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The Carpet Makers    by Andreas Eschbach order for
Carpet Makers
by Andreas Eschbach
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Serge Fournier

The Carpet Makers is one of those books you know you are going to enjoy after reading just a few pages. It is a story with a dark secret that you can sense right from the beginning. Through a series of vignettes, you begin to understand the what's and how's of a society rooted in thousands of years of tradition. But the why's escape you right to the very end, when all of the weave is revealed. The path of discovery is magical. The story is well paced and rich in details.

The book begins on a backward, somewhat medieval world. Early chapters describe a human society whose ecomomic structure is based on the work of carpet makers, each of whom weaves one carpet in their lifetime from the hair of wives and daughters. First we meet a carpet maker and his family. We learn the rules that regulate their lives. We learn of the traders and of the thieves, and of the many castes that make up this economy. Each chapter paints a fine new stroke on the canvas depicting this society. But the more you see, the more questions arise.

From this tightly woven, self-sustaining world of hair carpet makers, the story evolves outward, to the heart of the galactic empire, through the officers of the imperial fleet, through the rebellion, and to the God Emperor (Aleksandr the Eleventh) himself, where all the threads of the story come together. We wonder what motivations could possibly drive a man who is practically immortal, the absolute ruler of thousands of worlds across multiple galaxies?

The whole thrill in reading this book lies in that final discovery of what it's all about - the ultimate corruption of ultimate power and the stagnation it brings in its wake. Orson Scott Card calls the book (which is translated seamlessly from the original German by Doryl Jensen) 'unforgettable, beautiful, perpetually entertaining'. The Carpet Makers is a unique story by an exciting new author - if you read SF at all, don't miss this one.

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