House Harkonnen

From Academic Kids

House Harkonnen is a fictional noble family in Frank Herbert's Dune novels.

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Emblem of House Harkonnen (from the computer game Emperor: Battle for Dune)

One of the great houses of the Imperium, the House Harkonnen is built on a simple foundation of fear and terror, two tactics that make the Baron Harkonnen's underlings that much more dangerous: risk death on the battlefield or suffer a slow, excruciating death in the Baron's chambers as he watches with relish. With an order based on treachery, soldiers rise through the ranks through deceit, trickery and, if necessary, assassination.

Hailing from an industrial wasteland of a planet called Giedi Prime, the House Harkonnen is much like its Baron: cold, ruthless, egomaniacal, but brilliant and lethally efficient. Most of all, it's driven by a kanly (vendetta) against House Atreides. The vendetta originated when Vorian Atreides exposed the unwarranted shame of Abulurd Harkonnen at the Battle of Corrin when Abulurd Harkonnen refused an order issued by Vorian Atreides to kill millions of humans enslaved by machines. The Battle of Corrin is the battle that ended the Butlerian Jihad and founded the Imperium.

House Harkonnen is ruled by a Siridar Baron. In the first Dune novels the baron is Vladimir Harkonnen. The twisted mentat Piter De Vries served as the baron's mentat and advisor. In Dune (novel), the baron Vladimir Harkonnen is killed by Alia Atreides, and his heir Feyd-Rautha is killed shortly therafter by Paul Atreides, effectively destroying the House.

The name "Harkonnen" first came from a continent of the Old Earth, probably from a place called Suomi or Finland. There was a nearby land called "Russia" (Land of the Red-Heads?) that once ruled Finland as a duchy. There was in a lot of cultural exchange between these two countries, which both were in the cold North part of Old Earth.

Some folk historians in the fictional series hint that the Harkonnens once were rulers, or at least influential men, of Russia's House of Steel, also called the Soviet Union, which once ruled that part of Old Earth. Ironically, the Harkonnens still tended to have red hair, over 10,000 years after the Old Earth was no longer inhabited.

Author Frank Herbert said in later interviews that he modeled the fictional Harkonnens after the Nazi Party.

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