|Count Hasimir Fenring|
|First appearance||Dune (1965)|
|Last appearance||Paul of Dune (2008)|
|Created by||Frank Herbert|
|Portrayed by||Miroslav Táborský
Governor of Arrakis
Siridar-Absentia of Caladan
Count Hasimir Fenring is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is featured in the 1965 science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert, and is also a key character in the Prelude to Dune trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. He later appears in the 2008 novel Paul of Dune.
Herbert's Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses) in Dune reads:
COUNT HASIMIR FENRING (10,133—10,225) A distaff cousin of House Corrino, he was a childhood companion of Shaddam IV. (The frequently discredited Pirate History of Corrino related the curious story that Fenring was responsible for the chaumurky which disposed of Elrood IX.) All accounts agree that Fenring was the closest friend Shaddam IV possessed. The Imperial chores carried out by Count Fenring included that of Imperial Agent on Arrakis during the Harkonnen regime there and later Siridar-Absentia of Caladan. He joined Shaddam IV in retirement on Salusa Secundus.
In Dune, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen describes Fenring as "a killer with the manners of a rabbit ... the most dangerous kind." Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen has this impression of Fenring: "a small man, weak-looking. The face was weaselish with overlarge dark eyes. There was gray at the temples. And his movements — he moved a hand or turned his head one way, then he spoke another way. It was difficult to follow." In her work In My Father's House (referenced via an epigraph in Dune), Shaddam's daughter Princess Irulan later writes of Fenring: "My father had only one real friend, I think. That was Count Hasimir Fenring ... one of the deadliest fighters in the Imperium." She goes on to describe him as "a dapper and ugly little man".
In the events of Dune, Fenring serves as Governor of Arrakis during the handover period between House Harkonnen and House Atreides (he previously had been the Imperial Agent on Arrakis during the Harkonnen regime). As Padishah Emperor Shaddam's chief counsellor, Fenring is frequently described as "the Emperor's errand boy" in the novel. The dialogues written for Fenring make it seem that he suffers from a verbal tic but the speech patterns allow him to communicate in a private "humming" code with his wife, Lady Margot. Herbert wrote that "Fenring seldom did anything he felt to be unnecessary, or used two words where one would do, or held himself to a single meaning in a single phrase." Baron Harkonnen refers to Fenring as "Ambassador to the Smugglers", indicating Shaddam IV's interest in spice smuggling operations on Arrakis. Fenring is later the Siridar-Absentia of the Atreides homeworld of Caladan while the Atreides occupy Arrakis.
During a subsequent visit to the Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime, Fenring's wife, Margot, with his knowledge and following orders from the Bene Gesserit, seduces Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in order to retrieve his genetic material (through conception) for the Bene Gesserit breeding program. Fenring seems complicit in the Bene Gesserit scheme, saying "I can see now why we must have that bloodline" though he also observes that "There are some ancient prejudices I overcome. They are quite primordial..."
In Count Fenring: A Profile (referenced via epigraph in Dune), Princess Irulan writes of Fenring's relationship with her father, Shaddam IV:
No woman, no man, no child ever was deeply intimate with my father. The closest anyone ever came to casual camaraderie with the Padishah Emperor was the relationship offered by Count Hasimir Fenring, a companion from childhood. The measure of Count Fenring's friendship may be seen first in a positive thing: he allayed the Landsraad's suspicions after the Arrakis Affair. It cost more than a billion solaris in spice bribes, so my mother said, and there were other gifts as well: slave women, royal honors, and tokens of rank. The second major evidence of the Count's friendship was negative. He refused to kill a man even though it was within his capabilities and my father commanded it. I will relate this presently.
When Shaddam is forced into a corner by Paul Atreides in Dune, he and his Truthsayer, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Mohiam, realize "they had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery." Fenring is summoned. Shaddam orders him to kill Paul, but Fenring refuses his Emperor's wishes for the only known time: "The Count focused on Paul, seeing with eyes his Lady Margot had trained in the Bene Gesserit way, aware of the mystery and hidden grandeur about this Atreides youth." Paul represents the success of the Bene Gesserit breeding program of which Fenring himself is a failure. Paul himself notes, "Fenring was one of the might-have-beens, an almost Kwisatz Haderach, crippled by a flaw in the genetic pattern—a eunuch, his talent concentrated into furtiveness and inner seclusion."
