- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Corgi Books (January 2, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0552141127
- ISBN-13: 978-0552141123
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 115 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,170,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Empire Of The Ants Paperback – January 2, 1997
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In the early 21st century, in a Paris rapidly turning tropical thanks to global warming, Jonathan Wells tries to get to the bottom (as it turns out, quite literally) of his Uncle Edmond's obsession with ants. Jonathan and his family have been left Edmond's basement apartment; their benefactor's sole request is, "ABOVE ALL, NEVER GO DOWN INTO THE CELLAR." Meanwhile, in the great city of Bel-o-kan, a reproductive ant, the 327th male, is fighting for survival, having had his olfactory Identikit stripped by traitors of his own tribe.
Both males--human and ant--are determined to solve their separate quandaries, and Bernard Werber cleverly juxtaposes their adventures and those of their survivors. Their stories must somehow be linked, but it will be hundreds of imaginative and educational pages before we come upon the solution. Empire of the Ants was first published in France in 1991 and eventually in England in 1996 in Margaret Rocques's spryly formal translation. ("Ants are not especially well-known for their conviviality, especially when advancing in formation, armed to the antennae.") Werber has studied formic civilization for 15 years, and his observations more than pay off. We knew they were industrious little things, but why did no one ever tell us about their powers of invention, accommodation (in both senses of the word!), communication, and above all determination?
In fact, as the narrative makes increasingly clear, ants seem to have a lot more going on than the pale pink things stomping around above them, who seem doltish in comparison. Of course, as far as the creepy crawlies are concerned, humans are "so strange you could neither see nor smell them. They appeared suddenly out of the sky and everyone died." Empire of the Ants is by turns frightening and very funny. As more and more humans disappear down the cellar of 3, rue des Sybarites, we come to identify with the six-legged of the world. Werber, too, must have tired of his Homo sapiens, since the ant sections increase in length as the human ones decrease. No matter. Who would miss the perils of the young queen who tries to found her colony on a strange impervious hill--which turns out to be a tortoise--or the hilarious scene in which a spider swathes the 56th female in inescapable silk, only to be distracted first by a mayfly (they have shorter shelf lives than ants, who can be eaten slowly alive over an entire week) and then by a younger arachnid: "Her way of vibrating was the most erotic thing the male had ever felt. Tap tap taptaptap tap tap taptap. Ah, he could no longer resist her charms and ran to his beloved (a mere slip of a thing only four moults old, whereas he was already twelve). She was three times as big as he, but then he liked his females big." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
"Don't go into the cellar" is the warning given the Wells family as they move into the dingy Paris flat inherited from Jonathan's Uncle Edmund. But when the family dog disappears down the basement steps, the Wellses follow, one by one, into the mysterious darkness below. Uncle Edmund was an eccentric author and scientist whose particular passion was ants. Thus, it must follow that the mystery of the Wells's basement lies in the parallel universe of an exotic ant kingdom. Struggling to rebuild what was once a vast empire in the face of the terrors of contemporary human society, the ants are compelled to deal with cars, tools, and other technopredators. The sf movies of the 1950s are immediately brought to mind here. The one-dimensional humans definitely take back seat to the anthropomorphized ants as characters in this novel of survival. Werber tells us much more about the intelligent and highly structured world of the ant than we may care to know. Readers captivated by Richard Adam's Watership Down might be attracted by this premise but will quickly tire of the novel's uneven characterization and didactic style. Not recommended.?Susan Gene Clifford, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, Cal.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It is a murder story, which also talks about ants in a fiction manner. But the author is a scientific journalist. So he is integrating all of his knowledge with science, and ants in a cool story. I love Bernard Werber, I have read a lot of his books.
This book totally changed my point of view on ants, which I can never splat anymore. I'd rather follow them around in the yard to observe their exciting adventures and struggles...
For those who loved this book, keep checking for future translations of other Bernard Werber books, almost as genial (I read them all in French). He's written two more ants books, two books about the after-death, and one book about the origins of mankind (about the "missing link"). Man! This guy has an imagination!!
This book was recommended to me throught Amazon when I searched for furthur information about ants. Not sure what to expect, I bought the book and to my delight really enjoyed it.
It is one of the more unique stories I have ever read, and probably not a story that would work for everyone. I feel you would enjoy this book more if you are a fan of the insect and nature world. You can appreciate the research the author put into the novel, and I really came away with a higher respect for ants and the ant world in general. The story is a stretch in the imagination, which is what makes it so fun. I have read other reviews where some readers are annoyed that it wasn't a perfect scientific representation of the insect. For me, it was close enough and spurned my whole family's interest furthur in learning more about them. For the most part, we just sat back and really had fun reading this book and wondering what would it be like to be an ant.
The people are really different. They certainly have their share of adventures too.
The end is certainly surprising, and when all is over, you are not really sure if it is a good ending or a bad one.