Puzzles by Type
By my count, as of this printing, there are 116 riddles in the Maze, though often two or three riddles are part of a larger riddle, and the 16 room path puzzle includes 16 riddles in 12 rooms. It is a sheer coincidence that I have found exactly 100 riddles apart from the riddles of the Path. There are several aspects of the book that I have yet to crack and I am certain that there are many riddles I have overlooked. Based on the number of possible unidentified aspects and adding for uncertainty I would guess the total number of riddles to actually be around 138.
The large majority of riddles are found in the illustrations, though few in number, many of the most important riddles are found in the text. I found very few riddles in the text that were not paired with at least one riddle in the illustration as part of a larger riddle. It appears the text plays a supporting (though critical) role in interpreting MAZE.
There are 12 basic types of riddles in MAZE. I will introduce them one at a time from the most used to the least used.
Metaphor (40+ occurrences)
This is the most used and most difficult to read correctly. A metaphor is riddle in which Mr. Manson merely suggests a conclusion based on our collective understanding of the symbolism of a thing. Such as, if a door has a picture of a girl on a hay mound eating a bowl of something and in the upper corner is a spider’s web – this recalls the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet. Spiders being, well, icky, and the rhyme ending with “scared little Miss Muffet away,” this is probably the wrong door.
It is very easy to find coincidental metaphors everywhere that were unintentional. Mr. Manson is very careful to only use metaphors that are either well supported in culture or supported throughout the book by multiple occurrences. Generally, unless the metaphor jumps off the page, you are probably chasing phantoms.
Hidden numbers (30+ occurrences)
These are exactly what they sound like, numbers that are in some manner hidden. These hidden numbers indicate door numbers though sometimes not the correct door. Finding a hidden number doesn’t necessarily mean you have figured out the riddle. Don’t fall into the trap of counting stuff in the room to add up to a door number, Mr. Manson’s riddles are far more elegant than that. When counting items is involved it is signaled by a visual cue. The hidden numbers are almost always hidden as words, shapes and sometimes concepts. Basic counting (less than 10) is rarely need and multiplication only once (the need for multiplication is indicated as a clue in the illustration).
Hidden phrase/word (30+ occurrences: 16 on the Path)
The 16 riddles of the Path are part of one hidden phrase puzzle. The others are standalone phrases or words that relate to the room that they are in. Though a few of these phrases have anagram aspects, none of the hidden phrases are solely based on a single traditional puzzle type.
Suggestions (20+ occurrences)
These are phrases spoken by the characters. The challenge with interpreting these phrases is that most of the suggestions I am referring to, don’t look like suggestions at all. They are phrases said by either the visitors or the “Guide” which give seriously helpful suggestions but appear to be innocuous statements.
Odd one in (10+ occurrences)
Normally one thinks of the odd one being “out,” in Mason’s world the odd one is “in.” This is just like the classic game from Sesame Street, “Which one of these is not like the other.” Two to three items will have a certain commonality (visual, linguistic, metaphorical) not shared by an additional item. The additional item is the correct choice. The clues can appear in either the text or illustrations.
Hidden symbols (10+ occurrences)
There are plenty of symbols littered around the Maze, some have meaning, and a few that have meaning are hidden in the illustrations.
Spatial (5+ occurrences)
These riddles require rotating or reversing objects in the illustrations.
Hidden images (a few occurrences)
Hidden images are far more intricate than symbols and instead of being part of a riddle, they are part of a solution.
Word Association (a few occurrences)
These are words riddles which have symbolic meaning.
Image comparison (a few occurrences)
This is like those, “find the differences” puzzles, two images with meaningful variations.