Room 16

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…a stone chamber which reminded me of my old neighbors. Of course, that was a long time ago now, but would you believe their descendants are still telling stories about me and my family to their children?

Even if most of the stories are lies and exaggerations, it is immortality of a sort.

As I passed in front of an open doorway a figure, crossing the hall outside, saw me and immediately ran off.

“Who was that?” they asked.

“Another visitor, to be sure.”

“Why did he run away?”

“You probably scared him,” I said, and they apparently believed me.

With few regrets on my part we left for…

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


Room Type:  LOOP     Doors:  4  7  32  36


● In the machine are two upside down hidden sevens. [Independent Credit: david gentile | White Raven] In the trap door is a hidden seven. [Credit: david gentile] The arm of the creature in the poster forms a seven. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven]

● The picture on the wall is Orson (as represented in the print by 16th century artist Peiter Brugel the elder) from the play/novel/poem “Valentine and Orson” [Independent Credit: Kubala Koala | White Raven] This theme is reinforced by Os and Vs hidden about the room. (V shaped keystones over the doors, circular room, O shaped handle on the trap door, V shape gap of the open trapdoor, circular silhouette of the pot, circle holes in the pot lid, circular gears, etc.) [Shared Credit: Aria / SP] “Valentine and Orson” was written by an unknown French author in the 15th century and rewritten in several forms in the 16th and 17th centuries. A common element is the rise of Orson from unthinking wild-man to king. The jester/fool and crown are paired symmetrically and represent Orson’s story. The correct door is indicated by the crown. [Independent Credit: MIT10 | White Raven] The mention in the text of another visitor who runs off, may be a reference to the villagers fleeing from Orson during his early days as a wild-man. [Credit: Vewatkin] [Note: This solution is incomplete]

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171 thoughts on “Room 16

  1. Sometimes I wonder if more clues are showing us what the wrong path is versus the correct one. As I go through the maze, I keep finding what appears to be thematically related objects pointing to the same rooms. For example, the “machine” in this room represents the flying fake devil in room 26. This machine has a head, 2 arms, 2 legs, and a tail. It’s even engaged in a pouring gesture like the fake devil in 26! Both the machine and the devil (it’s tail) are pointing to room 36? I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I think it may indicate the incorrect path. Perhaps with the jester’s head and machine pointing to 36 shows a false “gesture”? Interestingly, the open trap door points correctly to room 7 here, while an open trapdoor in room 26 points to the correct path, which is room 30.

  2. Forgive me is this has already been touched upon, but “Orson” is just too weird to not be part of a word puzzle. I notice that “Orson Parchment” is almost an anagram for “Christopher Manson.” If you add “his” and assume that “His Orson Parchment” is a thing, then gets you all the letters in “Christopher Manson.” Wasn’t there talk of the author using anagrams of his name throughout?

  3. I really don’t see what else that machine can be than a reference to the Brazen Head, which moves the story along by telling Valentine that he and Orson are brothers. It also tells him that they are the sons of the Emperor, and where their mother is. In some versions it tells him to cut the thing under Orson’s tongue so he can finally speak.

    Anyway, the point is, there’s a machine in the room, which could be made of brass, and I see a pretty good face on it in the bottom right, which is looking towards the correct door. If it’s a good little oracular automaton, we can assume it’s telling the truth and we should follow where it’s looking. We can also see its function in the story as a contrived plot DEVICE — deus ex MACHINA type thing — that moves things along in a magical/unlikely way. I guess the fact that its little receiving bucket is touching the fool and it is looking at the crown highlights its function in advancing the plot.

    I don’t know what else to do with this thing! Chip some wood?! Ticker some tape?

  4. I know there are some people that are not going to like this AT ALL but there are a couple of important sevens in the V & O story. Here’s a quote from a book called _Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men_ by Phyllis Siefker, which tells the story as part of some argument that I didn’t read. Here’s how it ends: “When the king of France died, [Orson & Valentine] took turns governing the empire until Valentine died seven years later. Orson then ruled for seven years, after which he abdicated, turning over his kingdom, wife, and children to the Green Knight, and returned to the woods.”