According to Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses) in Dune, Paul ascends the Imperial throne, Fenring joins Shaddam in his forced retirement on the prison planet Salusa Secundus and Fenring dies in 10,225 A.G.
Prelude to Dune
The Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy establishes that Fenring had actually been born in 10,118 A.G.; his mother, Lady Chaola or Cirni Fenring, had been a Bene Gesserit and lady-in-waiting to Habla, the fourth wife of Shaddam's father, Padishah Emperor Elrood IX, and served as wet nurse to both her son Hasimir and Crown Prince Shaddam. It is also noted that according to one source, Fenring's mother may also have been a sister to Elrood. Of her it is written in Dune: House Atreides:
His mother Chaola, an introspective lady-in-waiting, had settled into a quiet home and lived on her Imperial pension after the death of the Emperor's fourth wife Habla. In raising the two young boys together while she attended the Empress Habla, Chaola had given Fenring the chance to be so much more — almost as if she had planned it that way ... These days Chaola pretended not to understand what her son did at Court, though she was Bene Gesserit-trained. Fenring was wily enough to know that his mother comprehended far more than her station suggested, and that many plans and breeding schemes had gone on without his knowledge.
House Fenring, a House minor long allied with House Corrino, had been a significant part of the Bene Gesserit breeding program to produce the Kwisatz Haderach. Hasimir had been a prime candidate for this genetic potential, but this did not eventuate. In Dune, Lady Jessica and Princess Irulan refer to him as a "genetic-eunuch" and Paul notes that Fenring is "crippled by a flaw in the genetic pattern". Nonetheless, the bloodline manipulations of the Bene Gesserit had produced a supremely intelligent and perceptive killer in Fenring:
Fenring was no stranger to assassination, and killed with his bare hands at least as often as he engineered accidents or paid for thugs. Sometimes he liked blood work, while on other occasions he preferred subtleties and deceptions. When he was younger, barely nineteen, he had slipped out of the Imperial Palace at night and killed two civil servants at random, just to prove he could do it. He still tried to keep in practice.—Dune: House Atreides
Fenring is also known to have seduced both women and men to his own personal advantage, before meeting his Bene Gesserit wife, Lady Margot Fenring:
Emperor Elrood IX, aware of Hasimir Fenring's deadly skills, had made use of him in a number of clandestine operations, all of which had been successful ... Over the years, Fenring had murdered at least fifty men and a dozen women, some of whom had been his lovers, of either sex.—Dune: House Atreides
In Dune: House Atreides, the Imperial Concubines call Fenring "the Ferret" (and others see him that way as well) because of "his narrow face and pointed chin."
Prior to the events of Dune: House Atreides, Fenring had murdered the Crown Prince Fafnir, older brother to Shaddam, to secure Shaddam's position as heir. The implication in the appendix of Dune that he was later also responsible for the death of Elrood IX is proven true in Dune: House Atreides, when Emperor Elrood IX dies in the year 10,156 A.G., assassinated by a slow-acting poison administered by Fenring on orders from Shaddam himself. Shaddam subsequently gives Fenring the title of Imperial Spice Minister and orders him to supervise Elrood's Project Amal. This project is an early attempt by the Tleilaxu to create synthetic melange in order to remove dependence upon the planet Arrakis, by that time the only source of melange in the Known Universe.
Although Tleilaxu Master Hidar Fen Ajidica manages to create an artificial melange (called ajidamal, or amal) that seems to have the original's properties, it doesn't work properly. During the events of Dune: House Corrino in 10,175 A.G., Fenring uses two Spacing Guild heighliners to secretly test the synthetic melange. Disastrously, the first heighliner emerges from foldspace at the wrong point, strikes the defensive shields of Wallach IX and plummets into the atmosphere to its destruction. The flawed spice also disrupts and confuses the thoughts, feelings and prescience of D'murr Pilru, the Navigator of the second heighliner. Affected by the tainted melange, D'murr misguides his ship out of the Known Universe and collapses; with a fresh supply of real melange he is able to return the ship safely to Guild Headquarters before dying. All records and laboratories of Project Amal are destroyed by Fenring himself afterward when House Vernius retakes the planet Ix, and Shaddam later denies all knowledge of it.
