Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Carpet Makers” as Want to Read:
The Carpet Makers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Carpet Makers

(Carpet Makers Universe)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,403 ratings  ·  527 reviews
Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.

But one day the empi
Paperback, 297 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Tor Books (first published May 5th 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Carpet Makers, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alessandro Petrini One of best science fiction books of the last 20 years

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,403 ratings  ·  527 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Carpet Makers
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-shit
even better the second (or possibly the third) time around.

the novel is a series of interlinked short stories, more or less. this time around reading it i had the feeling it was a tapestry, altho possibly not made of women's hair.

that's what the carpet makers make: carpets out of women's hair. their wives' and subwives' hair. fear not, no women are harmed in the making of this carpet. well, not just for their hair, anyway.

the carpet makers work their art as honored members of their society. a ca
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Carpet Makers (TCM) has both good quality: a good concept and a very good execution. The concept is epic and deep, the writing execution is resembling the carpet weaving in the story itself.

(view spoiler)
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, sci-fi, arc
Briefly - I'm no expert but I've not read science fiction quite like that before. Well written and it did entertain me.

In full
There is a planet where fathers spend their lives making hair carpets. They only use the finest hair from their wives and daughters. Towards the end of their lives the carpets are sold and are said to enhance the glory of the Emperor's palace. The money effectively keeps their families going until the son completes his hair carpet. However there are stories of strange me
Overall I definitely enjoyed this book although there were some aspects of it that I didn't like so much. The chapters jump around a bit, there wasn't much in the way of female characters who weren't defined by sex, and the reveal at the end came in a package I didn't find all that believable.

That said, the story that gets revealed was completely unexpected and goes to show what ultimate power can do. It isn't a pretty sight. I can't discuss the best aspect of the story without giving away the e
Shane Curran
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Carpet Makers is a well thought out, expansive sci-fi story that despite it's scope manages to deliver a simple morality tale about human nature during times of change.

It took me a few chapters to get used to the author's style. Each chapter seemed to start a new narrative, following a different group of characters, with few repeat appearances from previous characters or story-lines. The book could almost be read as a collection of short stories. A few chapters in I started to see the relati
Jerry Jose
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a set of intergalactic midiveal stories that offer scenarios without any judgements or preconceived notions. And in that process, it exposes many things we are too stubborn to let go, even with the aid of logic. Still, this can be either a stimulating read or a pointless discourse, depending on the cultural view point one approach it from. I was in the first strand, finding criticisms and philosophies in stories melancholy. And exercised myself in the process of making a science-y c ...more
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
From the beginning I thought this had to do with (view spoiler) and it does, but by the end I was thinking the story addressed (view spoiler) and so much more.

The first chapter was originally written as a short story, and it’s a good short story. The entire story is interesting, and I love how it fold
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has to get five stars from me because it's the first book in quite a while that I would've stayed up late into the night to finish, even if I was exhausted. From the first chapter, it weaves a compelling mystery and builds a whole new world. The writing itself is beautiful; the translation is excellent, with no sense of a gap between me and the text, which I often do get with translations. I think I'm going to have to parcel it up and send it on a round of my friends to read.

I'm not ac
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, sf
The Carpet Makers is constructed like a carpet, weaving narratives together to tell a story that is at once immense in scope and driven by attention to the tiniest detail. Each chapter is a short story focusing on a different character. No perspective is repeated, but themes and characters recur, as seen through the eyes of others. Often we encounter a character several chapters before his or her significance becomes apparent. The end result is a book that is satisfying as a whole, with several ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kim by: Theobroma
At first this seems like a simple, but unusual, story of a planet whose whole purpose is the creation of carpets made of hair to sell for their Emperor-God. The carpets are made from the hair of the carpet makers wives and daughters and will take their entire life to create just one. As the story unfolds you gradually learn all is not as it seems and something quite sinister is happening.

This was a mesmerising tale which kept me glued to the pages so much I read the whole book in a couple hours
Brian Clegg
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Penguin has decided to bring back some 'science fiction classics', in a handsome new series (if rather oddly formatted - they're unusually small books, perhaps to make them fatter, as we're less used to the sensible length books were in the past). While this title is stretching that 'classics' label a tad (the book only dates back to 1995, and this translation is from 2005), The Hair-Carpet Weavers was certainly a great addition to the collection.

