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Marilee J. Layman

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05:11 pm: The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach
This was the bookgroup book yesterday and we were quite divided about it. It was a lovely spring Saturday with days of rain in the future, so we only had six adults (years since we had so few) and two teens who mostly slept (usually we don't allow teens and these two read in the library itself during group). Of the six, two hated it, two loved it, two thought it was okay. I was in the hate group.

The structure of the book is that each chapter tells a small story without much plot. We meet a person or a place in each chapter and may have mention of them later, but you never really get a character to care about. If I wasn't reading it for group, it would have gotten The Eight Deadly Words.

Most of the chapters are about people on a planet that has had some kind of apocalypse and the society is strongly feudal. The people at the top of the planet's hierarchy are the hair carpet makers. Each man takes a lifetime to knot a hair carpet from the hair of his wives and daughters. If more than one son is born, the newer one dies (usually) because the income from the father's carpet will support only one son who then makes a carpet from his wives' and daughter's hair.

Everybody on the planet believes that the carpets are bought by the God-Emperor and used in his palace. People who question anything are killed. Everybody has a subsistence-level living. So into this, comes a scout ship -- the Emperor (who was not God) has been killed and the rebels have won -- and one of the soldiers landed. He goes missing quickly. Even shown pictures, the people don't believe that the Emperor is dead (after all, he's God) and they kill the people who speak heresy.

There's a lot of working up to why the Emperor died and how, and where the carpets go, and the book ends in a way that reminded me of "The Gifts of the Magi." You could read the first chapter and then the last two and get the entire plot. It would have made a nice short story. But what about all you learn about the people in the story-chapters? Well, I think a good author could have put that in a short story.

Before the stroke, I liked deep sociological and political plots, but when my brain rewired, it wired me to like stories where things happen. Nothing happens in this book.

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Comments

From:nancylebov
Date:April 20th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
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I read the first chapter or so, and am definitely in the hate group. Orson Scott Card was very enthusiastic about it, and I can see why. It's about a father killing a son.
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From:mjlayman
Date:April 20th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
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Ow. I hadn't thought of that. I did think that I couldn't count on OSC's blurbs and such as meaning bad books because some of Charlie's books have OSc blurbs.
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From:pameladean
Date:April 20th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
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So does Sherwood Smith's Inda, which so far is really excellent, even though I don't like omniscient viewpoint much. I do have to say, the Card blurb rocked me. With an unknown author, I'd have probably put the book back.

P.
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From:mjlayman
Date:April 20th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
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I suppose the publisher has to balance people who think Card's an idiot and people who really like him when they decide on blurbs.
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