounters Pardot and hears about his plans for a possible terraformation of the planet and the hope this vision gives, he kills himself instead. Seen as a sign, the Fremen name Pardot a prophet. Pardot stays with the Fremen, marries a Fremen woman and together they have a son named Liet.

The Harkonnen offspring born on Wallach IX is not at all what the Bene Gesserit were expecting, and is too weak to produce the mother of the Kwisatz Haderach. They have no other choice but to go back to Giedi Prime to blackmail the Baron for another Harkonnen daughter. The Baron is ready for them and impregnates Mohiam through a violent rape. Mohiam avenges the assault by giving the Baron an incurable disease which over time will make the Baron fatter and fatter, destroying his beautiful body.

Ix is suddenly attacked by a joint Tleilaxu / Sardaukar army. Leto, Rhombur and Kailea are sent to the Atreides homeworld of Caladan, while the Earl and his Lady decide to go their own way and travel as renegades through the Imperium. The Tleilaxu establish a government on Ix, renaming the planet Xuttuh.

Leto and the Vernius heirs are welcomed to Caladan by Duke Paulus even though Lady Helena is sceptical of being host to the heirs of a House which has violated the decisions made in the Great Convention after the Butlerian Jihad: ”Thou shall not built a machine in the likeness of the human mind!” She begins plotting against her husband, the Old Duke. Meanwhile, the young Idaho has reached the grand Ducal Capital of Cala City on the Western Continent. After an audience with Duke Paulus, the boy is welcomed into his Court to work in the stables.

On Wallach IX, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam gives birth to another Harkonnen daughter. She is given the name Jessica, meaning wealth in an ancient language. According to the Bene Gesserit breeding plans, she should become the grandmother of the Kwisatz Haderach.

One evening at a bullfight, the Duke's favourite game, the Old Duke is killed by a drugged Salusan bull. Duncan is accused as a Harkkonen spy of having drugged the bull.

Leto knows that it is his own mother, Helena, who was behind the assassination, and sends her to the monastery of The Sisters in Isolation on the Eastern Continent to avoid gossip. Leto becomes the new Duke Atreides.

On the other side of the galaxy, the Padishah Emperor, Elrood IX, has died. Shaddam has finally reached the Golden Lion Throne and is soon to be crowned Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV of the Known Universe.

He throws a grand coronation ceremony at Kaitain and invites nobles from across the Imperium, among them the new Duke Leto and his guests the Vernius heirs, but also Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

The Baron, however, has a plan. A Richese scientist in his service has just discovered a new function of the Holtzman effect that can make a ship totally invisible and undetectable by radar.

With this new technology, the Baron sends Glossu Raban to attack a Tleilaxu delegation and make it look like an attack from the Atreides.

Upon landing on Kaitain, Leto is taken to prison for the attack on the Tleilaxu ship. The Crown Prince is sure that the Atreides are responsible for the attack, but thinks that it was probably aimed at House Corrino.

If anyone inspected the motivation for the attack they would discover the help the Tleilaxu got from Elrood IX, which would mean a political scandal throughout the Landsraad.

The Crown Prince does not want to tarnish his popularity, a bad start for his political career. He therefore frees the young Duke, allowing the Vernius heirs to remain his guests.

Shaddam is crowned Emperor by the High Priest of Dur; for the first time in 138 years, the Imperium has a new ruler.

This leaves unanswered questions in the minds of many of those involved. Duke Leto is puzzled as to who actually attacked the Tleilaxu, and Shaddam is curious about what Leto might want from him.

On Dune the Fremen are uniting in ways never seen before with the dream of making their home into a lush, green paradise through the knowledge and assistance of Pardot "Umma" Kynes.



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External link[]

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Extended Dune series