context it is shortly after the Harkonnen/Imperial attack on Arrakis. Paul
and Jessica are on the run in the desert, and Hawat is bartering with a
Fremen for help [mercy] for his remaining men.
Dune, Ch 24 wrote: This had been the worst night of Hawat's life. He had been at
Tsimpo, a garrison village, buffer outpost for the former capital city,
Carthag, when the reports of attack began arriving. At first, he'd
thought: It's a raid. The Harkonnens are testing.
But report followed report--faster and faster.
Two legions landed at Carthag.
Five legions--fifty brigades! --attacking the Duke's main base
A legion at Arsunt.
Two battle groups at Splintered Rock.
Then the reports became more detailed--there were Imperial
Sardaukar among the attackers--possibly two legions of them. And it
became clear that the invaders knew precisely which weight of arms to
send where. Precisely! Superb Intelligence.
Hawat's shocked fury had mounted until it threatened the smooth
functioning of his Mentat capabilities. The size of the attack struck
his mind like a physical blow.
Now, hiding beneath a bit of desert rock, he nodded to himself,
pulled his torn and slashed tunic around him as though warding off the
The size of the attack.
He had always expected their enemy to hire an occasional lighter
from the Guild for probing raids. That was an ordinary enough gambit in
this kind of House-to-House warfare. Lighters landed and took off on
Arrakis regularly to transport the spice for House Atreides. Hawat had
taken precautions against random raids by false spice lighters. For a
full attack they'd expected no more than ten brigades.
But there were more than two thousand ships down on Arrakis at
the last count--not just lighters, but frigates, scouts, monitors,
crushers, troop-carriers, dump-boxes . . .
More than a hundred brigades--ten legions!
The entire spice income of Arrakis for fifty years might just
cover the cost of such a venture.
I underestimated what the Baron was willing to spend in
attacking us, Hawat thought. I failed my Duke.
In the grand scheme of things this isn't a major cornerstone to the text,
but...I would think a mentat would still have considered the possibility of
the scale of the attack. Even though there probably wasn't much the
Atreides could have done about it, a mentat should have considered the
possibility and made what contingency plans they could.
Is Hawat off the hook? Was the magnitude of the invasion so huge that
Hawat was correct in dismissing such a possibility?
On a secondary note, was there any historical evidence of the Imperium
moving against another House? Hawat implies that the Landsraad would be
spittin' mad if they got wind of Sardukar involvement, so obviously this
was risky for Shadam. But was this precedent setting?