“This is not really a book.

“This is a building in the shape of a book…a maze. Each numbered page depicts a room in the Maze. The doors in each room lead to other rooms. For example, the room on page 1 has doors leading to rooms 20, 26, 41, and 21. To go through door number 20, simply turn to page 20.

“Your challenge is to find your way from room 1 (after the Prologue) to room 45 and then back to room 1 using the shortest possible path. If you use your head, you should be able to make the journey in only sixteen steps.

“There are any number of clues in the drawings and in the story to help you choose the right door in each room. Clues in a series of rooms may relate to each one another, and may indicate a path. Other clues may refer to a specific door in a single room.

“Anything in this book might be a clue.

“Not all clues are necessarily trustworthy.

“Once you’ve found the shortest path in and out of the Maze, challenge yourself further. Go back and find the riddle hidden in room 45. The answer to that riddle is concealed somewhere on the shortest path.

“Now proceed to the Prologue…your guide awaits you.”

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


Hidden Hint:

● The top right hand is a right hand while the other three are left hands. [Credit: Unknown] The top right hand points the correct direction to turn to the next page, and is thus the correct hand. This sets up a principle used throughout the book in which the non-matching item in a set is correct. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

Next:  Prologue

30 thoughts on “Directions

  1. The top right hand is a right hand while the other three are left hands. [Credit: Unknown] The top right hand points the correct direction to turn to the next page, and is thus the correct hand. This sets up a principle used throughout the book in which the non-matching item in a set is correct.

    I am confused. To me the top right hand is a LEFT hand, its the other 3 which are RIGHT hands, what’s going on here?

    • You’re correct. Right and left are switched in that description.

  2. If it only takes sixteen steps to complete the journey, then (hypothetically speaking) that would entail that it could also be finished in thirty two half-steps, right?

    • I don’t see how a step could be meaningfully divided into fractions in this context.

    • The first half-step is reading the text and the second half-step is looking at the picture.


    • I suppose you could temporally divide the act of turning to another page.

    • Yes, and when you’re in the middle of doing so, the text of one room is aligned with the picture of a different room, with all the pages in between bunched up in your hand.

      This is a whole new vista of MAZE dungeoneering!

  3. For the Directions I realized if you take the pointing hands top to bottom left to right you get North East West South or NEWS

  4. In order to make the story clear and a little less abstruse, would you please circumscribe any further details about the listed building in the shape of this rare book, however vague they may be? I know I can be enervating at times, and I very much so apologize, but I do think that there is a broader category, still to be found. Thanks. B

  5. As I started looking up mathematical signs, while studying the page entitled “DIRECTIONS”, I came across a pointing hand symbol called a “manicula” or “little hand”. It led me to an article called “Helping Hands On The Medieval Page”. Found out that they’re meant to highlight an important “passage”. These hands function as a kind of fingerprint of a particular reader, allowing us to assess what he or she found important about a book or a collection of books. And it appears that right hands are more common than left ones. There were other, easier ways to mark important passages, such as “lines” and crosses placed in the margin. However, in some cases readers preferred to have a more pronounced “signpost”. While a tiny line could be overlooked, the hands – particularly if executed with color – really pulled your attention to the thing that mattered. A medieval book was made because an individual wanted to read and own the text contained on its pages. However, owning a book in the age before print was a luxury. Due to the long production time and the materials used, the cost of a book’s production was steep, even if it contained no decoration or “miniatures”.
    This is why up to the later Middle Ages book ownership was generally confined to affluent environments, such as religious “houses” and courts. In regards to the “16 steps” I’ve come across something about weaving tapestries with yarn and wool among other things. I’ve also been reading about Christine de Pizan and Susan Groag Bell.

  6. Regarding III (3?) Directions: 3 right hands can be be interpreted as 3 rites of passage. 1) Separation 2) Liminality 3) Incorporation or Reaggregation. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals, ceremonies and by outward symbols of new ties. Thus “In rites of Incorporation there is widespread use of the ‘Sacred Bond’, the ‘Sacred Cord’, the KNOT (wooden) , and of analogous forms such as the BELT, the ring, the bracelet and the CROWN.”

