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The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

Updated on May 26, 2013

This book had two authors, and they were both the same person

The Carpet People is the story of Snibril, the Dumii empire, the terrible mouls, the Munrung tribe, and above all - the fearful, unstoppable Fray. It is the tale of the mystical Wights, mining varnish from Achairleg; Pismire the philospher; the mysterious soldier Bane; adventure, heroism, money and politics. It is the story of the Carpet. Where the resources come from a fallen sugar cube, a matchstick, and a penny, and the greatest city is the size of a .

The Carpet People is the earliest published novel by Terry Pratchett. It is actually best read before The Bromeliad Trilogy, as it introuces the concepts (especially the Nomes) that he later develops and writes much better. In Strata he wrote science fiction and introduced the idea of a flat world - the Discworld, or one of its relatives. And then came The Colour of Magic and the Discworld series.

But The Carpet People came first. He originally wrote it in 1971, at the age of seventeen. Years later he rewrote the book and republished it. The revised edition was published in 1992 by Doubleday; and republished by Corgi in 1993.

The Carpet People - 'The Lord of the Rings on a Rug'

The Carpet People was published in 1971, It had a lot of things wrong with it, mostly to do with being written by someone who was seventeen at the time.

And it sold a bit, and eventually it sold out. And that was it.

And then about seven years ago the Discworld books began to sell, and people would buy them and say, "Here, what's this book The Carpet People by The Same Author?' and the publishers got so fed up with telling people that there was no demand for it that they decided it was time for a new edition.

Which was read by Terry Pratchett, aged forty-three, who said: hang on. I wrote that in the days when I thought fantasy was all battles and kings. Now I'm inclined to think that the real concerns of fantasy ought to be about not having battles, and doing without kings. I'll just rewrite it here and there...

Well, you know how it is when you tweak a thread that's hanging loose...

So this is it. It's not exactly the book I wrote then. It's not exactly the book I'd write now. It's a joint effort but, heh heh, I don't have to give him half the royalties. He'd only waste them.

You asked for it. Here it is. Thanks.

Incidentally, the size of the city or Ware is approximately ->.

Terry Pratchett

15 September 1991

The Carpet People
The Carpet People

The Carpet People is worth reading if you

1. Have never read his books and want a light comic fantasy to read, or give to someone.

2. Are between the ages of 7 and 108

3. Are a fan of Terry Pratchett

4. Want to try Terry Pratchett but are scared of the sprawling monster that is the Discworld series

While the ending comes too soon, and it appears set up for sequels, The Carpet People is a fun and interesting read and displays Pratchett's typical comic and insightful turn into humanity. It's not as good as many of his later books (for many obvious reasons) but as has been said by many and often: the worst of Pratchett is far, far better than the best of most others.


Rate it, if you dare...

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

See results

"The Dumii had built their Empire with swords, but they kept it with money. They'd invented money. Before money, people had bought things with cows and pigs, which were not very efficient for the purpose because you had to feed them and keep them safe all the time and sometimes they died. And suddenly the Dumii turned up with this money stuff, which was small and easy to keep and you could hide it in a sock under the mattress, which hardly ever worked with cows and pigs. And it could be cows or pigs. Also, it had little pictures of the Emperors and things on it, which were more interesting to look at. At least, more interesting than cows and pigs.

And, Pismire had once said, that was how the Dumii kept their Empire. Because once you started using Dumii money, which was so easy and convenient and didn't moo all night, you started saving up for things, and selling things in the nearest market town, and settling down, and not hitting neighbouring tribes as often as you used to. And you could buy things in the markets that you'd never seen before - coloured cloth, and different kinds of fruit, and books. Pretty soon, you were doing things the Dumii way, because it made life better. Oh, you went on about how much better life was in the old days, before there was all this money and peacefulness around, and how much more enjoyable things were when people used to get heavily-armed in the evening and go out and make their own entertainment - but no-one was anxious actually to go back there.

