My wife bought me this book on several reccommendations, including Orson Scot Card's introduction.
This is an interesting book, translated from the German, but not what I would call great SF. First off, the novel is a series of connected chapters, with no character appearing in more than two or three chapters, chasing down the mystery of the "hair carpets" across galaxies of a recently-fallen empire.
I can see how Card would enjoy it: it has a lot of the tragic irony for which Card is famous (particularly his earlier books such as Songmaster, Planet Called Treason, etc.).
But what I found this resonating with is Somtow Sucharichtul's High Inquestor series, especially The Utopia Hunters: A far-flung empire, amazing powers of longevity and technology, and a series of Kipling-like just-so stories.
Ultimately, the mystery is resolved (unlike pretty much anything by Robert Charles Wilson), but without characters in which we've invested anything in, the book feels cold and disconnected.
Luckily I've got a stack of books recently released to wade through: Dzur by Steven Brust, Night watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (the basis for the outstanding movie of the same name), Glasshouse by Charles Stross, and Three Days to Never by Tim Powers. So expect more reviews soon.