Bewildering Stories

Andreas Eschbach, The Carpet Makers

reviewed by Jörn Grote

The Carpet Makers
Author: Andreas Eschbach
Publisher: TOR, April 2005
ISBN: 0765305933
Price: $17.47 US
Andreas Eschbach’s novel The Carpet Makers is structured like a fix-up novel, many small stories that together create one big story. What’s unusual is how well they work together, how every new story reveals a new piece about the big picture, despite the fact that most of them play on a very small scale.

We are in a very far future, where a gigantic empire is ruled by an immortal emperor. Or so it seems, because the emperor is dead. But all that is unknown on a small planet where the story begins. A caste of people called the Carpet Makers is one of the most important parts in this society, where a Carpet Maker creates one carpet in his whole life, using the hair of his many wives. The people on this world believe that these carpets are for the palace of the emperor on the homeworld of the empire, and that every other planet in their galaxy has a similar, but unique task to aid the emperor.

But the emperor is dead. And when those who have overthrown him a decade earlier discover the world of the Carpet Makers in an galaxy unknown to the rest of the empire, they are shocked. Because on every inhabited planet they find in that galaxy, there is a group of Carpet Makers. A whole galaxy with countless worlds, societies whose only large-scale task is to create these carpets, every world believing it is the only one to make the carpets. And in their search for the reason behind all this, the visitors from the regime that has toppled the empire find an ancient, unbelievable secret.

There are some things in the book that could put people off. Every story has another main character, another tale to tell, and while we often learn in later stories the end of some earlier characters, the stories that take place on the world of the Carpet Makers with their extremely rigid society are sometimes very, very bleak.

This is not a feel-good novel, most of the stories have a tragic atmosphere, little dramas that seldom show a spark of hope. And when the secret of the carpets is revealed, the futility of the little dramas and lives we have read about is heightened even more. But at least at the end of the novel, change is coming even to the worlds of the Carpet Makers, change that promises a better future.

Copyright © 2005 by Jörn Grote

Return to top

Home Page