How Many Dune Books Are There?

If you’re a science fiction fan, you should’ve heard of the Dune franchise. Even if you’re not into sci-fi but love good-quality storytelling in general, you should check it out nonetheless. Dune has won one Nebula for Best Novel and one Hugo Award and has had two film adaptations and one TV miniseries to its name.

There are 21 Dune Books that comprise the story’s series. This series includes Frank Herbert’s original novels and prequels and sequels courtesy of his son Brian Herbert and fellow sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson. A 22nd novel, The Heir of Caladan, should come out on September 21, 2022.

If you’re new to the Dune franchise, you might feel intimidated at the idea of reading nearly a couple dozen books. Fortunately, you don’t need to read every single one of them to understand what the franchise is all about. Below, I will walk you through Frank Herbert’s original Dune novels, the best order to read the entire book series, and my not-so-objective recommendations on which ones to read first if you don’t have much time.

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How Many Original Dune Books Are There?

Ask any Dune fan, and they will tell you that regardless of how you choose to read the novels, you should not miss the ones that started it all. Specifically, I’m referring to the books Frank Herbert directly authored.

There are six original Dune books. Frank Herbert created Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God-Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune. You can read them as listed above since they’re in chronological order. The books detail most of what you need to know about Dune’s history.

Let’s say that, after reading Frank Herbert’s works, you’ll become a diehard Dune fan (as you should). So you want to read all of them, but you want to do so in a way that makes sense. Therefore, in the next section, I’ll go through the titles in chronological order.

What Order Should I Read the Dune Books In?

As I said, Frank Herbert’s original novels are essential reading for anyone who wants to get into the Dune series. But if you’re hungry for more, I will arrange all 22 books below in their logical sequence.

This is the chronological order you should read the Dune books in:

  • The Butlerian Jihad
  • The Machine Crusade
  • The Battle of Corrin
  • Sisterhood of Dune
  • Mentats of Dune
  • Navigators of Dune
  • House Atreides
  • House Harkonnen
  • House Carrino
  • The Duke of Caladan
  • The Lady of Caladan
  • The Heir of Caladan (forthcoming)
  • Dune (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • Paul of Dune
  • Dune Messiah (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • The Winds of Dune
  • Children of Dune (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • God-Emperor of Dune (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • Heretics of Dune (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • Chapterhouse: Dune (original novel from Frank Herbert)
  • Hunters of Dune
  • Sandworms of Dune

Even for avid bookworms, 22 novels are a lot to get through. I’ll give you my picks on the best Dune books to get you started in the next section.

Which Dune Books Are Worth Reading?

Whether a book is “worth reading” or not boils down to personal preference. You might prefer something that adds to the worldbuilding or something that delves deeper into your favorite character’s backstory. At any rate, I’ll tell you about the Dune books that I think are worth your while.

The Dune books worth reading are:

  • Frank Herbert’s original six novels
  • The Butlerian Jihad
  • The Machine Crusade
  • The Battle of Corrin

Before some of you bring out the pitchforks, I want to emphasize that I’m not suggesting the other 12 books are terrible. However, as I said before, 20 or so books are challenging to get through. If someone is a complete newbie to the Dune series, I recommend the ones I’ve referenced.

Frank Herbert’s Original Six Novels

As I mentioned, no matter how you choose to read the Dune books, you can’t miss the ones Frank Herbert wrote. And it’s not just because they’re the originals.

The first Dune book was good enough to win the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Best Novel in 1965. If Reddit threads are any indication, some will go as far as to say that it’s the only book in the entire Dune series worth reading.

Still, I think Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God-Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune are worth a read too. If you’re hungry for more material on Paul Atreides, his family, and how they shaped the Dune universe (directly or indirectly), give the rest of Herbert’s novels a shot.

The Butlerian Jihad

Chronologically, The Butlerian Jihad is the first book in the Dune series and the first book in the Legends of Dune trilogy. It sets the stage for the eventual conflict between humans and artificial intelligence (AI) or “thinking machines.”

If you’re into intricate yet tightly-woven plots, The Butlerian Jihad gives just that. The character development is a bit off, but it doesn’t ultimately detract from the story’s strength.

The Machine Crusade

The Machine Crusade is the second book in the Legends of Dune trilogy. The book follows and expands on the lives of several characters involved in the Butlerian Jihad.

The book almost feels like a nod to The Iliad and The Odyssey. There’s even a character named Agamemnon!

Of course, your reaction may vary as to whether The Machine Crusade is a solid character-driven work or suffers from “middle book syndrome.”

The Battle of Corrin

The Battle of Corrin wraps up The Legends of Dune trilogy. It’s where all the plot threads in The Butlerian Jihad and The Machine Crusade come together and tug onto the wheels that turn the events of the following Dune books.

I have tried to give you spoiler-free summaries of my recommended books. I truly hope that the summarizing information I’ve will inspire you to check the books out, as they can truly be breathtaking.


For a new fan, the Dune books can prove daunting to finish. Assuming you read one book a week, it’ll take you a little over five months to complete the novels. Still, I hope you try to see for yourself why Dune is a pioneer sci-fi work.


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