The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach

The Carpet Makers (Orson Scott Card Present's) Translated from the German by Doryl Jensen

Five words from the blurb: knots, hair, Emperor, lifetime, belief

The Carpet Makers is a science fiction story that contains enough elements to entertain everyone, including those who don’t normally enjoy the genre. It begins on a planet where the people have spent thousands of years weaving intricate carpets for the Emperor’s Palace. Each carpet takes a lifetime to create and is made from the hair of the artist’s wives and daughters. The people live happily until one day strangers arrive, claiming that the Emperor has died and there is no longer a need for their carpets.

I loved the first chapter of this book! The introduction (written by Orson Scott Card of Ender’s Game fame) explains that it originally began as a short story and was only expanded into a novel at a later date. I think this shows. The first chapter was the best part of the book by a long way. The rest felt disjointed, like a series of short stories that often had little relevance to the book as a whole. Only one other chapter (the one with the Emperor) really impressed me:

“You mortals are fortunate,” the Emperor said slowly. “You don’t live long enough to discover that everything is vain and that life has no purpose. Why do you think I’ve done all this…have gone to all this effort?

The text was easy to read and contained many glimpses of brilliance, but I was often confused about what was happening. New characters were continually introduced and it was only towards the end of the book that everything came together and I understood the purpose of the story.

But, despite my reservations, I was impressed by many elements of this book. The concept was original and the moral messages were thought provoking. I particularly liked the discussion about society’s need to believe in something greater than itself. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m very glad I read it and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different.




8 replies on “The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach”

Sounds intriguing. I’ve recently become curious about sci-fi books about planetary civilizations that are not primarily about interstellar war. I’m not sure there’s a lot of them out there, but I probably haven’t been looking hard enough yet.

Thanks for the review!

Christy, I think you’ll enjoy the social elements of this book. It is very different from anything else I’ve read and raises some interesting ideas about human behavior – it is perfect for your new area of interest.

I read this novel several years ago and still think about it occasionally. It’s not something I would re-read and I wasn’t excited enough to recommend it to lots of people, but I found it quite unusual and thought-provoking. I’m glad I read it.

threegoodrats, It is interesting to hear that you remember this after several years. I can see why certain elements have staying power and imagine I’ll remember it a long time from now too. Such a shame it didn’t maintain that brilliance throughout as it could easily have been one of those books everyone falls in love with and then raves about.

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