Room 5

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…the tree room.

“Are these real?” they asked.

I told them the trees were as real as anything else in the House. As this was an important decision I encouraged them to take their time. After all, the more they think about the possibilities the more choices they have to make.

What were their chances of choosing wisely…one in four? Two in four perhaps, if I was generous about it…and why not be generous? There are one hundred ninety doors in this part of the House, counting the gate…enough for everyone.

Making a choice, they entered a very long, dark corridor and at last came out into…

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


Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  20  22  30  43


● The Guide says the chances of choosing correctly are two in four because two of the doors are on The Path and the other two lead to The Trap. [Credit: R. Serena Wakefield]

● The final “forth _____” can be understood as simply pointing to the “fourth” door (which is one of the okay ones) [Credit: Beelzebibble] [Solution incomplete], or as “forthcoming” [Credit: White Raven - there is more to this solution involving the third and fourth doors], or as “forthcoming” and “forthgoing” indicating that there are two doors but not indicating which one [Credit: shmizza]. Only one of these options can be correct, the rarity of “forthgoing” puts that solution in doubt but all three solutions are possible. Alternately the final “forth _____” could refer to the forth tree, which straddles the two correct doors, thus indicating both/either. [Credit: sp]

● In the text the Guide and visitors discuss if the trees are real. The two incorrect doors are separated from the two okay doors by the center tree. On the incorrect side is a drawing of the castle. On the okay side is a real flower (not a drawing of a flower) indicating these as the correct doors. (Here and elsewhere Manson assumes that real is good and fake is bad). [Independent credit: Vewatkin | White Raven]

● There appears to be a Sleeping Beauty metaphor in this room. The fairy tale of Briar Rose (commonly known today as Sleeping Beauty), was recorded in the Grimms’ Fairy Tales in 1812. In the story Briar Rose is cursed to sleep for a 100 years in a tower.The tower in the poster on the left has moon symbols over the towers suggesting sleep. The flower on the right looks very similar to the briar rose flower. Given the plot line of the story this suggests we avoid the door with the tower on it (22) and choose a door near the flower (20 or 30). The cut branches of the trees may suggest the chopping through the magical thicket in the Disney version. Also the two good rooms 20 and 30 add up to 50 the number of the fairy tale in Grimms’, this could be subtly suggesting that these are the correct doors or may be coincidence. [Credit: Aria]


108 thoughts on “Room 5

  1. Last Quarter 1/2 moon waning (decreasing) is what we are seeing with the doors…not a first quarter 1/2 moon waxing (increasing). After the full moon the waning (getting smaller) starts. After the new moon (not visible) the waxing starts. It would be saner if the doors were actually dark and behind/inside of the doors, that would be the crescent moons, were light. When we look at the moon waxing is crescent on the right, waning is crescent on the left.

    There are actually beautiful nocturnal large white moonflowers.

    • But a crescent moon is not a quarter moon. “quarter moon” means the phase of the moon that is half lit. It is confusing unless you realize that it means the moon has made one quarter of its orbit.

  2. It looks to me like the “crescent moon” atop the minaret on Door #22 is cluing us to each door being a phase of the moon. Taking in consideration that the easel wants 4 phases and tricky here but important, the darkness in the doorways is actually the “lighted moon” clued by the curve at the top of the door:
    Door #20 = Waning Gibbous Moon (3/4)
    Door #43 = Last Quarter (1/2)
    Door #22 = Waning “Crescent” Moon (1/4)
    Door #30 = New Moon (that cannot be seen-in other words the moon disappears as we should through Door #30.
    Also – The easel is looking for the 4th line it would be the “fourth quarter” meaning the “Waning Crescent” = Door #22.
    Narrative includes “one in FOUR” & “two in FOUR” This clues that we don’t have to follow the spelling forth and we can use fourth.

    The Flower: The flower is a “MOONFLOWER” that is a nocturnal blooming flower and is a large white flower.

