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Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber

Empire of the Ants (original 1991; edition 1998)

by Bernard Werber

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1,0742011,617 (3.83)8
Title:Empire of the Ants
Authors:Bernard Werber
Info:Bantam (1998), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber (1991)


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English (13)  French (6)  Finnish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
If you read this book, you will never look at an ant in the same way. You will also learn a lot about these tiny creatures (and perhaps more than you want to know). When Werber endows his tiny creatures with a particular kind of intelligence, he also gives them an importance they richly deserve (despite the fact that they can be pesky creatures). ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I found that this novel kept me guessing right up until the end. I quite enjoyed it and it made me want to learn a lot more about ants. ( )
  Avogt221 | Nov 16, 2015 |
This book is interesting if you are interested in ants and fiction. It is a strange combination and probably not for everyone.
I enjoyed it anyway. It does show an unusual perspective from within ants nests as well as from outside and combines the two in a mysterious way. Enjoy the journey. It could win a nomination for best leading ant award! ( )
  peterjameswest | Nov 21, 2014 |
A serendipitous read! ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
What can I say? You will never look at ants in quite the same way again. Brilliant novel. ( )
  jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernard Werberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mosblech, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rocques, MargaretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuurman, TitiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the few seconds it will take you to read these four lines:

-- 40 human beings and 700 million ants will have been born on Earth.

-- 30 human beings and 500 million ants will have died on Earth.

HUMAN BEING: A mammal between 1 and 2 meters in height, weighing between 30 and 100 kilos. Gestation period: 9 months. Mode of nutrition: omnivore. Estimated population: over 5 billion individuals.

ANT: An insect between 0.01 and 3 centimeters in length, weighing between 1 and 150 milligrams. Egg-laying capacity limited only by sperm stock. Mode of nutrition: omnivore. Likely population: over a million trillion individuals.

Edmond Wells,

Encyclopedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge
To my Parents

And to all my friends and fellow researchers who have helped build this edifice.
First words
"I'm afraid it isn't at all what you expected."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553573527, Mass Market Paperback)

In the early 21st century, in a Paris rapidly turning tropical thanks to global warming, Jonathan Wells tries to get to the bottom (as it turns out, quite literally) of his Uncle Edmond's obsession with ants. Jonathan and his family have been left Edmond's basement apartment; their benefactor's sole request is, "ABOVE ALL, NEVER GO DOWN INTO THE CELLAR." Meanwhile, in the great city of Bel-o-kan, a reproductive ant, the 327th male, is fighting for survival, having had his olfactory Identikit stripped by traitors of his own tribe.

Both males--human and ant--are determined to solve their separate quandaries, and Bernard Werber cleverly juxtaposes their adventures and those of their survivors. Their stories must somehow be linked, but it will be hundreds of imaginative and educational pages before we come upon the solution. Empire of the Ants was first published in France in 1991 and eventually in England in 1996 in Margaret Rocques's spryly formal translation. ("Ants are not especially well-known for their conviviality, especially when advancing in formation, armed to the antennae.") Werber has studied formic civilization for 15 years, and his observations more than pay off. We knew they were industrious little things, but why did no one ever tell us about their powers of invention, accommodation (in both senses of the word!), communication, and above all determination?

In fact, as the narrative makes increasingly clear, ants seem to have a lot more going on than the pale pink things stomping around above them, who seem doltish in comparison. Of course, as far as the creepy crawlies are concerned, humans are "so strange you could neither see nor smell them. They appeared suddenly out of the sky and everyone died." Empire of the Ants is by turns frightening and very funny. As more and more humans disappear down the cellar of 3, rue des Sybarites, we come to identify with the six-legged of the world. Werber, too, must have tired of his Homo sapiens, since the ant sections increase in length as the human ones decrease. No matter. Who would miss the perils of the young queen who tries to found her colony on a strange impervious hill--which turns out to be a tortoise--or the hilarious scene in which a spider swathes the 56th female in inescapable silk, only to be distracted first by a mayfly (they have shorter shelf lives than ants, who can be eaten slowly alive over an entire week) and then by a younger arachnid: "Her way of vibrating was the most erotic thing the male had ever felt. Tap tap taptaptap tap tap taptap. Ah, he could no longer resist her charms and ran to his beloved (a mere slip of a thing only four moults old, whereas he was already twelve). She was three times as big as he, but then he liked his females big."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:17 -0400)

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Jonathan Wells is bequeathed a Paris apartment by an eccentric uncle who leaves behind the admonition never to go into the cellar, but when the family dog disappears, followed by Jonathan's wife and son, Jonathan is forced to go down the stairs where he encounters a remarkable, hostile civilization.… (more)

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