Sardaukar

Sardaukar

The Sardaukar are a jingoistic, fictional army from Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe, primarily featured in the science fiction novel "Dune", as well as Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's "Prelude to Dune" prequel trilogy.

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Origins

The Sardaukar (or Imperial Sardaukar) were soldier-fanatics loyal to the Padishah Emperors of House Corrino, the Great House which ruled over the Known Universe (the Imperium) before and during the first book in the "Dune" series. Until Paul Atreides organized the Fremen on Arrakis, the Sardaukar were the foremost soldiers in the universe and were feared by all. The key to House Corrino's hold on the Imperial throne, the Sardaukar troops were sometimes referred to as "House Sardaukar". While this suggested that the emperor's elite troops constituted a House in their own right, the term in fact meant "the Sardaukar "of" the House". Still, the novel indicated that ranking Sardaukar did enjoy extremely high social status (including stewardship over planets for Bursegs) and great wealth, at least until the Corrino dynasty was overthrown.

Sardaukar were trained from infancy on the planet Salusa Secundus, House Corrino's original homeworld. Salusa Secundus had been the capital world of the Imperium since the time of the Butlerian Jihad. It was once lush, but it was devastated by atomics. Salusa Secundus was subsequently known for centuries as the "Prison Planet" of Corrino Emperors. Secretly, Salusa was also home to the vicious training grounds of the Sardaukar, who fought voraciously in a mock-up of natural selection to ensure that only the best entered formal Imperial service. Like the Fremen on the planet Dune, the intense difficulties of simply surviving on Salusa Secundus left only the toughest alive, given planetary environmental conditions so harsh that they killed 6 out of 13 individuals (a rate of 46%) before the age of eleven. Sardaukar training emphasized ruthlessness, near-suicidal disregard for personal safety, and the use of cruelty as a weapon from infancy, in order to weaken opponents with terror. For example, in "Dune", a Sardaukar Colonel was dispatched to examine the body of Paul Atreides' murdered father. The Colonel sneered at Dr. Yueh's mere mention of the word "pity".

Sardaukar were intensely conditioned for loyalty to the Emperor. The Sardaukar were estimated as worth ten times their number in Landsraad house levies. The Sardaukar were normally organized into legions, each composed of ten brigades of roughly 30,000 soldiers each, and until the debacle at Arrakis, it was said that one legion alone could pacify any planet foolish enough to incur the Emperor's wrath. At their prime, their sword mastery and unarmed combat ability was said to equal that of a Ginaz 10th-Level Swordmaster, while their infighting skills approached those of a Bene Gesserit adept.

By the time of the novel "Dune", the Sardaukar had become far more complacent. While still formidable, their strength had been sapped by overconfidence, and the sustaining mystique of their warrior religion had been deeply undermined by cynicism. Appropriations for training had gone down as the number of Bursegs (generals) increased.

"Dune"

Early in the novel "Dune", Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV sent House Atreides to Arrakis to replace House Harkonnen, under the pretense that the Harkonnens had mismanaged production of the spice melange. Shortly after the arrival of House Atreides, an attack by Harkonnen troops (and Sardaukar in Harkonnen colors) killed Duke Leto and drove his consort, Lady Jessica, and their son, Paul, into hiding. They sought refuge with the Fremen, thus fulfilling a Fremen prophecy that a "Voice from the Outer Worlds" would come to Arrakis and lead the Fremen to freedom. The ducal heir Paul became the prophesied messiah of the Fremen; and, under his leadership, the Fremen later defeated the Sardaukar on Arrakis.

Using the Bene Gesserit compulsion technique called The Voice, Paul Atreides himself managed to compel a Sardaukar officer to humiliate himself by surrendering. However, the prisoner's Sardaukar stoicism was so great that he would not even give his name, Captain Aramsham, until Paul used The Voice again. Captain Aramsham, supposed to be the epitome of a loyal soldier, finally submits to his sworn enemy, symbolically sealing the doom of the old Corrino order. When, following the Battle of Arrakeen, Paul tells a captured Sardaukar officer (of the "blond, chisel-featured caste" said to be "synonymous with rank" in the Sardaukar) to bring a message to the Emperor, he at first stoically ignores him; only Paul's warning that "your Emperor may die" caused the captured officer to agree to take the message.