    • I was sort of getting into the moon phase thing, so not saying there might not be something to it. But the door #22 leads to the trap, so it is certainly not the correct door. Also I don’t think fourth quarter is a moon thing – more a football thing. But – First quarter is when the moon looks like a waxing half, and last (or 3rd?) quarter is when it looks like a waning half. So if I were to infer a 4th quarter I’d say it was the New moon. The moon has made one full circle since last new moon at that point. And that would be door 30, which is best choice.

      Is there a reason the flower is a moon flower other than just to fit the moon theme?

  3. On “real”: here and in 34 I assume “real” is about roots. “real roots” here, and Imaginary roots “i” in 34. The word also appears in the text is these rooms: 3,23,26,32,35. I’ve not looked to see what I make of those instances yet. But I’ll throw in out to the forum as a bit of raw meat.

  4. Why would anyone say something rude about my solutions? Either way, this room is done, since there were only those two points left. I wish everyone could be a bit more succinct. Why linger in the four-est when there’s 186 more doors in this ‘world’. Explore the four corners of the Earth. Enjoy it. Why are so many people here frustrated?

  5. And speaking of Room 5, episode 14 of the Maze Podcast is up ( and concerns itself almost exclusively with Room 5. A couple things there that maybe should be repeated here, but…oh, so lazy…

    Here’s a postscript, though, to a question posed in the episode: Why does the the Guide lie about the number of rooms in “this part of the House”? The Guide says there are 190 rooms including the gate–but in fact there are 190 excluding the gate. Right? And the Guide isn’t talking to the visitors when he says it–it’s his internal monologue. What’s going on here?

    Well, I mention in the episode that Room 10 and Room 37 are heavily implied to be on either side of a single door, unlike all the other room connections in Maze. In other words, rather than having two separate doorways at the ends of whatever sort of passage connects the rooms, these two rooms have only one door between them. However, I dismiss this: Although it is suggested that the group in Room 10 tries to open the (unmarked) door to Room 37, and the group in 37 actually sees the door move as a result, the doors cannot be the same–the door on 37′s end is a solid door with a pull handle on one side, and the door in 10 is a double door that opens in the middle with two pull knobs. So we still have two doors here, and it’s just some…magic or…something…

    OR, the door in 10 is only made to look like a set of double doors.

    “They tried the door but, naturally, it wouldn’t open.”

    Naturally? What’s natural about it? It doesn’t say the door is locked, just that it doesn’t open when they try to open it.

    Of all the doors is 10, this is the only one that isn’t at all open. The doors to 14 and 41 are open, proving that they are real double doors, but this door, being closed, might just as easily be a single door with two knobs in the middle and carved designs like those of the other two doors. And that might be why the door doesn’t open when the group tries to open it–they are attempting to open it like a pair of double doors, like the other doors in the room, but they are opening it the wrong way.

    WHICH IS ALL JUST TO SAY, that may well be the only door, the one place in the Maze where the door that leaves one room is the same door that drops you in another. And that makes the Guide’s statement true–there are 190 doors in the part of the House, counting the Gate. (Ok, technically the Gate is another place where it is made clear that it’s the same doorway on both sides. The Gate and Rooms 10/37. There. Happy?)

    However goofy the fake double door idea sounds to you, just keep in mind–well, just look at 10 and 37 again. There’s no question that Manson is suggesting the the groups are on either side of the same door; the door types just don’t apparently match up. I’m just pointing at that the door we see in 10 is inherently incompatible with the doorway we see in 37; it’s possibly just deceptive, and maybe the text is pointing to that. Maybe not.

    “Hey, Vince, maybe the two doors are right against each other, so that when they try to open to door in 10 it knocks against the door in 37. Maybe that’s why there’s a rattling sound before the door shakes. What about that rattling sound, Vince? What about that?”

    Look, man, don’t give me a hard time here, I’m just trying to salvage this 190 count, and I think I found a pretty good way of doing it! This isn’t pulled out of a hat stuff–it’s all right there in the book! And if you don’t like it, then just tell me why the Guide is lying to himself in his own thoughts? Or does he somehow not know about one of the doors?


