All Wheel of time borrowed from Dune
Warning: SPOILERS for Dune and potential spoilers for Wheel of time.
that of Frank Herbert Dune novel came out in 1965 and was immediately acclaimed by science fiction enthusiasts and critics. In 1966, the novel won both the very first Nebula Prize for Best Novel and tied for the Hugo Prize. He has since influenced countless books, TV shows and films, with cultural milestones like Game Of Thrones and Star wars borrowing concepts from Dune.
It was not until 1990 that The eye of the world, Robert Jordan’s first entry into the Wheel of time series, came out. Eye of the world has also been published with commercial success and rave reviews, but not to the level of Frank Herbert’s novel. Interestingly, in a 1998 interview with the former MSN eFriends, Robert Jordan was asked about borrowing elements of the story from Dune. Although Jordan said he intentionally made no similarities to Dune in his writings, the influence of Frank Herbert is hard to deny. Here’s why.
Aes Sedai from Wheel of Time and Bene Gesserit from Dune
One of the most immediate similarities between Wheel of time and Dune is that each series presents a mysterious matriarchal organization of women with supernatural powers. The name of Bene Gesserit is essential to any glossary of Dune terminology, because this obscure cabal is of capital importance to history. Paul Atreides’ mother, Jessica, is one, and at the start of Dune Paul has an argument with the leader of the group, the Reverend Mother.
The wheel of time version of the Bene Gesserit is called the Aes Sedai. The Aes Sedai appears even more openly in Wheel of time, as a number of the main characters in the series become important members of the fraternity. Nevertheless, there are several similarities between the two organizations. Just as the Bene Gesserit are led by the Reverend Mother, the Aes Sedai are led by Headquarters Amyrlin. Perhaps more importantly, the Bene Gesserit and the Aes Sedai both enjoy a powerful position as “apolitical“royal advisers. It is revealed that the emperor in Dune is advised by the Reverend Mother herself, while Wheel of timeQueen Morgase has her own consultant Aes Sedai.
The unique power of the wheel of time and the voice of Dune
The wheel of time One Power is at first glance just another take on traditional fantasy magic, but on closer inspection it has more similarities to the power of the Bene Gesserit. While the first Bene Gesserit power shown in Dune is called the Voice, their powers give them many abilities, including fertility control and truth detection. Unique power, on the other hand, allows the Aes Sedai to manipulate elements, craft magical items, and form deep magical bonds with others.
The greatest similarity between the two powers is the concept that they should (in most cases) only be exercised by women. In Wheel of time, the One Power is divided into a female half – ditar – and a half male – said in. Men who use saidin are quickly labeled as dangerous and stripped of their power, as the ditin is tainted and ends up driving users crazy. A prime example of this is Wheel of time‘s Login. As the ditar is free from defilement, women are allowed to retain their power and maintain tight control over the culture around them.
The power of the Bene Gesserit is also largely aimed at women, as evidenced by the Reverend Mother’s rebuke of Lady Jessica. The Reverend Mother pointedly asks Lady Jessica why she chose to have a son, as the selective breeding practices employed by the Bene Gesserit dictate that only daughters should be born until the right time. Lady Jessica went against the wishes of her people to have Paul, but it was a sharp decision on her part. Even rarer, she taught Paul how to use the Voice himself.
Dragon Reborn from the Wheel of Time and Kwisatz Haderach from Dune
Of course both Wheel of time and Dune present exceptions to the rule of power reserved for women. These take the form of The wheel of time Dragon Reborn, and Dunes Kwisatz Haderach. While Dunethe messiah / prophecy of the chosen one and The wheel of time are different, the concept of a man wielding power traditionally reserved for women stems from, or at least was popularized by, Frank Herbert. While there are educational differences between Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and Paul the Kwisatz Haderach, it’s also interesting that both men become conquering monarchs during their travels.
Another great similarity between the two sagas, and which again underlines Frank Herbert’s potential influence on Robert Jordan, is the idea of the Dragon Reborn / Kwisatz Haderach resisting the control of the Aes Sedai / Bene Gesserit. Both Aes Sedai and Bene Gesserit are major political players in their respective universes, and both have the full intention of manipulating, containing or controlling their elected officials. The Aes Sedai go to great lengths to control Rand al’Thor while the Bene Gesserit, who are experienced in handling Dunes Imperium Emperor, fully planned to guide their Kwisatz Haderach to their own goals. Naturally, Rand and Paul resist this control, which pushes them further and further in their path.
Aiel of the Wheel of Time and Fremen of Dune
One of the most iconic and distinctive aspects of Dune is its focus on a desert people, known to be incredibly fierce warriors but otherwise dismissed as savage or uncivilized. In Dune, these people are called the Fremen – and in Wheel of time, they are known as Aiel. Perhaps the most compelling argument for Frank Herbert’s influence over Robert Jordan is the existence of this harsh society that becomes an important part of The Chosen One’s story. The Fremen are a key part of Dune from the start, but you have to Wheel of time a few books to properly present the faction – meaning they may first be missing from the upcoming Amazon series. However, just like the future of Paul Atreides in Dune is related to the Fremen and “desert power, ” Wheel of time sees Rand al’Thor bound to Aiel in a huge way.
Next: One Big Way Wheel of Time Will Be Different From Other Fantastic Shows
Wheel of time premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, November 19.
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