I think the amount of effort Frank Herbert put into the worldbuilding of Dune is honestly wasted on me, because while reading I often find that the minutiae of Fremen culture and how the Harkonnens let their heir-designates fight slaves to the death going into my walnut through one eye and immediately out the other. I then have to re-read the passage my mind decided not to pay attention to, sometimes multiple times, and even then I’ll probably forget it by the end of the next page. It is quite a shame, but at least I can remember Herbert’s larger brushstrokes while he was painting the sandy setting of this novel.
The Fremen are just like Ewoks, if Ewoks were taller and had no fur. And wore water reclamation suits. And lived not in trees but in crevasses and caves. And also all shared the grand dream of terraforming a desolate desert wasteland planet into a lush and pleasant place to live, a dream imparted upon them by a scientist responsible for overseeing the planetary ecosystem that was killed by a explosive and gaseous natural phenomenon when a traitorous feudal house forcefully seizing control of the planet left said scientist for dead in the middle of aforementioned desert wasteland. And also were drug addicts. Hm-m-m, maybe they aren’t as similar as I thought. Bottom line is, they are planetary natives underestimated by the main antagonist of the story that our hero will likely lead to triumph over their enemies by the end of the book. It’s implied that the Missionaria Protectiva, likely an operation of the Bene Gesserit (oh so few things are explicitly said in Dune), has formulated part of if not all of the Fremen religion so that Bene Gesserit like Jessica can leverage their knowledge of the “religion” to gain influence over the natives. This is apparently how Jessica plans for Paul to assume the role of “Lisan Al-Gaib”, a Fremen religious figure, and become leader of the Fremen. Frequent are Paul’s affirmations that he must avoid the future he foresaw where he leads an army of fanatical Fremen under the Atreides banner to undertake a universal conquest/genocide, so I predict Paul will attempt to find a method of controlling the Fremen besides becoming their religious head, since becoming “Lisan Al-Gaib” would probably result in the fanaticism that he wishes to avoid. Perhaps it would be something akin to his father’s ways, earning the respect of his subjects by exhibiting care for them, since the Fremen were shown to be touched when Paul shed tears during Jamis’s funeral (or whatever the ritual was supposed to be called– if there was a special Fremen name for it in the novel, I’ve forgotten it). Another possibility would be for Paul to prove to the Fremen that he would bring Liet-Kynes’s dream of terraforming Arrakis into reality. Dune has the workings of an underdog story (ironic since Paul is supposedly the Bene Gesserit super-male whose name I cannot be bothered to browse through the glossary at the end of the book for), so I believe Paul’s success is guaranteed, though I do not know the magnitude of the losses he will endure for the rest of this book, since numerous characters that I thought would live a little longer have been killed off already.
The Dune movie was pushed way back to October 2021, which is unfortunate because by then I’ll likely have forgotten many of the book’s details. I wonder how different the movie will feel from the novel, since movies aren’t that great at portraying the thoughts of their characters and there are pages of internal dialogue in this book.