Stone Burner

The stone burner is a weapon that uses atomic fuel to create intense explosions and radiation harmful to all living things.

The Definitive Glossary for Dune

A stone burner had a feature that allowed its destructive power to get regulated; this made it a suitable weapon for different case scenarios. Though the Great Convention prohibited humans from using atomic weapons, Paul Atreides’s rise to power made the Landsraad weaker, thus, leading to the violation of the Great Convention.

Stone Burner in Dune Explained

Stone Burner – Definition

A stone burner is a device that produces an explosion that could get regulated. The stone burner got powered by atomic fuel to create an explosion that could burn into the core of a planet. Apart from explosive power, the stone burner emitted J-rays that damaged eye tissue and rendered anyone close to the blast blind.

The Relevance of the Stone Burner in the Dune Universe

The first mention of a stone burner came in ‘Dune Messiah.’ After plotting to make Paul Atreides abdicate the throne, Scytale plants a stone burner in Otheym’s house. After Paul visits Otheym and gets word of enemies trying to resist his power, the stone burner gets detonated. Paul escapes death, but the intense J-rays emitted by the stone burner make him blind.

With Paul blind, Scytale begins his final plan of forcing him out of the emperor’s throne. He kills Linchna, Otheym’s daughter, and uses her face to threaten Paul into agreeing that Chani should get turned into a Ghola. After Paul refuses, Scytale holds Paul’s infant children at knifepoint. However, Paul sees through his son’s eyes and successfully kills Scytale with a Crysknife. With his prescience gone, Paul walks into the desert.

Application and Description of the Stone Burner

The stone burner had two functions, the first was to create destructive explosions, and the second was to emit J-rays. J-rays are special radioactive rays that target only the eye tissues; this causes blindness to any living creature within proximity to the explosion. 

The second use of the stone burner was to create a destructive explosion. Because of how it got designed, the stone burner could get regulated; this made it have a variable range of destructive power from small to massive. At the peak of its power, the device could burn from the surface of a planet to its core. The mechanism enabling the stone burner to perform such a type of destruction was its manner of explosion. The stone burner exploded vertically from up to down. Depending on the intensity at which it got set, the stone burner could perforate into the core of a planet, destroying it.

Legalities surrounding the Stone Burner

Though it was dangerous, the stone burner did not get classified as an atomic bomb. The explosive from the weapon used nuclear fuel but could not release nuclear explosions; this led to many debates among the members of the Imperium. During the days of the Imperium, only the Great Houses could own a nuclear weapon. However, almost anyone with the resource could own a stone burner but could not own an atomic weapon or fuel of any kind; this was made possible by the Great Convention that forbade people from using nuclear weapons directly on humans.

After Paul rose to become the emperor, the waning of the Landsraad’s power led to the violation of the Great Convention; this led to the detonation of the stone burner that rendered Paul and his Fedaykin blind.

Here is a quote from ‘Dune Messiah’ showing how massive the stone burner’s explosions get:

Paul remained silent, thinking what this weapon implied. Too much fuel in it and it’d cut its way into the planet’s core. Dune’s molten level lay deep but the more dangerous for that. Such pressures released and out of control might split a planet, scattering lifeless bits and pieces through space.

Glossary Terms Associated with The Stone Burner

Here is a list of words associated with the stone burner:

  1. J-rays: J-rays are rays emitted from stone burners. They cause blindness by destroying eye tissue.
  2. Imperium: The Imperium is the government of the human empire.


What is the stone burner in Dune?

The stone burner was a destructive weapon that produced an explosion that could destroy a planet. Apart from the explosive force created from the bomb, a stone burner also emitted J-rays, a form of radiation that affected eye tissue, causing anyone close to the blast to become blind. The Stone burner used atomic fuel to power its explosion. Though it got powered by nuclear energy, the stone burner itself did not get classified as a nuclear bomb.

Who used the stone burner in Dune?

After the conspiracy to dethrone Paul as emperor began, Scytale using the help of Korba, smuggled a stone burner into Dune. The stone burner gets detonated, and though it does not kill Paul or his Fedaykins, it blinds them. Later on, Scytale got killed after threatening Paul’s children. Korba also got killed by Stilgar on orders from Alia Atreides.

Why was the stone burner considered illegal?

The stone burner was illegal because it got fueled by nuclear power. After the Butlerian Jihad, the Great Convention got formed, and it prohibited the use of atomic weapons on humans. Since the stone burner itself was not atomic, it did not violate the Great Convention’s laws. However, the fuel used to power the stone burner was atomic; this made it illegal as the law forbade nuclear devices.

What happened to Paul after the Stone Burner got detonated?

After the Stone Burner got detonated, Paul became blind from the J-rays the device emitted. Though blind, Paul still saw using his prescience as the Kwisatz Haderach. However, after killing Scytale, Paul discovered he had lost his powers; this made him walk into the desert as per the Fremen tradition.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap