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The Carpet People Hardcover – November 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

Cory DoctorowTerry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett (left):

Sir Terry Pratchett's honors include the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, two Printz Honors, and ALA’s Margaret A. Edwards Award. His books have sold more than eighty million copies. He lives in England.

Cory Doctorow (right):

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow has held policy positions with Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and been a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Southern California. He is a co-editor of the popular weblog BoingBoing (, which receives over three million visitors a month. His science fiction has won numerous awards, and his YA novel Little Brother spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Cory Doctorow Interview with Author Sir Terry Pratchett

Cory Doctorow: The Carpet People was your first novel, and now the fortieth book in your Discworld series is about to be published. Do you think you could have kept us in the Carpet for anything like forty books?

Terry Pratchett: I was about to say, “No,” but right now I wonder. . . . If the idea had taken, I don’t know. I really don’t. But how would it be? People in the Carpet are more or less tribal. What would happen if I . . . You’ve got me thinking!

CD: You took a bunch of runs at building a world where a million stories could unfold—The Carpet People, Truckers, and, finally, Discworld. Is Discworld’s near-total untethering from our world the secret of its staying power?

TP: It isn’t our world, but on the other hand it is very much like our world. Discworld takes something from this world all the time, shows you bits of the familiar world in new light by putting them into Discworld.

CD: You write a lot of feudal scenarios, but you also seem like a fellow with a lot of sympathy for (and suspicion of!) majority rule. The Carpet People is shot through with themes of who should rule and why. Where does legitimate authority spring from?

TP: The people! The only trouble is the people can be a bit stupid—I know that; I’m one of the people, and I’m quite stupid.

CD: What should the writer’s relationship with authority be?

TP: My personal view is that you look askance at authority. Authority must be challenged at every step. You challenge authority to keep it on its toes.

CD: The Carpet People concerns itself with many questions of infrastructure and public works. Now that we’ve arrived at a time of deep austerity, what do you think the future of infrastructure is?

TP: To crack and fall away, I sometimes think. From what I see around me, it’s people doing it for themselves. We know the government is there, but we know they have no real power to do anything but mess things up, so you do workarounds.

CD: Ultimately, it comes down to the builders, the wreckers, and the free spirits.

TP: Sometimes things need tearing down—and that might be, as it were, the gates of the city. But if we talk without metaphors, I would say that building is best. Because it is inherently useful. My dad was a mechanic; maybe it starts there.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about your books with feudal settings is that it seems you get something like the correct ratio of vassals to lords. So much of fantasy seems very top-heavy. Do you consciously think about political and economic considerations when you’re devising a world?

TP: I’ve never been at home with lords and ladies, kings, and rubbish like that, because it’s not so much fun. Take a protagonist from the bottom of the heap and they’ve got it all to play for. Whereas people in high places, all they can do is, well . . . I don’t know, actually: I’ve never been that high. If you have the underdog in front of you, that means you’re going to have fun, because what the underdog is going to want to do is be the upper dog or be no dog at all.

CD: Damon Knight once told me that he thought that no matter how good a writer you are, you probably won’t have anything much to say until you’re about twenty-six (I was twenty at the time). You’ve written about collaborating with your younger self on the revised text of The Carpet People. Do you feel like seventeen-year-old Terry had much to say?

TP: That’s the best question you’ve asked all day! I think that he had a go at it, and it wasn’t bad, but that when I was younger I didn’t have the anger. It gives an outlook. And a place from which to stand. When you get out of the teens, well out of the teens, you begin to have some kind of understanding: you’ve met so many people, heard so many things, all the bits that growing up means. And out of that lot comes wisdom—it might not be very good wisdom to start with, but it will be a certain kind of wisdom. It leads to better books.

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–8—Pratchett's first novel, published at age 17 and then reworked by the author two decades later, appears in its first full U.S. edition. As the title suggests, people and creatures are all microscopic and exist in an actual carpet, where cities are dot-sized and the rim of a penny is an unscalable cliff. Within this clever premise, the author has created an engaging fantasy world filled with a rich variety of characters and a compelling plot in which the amusing Munrung people attempt to thwart an evil scheme to enslave all of the kingdoms of the carpet. The brisk narrative mixes sly wit and occasional puns with lively battle scenes and mysterious revelations. There's also a lot of discussion about war, religion, government, and free well delivered through engaging dialogue and the internal musings of the main characters. Pratchett's black-and-white line drawings sprinkled throughout the tale and within two sections of full-color plates, depict numerous characters and settings with appropriately lightheated verve. A 25-page addendum features the very first published appearance of the world of the Carpet, serialized for the teen author's local newspaper. It's interesting to contrast the bones of the story with the final version, which stands as a fully realized novel and an excellent entrée to Pratchett's work, especially for readers not quite ready for the "Discworld" (Corgi) series.—Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; Reprint edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544212479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544212473
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on October 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Carpet People" was first published when Terry Pratchett was seventeen years old. But before he even wrote it as a novel, he published in in serial form in his local newspaper. This is the first time the work has been published in the United States, and for fans of the truly bizarre and unique author, it is a real treat.

