I invite you to enter my Maze. I say it is mine, because despite who else I might be, I am the architect as well as your guide. Your first goal is to find the shortest route through the Maze – a simple task, I assure you, if you know what to look for. I have planted clues throughout for your interpretation – or misinterpretation.  Indeed, you will be fascinated by the Maze’s ambiguity, stimulated by its mystery, stymied by its riddle. But fear not! I will be with you all the way. Fear not, that is, if you truly believe that my clues or I can be trusted.

Enter room 1.  Which door should you take from here? Someone in the narrative uses the word “story,” and the same word appears above the door to room 20. Is that the connection? Is there a connection?  Give it a try and go to room 20, which is peculiar in its own way. Just inside the door to room 27 you see what looks like the bottom half of an archer’s arrow – an arrow pointing the way perhaps? I will not tell. Perhaps it wouldn’t help if I did. It is up to you to decide, as you move from room to room, hoping that fact is not fiction and that your best judgment has not led you astray.

Tempted? Test your wits against mine. I guarantee that my Maze will challenge you to think in ways you’ve never thought before. But beware…one wrong turn and you may never escape.

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Hidden Hint:

● Over the door is a red colored fish, this is a visual metaphor for a “red herring.” [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.] The door is in the shape of a pi symbol. [Independent Credit: LoMoody | Hidden Mystery | White Raven] A comparison between this image and the matching image in the prologue shows that the red herring is gone and has been replaced by the phrase “THE NEXT PAGE.” This illustrates a basic principle in the book, room linkages between two rooms are red herrings. Reinforcing this is the pi symbol which symbolizes infinity (i.e. this applies to the whole book). Also reinforcing this is the umbrella which is a running gag in the book in which the visitors are urged to prepare for rain that never comes. [White Raven]

Next:  Title Page

20 thoughts on “Cover

  1. The all-caps title of this book “MAZE,” when converted into numbers is 13 – 1 – 26 – 5 .
    Added together, you get 45 – the entirety of the maze is contained within the title.

    Just wanted to offer my two cents while this puzzle is peaking my interest.

    • It’s interesting — this extremely pleasing alphanumeric observation has been pointed out before and it just seems like it must be intentional — but then what do you do with the fact that Manson originally wanted to call the book “Labyrinth”?

    • Perhaps your observation is part of the reason why the title was changed from Labyrinth to MAZE. I simply cannot believe that something as specific as this is a mere coincidence.

    • “Maze” is the most obvious (and perhaps only) literal synonym for “labyrinth.” It’s a coincidence that the eventual title related to 45 even if he realized what the alphanumeric encoding of “maze” was before settling on that title, since choosing that title flowed naturally from the unavailability of the desired title.

      Or, to put it another way: It’s the same remarkable twist of fate that the title ended up encoding to 45 whether Manson realized it or not, because the circumstances that led to “Labyrinth” changing to “Maze” were independent of that.

      Note that Manson also used 45 text/image pairings in his next two puzzle books, suggesting there’s something else going on with Manson and that number.

      I think we take precisely the opposite of the correct lesson from this information if it bolsters our conviction that apparently meaningful alphanumeric conversions should always be assumed intentional.

  2. This book used to give me nightmares. I remember going through it 20 years ago and it vexed me. Every time I came across a revelation, something obnoxious or scary would happen, breaking the silence – phone ringing at 11pm, a knock on the door, TV turning on by itself. When I finally successfully mapped the path, it crackled thunder/lightning outside. I wish it was made up, but it was too coincidental. there is evil in this book. I haven’t thought of it in years. Then I came across this webpage just this week, and immediately had nightmares about Maze again.

    • Jmax,

      Yeah, the book gave me dreams as a kid too. Not nightmares so much as just unsettling dreams like watching a tree out of the window at night, was there something in moving the branches? :(

      Welcome back to the creepiness!

      White Raven

  3. If the goal upon entering the maze is to get out of the maze by the shortest route possible, then I chose not to enter and thus achieve the goal. I also believe that entering the maze is entirely a literary red herring. I also believe the shortest route out of the puzzle is to not enter at all.

    • Tiberius Prime,

      Welcome to The Abyss!

      The solution is not just the shortest route but a 16 step route. However I can’t fault your logic that the actual shortest route is zero steps, skip the MAZE and go out for pizza.

      White Raven

  4. Did someone say this elesewhere? The back cover has “peculiar” broken out as “pecu-liar” so that “liar” is on its own line. And the guide did just sort of lie to us about the best choice.

  5. Notice several things.
    1. The red herring above the cover door disappears in the prologue, showing it to be covering “the next page.”
    2. The cover shows a plain open door. The prologue door is closed with a bottle on it.
    3. The light shifts so it shines on said door.

    • A fun little riddle? Hmm….
      Well, an obvious thought is that on the cover we see a point later in time than on the prolouge page. In my discussion of time in the Maze I conclude that the door to the Maze faces East and we look to the South, and that it is 8am in room 1. The fact that the sun on the cover has moved as the morning sun would strengthens this idea. The fact that the door is open on the cover suggests that this is the way the guests went. That is the wrong way, of course. Not the worst choice, but wrong. We could tie the appearance of the red herring in with this and say that the open door is a red herring. And then I have my old existing theory about the red herring and the umbrella. But that’s all I got for now.

  6. I see through the doorway on the cover that the door is slightly open, and yet on the prologue it is closed. I always used to think and still think that in this that other than the normal path, you could go a separate way, maybe along the trap or loop, maybe on no particular path at all, that you’re chasing someone. In room 44, they mention that they don’t know who left the door open, and by quickly checking, it becomes obvious that they didn’t come in through that way. Even on room 34, you can clearly see a man leaving through the door to 25.

  7. The Red herring, the only part of the book that is in color, indicates that the light shining through the entrance into room and onto the room 41 doorknob, and only room 41, is a red herring, hence a wrong choice.


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