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The Carpet Makers

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,756 ratings  ·  425 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.
Paperback, 297 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Tor Books (first published May 5th 1995)
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Alessandro Petrini One of best science fiction books of the last 20 years

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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  2,756 ratings  ·  425 reviews

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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 ho
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) ...more
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
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 se
Lisa 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 g
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.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, short-stories
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
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 givin
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 pers
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
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, then to ...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 tap
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
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 li
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
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.
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 'nove
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
Mihai Barbat
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,
David Yoon
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A desiccated and dusty planet where carpet weavers spend their entire lives hunched over a loom, weaving a carpet made of hair drawn from their wives. It takes a lifetime to produce a single carpet which is sold to line the Emperor’s palace. The proceeds are passed to the son who will spend his life weaving his own carpet and so on through the generations.

In a single first chapter this entire system is outlined and explained with a beautifully strict economy of words. It’s tightly woven (sorry)
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really, really liked this. Fantastically well-executed and marvelously inventive. Only two (minor) things prevented me from giving it five stars.

Each chapter read like a short story, giving rise to a faintly disjointed feel. Also, as I noted in my progress updates, many of the chapters concluded in death or misfortune, so that while I could admire the artistry of their construction and self-contained elegance, I didn't actually like them.

Still, though, the overall effect was very
Strange book. Interesting though, I can see why it's so well recieved. My only real problem with it was that the narrative was a tad disjointed, it jumped from perspective to perspective, and from location to location so much that you don't really get invested in any characters or locations. That very well might have been the point, though.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book, that reminded me a lot of Asimov stories. Slowly moving the plot and scope with short stories from a small region on a planet to a galactic empire, until everything comes together and makes sense. One of Eschbachs best books so far!
Helen Walton
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
He writes well, no question. But as soon as you get interested in a character he dies, or vanishes. By chapter 20 you don't care about anyone at all anymore. And wrapping up the whole mystery in such a frankly peculiar manner ... no, not a favourite for me.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well weaved story, revealing little by little the background of the world.

On this planet, makers are weaving carpets using only human hairs. The carpets will be used to embellish the Emperor's palace. But people are coming from space and they say the Emperor is dead since a long time.

This was a strange read and a well weaved story. Each chapter was dedicated to one character and some pieces of information and, in the following chapter, most of the time the character bec
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 a true m
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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 sh
“But shame is like a wound that is never exposed and therefore never heals.” 26 likes
“It only becomes art if it touches other people.” 15 likes
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