I'm getting closer to the original "Dune" novel written by Frank Herbert in both books and in timeline. "House Atreides" is one of the first sets of Dune novels written by Herbert (Brian) and Anderson and takes place 35 years. The three prelude novels, House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino cover the rise of the houses to the powers the held in "Dune."
An aging tyrant emperor rules the known universe, Emperor Elrood Corrino IX, and his son Shaddam IV, cannot wait for him to die, so that Shaddam may become emperor. He and his minion, Hasimir Fenrig devise a slow poison to kill off the old man so Shaddam may sit in the "Golden Lion Throne."
While this is going on Elrood has some schemes going that could change the universe. Spice Melange, only found on Arrakis (Dune), is needed for the Space Guild to fold space, it prolongs life, and is highly addictive. "He who controls the spice, controls the Universe." So Elrood has set out to devise an alternative to spice. Teaming up with the genetic scientist race of the Tleilaxu, Elrood has commissioned them to develop the newly engineered spice. As payment to the Tleilaxu, Elrood plans a takeover of the machine planet IX, where in place are the facilities to for such a genetic engineering feat. To do this the House Vernius must be defeated. Instead of being defeated the house goes renegade, meaning they are no longer supported or recognized by the league and are criminals. The children are sent to Calidan to live with Duke Paulus Atreides. They are raised along with the Duke's son, Leto Atreides.
The Bene Gesserit discover they are only 2 or 3 generations from the Kwisatz Haderach a prophesied messiah figure. But first they must get Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to "donate the genetic material." The first union of a Bene Gesserit sorceress and Harkonnen is deformed and must be repeated. This time Harkonnen violently rapes the sorceress and in the process she curses him with an incurable disease.
Paulus Atreides dies during a bullfight with a drugged Salusan Bull, and Leto becomes Duke. Harkonnen has developed a ship that renders itself invisible, and frames Atreides for an attack on the Tleilaxu.
In the meantime on Arrakis, Dune, Pardot Kynes a planetologist sent by Emperor Elrood, arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule there, and is getting more and more interested in the native Fremen of the desert and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.
Once again another book filled with lots of material lots of action and great political interaction. This Dune series just keeps getting better and better.