    Maybe the knobs in the middle aren’t pullknobs but doorknobs, but they’re fake, and that’s why there’s a rattling–of the doorknobs–before the shaking. How do you like that?

    Also from this episode:

    Some stuff with forthcoming, forthgoing…

    Flower, tower…bower?…hour? Anyway, the flower is real, the tower is just a drawing, if you take the discussion of realness in the text as some kind of indication of that.

    Tower also seems part of a false path if you just came here from 20, where you followed a tower to get here…

    If you came here from 30, you came from a room with a fake tree, making the guide’s statement that these trees are as real as anything else in the Maze suggestive that everything is fake.

    Thail Krider notes that this is a “for”-est room…not really a solution to a puzzle, but an interesting point in keeping with the four-theme of the room. (Four doors, four “for” words, one in four, two in four.)

    Other than that, mostly things that have been said before, or interesting observations that don’t amount to anything in the way of a solution yet.

    • Regarding the door from 10 to 37. Not really “knocking” the idea, but I was reminded of what “True Believers (TM)” do when they find contradictions in the bible. Their solution is elaborate, whereas, “they contradict” is simple. The style of the doors here in 10 and 37 are the contradiction. The simple explanation is Manson just did not reconcile these facts. Although, the proposed reconciliation does cover the bases. On the other hand – I always assumed that the 190 miscount was meant to purposely omit the hidden door to 17. The guide is talking to us but not the guests, so he’s keeping that door a secret from us is my thought. My other issue would be that not all exits actually have doors on them at all, so I take “door” to mean “exit” but I agree, one should never assume.

    • “naturally” is interesting. It occurs only in rooms 10 and 41, right next to each other. In 41 I write: ““Naturally” (found only here and in room 10) in the text could help slightly with the “recycled” idea. All this is very fitting, because if you’ve made it here you’ve clawed your way out of the depths of the Loop and made it all the way back to room one to “start over”. ” But that just fits it in with a theme of 41 and says nothing about why the word occurs in 10 or how they might be connected. I don’t have a theory at the moment.

    • I don’t think there is an “us” in this story, but if there is, the Guide is unusually candid with us as well, tell us all sorts of things he intends to remain hidden from the guests. It’s still strange that he lies to “us” here; singular, even?

      I don’t think the Guide is presented as being aware that he is a character in a book. Not to belabor THAT point, but the only part of the book that acknowledges that it IS a book are the Directions, which are apparently not delivered by the Guide–they end by saying the Guide awaits us in the Prologue.

      I could see saying that the mismatch of doors in 10 and 37 just don’t matter–the doors are just doors and the design doesn’t matter. I’m fine with that, and that only strengthens the impression that there is only a single door between those two rooms, which makes the 190 count a true statement by the Guide.

      Actually, that’s ingenious. It means that when simply counting entrances and exits, we get 190, so the number seems true; and it is true, but very misleading!

    • The “us” is an interesting question. Because for example reading the prolog he seems to be a narrator to a story – that’s an awful elaborate internal monolog if he is talking to himself. Also I wonder if Manson wrote the directions. WR says he did not design the cover somewhere, I think.

      Why keep the hidden door hidden from “us” in 5? Puzzle design? Manson wants to clue us to counting and matching doors, and note that there is an extra unmarked door to 17 that does not seem to come from anywhere until you find the hidden door.

      But, then, yes, it is a good point that this is the only place I know of he lies to “us”.

    • vewatkin,

      Congratulations on the real flower!

      Also ten continuity points for your marvelous work on the single mismatched door.

      White Raven

    • David Gentile,

      To affirm, yes, the cover was made by the publisher. Manson was hoping for something more moody and preferably black. (He said he liked the look of this site – lots of black.)

      Manson wrote the directions himself, but if the publisher was going to muck around with something in the book’s interior the directions is the most likely spot, and so I am unsure if the the final form is entirely Manson’s.