When Shaddam starts to act without Fenring's counsel due to jealousy, he begins making grievous mishaps; namely, using atomic weapons and a biological plague, and threatening to destroy Arrakis ('Dune'). Eventually and with some reluctance, Shaddam again begins following Fenring's advice.
The following quotes and excerpts of Fenring's writings are referenced via epigraphs in the Prelude to Dune novels:
- The worst sort of protection is confidence. The best defense is suspicion. (Dune: House Atreides)
- In plotting any course of revenge, one must savor the anticipation phase and all its moments, for the actual execution often differs widely from the original plan. — Dispatches from Arrakis (Dune: House Atreides)
- Only fools leave witnesses. (Dune: House Atreides)
- There are obvious pressures of working in an environment where one isn't likely to survive even the smallest mistake. — The Rewards of Risk, written in exile (Dune: House Corrino)
Sandworms of Dune
In Hunters of Dune (2006), the first of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's two-part finale to the original Dune series, an ancient knife is discovered on the Atreides homeworld of Caladan that is covered in traces of Paul Atreides' blood. This genetic material is used by the Face Dancer Khrone to create a ghola of Paul, named Paolo, as part of the thinking machine plot to dominate humanity.
In Sandworms of Dune (2007), the dagger is used by Paolo in his duel-to-the-death with the Bene Gesserit's own Paul Atreides ghola. It is noted that, among the knife's many notable uses, "Hasimir Fenring stabbed Emperor Muad'Dib with it and nearly killed him" sometime between the events of the novels Dune and Dune Messiah (1969).
Paul of Dune
Hasimir and Margot are raising Feyd and Margot's daughter — whom they have named Marie — as their own in the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson novel Paul of Dune (2008). Between the events of Dune and Dune Messiah (1969), the Fenrings train their young child as both an assassin and a Bene Gesserit, but reject the interference of the Sisterhood itself in favor of their own plans for Marie to seize the Imperial throne from Paul Atreides. Marie is accepted into Paul's court as a playmate for his young sister Alia; at a banquet with her visiting parents, six-year-old Marie and the Fenrings execute their well-planned assassination attempt on Paul. Alia manages to kill Marie, but Margot's revelation of her daughter's paternity surprises Paul enough to allow Hasimir to stab him near-mortally. Paul's concubine Chani uses the poisonous Water of Life to help save him, and he lives; rather than kill the Fenrings, he banishes them to Salusa Secundus into permanent exile with Shaddam, whom they now loathe.
Fenring in adaptations
Both Fenring and his wife Margot are omitted from David Lynch's 1984 film Dune. However, Hasimir plays a minor part in the 2000 miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, where he is portrayed by Miroslav Táborský. His function here is more of an advisor to the Emperor. Additionally, some of Margot's actions are attributed to Princess Irulan (essentially the Fenrings' visit to Giedi Prime) as part of director John Harrison's expansion of Irulan's role.
- Herbert, Frank (1965). "Appendix IV: The Almanak en-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses): COUNT HASIMIR FENRING". Dune.
- McNelly, Willis E. (June 1, 1984). "FENRING, HASIMIR". The Dune Encyclopedia. pp. 212–215. ISBN 0-425-06813-7.
- Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune. p. 329.
- Fenring's birthdate was "revised" to 10,118 A.G. in the Prelude to Dune series with the note that "In the appendix to Dune, there were typographical errors in respect to the birthdates of Shaddam Corrino IV and Count Hasimir Fenring, as evidenced by conflicting ages shown in the text of the novel."
- Herbert, Brian; Anderson, Kevin J. (August 2007). Sandworms of Dune. Tor Books, pg. 374. ISBN 0-7653-1293-X.
- Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2007). Paul of Dune. p. 55. ISBN 0-7653-1294-8.
- Herbert/Anderson. Paul of Dune. pp. 172–174.
- Herbert/Anderson. Paul of Dune. pp. 447–448, 453–457, 464–465.
- Herbert/Anderson. Paul of Dune. pp. 488–510.
- Jodorowsky, Alejandro (1985). "Dune: Le Film Que Voue Ne Verrez Jamais (Dune: The Film You Will Never See)". Métal Hurlant. DuneInfo.com. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2014.