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The Sardaukar were the elite military force of the Padishah Emperor who served prominently during the Corrino Empire, later given to the command of Leto Atreides II by Farad'n Corrino. They were renowned and feared throughout the Known Universe for their fanatic zeal, superior fighting abilities, and sheer ruthlessness.

Upbringing, Training and benefits[]

Members of the Sardaukar were raised from a young age in an unforgiving natural environment that saw almost half (6 out of every 13) die before the age of 11. Intense training gave them formidable swordsmanship and espionage abilities, and instilled in them a religious fervor that added to their mystique and served to make them even more loyal to the Imperial house.

The fighting abilities of the Sardaukar were renowned throughout the Old Imperium. At the apex of their sway over the affairs of the Universe, it was said that their swordsmanship was comparable to that of a Ginaz Tenth Level, and their cunning abilities at in-fighting were said to match that of a Bene Gesserit adept. Any one Sardaukar was rated a match for any ten standard Landsraad military conscripts.


Sardaukar soldiers on Salusa Secundus (Dune, 2021)

The abilities of the Sardaukar were largely attributed to the harsh environment and brutal discipline they were exposed to on the planet Salusa Secundus, the Corrino prison planet. Only the Fremen, raised in the fanatical warrior culture and merciless desert environment of Arrakis, were capable of matching the Sardaukar. Fremen typically scorned Harkonnen soldiers as cowardly and weak, but judged that the Sardaukar fought well, and even respected them to some degree.

During the Fremen uprising on Arrakis, the Sardaukar suffered a devastating defeat, opening the way for Paul Atreides' elevation to the Golden Lion Throne and the title of Emperor. Subsequently, the Sardaukar became a marginal force, continuing to act as the standing army and guardians for the newly-deposed House Corrino, though they deliberately avoided direct conflict with the powerful Fremen forces of the Atreides Empire.

Personal Armament, Melee (short range)[]

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This small barb-like needle delivers potent drugs or poisons, upon penetrating the skin of the intended victim. It is so named for the protective "flip-cover" used to conceal the needle, and to protect its user from inadvertent harm. Flip-darts can be concealed within ornamented finger rings, fighting girdles, wrist bracers, or weapon sheaths.

Length: 0.5 centimeters

Mass: negligible

Personal Armament, Ranged[]

Needle gun[]

This small projectile weapon resembles a wristwatch in size and form. Too small to contain more than a single envenomed dart, needle guns are easy to conceal and light to wear...and typically hidden beneath long baggy sleeves. To discharge the weapon, its user needs only point his arm toward the target and lift his hand from the missile trajectory; this triggers the reflexive firing mechanism. Needle guns are often worn in pairs.

Length: 3 - 5 centimeters (barrel)

Mass: negligible

Range: 1 - 10 meters

Appearance and Fighting Style[]

Sardaukar troops typically wore uniforms and helmets of grey and black with gold trimming. Some of their members wore their hair long, which was taken as a sign of arrogance by those who beheld them. They had a distinct combat style, which allowed them to be recognised easily.

Sardaukar fighting stance

Sardaukar fighting stance (Dune, 2021)

When in close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat, if they found themselves surrounded they would group into trios and adopt a triangular fighting stance with their backs to each other. They would carry weapons on their person that would be ingeniously concealed, such as shigawire in their hair or a fake toe or two inserted with small stabbing weapons. Sardaukar were also experts at covert operations, managing to conceal themselves among groups for extended periods of time before striking.

During the Harkonnen attack on planet Arrakis, when it was under the control of House Atreides, Sardaukar troops were provided by Emperor Shaddam IV to assist the Harkonnens. Even though the Sardaukar forces were disguised in Harkonnen livery, the Atreides managed to recognize the Sardaukar by their combat style and often hawk-like features.

Fall of the Sardaukar[]

The Sardaukar were a key element in maintaining the Imperial hegemony of House Corrino. By the time of Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, although still formidable, they had fallen prey to arrogance and overconfidence and the sustaining mystique of their warrior religion had been deeply undermined by cynicism. Finally the utter defeat of the Sardaukar by Paul Atreides and the Fremen on the plains of Arrakis sealed their fate as a formidable combat corps.

After House Corrino's fall as the ruling power, it was allowed to maintain only one Imperial standard legion (approximately 30,000 men) on Salusa Secundus. The Sardaukar ceased to exist as a viable entity after Farad'n Corrino became the concubine of Ghanima Atreides when Leto II ascended to the Imperial Throne as God Emperor. During his rule, one of Leto II's many Duncan Idaho gholas led the last of the Sardaukar in an attempted revolt.

The defeat on Arrakis, the Sardaukar's later failed revolt against the God Emperor, and the general decline of the Sardaukar organization all finally caused the dissolution of the Sardaukar corps. They were replaced by the female Fish Speakers who had (some) Sardaukar blood in their veins and in turn fell into decline after the Scattering.

Sardaukar Quotes in Dune[]

Renowned fighters, Sardaukar are the Padishah Emperor’s soldier-fanatics and ultimate military force. Their background and training is shrouded in secrecy, and their fighting style is emphasized by a ruthlessness and single-minded devotion to the Emperor’s cause.

There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind—we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life—we went soft, we lost our edge. - Book 2, Part 6 Quotes

Known Sardaukar[]

Original Dune:

Expanded Dune:

Dune Encyclopedia:

Apocrypha (RPG/Card Games):

  • Erta
  • Kardif
  • Khan
  • Marduk
  • Maximilian Banarc
  • Wolfram von Wallach

Images of the Sardaukar[]

Comparison to real life armies[]

They are most similar to the Roman Praetorian Guard, Ottoman Janissaries, and to the French Foreign Legion whose elite soldiers have much in common with the Sardaukar such as the selection of the best (only 12,5% of Legion candidates pass), honor and fidelity to their army corps and especially because like the Sardaukar, some Legionnaires are former prisoners. They also look like the Spartan army in stereotypes because like the Sardaukar, Spartan soldiers were brought up from an early age and around the age of 18 had to kill their first person in order to become a soldier. But this was proven in recent times to be false.

Appearances in the Dune series[]


Background featurettes[]

'Filmbook' style background featurettes from the film series, providing additional insights into various aspects and details of the Dune universe.

Video essays[]

Analytical videos on the subject of the imperial Sardaukar and their role in the Dune universe. (Beware potential spoilers.)

See also[]