Kaitain (Dune)

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Dune Movie Kaitain.jpg
Kaitain, from David Lynch's Dune (1984)
Dune universe location
Created byFrank Herbert
GenreScience fiction
Notable locationsCorrinth, Hassik III Center for the Performing Arts, Imperial Necropolis, Imperial Palace, Imperial Prison, Ishaq Hall of Magnificent Documents, Landsraad Hall of Oratory
Notable characters

Kaitain is a fictional planet in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert.

In Herbert's 1965 novel Dune, it is mentioned briefly as the seat of power of Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, the Imperial court being previously located on the planet Salusa Secundus.[1]

The Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999-2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson further explores Kaitain and its origins.

On October 8, 2014, a real-world labyrinthus (complex of intersecting valleys) on Saturn's moon Titan was named Kaitain Labyrinthus after Herbert's fictional planet.[2]

Origins and description[edit]

The Prelude to Dune series establishes that, after centuries as the capital of the Corrino Padishah Empire, Salusa is devastated by atomics before the events of 1999's Dune: House Atreides. Padishah Emperor Hassik Corrino III relocates the Imperial throne to Kaitain, and the renegade House which had perpetrated the attack is exterminated, their name erased from history. Salusa Secundus is intentionally left as a barren wasteland.[3]

According to Dune: House Atreides, Padishah Emperor Hassik Corrino III had reestablished the Imperium's seat of government on Kaitain and had sought to rebuild the capital to new heights of grandeur:

Following the nuclear holocaust on Salusa Secundus ... everyone had been anxious to establish an optimistic new order. Hassik III had wanted to show that even after the near obliteration of House Corrino, the Imperium and its business would continue at a more exalted level than ever before.[4]

On Planetologist Pardot Kynes' visit for an audience with Emperor Elrood IX, he notes:

On the Imperial planet Kaitain, immense buildings kissed the sky. Magnificent sculptures and opulent tiered fountains lined the crystal-paved boulevards like a dream. A person could stare for hours ... Kaitain was exquisitely planned and produced, with tree-lined boulevards, splendid architecture, well-watered gardens, flower barricades . . . and so much more ... Official Imperial reports claimed it was always warm, the climate forever temperate. Storms were unknown. No clouds marred the skies ... when the ornate Guild escort craft descended, [Kynes] had noted the flotilla of weather satellites, climate-bending technology that — through brute force — kept Kaitain a peaceful and serene place.[4]

In Dune: House Atreides it is also noted that Kaitain has four moons.[4]


The Prelude to Dune series also establishes that the lavish capital city of Kaitain is named Corrinth.[3]

In Dune: House Harkonnen (2000), Abulurd Harkonnen notes how the extravagant beauty of the city differs from his homeworlds of Giedi Prime and Lankiveil:

The towering government buildings of Corrinth ... rose around Abulurd Harkonnen like a drug-induced fantasy. In his wildest dreams he had never visualized so many soaring edifices, jeweled inlays, and polished slabs of precious stone ... Colorful chime kites were tethered to the tall buildings, writhing on breezes in the perpetually blue skies. Prismatic ribbons drifted across the sky and shed rainbows on the flagstones below. Kaitain was obviously more concerned with form than substance.[5]

According to Dune: House Corrino (2001), "Hassik III ... had taxed his subjects nearly into bankruptcy in order to rebuild a governmental infrastructure. Members of the Landsraad, vowing not to be outdone by House Corrino, had built their own monuments in the growing city. Within a generation, unremarkable Kaitain had become an awesome spectacle of Imperial architecture, museums, and bureaucratic self-indulgence."[6]

Corrinth is the location of many important structures:

Hassik III Center for the Performing Arts[edit]

In Dune: House Corrino, Lady Jessica goes to the Hassik III Center for the Performing Arts (with Emperor Shaddam IV and the Lady Anirul) to see the play My Father's Shadow while she is on Kaitain serving as a personal lady-in-waiting for the Corrino family.[3] The Hassik III Center is described as a "column-studded edifice ... a cavernous building designed with acoustic enhancements and prismatic windows."[6] The novel notes its "Veined-marble arches with flanking fire-fountains ... [which] spewed feathery arcs of perfumed oils; blue flames consumed much of the fuel before the droplets fell into the lozenge-shaped reflecting pools."[6]

Imperial Necropolis[edit]

According to Dune: House Corrino, the underground catacombs of the Imperial Necropolis cover "as much area as the magnificent Palace itself. Generations of fallen Corrinos inhabited the city of the dead, those who had succumbed to treachery or accidents; a few had even died of natural causes."[6] It is noted that "After moving the Imperial capital from ruined Salusa Secundus, Emperor Hassik III had been the first to be entombed beneath the megalithic building. Over the ensuing millennia, numerous Corrino emperors, concubines, and bastard children were also buried here. Some had been cremated and their ashes displayed in urns, while the bones of others were ground up to make porcelain funereal pieces. A few rulers were encased in transparent sarcophagi, sealed within nullentropy fields so that their bodies would never decay, even if their meager accomplishments were obscured by the fog of passing time ... As the need for burials continued century after century, the necropolis had been dug deeper, with more crypts hollowed out. In the lowest and most recent subterranean levels, Shaddam actually recognized some of the names of his ancestors."[6] Shaddam's elder brother Crown Prince Fafnir had been laid to rest among "coffins and chambers for children and siblings," his tomb marked by an "idealized statue" of him.[6] Also in the necropolis is the walled-up vault of Emperor Shaddam IV's grandfather, Fondil III, known as "the Hunter" — his tomb is "flanked by the stuffed carcasses of two ferocious predators the man had killed: a spiny ecadroghe from the high plateaus of Ecaz and a tufted saber-bear from III Delta Kaising." It is noted that "Fondil, however, had taken his epithet from hunting men, ferreting out enemies and destroying them. His big-game adventures had been a mere diversion."[6] The mummy of the "long-forgotten" ruler called Mandias the Terrible, known as "the Emperor who made worlds tremble," is hidden in the Imperial Necropolis "in a chamber fronted by a fearsome, life-size statue" of Mandias.[6] Shaddam IV notes when looking at Mandias' body: "I am not impressed ... Nobody even remembers him."[6]

