Along with Thufir Hawat and Duncan Idaho, Halleck was one of Paul's principal teachers during his early years on Caladan. He was a ruthless, yet noble and romantic warrior of enormous talent. Described as "an ugly lump of a man", he was regarded the most loyal of friends to those he loved, and to those he hated there were few enemies more terrifying. A traditionalist and purist at heart, Gurney Halleck did not indulge in melange addiction or other methods to prolong human life.
Halleck was a talented minstrel who was skilled in the use of the baliset. He would often play music on this instrument to entertain his guests, or to fill the dining halls of House Atreides with music when he was in their service. Moreover, Halleck was also fond of sprouting verse from the Orange Catholic Bible, and would frequently find an appropriate verse for almost every situation. Indeed, at times his quotations were so appropriate they were almost prophetic.
Halleck's fighting abilities were second to none. In a fight against Gurney with sword or knife, few opponents lasted more than a few moments, including even battle-hardened Sardaukar. Gurney was also skilled at various other weapons, and astonished Fremen later saw that he could adapt to his environment, as witnessed by the fact that he taught himself to ride sandworms as they did.
However, it was the way in which Halleck managed to fuse the minstrel and warrior that made him so unique. According to Duncan Idaho, "He could be killing you while he was singing and never miss a note."
Life with House AtreidesEdit
Gurney found service with House Atreides on Caladan during the rule of Leto I. He eventually became Warmaster and a loyal friend to Duke Leto Atreides and his concubine, the Lady Jessica. When Leto and Jessica had a son, Paul, Halleck later served as one of Paul's instructors in war and hand-to-hand combat.
Lady Jessica, who knew him so well, recalled in him an epigram written on the wall of a Muslim palace in the country of Spain, which once existed on Old Earth. She called him Gurney The Valorous from that Islamic ode:
- "There are four pillars which support the world...the wisdom of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave."
Life on ArrakisEdit
Three years later, like the entire Atreides staff, Halleck accompanied the Duke and his family to Arrakis. Unlike other Atreides lieutenants such as Duncan Idaho, Halleck survived the fall of the Atreides on Arrakis. In the years after the attack, he fell in with spice smugglers, eventually becoming a powerful figure, both in their ranks and on Arrakis in general. Approximately two years after the fall of the Duke Leto, Halleck and his smugglers fell for a Fremen trap - a fake hoard of spice - and were almost killed before Paul, who had now become the Fremen leader Muad'Dib, recognized him among the smugglers. Upon returning to Sietch Tabr with Paul, Halleck almost killed the Lady Jessica, because he was under the mistaken impression (as others were) that she was responsible for the betrayal of House Atreides to House Harkonnen.
After the deposing of Shaddam IV and Paul's ascension to the Golden Lion Throne, Paul made Gurney an Earl of Caladan. The title of Earl, during various periods of history, was equivalent to Duke. At other times, it was equivalent to Count. In some countries (such as Scandinavian term "jarl"), it was the equivalent of sovereign prince. Thus, it is possible that Paul was, in effect, giving his only surviving non blood related Atreides friend the same noble rank that he and his father once held, albeit by a different name.
Friend of JessicaEdit
It was said that during this time, when Paul was Emperor, Gurney Halleck became the lover of the Lady Jessica, though the two of them kept their relationship out of the public eye to avoid scandal. It would appear that Halleck spent the remainder of his days assisting the Lady Jessica in ruling Caladan.
Halleck still retained the title of Baron of Giedi Prime, and as well as outlawing slavery on the world, he ecologically improved the entire infrastructure on the planet, with the help of the Caladani people. Included in this massive project was the reseeding of natural flora and fauna, as well as the renaming of places and cities.
Behind the Scenes Edit
In David Lynch's film version of Dune, he was portrayed by Patrick Stewart, while in the Sci Fi Channel mini-series, the role was played by P. H. Moriarty.
Gurney Halleck has more recently been explored in the Dune prequels written by Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert's son, and Kevin J. Anderson. It is in their prequels that Gurney Halleck's early life, in which he originated on the House Harkonnen world of Giedi Prime, is detailed.