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|First appearance||Dune (1965)|
|Last appearance||Paul of Dune (2008) |
|Created by||Frank Herbert|
Master of Assassins
Thufir Hawat is a fictional character in 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. The character is brought back as a ghola in the Herbert/Anderson sequels which conclude the original series, Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007).
In Dune, Hawat is the Mentat Master of Assassins who has served House Atreides for multiple generations, until Duke Leto Atreides is killed by a Harkonnen attack. Hawat himself is captured by the Imperial Sardaukar during the attack and acquired by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen through subterfuge.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, recognizing good talent and seeking a replacement for his late Mentat Piter De Vries, wishes to utilize Hawat's immense abilities. Calculating that Hawat would direct his efforts for revenge towards the Imperium instead of House Harkonnen, the Baron manages to enlist Hawat into his service while secretly making him chemically dependent on an antidote to a permanent latent poison developed by Piter De Vries and administered to Hawat in his food after his capture. The Baron, himself a dangerous intellect, also keeps Hawat's abilities in check by feeding him false data, specifically, permitting him to believe that Lady Jessica had been the traitor responsible for the Atreides' destruction.
In spite of these immense obstacles, Hawat very nearly brings down the Harkonnens from within. The Baron's nephew and heir Feyd-Rautha attempts to fight a drugged slave to impress the onlooking Count Fenring and his wife Lady Margot. Hawat arranges for Feyd to confront a trained Atreides soldier with his capacities fully intact, his plan being to discredit the Harkonnen slavemaster and replace him with someone loyal to Feyd. This later leads to an assassination attempt on the Baron, as Hawat encourages the ambitions of Feyd against his uncle. One of The Baron's male slave lovers is implanted with a poison needle; the Baron, warned by Hawat, eludes the attempt on his life and forces Feyd to personally kill every female slave in the pleasure houses.
At the conclusion of the novel, Hawat is coerced to assassinate Leto's son, Paul Atreides. Paul suspects this, but out of gratitude to Hawat's exceptional loyalty, Paul gives him the opportunity to take anything Hawat wishes of him — even his life. Hawat chooses death rather than to betray Paul.
Hunters of Dune
In the Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Hunters of Dune (2006), the aging Scytale reveals the existence of the capsule to his Bene Gesserit captors out of desperation, and offers to assist in the production of gholas in exchange for a ghola of his own body. The venerable warrior-Mentat Hawat is one of the resurrected. He has a deep admiration for Miles Teg, a warrior-Mentat himself.
Portrayal in other media
Hawat was portrayed by Freddie Jones in the 1984 film and by Jan Vlasák in the Dune miniseries. The 1984 film shows Thufir as having been captured by Harkonnens and forced to milk a cat daily for the antidote to a poison administered to him. Thufir is later seen in the crowd scene at the end of the movie, but is then missing from a later camera shot of the same group. Thufir's death scene had been shot but was eventually cut from the movie. This lost scene was not restored in the four-hour "Alan Smithee" version of the 1984 movie, edited and expanded for syndicated TV release, but it can be seen as one of the deleted scenes extras on the 2006 special edition DVD release. In the miniseries, however, Hawat is absent after the Harkonnen attack on Arrakeen, presumably having been killed.