This classic has cross-over appeal. Review by S.K. Slevinski
A young man comes out of boyhood to realize that his esoteric education was orchestrated by a powerful cult to prepare him for a singular destiny of incredible power... Wait! This isn't the lastest multi-volume epic of high fantasy. It's Frank Herbert's Dune.
While long renowned as a classic of science fiction literature, fantasy fans may be surprised to discover that Dune reads much more like a High Fantasy. Paul Atreides knows that he's heir to the legacy of his father, the Duke Leto, but he is about to discover the powerful inheritance that may await him from his mother's line—she belongs to a powerful bloodline cult of female mystics. According to prophecy, one of their kind will be born male and wield greater power than any in their number. Suspecting that Paul may be the one to fulfill this prophecy, they have been training him in secret methods, hoping to gain control of him and his power. However, when Duke Leto Atreides is granted a position ruling over the desert planet of Arrakis, Paul finds himself drawn into the vicious political games stemming from the harsh landscape and its one viable crop—a mind altering substance that keeps the population in the planet's grasp and opens new powers for Paul.
While the other-planetary concepts in this novel have conspired to place it on the science fiction shelf for decades now, readers well-versed in a variety of alternative reality genres will recognize it as fundamentally fantasy. At the core of this story are themes of bloodline inheritance and mysticism, faith and ritual. Fantasy fans will quickly recognize the main driving plot of this story—a young man comes of age to discover a heroic destiny. This story also boasts multi-layered inter-cultural political conflicts that should be recognizable to those readers who follow the current trend of political fantasy.
Certainly, science fiction fans have long held Dune as one of the foundational classics of their genre, but many fantasy fans who have not ventured into other alternative reality genres will find this book an undiscovered gem.
S.K. Slevinski is senior editor for ARWZ Literary Magazine and a long time reader of alternative reality fiction. She is currently a graduate student, specializing in folklore.