House Vernius is a fictional noble family from the Dune universe, though the family does not actually appear in Frank Herbert's work. Rather, they are featured in the prequel series Prelude to Dune (1999–2001) and Heroes of Dune (2008–present) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
At the time of the Prelude to Dune series, House Vernius is one of the great houses of the Imperium, the feudal interstellar empire that forms the backdrop to the Dune novels. This house is the ruling power on the planet Ix. The main industry on Ix is the production of machines that continuously test the bounds of the precepts set down by the Butlerian Jihad. The rival of House Vernius is House Richese, which also specializes in machinery, but doesn't create controversial machinery. The strongest ally of House Vernius is House Atreides; their friendship had begun when Earl Dominic Vernius and Duke Paulus Atreides had fought together in the Ecaz Revolt around 10,130 A.G.
Dominic Vernius had been a military ally to 80th Padishah Emperor Elrood Corrino IX in the Ecazi rebellion, around the time one of Elrood's concubines Shando Balut had given birth to the Emperor's illegitimate son (who is named Tyros Reffa, and secretly adopted by House Taligari). Dominic and Shando subsequently fall in love; tired of Shando but not knowing of her relationship with Dominic, Elrood grants her request to be released from his service. Dominic and Shando are soon married in 10,138 A.G., and Elrood is furious, "paranoid about what bedroom secrets Shando might be sharing with her husband." Dominic and Shando would later have two children together, Rhombur and Kailea.
Shando is described as "Small-boned and petite," with "a fragile porcelain-doll appearance." Of her it is noted that "Her finely chiseled features, delicately pointed nose, and creamy skin suffused her appearance with a regal beauty that would have shone through even the most drab of garments. She looked slight and delicate at first glance, but carried a toughness and resilience about her.
Prelude to Dune
In the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson Prelude to Dune trilogy (1999–2001), House Vernius welcomes the young Leto Atreides, son of Paulus, to Ix to study politics with Dominic and Shando's son Prince Rhombur. They also hope for a match between Leto and their daughter, Kailea. Years later in 10,154 A.G., Elrood is coaxed by Tleilaxu Master Ajidica to fund a research program on artificial spice, called Project Amal. House Vernius' homeworld of Ix seems the perfect location, owing to the presence of science pavilions and the substantial income from their Spacing Guild heighliner production. Elrood has no qualms about displacing and possibly destroying Dominic and his family, whom he feels had humiliated him. The Tleilaxu are able to create an uprising in the suboid working class, which quickly overwhelms the complacent Vernius forces. House Vernius go "renegade," and the two heirs to the Vernius fief escape due to a small rescue contingent created by Paulus, who grants them sanctuary on Caladan with House Atreides.
Shando is eventually located on Bela Tegeuse by the Sardaukar and brutally executed. Rhombur sends limited aid to the resistance on Ix, but the presence of the Emperor's Sardaukar makes any assistance difficult to render. Dominic goes into hiding on the planets Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, but is discovered on Arrakis by Sardaukar. The base he is residing at is assaulted, and in order to take down as many Sardaukar with him as he can, he ignites a stone burner, a forbidden atomic weapon that he had been planning to use to destroy the planet Kaitain, location of the Imperial throne. Eventually, Rhombur begins to show more of an interest in aiding his people. His sister Kailea Vernius becomes the concubine of Leto, now Duke Atreides, and bears him an heir, Victor. The Duke hopes to secure a political marriage, and so is unable to wed Kailea and secure her son's place as an heir. An assassination attempt on the Duke devised by Kailea inadvertently kills Victor, and severely injures both Leto and her brother Rhombur. Though Rhombur survives, his body is rendered an almost lifeless lump. Kailea kills herself after hearing the news of her son's death.
Suk Doctor Wellington Yueh is hired by Leto to give Rhombur Vernius cybernetic body part replacements. After recovering, Rhombur is able to draft a plan for re-taking his lost homeworld, relying upon the Atreides army and the downtrodden Ixians. The Tleilaxu quickly fail in their defense and lose all of their research on the artificial spice. The Ixian ambassador is able to preserve a sperm sample from Rhombur's dead half-brother, Tyros Reffa, to secure an heir for the recovered House Vernius.
Heroes of Dune
In the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson novel Paul of Dune (2008), Rhombur and Tessia attend Leto's wedding to Ilesa of Ecaz with their "copper-haired" son Bronso, the biological child of Tessia and Tyros Reffa. An adult Bronso is later quoted via epigraph, commenting on Leto's influence on his son Paul Atreides. The next novel, The Winds of Dune (2009), explores the friendship of Paul and Bronso.
Vernius family tree
|House Vernius||House Corrino|
|Earl Dominic Vernius|
d. 10,174 A.G.
|Lady Shando Balut Vernius ||Elrood Corrino IX|
|Rhombur Vernius||Tessia||Kailea Vernius|
d. 10,174 A.G.
|Leto I Atreides||Tyros Reffa|
d. 10,175 A.G.
|Bronso Vernius||Victor Atreides|
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (1999). Dune: House Atreides.
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (1999–2001). Prelude to Dune.
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2008). Paul of Dune. pp. 153–155. ISBN 0-7653-1294-8.
- Frank Herbert's 1969 novel Dune Messiah (the sequel to 1965's Dune) begins with "Excerpts from the Death Cell Interview with Bronso of Ix," a historian imprisoned and condemned to death for his critical analyses of Paul Muad'Dib" Atreides and his histories, as presented by Paul's followers. This "interview" — and a subsequent excerpt from Bronso's Analysis of History: Muad'dib — serve to summarize the plot of Dune and establish the political and religious conflicts in play as the novel begins.Herbert, Frank (1969). Dune Messiah.
- Herbert/Anderson. Paul of Dune. p. 396.
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2009). The Winds of Dune.
- Because Rhombur is rendered sterile in an explosion, Bronso is actually the genetic son of Tessia and Tyros Reffa, Rhombur's maternal half brother, through artificial conception