From the beginning of Book III to Paul teaching the smugglers a lesson
Two years have passed since the events in Book II. Baron Harkonnen fumes as he rushes through his private quarters searching for his guard captain. A slave boy whom the baron had been enjoying attempts to kill the baron. The baron surmises that Feyd-Rautha is responsible for planning the assassination. He quickly surmises the identity of the moles within the baron’s guard, and he orders them to be killed immediately. The baron confronts Feyd-Rautha and chides him for the foolish attempt on his life. He tells the teenager that one day, not too far in the future, he will step down and allow Feyd-Rautha to succeed him. The baron also tells Feyd-Rautha that he will assign Thufir Hawat to watch over him, and Feyd-Rautha realizes that Hawat has been playing Feyd-Rautha and the baron against each other. Feyd-Rautha decides to wait, for now, and see what his uncle’s plans are regarding the emperor.
The baron meets with Hawat. Hawat has asked the baron to send a message to Rabban, the baron’s nephew, on Arrakis, but he has not said why. Hawat reveals to the baron his suspicion that the Empire uses the penal colony of Salusa Secundus as a training ground for the Sardaukar. Hawat explains that he believes that the emperor ordered the destruction of the House of Atreides because Duke Leto’s men had trained a small fighting force whose skills nearly match those of the Sardaukar. Hawat points out that Arrakis is as brutal a place for training as Salusa Secundus; the Fremen are an even better fighting force than the Sardaukar. The baron recalls that he once suggested to Count Fenring the possibility of using Arrakis as a prison planet. Hawat suggests that the baron abandon all aid to Rabban and force him to oppress the people even more, so as to make Arrakis into a new Salusa Secundus.
On Arrakis, Paul is preparing to ride a sandworm for the first time. In the last two years, the Fremen have recognized him as a religious prophet. Paul is both a religious and a political leader. He is surrounded by Fedaykin, an elite, highly trained guard. His mother, now the new reverend mother, has become concerned about his role with the Fremen. She has given birth to a daughter, Alia. Chani has also given birth to a child, the product of her unofficial union with Paul. Paul’s son is named Leto, like Paul’s father. The Fremen do not easily accept Alia; since she was still in the womb when her mother took the spice drug, she took in all the memories of the previous Bene Gesserit, so she was aware of herself and was very intelligent even before she was born. Now, barely two years old, she can speak in complete, lucid sentences like an adult and walk easily.
Paul leaves his tent and meets with Stilgar, who gives him a thumper to call the sandworm. Other Fremen give him hooks and poles to use to grab on to the worm’s side. Paul activates the thumper, and soon a giant worm is making its way toward him.
Far in the south of planet Arrakis, Jessica rests in the safety of the sietch warrens. Harah and Alia enter her room. Harah is concerned because Alia has been making the Fremen mothers uneasy. She speaks and carries herself like an adult, and they think she is a witch or possessed by a demon. Harah feels compassion for the young child and says she will try to make the other woman understand.
A Fremen messenger arrives and tells Jessica about a problem: some of the young Fremen men plan to push Paul into challenging Stilgar for leadership of the tribe after Paul rides the sandworm.