The defeat of the Sardaukar and Paul's stranglehold on the supply of all-important melange allowed him to depose Shaddam IV, marry his eldest daughter, Princess Irulan, and ascend the throne. Paul indicated that he would order the restoration of the ecology of Salusa Secundus as part of his plan to exile Shaddam and his family to the restored world.

"Children of Dune"

During the events of "Children of Dune", Princess Wensicia, younger daughter of Shaddam IV, initiated a plot for her family and the Sardaukar to return to power. By this time, the Sardaukar were trained to the same standard as the Fremen, although their numbers were restricted to a single legion. However, Wensicia's efforts failed, and her son Farad'n voluntarily surrendered the army to the new Emperor, Leto Atreides II.

"God Emperor of Dune"

The text of "God Emperor of Dune" notes that during the 3,500-year reign of Leto II after the events of "Children of Dune", one of Leto II's many gholas (clones) of Duncan Idaho led the remnants of the Sardaukar in an unsuccessful revolt. This revolt, the Sardaukar's original defeat on Arrakis, and the general decline of the Sardaukar organization all finally resulted in Leto II's abolishment of the Sardaukar corps. Their replacements were the all-female Fish Speakers, Leto II's personal army, who had Sardaukar blood in their veins. Leto believed that male-dominated military organizations were essentially predatory and would turn on the civilian population in the absence of an external enemy.

"The Dune Encyclopedia"

"The Dune Encyclopedia", written by Dr. Willis E. McNelly to accompany the "Dune" books, although authorized by Frank Herbert, was somewhat contradicted by him in subsequent works and declared non-canon by his estate. The "Encyclopedia"'s two articles on the Sardaukar note that the Sardaukar battle flag is plain black, and that those who became Sardaukar were once members of a warlike ethnic group on Salusa Secundus called the Sardau. It also refers to the revolt against the God Emperor as a Fremen revolt also, implying that Fremen and Sardaukar malcontents made a common cause.

Another article on an "Aramsham, Otto" mentions that after the fall of the Corrino dynasty, he wrote books hearkening back to the glory days of the Sardaukar. One was called "The Sardaukar Strike!" and another was called "Sardaukar Victorious"; it goes on to say that he ended his life by suicide, the overall sense being that he was unable to adjust to new realities.

"Dune" games

The Sardaukar appeared in the Dune RTS games, though their roles in "Dune II" and "Dune 2000" were not essential to the plot. They were only special units trained out of Emperor's Imperial Barracks (or the Harkonnen Barracks in multiplayer). In ', after the death of Emperor Corrino, the Sardaukar were compelled to observe the three Houses of the Landsraad during the War of Assassins, allying only with the House that proved the strongest. During the Atreides campaign, a Tleilaxu Face Dancer assassin attempted to poison two generals by masquerading as a maid, but the plot failed. In the Ordos campaign, the Ordos attempt to manipulate the Sardaukar into allying with House Ordos by presenting them a ghola (genetic duplicate) of the dead Emperor Corrino in order for them to return to the status quo prior to the Emperor's death claiming that the chaos caused by the civil war is non-profitable, and that "restoring" the Emperor to his rightful place will "bring order out of chaos". The Sardaukar, although receptive to the idea, tell the Ordos that they will only decide to do so IF"' House Ordos emerges victorious in the War of Assassins.

In the game, they were noted as being the toughest infantry units throughout, armed with a combination of miniguns, lasers and daggers. This rendered them highly effective at opposing both armoured and infantry units.

In comparison, the Fremen (in the game) were superb light infantry, using snipers and Fedaykin Death Commandos (and crysknives). They possessed excellent stealth camouflage and tracking, while not sharing the resilience and firepower of the average Sardaukar infantry.

References


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