      White Raven

    • Wow, i really don’t like this one. How can we really know the flower is real from this distance? it could be a fake plastic flower. How long has it been there? are we supposed to believe the guide put’s a new flower in there everyday (how sweet)? And what about the easel and the words, are they not real? or are we just picking and choosing what fits our solutions? And as an aside, the so called castle looks more like a mosque and a minaret than a castle (complete withe the crescent moon). or is it just a “four”-tress” and another aside: acording to wiki an easel is at an angle of about 20° to the vertical.

    • Hey Kon-Tiki, I remember bringing up much the same objection about the “realness” of the flower in the Mazecast, to which Vince replied: yeah, it might be an artificial flower, but it’s still “real” in the sense that there is actually a three-dimensional flower-shaped entity existing in this room, whereas the tower is just a drawing in this room.

      I don’t love it, but there you go.

  6. The word “forthward” does not exist. It sounds like “fourth word”.
    This is a clue that ties in with the riddle of the path.

    • Whoa, Thail, this is the kind of stuff that sets people off. Don’t just say something is a clue–say what the clue is. What you mentioned to me was that the fourth word of the title (Maze: Solve the WORLD’s…) is the word indicated by the room here.

      “Forthward” is a real word, but archaic.

    • Sorry. I was just keeping it ‘spoiler’ free. Yes, it ties in with Atlas. (who is on three pages)

    • Hidden Mystery,

      There is no reason to avoid spoilers, this whole site is one huge spoiler. Feel free to keep solutions to yourself, but when you do share please be complete.

      For instance, if you think Atlas is on three pages tell us which three pages and why…or just don’t mention it in the first place, there is no reason to share anything you don’t want to. :)

      White Raven

    • I don’t see how many details need be in each post. I would rather readers see, “Fourth Word” and think, ‘What could that be?’. In the podcast, one guy only sees the fourth word on the page. But, as to the book itself, the title’s fourth word is WORLD, which is the sought after riddle answer (discussed in detail on this site).
      I can post the pages of Atlas somewhere, but two of them are easy to find. I will post it under the correct pages since you requested it.
      Glad to have positive comments on this one.

    • I can see what you’re going for, but I think you’ll agree with me that the reaction you want is NOT the reaction you’re getting. People aren’t saying, “How intriguing, let me see whether I can figure out this clue.” They’re saying…well, they’re saying much ruder things. There’s nothing spoiled if you put all your cards on the table, because as it is, nobody is trying to peek over your shoulder to get a look at your hand.

  7. Thought I said this here, but I don’t see it:

    “…they entered a very long, dark corridor and at last came out into…”

    Related to the sign to 30 being encircled by the branches of the dark, foregrounded tree?

  8. The word part is found in this text as well. There is a fourth bird here in anagram form. Heron. There is an extra e. But the text right above says we should be generous.

    • “Are one h….” “a heron” with leftover e. Heron was a character in some native american raven stories.

  9. They exit down a very long corridor or “branch” so again we should pick 30 because the sign is surrounded by long healthy branches.

  10. This room is one of the nodes or sephira on the Tree of life from mystical tradition. In fact this sephira is described as the Tree of Life itself. It is the point where the other 10 are united as one. Some sources describe the tree as having roots reaching upwards towards divinity, as these do here. And after noting this fact we have another exit indicator. The sign for 30 is the only one surrounded by the branches of the Tree of Life.
    This room is on the central trunk of the tree have text relating to decisions and/or choices, that is – branches in the tree. The text here has that has “important decision” and “encouraged” just like room 11, another room on the central trunk of the tree. The sephira below here are sometimes called the Abyss. On wiki page Aleister Crowley described the abyss: “This doctrine is extremely difficult to explain; but it corresponds more or less to the gap in thought between the Real, which is ideal, and the Unreal, which is actual. In the Abyss all things exist, indeed, at least in posse, but are without any possible meaning; for they lack the substratum of spiritual Reality. They are appearances without Law. They are thus Insane Delusions… Now the Abyss being thus the great storehouse of Phenomena, it is the source of all impressions.” No further comment needed…

  11. Trees of the artificial sort and animals mark some of the rooms. Interroom connectivity plays a role. The diagram is not a perfect match as far as connections go but I think I know which rooms are the 11 nodes of the tree. So far it does not help solve anything but who knows. Center row down the middle is 1,5,4,11,24. Right side going down is 30,42,43. Other side is 20 ,15, 22.

