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Stilgar is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He appears in the novels Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976). The character's early life is explored in Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999-2001), and the character returns in the form of a ghola in their conclusion to the original series, Sandworms of Dune (2007).
The original series
In the novel Dune (1965), Paul Atreides and his mother Lady Jessica meet Stilgar when they flee into the desert of Arrakis to escape an attack by House Harkonnen. Stilgar is the Naib, or leader, of Sietch Tabr, a Fremen community in which Paul and his mother seek refuge. Stilgar has two wives, one of whom is named Tharthar, and later also marries Harah. Stilgar and his people eventually come to believe that Paul was their long-foretold messiah, the Mahdi.
Subsequently, in Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976), Stilgar is a staunch supporter and protector of Paul and his children, Leto II and Ghanima. He is one of Paul's inner circle of advisors, which includes Paul's concubine Chani, his wife Princess Irulan and his sister Alia. At the end of Messiah, Stilgar executes the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam and Spacing Guild Navigator Edric on Alia's orders, after their conspiracy to topple Paul's empire fails. In Children, Stilgar helps Ghanima and Irulan escape Alia's later tyranny.
Centuries later in the events of God Emperor of Dune (1981), Leto II encounters a descendant of Stilgar and marvels at the physical and intellectual degradation that had taken place in the intervening generations:
I stared for half a day once at an old man sitting on a bench in Arrakeen. He was a fifth-generation descendant of Stilgar the Naib and did not even know it. I studied the angle of his neck, the skin flaps below his chin, the cracked lips and moistness about his nostrils, the pores behind his ears, the wisps of gray hair which crept from beneath the hood of his antique stillsuit. Not once did he detect that he was being watched. Hah! Stilgar would have known it in a second or two. But this old man was just waiting for someone who never came. He got up finally and tottered off. He was very stiff after all of that sitting. I knew I would never see him in the flesh again. He was that near death and his water was sure to be wasted. Well, that no longer mattered.
Prelude to Dune
The Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999-2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson establishes that Stilgar Ben Fifrawi had been born on Arrakis in 10,141 A.G. in Umbu Sietch of Tuan. Among the members of Umbu Sietch, he is known as Sahkan or "the Desert Hawk". In his youth, Stilgar and two friends, Turok and Ommun, are cornered by thuggish Harkonnen troops. Badly injured, Stilgar would have died if Pardot Kynes had not come and helped kill the Harkonnens. Because of this water-debt, Stilgar and Kynes become friends. Stilgar, Turok and Ommun promise to help Kynes achieve his dream of turning Arrakis into a paradise. In 10,175 A.G. Stilgar challenges Forad, the Naib of Sietch Tabr, and defeats him to become the new Naib. When Kynes dies, Stilgar watches over his son Liet-Kynes and Liet's daughter Chani.