    Besides the odious casualness with which Orson hands over his family, the thing to note here is that a span of seven years appears twice at the end of the story, both times associated with ruling (the crown). I’ve found these two sevens in several retellings of the story. If the crown in the room represents Orson’s rule, and if the rule is seven years long, that’s a pretty decent door indicator.

    Our friend Phyllis adds: “The length Valentine and Orson reign — seven years — is significant because it corresponds to the time span for ritual killings of Wild Man priests, and later kings, in France.” Not sure if this last bit has anything to do with anything, but what were they doing to these poor people for seven years?

    • They both DIED after seven years! Do you see what I meant in 39 about how these things mean whatever you want them to? This is NOT a decent door indicator, even assuming that MAZE was presciently designed as a google scavenger hunt, because, using Room 39 logic, the negative association with 7 makes this the door to avoid, whereas value-neutral reference hunting tells you this is the door to take.

      There’s additionally the issue, when seeking out tangential references, that certain numbers are simply going to occur much more frequently and prominently in history/literature/folklore/whatever than others. If the number 741 were of peculiar relevance to Valentine and Orson, and that number appeared in this room, that would seem undeniably significant. But finding a single-digit number somewhere among the myriad recountings of the involved stories of Valentine and Orson is not a revelation.

    • 1. They didn’t both die after seven years. At the culmination of the story, Orson rules for seven years and then leaves. (He leaves his crown behind, just like the crown in this room has been left behind.) In the room there’s a door with a crown, a picture of Orson, and a seven on the door.

      2. The “seven years of rule” thing is in multiple different versions of the story. It is (I think) the only number of significance in the story.

      3. I agree that this is obscure. But if Manson wanted to put in an obscure reference like this, it makes sense that he would do it in this room, where it doesn’t really matter much which door you take.

      4. In 39, we now have two numbers in the story corresponding to the two wrong doors that occur at the horrific climax of the story. This seems pretty clear as a “rule these doors out” thing and highly unlikely to be coincidental!

    • #1′s a fair point. It’s still nothing that suggests 7 is the right room here, but my criticism was factually incorrect. It still has sufficient negative connotations that there would be no difficulty in using the same interpretation to indicate 7 is the wrong room if that’s what we wanted to do.

      I’m not going to scour the various versions of the histories of Valentine and Orson looking for other single-digit numbers, but I’m willing to wager that some can be found.

    • To be fair, it’s a reasonable connection to be interested in, beyond the credit I gave it when I was noting that single digit numbers are easy to find references to. This is more than Orson — 7. It’s Orson — crown — 7.

    • Aria, Vewatkin,

      I found a version of Orson and Valentine which was searchable as a text. I searched for every number 1 to 1000. Which sounds more time consuming than it was, it is only 32 searches (one, two, three, eleven, twelve, thirteen, twenty, thirty, hundred, thousand). Fortunately Orson and Valentine is spare on numbers in general.

      The pro:

      Apart from some really common uses of the numbers one, two, three, and four, most of the uses of numbers are the size of troops or groups of ships (ie. four thousand ships). The only other number besides the 7 years that stands out as potentially symbolically significant or relatively memorable is the “Nine Peers of France.” The significance of the this group of heroic knights does not begin with Orson and Valentine, it was a well known name, more like “the four corners of the Earth” in this respect. If I was asked what is the most literary significant and memorable number in Orson and Valentine I would say the 7 years.

      The con:

      The crown does lay on the steps to door 7 but it seems too much of a stretch to tie this to the seven years without some other indication that we are supposed to be looking for years.

      I take this as a potential solution, if we find some tie to years in this room I’d say we have a winner.

    • I absolutely do not buy that this room is a bunch of metaphorical representations of the story of Valentine and Orson, for a variety of reasons I’ve either already stated or that it wouldn’t be difficult to surmise, but if you DO believe that, I don’t know how you write off the 7 there. Orson, a crown, and 7, as a representation of Orson’s seven-year reign, is implausible because there’s no indicator of “year”? Good god, man, look at how much you’re willing to read into a giant-size marotte on the other side of the room. It seems like a pretty arbitrary moment to demand exhaustive correlation.

