It is the year 10,154 of the Imperial Calendar, and for four decades the planet Arrakis - called Dune by its inhabitants - has been ruled by the Harkonnen family. Proud of his cruelty and ruthlessness, iron-fisted Baron Vladimir Harkonnen dreams of ever-larger harvests of the precious substance called "spice", the chemical that prolongs life and increases mental powers; the drug that mutated Spacing Guild Navigators use to control starships with their minds.
But the seeds of change have been sown. The Emperors son Shaddam plots to replace his father. The secretive Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit prepare for the climax of their programme of genetic manipulation to create the Kwisatz Haderach, a godlike man. On Dune itself, an idealistic young planetologist goes out into the desert to live among the Fremen, desert nomads who hold the key to the secrets of spice and the giant sandworms who guard it. And on the water and island world of Caladan the Duke's heir, young Leto Atreides, prepares to travel to the planet lx where he will learn to be a ruler.