Les Fourmis (English: The Ants) is a 1991 science fiction novel by French writer Bernard Werber. It was released in English as Empire of the Ants. The book sold more than two million copies and has been translated into more than 30 languages. It was also taken to video-game format.
Les Fourmis is first in a three-part trilogy, followed by Le Jour Des Fourmis ("The Day of the Ants", 1992) and La Révolution des fourmis ("The Revolution of the Ants", 1996). The three novels are commonly known as Les Fourmis trilogy.
The plot begins as two stories that take place in parallel, one in the world of humans (in Paris) and one in the world of ants (in a Formica rufa colony in a park near Paris). The time is the early 21st century (the recent future, relative to the time when Werber wrote the book). The human character receives a house and a provocative message as legacy from his recently deceased uncle. He begins to investigate the life and mysterious activities of his uncle and decides to descend into the cellar of the house but does not return. His family and other people follow and disappear. The ant character is a female whose foraging expedition gets destroyed in one strike by a mysterious force that comes from above. She suspects that a colony of another ant species has attacked them with a secret weapon, and attempts to meet with the queen and to rally other ants to investigate the disaster. However, she attracts the attention of a secret group of ants within the same colony that appear to want to conceal this information. As the plot unfolds, the humans and the ants encounter new mysteries and participate in challenging events, including a war between different ant species. The descriptions of ant morphology, behavior, and social organization as well as their interactions with other species are engaging, detailed, and scientifically based, although Werber significantly exaggerates the reasoning and communication capabilities of the ants (rendering his work science-fiction).