      [this message brought to you by the Committee to Weigh in on Discrepancies Between Proposed Interpretations Neither of Which We Remotely Support]

  5. It’s possible that the hat like object is simply another shape that looks like 7. I’ve tried to research the censer and “hat” and come up with nothing. The resources available to us today far exceed what anyone would have had access to during the publication of this book. For that reason I think this room’s main theme is things shaped like 7, such as the peaks of the doorways, or the hidden 7s in the machine on the left. The reference to Orson might prompt us to cue Valentine, in which the V is also a 7 shaped object. We’ve seen such angular solutions in other rooms like 13. ⊿

  6. In an only-makes-any-sense-after-the-fact kind of way, it’s interesting how the room itself in a vague way resembles a crown. Uh, that is, it’s round, open at the top, its doors somewhat resemble spikes…it’s technically open at the bottom too, but that might be carrying things a bit too far, and those things are already a bit resistant to carrying.

    • Well… what does that say about the reliability of this observation, then, HMMMMM?

    • But you know, it’s kind of interesting that all the doors in the 33/7/16/36 dead end have pointy tops.

      (Interesting but probably useless…)

    • Ooops, just mistakenly “liked” my own comment. Meant to reply. Feel free to remove that “like,” WR…

      Anyway, I was going to say that the doors in 33/7/36/16 dead end are the ONLY ones in Maze with pointy tops, I THINK, except for the one in Room 17 that LEADS to room 33.

      I don’t know if this is just pleasant symmetry inserted by Manson or what. But it seems intentional. Going to go post this on Room Interconnectivity.

    • I was joking by saying you couldn’t make the same observation in 33 because it gives the wrong answer, but it is true that the room isn’t round, and I’m not sure it’s open-topped. I guess it’s not clear that 16 is either; it looks like the light is coming through an open roof, but light sources swing a little freely in the Maze.

  7. The pot has holes in the top to let air in so that whatever is inside can breathe so that the pot is a symbol for life. When yo think about it is really the only truly generic symbol for life that isn’t medical like DNA.

    On the opposite side is the machine. Life vs machine. Orson is alive and covered in vines. The stick guy is just a puppet.

    We go with the life door cause life is good?

  8. ha ha

    HA HA


    The machine is vaguely the shape of an armored knight on horseback, bearing a lance.

    What, you don’t see it? YOU DON’T SEE IT? WHAT ARE YOU, CRAZY?


  9. The trap door is opened towards the incorrect door, which is also a “trap door” (i.e., the door is a trap.)

  10. Hi WR! I think this page needs an update on its summary and on the “by completion” page — it is now “partially solved,” right?

  11. I keep thinking of stuff that the jar could be in O and V there was a lot of traps and betrayals but the jar is next to the right door. While I am reading through this stuff, anybody got an idea what this could represent that is good?

    • I read one version of the story where a nasty archpriest (presumably wearing a “holey” hat) gets beheaded… I guess that’s good in the context of the story and the pot could be his head…? It’s not great…

  12. One more thing to support this solution: the text twice mentions “stories,” signalling that we should be looking for a story-type solution.

  13. I have become rather fond of my machine = brazen head theory, and I found a face in the machine to support it: it’s in the bottom right quarter of the machine — two eyes, a big round nose (with chain attached) and a smiling shadow mouth. You put the question in the little box and the face answers you.

    • More on the brazen head/brass head. It’s important to the story (in the version I read) because it’s through the brass head that Orson and Valentine learn that they are brothers.

      Previous to this point, Orson couldn’t speak but the brass head tells Valentine to cut the thread connecting Orson’s tongue to the base of his mouth. Valentine does and then Orson can speak. (This is a real thing — it’s called being tongue-tied.)

      SOOOOO…. look at that trap door. Could it be a tongue with the prop representing the tongue-tie?

      OR do I need to possibly step away from the comment board for a few hours…

  14. Well, there a bunch of Os and Vs here if we want to reinforce the theme — a prominent sideways V in the trapdoor opening and an O on the handle is one; also a bunch of Vs in the grain of the wood.

    • Os and Vs in the crown. Vs in the keystones (thanks to sp for that one). Os and a V in the “pot hat” or whatever. Lots of Os in the machine.

    • Yeah, okay I see it. The ring handle on the door could have been designed differently, this is the only room with doorways like that, also the pot itself is oddly circular…

      Putting it up on the board!

