Piter De Vries
|Piter De Vries|
|First appearance||Dune (1965)|
|Last appearance||Dune: House Corrino (2001)|
|Created by||Frank Herbert|
Piter De Vries is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is primarily featured in the 1965 novel Dune, but also appears in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
In the service of the ruthless Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, De Vries is a Mentat — a human specially trained to perform mental functions rivaling computers, which are forbidden universe-wide. In addition, De Vries has been "twisted" (made into an amoral sadist) by his Tleilaxu creators.
De Vries is so loyal to Harkonnen that he continues to serve the Baron with great enthusiasm even though his Mentat abilities and great intelligence confirm his suspicions that his master plans to eventually kill him. As he says in Dune:
But you see, Baron, I know as a Mentat when you will send the executioner. You will hold back just so long as I am useful. To move sooner would be wasteful and I'm yet of much use.
In Dune, it is established that De Vries had pioneered a type of toxin called "residual poison" which remains in the body for years and requires an antidote to be administered regularly. One such fatal poison is secretly administered by the Harkonnens to Thufir Hawat, the Mentat of House Atreides, in order to keep Hawat's allegiance as the only provider of the antidote (in the 1984 movie version, it is shown that Hawat has to milk a gruesome captive cat for the antidote every day).
De Vries is generally regarded as architect of the plan to destroy House Atreides, long-time enemy of the Harkonnens, while restoring the Baron's stewardship over the planet Arrakis. It was Piter's techniques and torture that broke Wellington Yueh, the Atreides Suk doctor's Imperial Conditioning against taking a life. Yueh eventually betrays House Atreides. De Vries's reward was to have been Lady Jessica, the concubine of Duke Leto Atreides, as his slave, but he chooses instead to become governor of Arrakis. However, Yueh has given the captured Leto a false tooth containing a poisonous gas. When Leto crushes the tooth, the intended victim Baron Harkonnen escapes, but Leto and De Vries die.
Prelude to Dune
In Dune: House Corrino (published in 2001 and the third novel in the Prelude to Dune prequel series by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson), Piter De Vries discovers the Harkonnen heritage of Lady Jessica and her newborn son Paul, and attempts to kidnap and ransom the infant. The plot is thwarted and the secret preserved — the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam kills the Mentat and arranges for his corpse to be shipped home to Giedi Prime. An enraged Baron is left with no choice but to order a duplicate from the Bene Tleilax: the Mentat De Vries featured in Herbert's original novel Dune.