While George Lucas Refused to Credit Dune for Star Wars, Frank Herbert Was Directly Inspired by 1 Novel for His Space Opera Saga

Frank Herbert’s Dune novel is influenced by the Lesley Blanch’s The Sabres of Paradise.

Frank Herbert’s Dune made Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi project possible, which gained universal acclaim. As the director has already released the second of a two-part adaptation of the former’s 1965 novel, the movie series takes an interesting turn with Villeneuve’s confirmation of working on the screenplay of the next movie based on Dune: Messiah novel.

Timothee Chalamet in a still from Dune: Part TwoTimothee Chalamet in a still from Dune: Part Two


Given that the movie series was a critical and commercial hit, it brought back Herbert’s creation into the spotlight. However, the author himself has several inspirations while working on his book, with one novel in particular, which straightaway inspired his space opera saga.

Frank Herbert Was Highly Influenced by Lesley Blanch’s The Sabres of Paradise Novel for His Dune Saga

Frank Herbert‘s Dune is one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time, followed by its five sequels. Having already cemented its place in the genre, it has been adapted numerous times including Denis Villeneuve’s Dune saga. However, Herbert’s original novel, released in 1965, was heavily inspired by the less-known novel, The Sabres of Paradise by Lesley Blanch(via LA Review of Books).

The Sabres of Paradise recounts a mid-19th-century conflict between Muslim tribes and Russian imperialism. Blanch has presented the story in a dramatic style as The Lion of Dagestan, Imam Shamyl (also spelled Shamil) united Muslim tribesmen against the Russian Empire.

Frank HerbertFrank Herbert in NBC’s Bryant Gumbel interview in 1982
This book majorly showcased their struggle to be free from imperialism from the eyes of Shamil, which influenced Herbert to adapt some terminologies and stories into his sci-fi saga.

In particular, both books involve a conflict between an empire and a group of people who wish to be left alone. Several events are quite similar to one another. In Blanch’s novel, Imam Shamyl captures Georgian princesses for his harem when his son gets captured by the Russian Tsar.

Whereas, in Duniverse, Paul Atreides offers to take the hand of Emperor Shaddam IV’s daughter Princess Irulan in marriage.

Furthermore, words like ‘Siridar’, ‘Chakobsa,’ ‘Kanly’, and ‘Sietch’ have been transposed in Herbert’s novel, which is another way in which the biography has inspired the Dune series.

However, Herbert took the inspiration to the next level by adapting the novel into a futuristic setting. His direct inspiration from the novel is no longer a secret unlike George Lucas, who seemed to have taken inspiration from the sci-fi franchise.

Frank Herbert Believed George Lucas Took Inspiration from Dune for His Star Wars 

George Lucas Credit: Late Night with Conan O’BrienGeorge Lucas [Photo Credit: Late Night with Conan O’Brien]
When the author was alive, he was completely convinced that Star Wars creator, George Lucas had borrowed quite many information to curate the storyline for his popular sci-fi franchise.

He made sure to call out Lucas for the uncanny resemblance during his appearance at UCLA in 1985. He shared,
“Lucas has never admitted that they copied a lot of Dune, and I’m not saying they did. I’m just saying there are 16 points of identity between the book Dune and Star Wars. Now you’ve had stat — what is it? It’s 16 times… over 1, the odds against that being coincidence? There aren’t that many stars in the universe.”
Whereas, the writer-producer on the other hand had a different opinion as he only found the projects similar because“they both have deserts.” However, eagle-eyed fans have already pointed out several similarities between the duo, like the main characters’ connection with the main villain, giant terrifying creatures, sand crawlers, and sandworms/sarlaccs.

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