  7. Just discovered this site. While it’s not much of a contribution, there’s an old belief that the left hand is the hand of the devil- which is the hand that points you in the direction of the maze on this page.

  8. I love this website, I’m so excited to get started on MAZE! Thanks to anyone who keeps this website going, I’m glad to see that it is still active. Forgive me for not reading everything thoroughly, I hope this question isn’t answered somewhere obvious, but is this the best way to go through the book for the first time, in other words, without spoilers and with all the pages and everything? Or is this more for people who have already gone through it for the most part?


    • Cera,

      Thank you for the kind comment about the website!

      MAZE is not kidding about being the “world’s most difficult puzzle.” It is crazy hard and 31 years after it’s publication we are still trying to figure out what it all means.

      It is hard to suggest a course of action since everyone is different but I will take a swing at it…

      First, don’t read the possible solutions here or elsewhere. Once you read a solution it is hard to get it out of your mind to make a discovery which is original.

      Second, map the rooms. This is mind boggling but really fun.

      Third, focus on one room at a time. If you don’t know how to even get started read the solutions for Room 1, this should give you the idea of how the book works.

      Fourth, once you believe you have throughly solved a room come back and read the solutions other people have offered for that room. Then post anything you have that is original, even if it disagrees with what is posted. What do we know? Your solution could be better.

      Anyone else want to weigh in?

      White Raven

  9. Just found the site, love this book. Wanted to add that the ‘odd gauntlet’ might be a symbol for the idiom: “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” That could further imply that the ‘right hand’ or ‘right hand man’ – the guide – is not to be trusted.

    • I just looked up that expression. It’s a bible verse Mathew 6:3, and it basically states that when you donate or are charitable, don’t look for public praise in doing so. Keep it to yourself. hmm..

  10. There sure seem to be a whole lot of references to 33 in this page. Two sets of 33 in the ribbons; two pillars each with three sections in the middle.

    • Okay, that’s not “a whole lot” but it’s something. Maybe it’s just more trefoil hints.

    • Interesting! I just looked up the number 33′s significance in numerology, and it is referred to as a ‘master number’.


      Positive Characteristics: The 33 is a humanitarian. It is understanding and knowledgeable, a mover and a shaker.

      Negative Characteristics: As a Master number, when the positive potential of this number is not used properly, one tends to become preachy and care less about others, putting too much focus on one’s personal agenda.

      source: numerology dot com

  11. The decroation on the pillars could be letters or numbers. The ribbons and ropes that go around the pillars look like 8s. The ribbon ends make 3s Es or Ms. The rope ends make Ss or ?s. Part of the guide riddle?

  12. Those aren’t just hands, they are “Gauntlets”. The Directions tell us we are being “challenged”. When you are challenged, the challenger “Lays down the Gauntlet”. Apparently our challenger has “laid down” his right Gauntlet so he has to point to where we are to proceed with his left gauntleted (bad form) hand. Challenge is mentioned 2 times in the Directions and again on the back cover, “MAZE will challenge you”.

  13. It was long ago observed that all the hands here are right hands except for the one in the top right corner; I’m not sure that a satisfactory conclusion has been drawn about why that is. It occurs to me that the one left hand points to the next page, and in that sense seems to be the one pointing the correct way. The first illustration of the odd-one-in principle?

    • vewatkin,

      You nailed it!

      This is where I coined “odd-one-in” – remember “Which one of these is not like the other?” from Sesame Street? There would be four objects, the one I remember best was four sandwiches, all had different lunch meat but three had mustard and one had ketchup. This four hand arrangement on this page reminded me of that. While trying to think of a name for the Sesame Street game I hit on “odd-one-in.” Bit of useless history, but there it is.

      White Raven


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