    • Does anyone else remember that jingle from Old Vienna beer commercials? I remember it from when I was a kid: “OV, OV, oh yeah… just say OV.”

      And now it shall be in my head for the next week.

  15. WR confirmed that the pic is Orson from Orson and Valentine. How about this. The jester is the fool that Orson was when he was a wild man and the crown is the king that he becomes at the end. So we choose the happy ending not the sad beginning.

    • Okay so I looked back an WR didnt confirm it was Orson but I still think there is something to this.

    • It is Orson, but whether his identity is important or not is still unknown. I guess the important question is: is Orson’s name important to a puzzle? Is Valentine?

    • What I am thinking is that what may be important it is the story line. O&V is long and has a lot of plot twists. There are a few versions of it but the main story could be summed up as, wild man ends up being king. The pot trap could be part of the story and so could the machine. May be it is part of the story shown in pictures? It would make sense because there is only that big pic of Orson on the wall like to say this room is about Orson. He was a king, and theres a crown, he was wild and uneducated and theres a fool. Dont know about the machine and the pot.

    • Villagers running away from Orson was actually a significant part of the tale as well.

    • Valentine = heart
      Orson = club
      (Relates to my — so far unfruitful — card theory, anyway!)

    • MIT10,


      Congratulations also to Kubala Koala from back in September of 2013 who identified the image!

      Bumping it up two!

      Note: When solving this room I read several versions of Orson and Valentine to see if Manson was using a particular version. The story has a long history, 150+ years of revisions. I could be wrong but it appears as if the room is based on the common denominators of these stories not a particular version.

      White Raven

    • Okay, I totally support this solution, but I am puzzled…. why then is Orson walking the wrong way? Or am I looking at it too literally?

    • 515,

      Perhaps because this is based on an image commonly thought to be of Orson during his wild-man days (some experts think it is the giant but MAZE was made pre-Google). So the wild-man is walking toward the wrong door while the villager/cultured man (he has a top hat after all) flees toward the correct door.

    • Sorry, I should have added “solution incomplete” to the summary, I’ll do it now.

    • Not satisfied with this. Kubala Koala should have been credited back when they discovered this, since you can’t come to these conclusions without this preliminary knowledge. It would have counted as an ‘incomplete solution’. Crediting things in such a way makes it impossible to determine if a solution is incomplete or simply wrong.

      Wouldn’t it make more sense that Valentine were associated with the crown since he was technically the ruler of his land while Orson was in the bush? Sorry if I sound highly critical here but associating Orson with the crown while dismissing Valentine, a key part of the story, is a bit wishy washy.

      I mean, its obvious Orson is a more recognizable character than Valentine if you drew them on paper. Valentine is just a regular shmoe, if you drew him alone. Orson on the other hand, conjures up the whole tale.

    • Er… the brazen head makes an appearance in the version I read… an oracular automaton… could that be what the machine represents? It’s pretty weak…

    • Maybe the machine is the war machine of the sarocens? I’m an engineer and I can tell you that it is no real machine is just an abstract thing.

    • SP,

      I don’t credit things that aren’t at least partial solutions – saying it is Orson doesn’t mean the door is correct.

      I did however confirm that it was Orson, all the way back in June, 2014 Beelzibibble wrote: “But Orson is strutting in the other direction, toward 36 – so this seems arbitrary.” I replied: “The solution is incomplete, thus it not being in the summary.” Then when vewatkin found the 7 in Orson’s arm I put the image of Orson from the print and Manson’s image side by side for comparison in related images.

      Regarding kingship: In every version I read, Orson wound up being either equal co-ruler with Valentine (…the end) or wound up being sole ruler. The oldest versions have Orson as sole ruler after Valentine takes off to do penance. I don’t know of a version where he is not described as an idiot at the beginning and does not become a full king at the end.

    • i guess i just have a problem with omitting valentine entirely in favour of orson being the bearer of the crown. aria’s observation of hidden o’s and v’s reinforces this, as hidden 7s also fit this theme a bit better than an “orson synthesis”. i guess I’m just more inclined to leave things open ended with more than one possibly intended theory over one single theory. without confirmation it seems a bit subjective to assume only one can be correct.


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