The story centers around the people of the Carpet, a land that has been divided into various factions of the Munrungs, the Dummis, the Mouls, and the Wights. The Carpet has long been a safe place, but when Fray happens (a natural force that is never really explained but humans may be able to figure out what it is), the Mouls decide to attack the other peoples and take over the Carpet for themselves. A ragged band of fighters forms - the former Emperor's general Bane, the tribal chieftain Glurk, his hungry-for-adventure brother Snibril, and their local philosopher Pismire - to fight the Mouls and their evil plan. But how can a bunch of tiny people defeat a force that seems to be able to call down Fray upon their fellow peoples? And can they do so before life in the Carpet as they know it is destroyed forever?

Terry Pratchett is a gifted fantasy writer and it is amazing that this is so evident in a work he wrote as a teenager. "The Carpet People" is a unique Tolkienesque journey through the land underneath our feet. The author keeps the pace moving even when the story can get a little choppy at times (as might be expected with a first novel). "The Carpet People" will certainly make you look at the plush fibers of your carpet a little differently, for who knows what strange creatures might have built a world for themselves underneath your feet?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie VINE VOICE on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett's work and have been for a long time. I've read nearly every Discworld book but haven't tried his YA work. I thought that "Carpet People" would be a good segue into that genre. Unfortunately I had the same problems with it that some other reviewers have. The book is too vast too quickly and the characters too similar, causing me not only to be somewhat confused about who was who and what the crisis was (although it was cleverly done). I would bet that younger readers or readers unfamiliar with Pratchett would read through the beginning and avoid this book. I knew that it would pick up and the Pratchett humor is evident from the start, which keeps a fan hooked. But overall, despite its contemporary editing, it does read yet like student writing in places: big ideas that refuse to be focused.

I loved the setting and the concept. I think it would really appeal to a much younger audience. In fact, a ruthless editor could probably make an excellent upper-level picture book from this story. But as a YA novel or as a book meant to appeal to the existing fan looking to complete a collection, it's not a book one would reread (and one might struggle to stay interested in on first read). It is fun to see those early hints of Pratchett's wit and satirical touch and worth a look. I would suggest looking before buying. If you're hooked, you'll love it. If your attention drifts, you might want to wait for his next project.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joy V. Smith VINE VOICE on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors, and I have about a shelf and a half of his books (there's one long shelf; different sized editions are scattered elsewhere). I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this book, and I did. It's interesting that he wrote the first version at 17 and rewrote it when he was 43. (You can read the original adventure at the end of the book.) This is the first U. S. edition.

While marketed for young readers, anyone can appreciate this book. Pratchett writes with wit and wisdom, though The Carpet People is not as funny as his Discworld books. It's more of a thriller, full of almost non-stop danger and tension--and then there are the enemies....

"They called themselves the Munrungs. It meant The People, or The True Human Beings.

"It's what most people call themselves, to begin with. And then one day the tribe meets some other people, and gives them a name like The Other People, or, if it's not been a good day, The Enemy. If only they'd think up a name like Some More True Human Beings, it'd save a lot of trouble later on."

Snibril is a Munrung, the younger son of the Munrung chieftain; his older brother becomes chief when his father dies, and they and their tribe have to contend with their ruler, other cultures and rulers, predators, strange creatures and hunters, and The Fray... Life is not easy, and it gets harder and stranger as they have to leave their village after being attacked by The Fray and then by the mouls and snargs. [The time frame is significant.]

I love the characters; my favorites include Snilbril, Bane, Pismire, Glurk, the wights, and Roland, the horse. Btw, Glurk grows as the story proceeds so don't mistake him for merely a brawny sidekick. Still, "I runs out of ideas after a while, ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Novel Teen on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this book we follow brothers Glurk and Snibril and some of their companions on a journey across the Carpet. The Fray swept away their village and so they are looking for a safe place to call home. But their journey takes them into an epic battle to save their land from the Mouls.

I've always wanted to read a Terry Pratchett book, but this probably wasn't the best first choice. It's an extremely creative premise, the characters are fun, and I enjoyed the witty dialogue here and there that reminded me of spoof movies like Airplane, The Naked Gun, or Hot Shots. But the story was a little hard to follow, and I never got sucked in. I didn't really care about the characters. I tried to read it out loud to my son and he got confused in parts--too much going on. It might be better on the second read.
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