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CompleteMartialArts.com - The Carpet Makers

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Manufacturer: Tor Books
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 833.914
EAN: 9780765314901
ISBN: 0765314908
Label: Tor Books
Manufacturer: Tor Books
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 304
Publication Date: 2006-02-21
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: 2006-02-21
Studio: Tor Books

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Editorial 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 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...

Brought to the attention of Tor Books by Orson Scott Card, this edition of The Carpet Makers contains a special introduction by Orson Scott Card.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Hair Carpets - the Sum of a Single Life - and the whole of an Emperor's Rage
Comment: Occasionally, a book comes around with a distinct creativity that is so fresh, the book lingers with you long after the last page has been read. The Carpet Makers, by German science fiction author Andreas Eschbach, is one such book.

On an outer planet of the great human galactic Empire, the most prestigious of professions is that of the Hair Carpet Maker. "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 describes the life of a carpet maker as he weaves the finest of carpets in the whole of the empire from the hair of his wives (so chosen for the quality of their locks) and daughters. One hair carpet is the labor of a lifetime as the weaver and his family lives on the earnings of his quality of his father's carpet; the weaver strives to leave the finest carpet possible so as to earn a substantial sale price for his son's carpet making endeavor.

But all is not right in the empire, and word slowly starts to arrive as rumor that the immortal Emperor for whose palace the carpets are meant to adorn has been overthrown and brutally slain by rebel forces. Alas, rumor is not enough to end a way of life and the planet continues to fulfill its purpose: to produce fine hair carpets for the emperor. Even a captured observer from the new government can't persuade the locals of the truth; and after a generation, the arrival of ships from the new republic looking for the lost observer finally sheds light on the fate of the Emperor.

This is a larger story than just one backwater planet of a sweeping empire; it is the entire story of the empire told through by way of the very existence of the Carpet Makers and the long, secret history of an Emperor's savage revenge on a rival.

This is one of those books that focuses on a small fraction of a greater whole to tell the whole story. The reality of Galactic Empire slowly unravels across two generations of Carpet Makers. I surely hope that more of Eschbach's work is translated into English for my reading pleasure.


A Guide to my Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: highly recommended
Comment: This book is a stunning achievement for the author, and the translation from German to English was also beautifully done. The story slowly unfolds and expands so that the life's work of one man is eventually seen in context to an entire intergalactic empire. A thought provoking plotline. I have read many science fiction books over the years. This was undoubtedly one of the best.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: I envy anyone who hasn't yet read this great book!
Comment: i kept hearing how awesome this book was and it left no disappointments whatsoever. I never saw where it was going, and neither will anyone who hasn't had it spoiled ahead for them. Whatever you do DON'T let anyone tell you the ending ahead of time. I loved this book, a rare and fantastic find.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Disappointing - not a good book at all!
Comment: Wow, first let me say that I am a huge Orson Scott Card fan so his endorsement and forward in this book was a key factor in my buying it. I'm not sure what he sees in this book, but I hope he doesn't emulate anything from The Carpet Makers in his works anytime soon.

So why do I think this book is so bad while others rave about it? I'm not sure, but I'll tell you what I found unforgivably flawed about the book and maybe you can decide for yourself whether it would interest you.

First, let me start with what was good. It was an interesting premise with a fresh way of looking at things. For a while I was seeing (imagining apparently) analogies to man's belief in God and religion, or perhaps some subtle analogy to Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. But ultimately the book became trite, boring and contrived and for those of you who felt it had an Orson Scott Card "twist" at the end, I beg to differ. The ending was pure cheese. Ender's Game left me with my mouth agape and my eyes wide (and a little teared up as well.) This book left me thinking that I couldn't believe I had read to the end just to learn the secret of the Carpet Makers was so lame.

Now, on to what I didn't like. ;-) First, there is NO character development. How can there be? Eschbach kills off most every character that you are introduced to by the end of each chapter. As I started each new chapter, trying to figure out who the new character was, and how he/she would fit into the story I became frustrated as I soon realized that I was better off spending my time wondering what horrible end would befall this new character.

There is no continuity or flow as a result of this and I was never able to invest in the book because how can you really care about what happens to these people when the author doesn't care enough to let them survive past a chapter himself?

Additionally, most of the characters were cardboard cutouts. I've seen this referred to in reviews before and I usually think the writer of that review is some snobbish reader that demands too much. This is a book that finally let me see what a wooden or cardboard character really looks like.

Seriously folks, without giving away too much of a spoiler here, but a beautiful researcher, after a cheesy talk with her mom, decides to throw herself at a humpbacked librarian and ends up in bed with him so that he can then take her to the secret vault and tell her the entire story of the Carpet Makers in a few paragraphs???

Another horrible character is the happy go lucky space pilot who lands on the carpet maker's planet to explore. This character would blow over if a breeze were to blow he was so underdeveloped.

I don't know how much was lost in translation, but I suspect that isn't the problem. This author hasn't mastered character development and this story is plot driven - only. There are no characters to care about and for me that means no story to care about.

If you don't believe me, buy it used and save a few bucks and see for yourself. This one's a stinker!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: The Unraveling Carpet
Comment: Most of this book's rave reviews probably stem from the uniqueness that is highly evident at its surface. However, uniqueness doesn't always translate into deeper strength or consistency. It's hard to tell if Eschbach's style of plot construction is truly exotic and different, or if there is a problem with the translation from German to English, but in any case there are real problems with the way this story is put together. Granted, the idea of the carpet makers, who spend entire lifetimes weaving carpets of astonishing beauty for mysterious imperial purposes that they blindly accept, is an interesting premise for the novel, and Eschbach reaches some great insights as he explores the long-lasting human drama of tyranny, power, and corruption. But on the other hand, even though the all-powerful emperor's cult of personality and the blind unquestioning faith of his subjects is a useful allegory, Eschbach doesn't transcend the basic possibilities of the idea, many of which are standard sci-fi fare that was defined ages ago. (I was particularly reminded of Herbert's Dune saga and Asimov's Foundation novels.)

Meanwhile, this book badly unravels about halfway through. Eschbach's method is to mesh nearly self-contained chapters into an interwoven storyline, with many chapters focusing on characters and events that are unique to that chapter and add subtle detail to the overall plotline. This works well for a while, except that the method is not applied consistently and a few of the vignettes in the later portions of the book have very tangential and questionably useful connections to the main story (for instance, note the extended absences of any mentions of the title characters). Eschbach starts to wrap things up fairly well at the book's conclusion, but like some other reviewers I found the final resolution of the story's underlying mystery to be pretty nonsensical and unsatisfying. I agree that this book signifies Eschbach as a unique new sci-fi talent who deserves to be discovered by the outside world, but to achieve true greatness he needs to weave his interesting ideas into a more consistent overall storyline. [~doomsdayer520~]

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