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The Carpet Makers (1995)

by Andreas Eschbach

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7564122,727 (4.07)45
"Since the time of prehistory, carpet makers have tied intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hair of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpet maker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime." "This art has descended from father to son since the beginning of time itself." "But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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» See also 45 mentions

English (34)  French (4)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
(...)

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 perfection as it is here.

The Hair-Carpet Weavers starts with the story of Ostvan, a weaver whose sole occupation it is to weave a carpet using the hairs of his three wives, who each have a different hair-color. The weaving of the carpet is an intricate job, and it takes a lifetime to complete one carpet. The next chapter features a different viewpoint, focusing on a trader in hair-carpets. Each subsequent chapter has a different point-of-view, and while each chapter could be considered as a short story, they all are tied together closely – both in theme as in time. Eschbach manages to slowly unfold the mystery of the hair-carpet weavers, and the story zooms out as it evolves, but never losing touch with the people that populate it.

The different viewpoints – they are always different, not a single one is repeated – might hinder character development, but this is not really an issue, as each chapter has its own emotional conclusion, and the bigger story does develop – as does the society it is set in. I cannot stress the mastery Eschbach shows to pull something like this off, all in a fairly short novel for today’s standards. That narrative & emotional control is much more important than the fun, but ultimately superficial gimmick – a story about weavers that is woven out of different narrative threads itself.

(...)

Full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
  bormgans | Jan 27, 2021 |
(Small spoilers inside)

This book is one of the weirdest stories I've ever read. And I should be typing this in German, as I read the German version, also to improve my German. Either way: people making carpets out of human hair and spending their entire lifetimes doing so, all for the emperor, who is God for them. Even more so, because they've never seen him. In addition, for them, it's like paying a debt their father made and so it goes down each generation.

But when the story reaches its end and conclusion, that ending might seem weak and flat compared to the many happenings and descriptions preceding it. But, to me, it's not really the (original!) story itself that was important for A. Eschbach, but the moral behind it all. It shows that small issues can have massive impacts, even for those who have nothing to do with it.

And how the affected ones then hang on to certain beliefs and principles, without knowing how it came to be or if it all should be like this, whether it causes you pain/stress/fear. Until someone sees the light and so can (as good or as bad) convince the others. Maybe.

I'm not telling much about the stories themselves, because it's up to you to read them and find out for yourself how good this book really is.

In fact, as I liked it so much, I've ordered Eschach's other book, which takes place in the same universe, but is also stand-alone: Quest. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
An interesting and original sci/fi concept, not only in terms of the plot (carpet makers weaving carpets made of human hair for an invisible emperor, for starters) but also in the way the story is told - almost, but not quite, a collection of short stories. It reminded me very briefly of the Russian movie Hard to be a God, but that similarity was quite fleeting. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
Nach viel englischsprachiger Science Fiction, dachte ich, dass doch sicherlich auch deutsche Autoren Gutes zum Genre beigetragen haben. Die Haarteppichknüpfer schienen da ein guter Einstieg zu sein.

Was mir am Buch gefiel: Der Anfang war stark, die Prämisse der Teppiche war fesselnd und spannend dargestellt. Das Buch war kurz und kurzweilig zu lesen, die Kapitel hatten mundgerechte Größe. Das episodische Format gefiel mir ebenfalls, es wurden teils explizite Verknüpfungen deutlich, teils aber erschloss sich erst nach einigen Seiten in einem Kapitel, was der Zusammenhang war, was gelegentlich schöne Aha-Erlebnisse bescherte. Den Rezensionen nach zu deuten, ist das nicht jedermanns Sache, ich fand's gut.

Was mir nicht gefiel: Die Charaktere waren fast alle "flach". Jede und jeder einzelne war entweder eindeutig gut oder eindeutig böse. Entwicklungen gibt es kaum, begründete Motivationen ebensowenig. Am schlimmsten trifft es hier die Frauen: Beinah kein weiblicher Charakter wird entlassen, ohne Geschlechtsverkehr gehabt oder zumindest mit Verlangen daran gedacht zu haben. Einige davon haben darüber hinaus sonst keine weitere Funktion im Buch. Die Auflösung des Mysteriums der Haarteppiche am Ende ist im Grunde sogar nur dem Umstand zu verdanken, dass die einsame Historikerin sich nun endlich dem ebenso einsamen Archivar hingibt.

In Teilen war das Buch doch recht SciFi-klischeehaft, sowohl was die Sprache als auch was den Inhalt angeht. Das machte einige Entwicklungen leider vorhersehbar. Dass etwa die obere Sektion der Raumstation, aus der niemand zurückkehrt und sich auch nie wieder meldet, eventuell doch kein Paradies sein könnte, war beinahe bei der ersten Erwähnung klar. Das gab's einfach schon zu oft.

Alles in allem habe ich die Lektüre aber nicht bereut, besonders, weil sie so kurzweilig war. Ich bin mir aber nicht sicher, ob ich mich zu weiteren Büchern des Autors motivieren kann. ( )
  SpookyFM | Jan 18, 2021 |
While it speaks brillaintly, it does not speak to me.
( )
  Kalal | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Je me plains souvent du manque d'originalité de livres qui sont par ailleurs passionnants. Cette fois, je dois reconnaître que ce livre est très original et empreint d'une étrangeté poétique étonnante.
added by grimm | editbloGrimm, Grimm (Aug 26, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eschbach, Andreasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, RickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Card, Orson ScottIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duval, ClaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faraldo, José MaríaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, DorylTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Madras, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Knot after knot, day in, day out, for an entire lifetime, always the same hand movements, always looping the same knots in the fine hair, so fine and tiny that with time, the fingers trembled and the eyes became weak from strain -- and still the progress was hardly noticeable.
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"Since the time of prehistory, carpet makers have tied intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hair of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpet maker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime." "This art has descended from father to son since the beginning of time itself." "But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined."--BOOK JACKET.

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