Stilgar is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He appears in the first three novels in the series: Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969) and Children of Dune (1976). His early life is explored in Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Prelude to Dune trilogy (1999-2001), and the character is brought back as a ghola in their conclusion to the original series, Sandworms of Dune (2007).
The Fremen Stilgar Ben Fifrawi was born in 10,141 A.G. in Umbu Sietch of Tuan on the planet Arrakis. In 10,175 A.G., Stilgar challenged Forad, the Naib of Sietch Tabr, and defeated him, becoming the new Naib of Sietch Tabr, a title he would hold until his death in 10,228 A.G.
In his youth, Stilgar and two friends, Turok and Ommun, had been cornered by thuggish Harkonnen troopers. Badly injured, Stilgar would have died if Pardot Kynes had not come and helped kill the troops. Because of this water-debt, Stilgar and Pardot Kynes became good comrades. Stilgar, Turok and Ommun promised to help Kynes achieve his dream of turning Arrakis into a paradise. When Pardot Kynes died, Stilgar was a very good friend to his son Liet-Kynes, and thereby something of a paternal figure to Liet's daughter Chani (later concubine/wife of Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides).
It was not until 10,153 A.G., after a successful raid against a Harkonnen village, that he acquired the name of Stilgar. Among the members of Umbu Sietch, he was known as Sahkan or "the Desert Hawk."
The original series
In the novel Dune, Stilgar met Paul and his mother Lady Jessica when the Atreides fled into the desert, escaping a Harkonnen attack. Like the other Fremen, Stilgar eventually believed that Paul was their long-foretold Messiah, the Mahdi. Stilgar had two wives, one of whom was named Tharthar. He later also married Harah, a woman whom Paul had "acquired" as his servant, according to Fremen custom, after defeating her husband Jamis in a ritual battle to the death.
Subsequently, in Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, Stilgar was a staunch supporter and protector of Paul and his children, Leto II and Ghanima. The TV mini-series of Dune portrayed Stilgar as an eventual high ranking Imperial Official to Emperor Paul Atreides, almost as an Imperial Prime Minister. Stilgar is seen giving Paul Atreides very knowledgeable political reports on the situation of the empire in council meetings. The Imperial Council "Cabinet" was made up of Princess Irulan, Stilgar, Chani, Korba, Alia Atreides, and other trusted officials. In Messiah, Stilgar executed the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam and Spacing Guild Navigator Edric (as well as former Fedaykin Korba) on orders from Paul's sister Alia, after their conspiracy to topple Paul's empire failed. In Children, Stilgar helped Ghanima and the Princess Irulan escape Alia's later tyranny.
Centuries later, Leto II encountered a descendant of Stilgar and marveled 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.
- Herbert, God Emperor 19.
- McNelly, Willis E. (Ed.) (1984). The Dune Encyclopedia. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN 0-425-06813-7.
- Herbert, Frank. God Emperor of Dune. Berkley, 1983.