Andreas Eschbach builds a fascinatingly weird set
Paul Dembina
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read much genre SF these days but this is a good one. A satisfyingly involved plot that resolves nicely. I liked the way that each chapter focuses on a separate character and gradually filling in details ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, speculative

While not fully perfect, the book is a gem that combines Le Guinish calm, mythical storytelling as in Earthsea, with a space opera plot that nods at Herbert and has the outrageous imagination of Iain M. Banks. I’d say this would appeal to both science fiction and fantasy readers, and the beginning of the book also reminded me a bit of Piranesi, another gem that was still fresh in my mind.

It also features a formal narrative approach I have rarely encountered, and definitely not as honed to p
Nicola Alter
The idea of carpet makers weaving carpets out of their wives’ and daughters’ hair might seem an odd premise for a science fiction novel, but it turns out to be the foundation for an incredibly fascinating story, and one which heads in intriguing and thought-provoking directions that I personally didn’t see coming.

The brilliant thing about this book is the thread of mystery and secrecy that runs throughout the whole thing. You are constantly asking yourself one key question (as are the character
This is the sort of science fiction that's perfect to hand to someone who says they never read science fiction -- sure, it's set in the future, and there are space ships, and we visit a couple of different planets in a vast interstellar empire, but that's ultimately just a slightly-more-exotic-than-usual setting for a story about some very human people whose lives touch because they each in some way illuminate the central mystery.

Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, and
Read the German original.

This book is genius! A mosaic novel with flawless execution. Like the tracking shot from microbe to planet, the stories start with a limited POV on a remote world and zoom out till they encompass the whole galaxy. It starts and ends with a cranky haircarpet weaver and inbetween we get to know the fates of many different characters on many different worlds. All of them single knots in the fabric of the larger carpet.

The different POVs from chapter to chapter don't allow c
This first caught my attention long ago purely because Orson Scott Card wrote the introduction (for all the man's flaws, he still occupied a very important role in my early sci fi consumption), and I'm so glad that it did: I must have first read this close to a decade ago, and it was so good that it left an indelible impression on me ever since. I was still loudly recommending it even ten years later. I carted my battle-worn copy of this book across three countries: from Norway to Vancouver, the ...more
Robert Davis
Imagine your entire life devoted entirely to one single activity, the creation of one intricately detailed, hand crafted carpet made of human hair, meant to adorn the immense imperial palace of the eternal emperor. Imagine an entire planets social and economic structure built around this trade. The mystery behind this is so diabolical and horrific, it challenges the imagination.

This is an unusual and splendid book, a small masterpiece. Told in interconnecting vignettes, forming a tapestry which
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm having such a hard time rating this book. Andreas Eschbach has created an amazing world to explore in The Carpet Makers. Unfortunately, he fails to really explore it. It reads like a bunch of short stories set in the same world, sometimes connected, and other times I can't really figure out what the point of a certain thread is.

There really is no character development. Not enough time is spent on any character or setting to really get the full story, before we've moved on to other character
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend! There are quite a few twists and surprises that I didn't expect, and usually I'm pretty good at that.

We start off on one world with a inhibited society ruled by a never seen Emperor who has a complete religion and culture based on his godness and the society is only to serve him. Very restrictive and inhibitive revolving around the craftsmen who spend their entire lives to make hair carpets using the hair from their wives and daughters.

I was completely settled in to this one
John Yelverton
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
The book starts off very well and really grabs the reader's attention. Then, the book heads off in a seemingly endless list of disjointed stories that don't seem to have anything to do with the story, only to tie everything up in a very unsatisfactory bow at the end. ...more
Manuel Antão
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008

(review originally published on:
Die Haarteppichknüpfer von Andreas Eschbach)


I picked up this book purely by chance, but I was completely flabbergasted by it !