"Economic imperialism!" Pismire had once said, picking up a handful of coins. "A marvellous idea. So neat and simple. Once you set it going, it works all by itself. You see, it's the Emperor who guarantees that the money will buy you things. Every time someone hands over or accepts one of these coins, it's a little soldier defending the Empire. Amazing!"

No-one understood a word of what he meant, but they could see he thought it was important."

Terry Pratchett's Artwork: The 1971 Edition

The first edition of The Carpet People and its illustrations

The very first edition, published in 1971, was actually illustrated by Pterry himself. He painted the cover art and drew the 30-40 black and white interior illustrations. Copies of that first edition are now both rare and valuable. Even rarer than this version are the copies in which Pterry coloured the illustrations with watercolours.

Sadly, the later editions (1992) were no longer illustrated, and the cover art was painted by Josh Kirby, who was the standard Discworld illustrator at the time.

You can see scans of the art and pages here at The L-Space Web

Early Editions of The Carpet People - Now a rare and collectable book...

The first edition is now very rare but occasionally pops up on eBay

Your turn - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

What did you think?

"He's a man of few words, and he doesn't know what either of them mean," people said, but not when he was within hearing.

More books by Terry Pratchett - Vote for your favorites, or add any I missed.

Interesting Times (Discworld): Adapted for the Stage(Modern Plays)
Interesting Times (Discworld): Adapted for the Stage(Modern Plays)

Hilarious stage adaptation of a best-selling Pratchett novel.

Going Postal (Discworld)
Going Postal (Discworld)

Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into ... a government job? By all rights, Moist should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as Postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may prove an impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office. Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, greedy Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical headman. But if the bold and undoable are what's called for, Moist's the man for the job -- to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every being, human or otherwise, requires: hope.

Soul Music (Discworld)
Soul Music (Discworld)

When her dear old Granddad -- the Grim Reaperhimself -- goes missing, Susan takes over the family business. The progeny of Death's adopted daughter and his apprentice, she shows real talent for the trade. That is until a little string in her heart goes "twang."With a head full of dreams and a pocketful of lint,Imp the Bard lands in Ankh-Morpork, yearning to become a rock star. Determined to devote his life to music, the unlucky fellow soon finds that all his dreams are coming true. Well almost.In this finger-snapping, toe-tapping tale of youth,Death, and rocks that roll, Terry Pratchett once again demonstrates the wit and genius that have propelled him to the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.


Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestseller in England, where they have catapulted him into the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory.As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

The Last Continent
The Last Continent

Something is amiss at Unseen Unversity, Ankh-Morpork's most prestigious (i.e., only) institution of higher learning. A professor is missing--but a search party is on the way! A bevy of senior wizards will follow the trail wherever it leads--even to the other side of Discworld, where the Last Continent, Fourecks, is under construction. Imagine a magical land where rain is but a myth and the ordinary is strange and the past and present run side by side. experience the terror as you encounter a Mad Dwarf, the Peach Butt, and the dreaded Meat Pie Floater.Feel the passion as the denizens of the Last Continent learn what happens when rain falls and the rivers fill with water (it spoils regattas, for one thing). Thrill to the promise of next year's regatta, in remote, rustic Didjabringabeeralong. It'll be asolutely gujeroo (no worries).


Postscript of utmost importance

If you buy any of the books recommended above, this page automatically makes a donation to the incredible nonprofit, Donors Choose, which helps provide classrooms and students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.

Have You Read The Carpet People? - Leave me a comment!

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Pratchett: The Early Years. Makes this book no less a good one! Great review!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      I really enjoyed this review of the Carpet People

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      9 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Very interesting review. I'm not a fan of fantasy books, but my daughter is - both Science Fiction and Fantasy - and I'm sure she's a fan of this author.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      9 years ago

      Excellent review!

    • divacratus 2 profile image

      divacratus 2 

      9 years ago

      No! Unfortunately haven't read the book, but it sure sounds interesting! :)


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