This book was really very grim in parts; though the overriding sense of the ridiculousness of making human hair rugs, however much it depleted society and the environment, kept it from being too dark until the very end.
The Hair-Carpet Weavers proved to be about revenge in that the whole energy and purpose of ‘so many planets’ (the author has used awesome numbers in terms of years, people and resources), even unto their depletion, was to make rugs made of human hair to be laid end to end. The mystery of the end purpose of the rugs into which millions poured their energy and artistic talent is not revealed until the very last: I thought the plot of the book was clever as I did not finish connecting the dots until then.
There is no linear character development as Eschbach stitches together cameos of the various characters, mostly unconnected, except each experience threw light on the how an Emperor’s revenge was so pervasive in that it created a horrible, regimented coercion, were effective but some were definitely more powerful than others. The author delighted in the unfinished quality of these characters though I felt they were all similar in style and I was frustrated by his unimaginative, old testament depiction of women. Even the rebellious characters proved to be trapped by their conditioning and their limited knowledge! Was Berenko Kebar Jubad, who stabbed the Emperor, actually infected with a disease (another revenge) or was it a form of self-harm?
The Hair-Carpet Weavers made me think about such things as Prometheus chained to his rock; the pharaohs expending slaves and resources in a pissing contest; the impossibility of escaping from one’s conditioning; honour killings; and the difference between casual and calculated cruelty. I thought in very few lines the author, Eschbach, captured the essence of thuggery with the attack and murder of the teacher.
This book is an extended metaphor about the stupidity of continuing on an illogical path and parallels with the current behaviour of the human population. It also made me think about another book, The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Baddon, which I read in the sixties. It was a satirical science fiction novel, which altered my thinking, and shares a common theme with The Hair-Carpet Weavers, being about the destructiveness of the juggernaut of elite top-heavy power. I thought I might buy it to reread but when I looked it up it is going for between £350 and £850!!!! I think it is available to read via libraries or audible. I wish I nicked from the hotel bookcase after all!
The Hair-Carpet Weavers by Andrea Eschbach is well worth reading but not, definitely not uplifting, unless you call love in the cracks sufficient unto the day.