The act of Kanly is the execution of a feud or fight under the rules of the Great Convention.

The Definitive Glossary for Dune

Throughout the Dune universe, the act of Kanly got invoked by the Great Houses against each other. With specific rules, one had to fight to the death or submission to the other; this created enmity between the Houses of the Landsraad.

Kanly in Dune

Kanly Definition

Kanly is a formal duel against a person with rules following the Great Convention. Serving as a form of dispute settling, Kanly ensured that aggrieved parties could fight each other till one submitted or died.

Typically, Kanly got passed down from father to son. Houses could invoke Kanly on each other for decades; this led to a generational conflict between Houses like the House of Atreides and Harkonnen.

The Act of Kanly in the Old Empire

During the days of the Imperium, the Great Convention made it possible so that two parties could settle a feud without anyone else getting hurt. The introduction of Kanly became widespread among both the rich and poor. Kanly had rules that ensured there were no unfair actions during each fight. The first rule was a strict policy that prevented using nuclear weapons of any kind. Kanly got passed down from generation to generation until either peace got made or one of the parties got killed.

Throughout the Landsraad, Kanly had been invoked severally by Great Houses against each other. Because of the struggle to gain dominance in the Imperium, the Great Houses were at loggerheads with each other. Kanly served as a way to ensure that each aggrieved house could fight each other without having to cause harm and death to innocent people. Kanly had been invoked severally between the House of Atreides and the House of Harkonnen. With a feud lasting for generations, both Houses were always at loggerheads with each other.

In ‘Dune,’ Feyd-Rautha invoked Kanly between himself and Paul, and though Paul received a tip about how to defeat Feyd using Bene Gesserit techniques, he decided to fight Feyd the right way. Though Paul fought fairly, Feyd-Rautha concealed a poison under his garment in a way that got unnoticeable; this was against the Great Convention. However, Paul killed Feyd. Feyd’s death, coupled with the Harkonnen soldiers’ defeat, led to the silencing of the House of Harkonnen.

Feud Rituals Similar to Kanly

Another formal feud starkly resembling the act of Kanly is the Amtal Rule. The Amtal Rule was a tradition practiced on many primitive planets like Arrakis. The phrase Amtal gets translated as “tested to destruction.” When Paul and his mother Jessica got imbibed into the Sietch Tabr, Jamis invoked the Amtal rule against Paul; this meant a fight to either death or submission. Though persuaded by Jessica into letting go, Jamis remained adamant about fighting Paul even without knowing how well-trained Paul was. Soon after the duel between him and Paul began, Jamis got overwhelmed and died by Paul’s hands. Paul killing Jamis made him acquire the Fremen name, Usul.

Glossary Terms Associated with Kanly

Here is a list of words associated with Kanly:

  1. The Great Convention: The Great Convention is a treaty between the Great Houses, the Spacing Guild, and the Imperium created after the destruction of the Thinking Machines. The Convention prohibited the use of atomic weapons against humans.
  2. Amtal Rule: The Amtal rule is a tradition resembling the act of Kanly. However, the Amtal Rule was without the laws of Kanly and got practiced by only primitive civilizations.


What does Kanly mean in Dune?

Kanly is a formal feud that occurs between two aggrieved parties. Kanly got invented to ensure no unwanted death of innocent lives when two parties fought against each other. Kanly had many rules that got upheld by the Great Convention, an agreement signed by the members of the Landsraad prohibiting the use of atomic weapons.

Who challenges Paul Atreides to Kanly in Dune?

Paul got challenged to Kanly by Feyd-Rautha, the Na-boron of House Harkonnen. After Paul had led an assault on the Harkonnens on Arrakeen, he got challenged to a duel by Feyd. Though Paul could render Feyd immobile while fighting, he fought fair. However, Feyd hid a tiny poisonous weapon in his cloak; this was against the rules of Kanly. Paul ended up winning by killing Feyd.

Did all Kanly duels end in death of loser Dune?

No, not all Kanly ended in the death of the losing party. The rules of Kanly got made so that any party that submitted in defeat lived. However, due to pride, most Kanly duels were fought to the death as neither party refused to give in. Kanly was also passed from one generation to another as children fought duels from conflicts their ancestors had.

Why was Paul hateful towards the Harkonnens Dune?

Paul’s resentment towards the Harkonnens was a feud that began long before he was born. Due to the enmity between both houses, House Harkonnen and House Atreides were enemies. After the House of Atreides’s destruction by the Sardaukar, Paul lost everything and everyone he loved; this increased his hatred towards the Harkonnens. After becoming the Kwisatz Haderach, Paul decided to destroy the House of Harkonnen and the House of Corrino. He succeeds and sees the destruction of his enemies.

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