The Sardaukar // are a fictional fanatical army from Frank Herbert's Dune universe, primarily featured in the 1965 science fiction novel Dune, as well as Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001).
The Imperial Sardaukar are soldier-fanatics loyal to the Padishah Emperors of House Corrino, who ruled the Known Universe (the Imperium) for over 10,000 years until the events of the first novel in the series, Dune. The key to House Corrino's hold on the Imperial throne, the Sardaukar troops are the foremost soldiers in the universe and are feared by all. They are secretly trained on the devastated Salusa Secundus, the Imperial Prison Planet, as the harsh conditions there ensure that only the strongest and most "ferocious" men survive. It is noted of Salusa that "the mortality rate among new prisoners is higher than sixty percent." Sardaukar training emphasizes ruthlessness, near-suicidal disregard for personal safety, and the use of cruelty as a standard weapon in order to weaken opponents with terror. In Dune, a Sardaukar Colonel sneers at Dr. Yueh's mere mention of the word "pity". Of the elite fighters it is noted that "The commonest Sardaukar trooper lives a life, in many respects, as exalted as that of any member of a Great House." Their uniforms are described as gray with silver and gold trim.
As Dune begins, the 81st Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV has put Duke Leto Atreides in control of the desert planet Arrakis, known as Dune, which is the only natural source of the all-important spice melange, the most valuable commodity in the known universe. Leto is aware that Shaddam, threatened by the rising power and influence of House Atreides, has sent him into a trap; failure to meet or exceed the production volume of their predecessors, the vicious House Harkonnen, will negatively affect the financial and political position of the Atreides. Further, the very presence of the Atreides on Arrakis inflames the 10,000-year-old feud between Houses Atreides and Harkonnen. A subsequent surprise attack on the Atreides by Harkonnen troops — bolstered by two legions of Sardaukar in Harkonnen colors – and made possible by a traitor on the inside results in the obliteration of the Atreides forces, and the death of Leto. His concubine Lady Jessica and son Paul escape and find refuge with the native Fremen of Arrakis, a fierce people with secretly large numbers and fighting skills rivaling the Sardaukar. The Fremen prove capable of holding their own against the Sardaukar, and are even able to defeat and capture the "undefeatable" Emperor's soldiers. Paul's training in the Bene Gesserit weirding way and galvanization of their rebellion under his command makes the newly-allied Fremen forces unstoppable.
Using the Bene Gesserit compulsion technique called the Voice, Paul himself manages to compel the Sardaukar Captain Aramsham to humiliate himself by surrendering. However, Aramsham's Sardaukar stoicism is so great that he will not even give his name until Paul uses the Voice again. Aramsham, the epitome of a loyal soldier, finally submits to his sworn enemy, symbolically sealing the doom of the old Corrino order. When, following the Battle of Arrakeen, Paul tells a captured Sardaukar officer (of the "blond, chisel-featured caste" said to be "synonymous with rank" in the Sardaukar) to bring a message to the Emperor, he at first stoically ignores Paul; only Paul's warning that "your Emperor may die" causes the captured officer to agree to take the message. The defeat of the Sardaukar and Paul's stranglehold on the spice supply allows him to depose Shaddam, marry his eldest daughter Princess Irulan, and ascend the throne. Paul indicates that he would order the restoration of the ecology of Salusa Secundus as part of his plan to exile Shaddam and his family to the devastated world.
In Dune Messiah the Sardaukar does not play any key role in the novel. But there were several references to them, one a key element to the plot of the novel. It mentioned that a Sardaukar commander had the wisdom to preserve the body of Duncan Idaho with the desire to resurrect Duncan Idaho as a ghola to be an instructor for the Sardaukar. Another mention of the Sardaukar was that the former Padishah Emperor was performing landing maneuvers with his one legion of Sardaukar which Princess Irulan pointed out to Emperor Paul-Muad'dib as only a "police force". One other minor reference was that some Sardaukar spies might be among the guild entourage visiting the palace. There is also a humorous reference when Stilgar asked Emperor Paul-Muad'dib if Genghis Khan was "of the Sardaukar."
Children of Dune
During the events of Children of Dune (1976), Princess Wensicia, younger daughter of Shaddam IV, initiates a plot for her family and the Sardaukar to return to power. By this time, Paul has allowed the Corrinos to retain only a relatively small Sardaukar force. He has improved conditions on Salusa under the guise of making the planet more hospitable for the exiled Corrinos, but with the intent to render it an ineffective training ground for more soldiers. Seeing this motive, Wensicia's son Farad'n has tried to maintain the strict discipline which keeps the Sardaukar at their best. However, Wensicia's efforts fail, Farad'n voluntarily surrenders the army to the new Emperor, Paul's son Leto Atreides II.
God Emperor of Dune
The text of God Emperor of Dune notes that during the 3,500-year reign of Leto II after the events of Children of Dune, one of Leto II's many gholas (clones) of Duncan Idaho had led the remnants of the Sardaukar in an unsuccessful revolt. This revolt, the Sardaukar's original defeat on Arrakis, and the general decline of the Sardaukar organization had all finally resulted in Leto II's abolishment of the Sardaukar corps. Their replacements are the all-female Fish Speakers, Leto II's personal army, who had Sardaukar blood in their veins. Leto believed that male-dominated military organizations were essentially predatory and would turn on the civilian population in the absence of an external enemy, and had "a strong tendency toward homosexual activities."
The Dune Encyclopedia
The Dune Encyclopedia (1984), written by Dr. Willis E. McNelly to accompany the Dune books, was authorized by Frank Herbert but somewhat contradicted by him in subsequent works and declared non-canon by his estate. The Encyclopedia's two articles on the Sardaukar note that the Sardaukar battle flag is plain black, and that those who became Sardaukar had once been members of a warlike ethnic group on Salusa Secundus called the Sardau. Another article on an "Aramsham, Otto" mentions that after the fall of the Corrino dynasty, the captain writes books hearkening back to the glory days of the Sardaukar. One is called The Sardaukar Strike! and another is called Sardaukar Victorious; the article goes on to say that he ended his life by suicide, unable to adjust to new realities.
In the Dune board game published by Avalon Hill in 1979, the player in control of the Emperor faction had access to several special tokens that were designated as Sardaukar by being imprinted with stars. These tokens could be used to gain an advantage in battle.
The Sardaukar appeared in the Dune RTS games. In Dune II (1992) and Dune 2000 (1998) they served as House Corrino's infantry in the single player campaigns, although in Dune 2000 they could also be trained by a Harkonnen player in a multiplayer game. In Emperor: Battle for Dune they are one of the five sub-factions.
- "Audio excerpts from a reading of Dune by Frank Herbert". Usul.net. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune.
- Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium: CORRIN, BATTLE OF". Dune. "...the space battle from which the Imperial House Corrino took its name. The battle fought near Sigma Draconis in the year 88 B.G. settled the ascendancy of the ruling House from Salusa Secundus."
- Herbert, Frank (1965). "Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses): SHADDAM IV". Dune. The reign of Shaddam Corrino IV is noted to have ended in 10,196 A.G. (After Guild).
- Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium: SALUSA SECUNDUS". Dune.
- Herbert, Frank (1976). Children of Dune.
- Herbert, Frank (1981). God Emperor of Dune.
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson, Dr. Willis McNelly. "Frequently Asked Questions". DuneNovels.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- McNelly, Willis E. (June 1, 1984). The Dune Encyclopedia. ISBN 0-425-06813-7 (US edition).