I've been reading Science Fiction for more than 25 years and I didn't expect to be blown away by this book. After all I think someone said that SF is dead and buried ! Not so ! This is not exactly Hard SF, but the scent is there. It reminds me of some of the Charles Stross' books ( serie "The Merchant Princes" ). Like Stross Eschbach is
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this, the first time I read it, and it’s stayed with me ever since — not all the details, but an overall impression of great craft in the writing (and no doubt on the part of the translator, too) and a mystery which, once solved, seemed amazing. It’s not a format I’d usually like, since it doesn’t follow a single character or handful of characters through a story, watching them develop and react; instead, each chapter is linked to the previous, but has different characters. Some of the c ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have to say that The Alternate Worlds is just an awesome group to be reading books such as this with. This month, this book was taken apart almost chapter by chapter and commented on and discussed and I loved the thought and detail that went into the responses. It just means so much more than the 'oh I really liked it, it was a good book!' posts on some of the younger groups.

And...on to the review!

I really appreciated the structure of novel - each chapter was kind of like a short story in itse
Jan 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is the second book I read by Andreas Eschbach and it was supposed to be his magnum opus with a preface by Orson Scott Card (talk about credentials)...well, not for me I guess!

The story here feels like was taken out of a bad dream the author had and then spread out in a book.

I didn't enjoy this book whatsoever. I didn't like its structure - the chapters were disconnected to each other and artificially introduced one worthless character after another and to top it off, the delivery of the cli
Absolutely epic.
Daniel Kenefick
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A series of interlocking short stories, all centered around a society of people that spend their whole lives making carpets. Without getting into spoilers, the structure telescopes out and back in, exploring different aspects of the society (both the Carpet Makers and the larger universe) to explain the mystery of why these people do this. All in all a satisfying book.
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Eschbach is apparently very well-regarded in his native Germany, and has won awards in multiple European countries - but this is his first book to be translated into English and published here. If 'The Carpet Makers' is any indication of the quality of his other works, I hope that English editions of his other books are on the way!
The novel is formed in a series of vignettes or separate short stories - which can sometimes, I feel, be an awkward, clunky way of doing things - I've read 'novels' li
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is not very often the case that I read SF novels in German. I've read Eschbach's Das Jesus Video before, which is a kind of time-travel story, and very well-known here - even adapted as a movie.

Last year, I've read lots of short stories. That might be the reason why I was hooked from the the start by this novel:
Carpet Makers is structured as connected short stories. It might even be called an anthology of stories in a common setting building up a plot. The plot is centered around the eponymou
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: Kim
This book was a little weird; somewhat disjointed; it read almost like historical fiction but there was a heavy Science Fiction theme weaved into the story. Reminds me of the original Star Gate movie, mixing ancient (Middle Eastern) culture with a very strong Sci-Fi style. The novel starts off with what seems like a very basic story, but as you continue on it gets more complex and the world seems more sinister than expected.

The pre-historic carpet maker’s life seems a little weird, a tradition
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dimension of Miracles (Dimension of Miracles #1)
  • Trafalgar
  • Definitely Maybe
  • Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home
  • Shangri-La
  • Dinge geregelt kriegen - ohne einen Funken Selbstdisziplin
  • The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)
  • An American Story
  • Carbone & Silicium
  • The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again
  • The Cyberiad
  • The Clockwork Rocket (Orthogonal, #1)
  • How To Be A Liberal
  • The Evidence
  • The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
  • Mordew (Cities of the Weft, #1)
  • The Eternal Flame (Orthogonal, #2)
  • The Orthogonal Trilogy (Orthogonal #1-3)
See similar books…
Andreas Eschbach is a German writer who mostly writes science fiction. Even if some of his stories do not exactly fall into the SF genre, they usually feature elements of the fantastic.

Eschbach studied aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart and later worked as a software engineer. He has been writing since he was 12 years old. His first professional publication was the short story Do

Other books in the series

Carpet Makers Universe (3 books)
  • Quest
  • Eines Menschen Flügel

Related Articles

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
66 likes · 16 comments
“But shame is like a wound that is never exposed and therefore never heals.” 28 likes
“It only becomes art if it touches other people.” 17 likes
More quotes…