Shaddam and Count Hasimir Fenring had played together in the necropolis as children, and it is also the home of spiders, rodents and modified scarabs that "managed to survive by eating scraps of long-preserved flesh."[6] During the events of Dune: House Corrino, Shaddam inters the remains of his father Elrood IX in the Imperial Necropolis as well:

[Shaddam] finally led Fenring to where the sealed ashes of Elrood IX waited in a relatively small alcove, adorned with shimmering diamondplaz, ornate scrollwork, and fine gems — a sufficient display of Shaddam’s grief at the loss of his "beloved father" ... Disrespectfully, Shaddam leaned against the resting place of his father’s ashes. The old man had been cremated to foil any Suk physician's attempts to determine the true cause of death.[6]

Imperial Observatory[edit]

In Dune: House Atreides, Shaddam IV notes that the Imperial Observatory had been built by Hassik III; its highest chamber has a "cold, burnished-metal floor" and "a high-powered starscope."[4]

Imperial Palace[edit]

The Imperial Palace on Kaitain, from Frank Herbert's Dune (2000)

The Imperial Palace of Kaitain is the home of the Padishah Emperor and the center of the Imperial government. It is the literal and figurative location of the Golden Lion Throne, which is both a term for the Corrino Imperium and a physical object.[3] The Palace also functions as the Emperor's personal spacecraft.

First described in 1965's Dune, the massive Imperial throne is "carved from a single piece of Hagal quartz — blue-green translucency shot through with streaks of yellow fire."[7]

Imperial Prison[edit]

During the events of Dune: House Corrino, Tyros Reffa, the illegitimate son of Padishah Emperor Elrood IX and Lady Shando Vernius, is held in the Imperial Prison after his assassination attempt on his half-brother, Emperor Shaddam IV.[6] At this time, the Warden of the Imperial Prison on Kaitain is a woman named Nanee McGarr, who had held the position for over 20 years.[6] Ambassador Cammar Pilru of Ix knows of her secret past as a smuggler and escapee from an Ixian prison tunnel, and uses this information to arrange for a secret meeting with Tyros Reffa in his cell.[6]

Pilru notes that the prison is surrounded by a labyrinth of canals and waterways lined with thorn hedges.[6] The penal facility is a large structure of gray stone; he enters in a flat-bottom boat though Traitor’s Gate, double doors of iron lattice flanked by the heads of executed prisoners on poles:

Their skulls, still draped in bloody flesh and then coated with a preservation polymer, had been hollowed out and fitted with glowglobes, so that an unsettling ghoulish light shone through the eye sockets, mouths, and nostrils.[6]

According to the boatman, "A lot of famous prisoners enter this way, but not many come back out."[6] It is also mentioned that the infamous Imperial Torture Chambers are based within the Prison; Pilru notes the screams he can hear.[6]

Ishaq Hall of Magnificent Documents[edit]

Designed and built by Padishah Emperor Ishaq XV, the Ishaq Hall of Magnificent Documents is a repository for, among other things, the handwritten personal diaries of past Corrino Emperors.[6] In its time the museum was, according to Dune: House Corrino, "one of the most spectacular constructions in the burgeoning Imperial city."[6] However, by the time of Shaddam IV it has been "swallowed by ever more impressive architecture" and "lost among the extravagant monuments on Kaitain."[6]

Shaddam is shown some of the Hall's contents in Dune: House Corrino:

During the tour, the Hall Curator showed him constitutional documents, oaths of conditional independence and declarations of planetary loyalty dating back to when the growing Imperium was consolidating itself. A carefully preserved parchment of the first Guild Charter, supposedly one of only eleven extant copies in the universe, sat bathed under filter lights and a protective shield. One display case held a copy of the Azhar Book, the Bene Gesserit volume of secrets written in a long-forgotten language.[6]

Landsraad Hall of Oratory[edit]

The lavish meeting place of the Landsraad, the council of noble Houses, is described in Dune: House Atreides:

...the massive Landsraad Hall of Oratory stood high and imposing, the tallest peak in a mountain range of legislative edifices and government offices surrounding an ellipsoidal commons. The Hall had been erected by contributions from all the Houses, each noble family trying to outdo the others in grandeur. Representatives from CHOAM had helped to procure resources from across the Imperium, and only by special order of a former Emperor — Hassik Corrino III — had the exorbitant Landsraad construction plans been curtailed, so as not to overshadow the Imperial Palace itself.[4]


  1. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). "Terminology of the Imperium:SALUSA SECUNDUS". Dune.
  2. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature: Kaitain Labyrinthus". Planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov. October 8, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (1999–2001). Prelude to Dune.
  4. ^ a b c d e Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (1999). Dune: House Atreides.
  5. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2000). Dune: House Harkonnen.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2001). Dune: House Corrino.
  7. ^ Herbert, Frank (1965). Dune.