    Research on the meaning of the notes is needed at this point.

    • Yes the meanings of all 11 rooms match in one way or another. The bottom two nodes are 40 and 11 however. Not 11 and 24.

    • The flower – yes 5 sides. yes rhymes with power. But also – it is a living plant. Well sort of any way. But I think that’s the idea here.

    • My sense is there is an alternate meta maze map involving the mystical tree of life. 5 connects to both loops of key in trap and those connections should be part of the tree I think. I also think I have an answer to why room 4 goes direct to 24 for no obvious reason. Part of tree picture.

  12. More tree of life stuff here. Sometimes depicted as eminating from Devine world with roots reaching up.

  13. We’ve made a lot of the fact that 5 connects to the Path in two different ways, and that the best door to take depends on whether you’re headed in or out–but realistically, 30 pretty much has to be your door.

    Remember that the goal is to find the 16-step path, not just to get back. If you step off the path in 15, go to 30, then to 5, 20 is indeed the fastest route to 1. But that doesn’t get you back on the sixteen-step path; it just means you got back to 1 the wrong way. Getting back on the path, such that you actually travel the right path (albeit with extraneous steps) means going back to 30 and then back to 15.

    The only time you might really want to go back to 20 is if you go to 5 from 20 on the way back to 1–but that’s not very likely move, since you can go to 1 from 20!

    I know, I know what the text says. But the guide has to be generous to allow that two of the doors could be considered correct, so they don’t sound like equal options. 20 is still a close second best room, given that the other rooms are in the trap.

    • What I have previously said is it is 5 sided. Goes with room 5 and the two good exits are the ones evenly divisible by 5. The two exits are the (real) roots of a function we could write involving division by 5.

  14. Interesting, the comments about the trees being as real as anything else here. We have a door to 22 here; 22 is described as resembling a theatrical backdrop, and the door to 22 from Room 2 contains fake bushes or clouds or something. Here, in Room 5, the door to 22 is covered with a drawing of a tower or castle or something (is that a sleeping dragon at the base?), the import of which I don’t know–but it isn’t real, whatever it is.

    That flower seems to be marking the two good doors. Any idea why?

    • People have been speaking of the “fourth door” as if that should be understood to mean the fourth door from left to right–but that seems like an unjustified assumption. The sequence of door aperture better suggests that we’re looking for the fourth door in that sequence.

      The problem is that we don’t know whether the door is opening or closing. However, whichever way we look at it, we still end up in a room on the Path: 30 is the fourth door of a closing sequence, and 20 is the fourth door of an opening sequence.

      You’d like for that to relate to 20 being the best door on the way out, and 30 being the best door on the way in; like, perhaps you’d want to say that if you’re on the way in to the Maze, you’re opening the door, and if you’re on the way out, you’re closing it. But I don’t know, really, either way you’d have to open a door, and you don’t really have to close it behind you. Maybe, just, an open door is associated with entry, and a closed door by departure?

      The big problem I have with the standard interpretation for this room is that all those “forth” words don’t really add anything. The sign could just say “forth” and the clue would operate in the same way–to indicate the fourth door in some unspecified sequence. Adding “-coming” to the final “forth” doesn’t really seem to add anything to our understanding either, since it still doesn’t break the 20/30 tie. (If the door is shutting, it’s coming toward us. If it’s opening, we’re coming inside.)

      So, the clue narrows it down in a way consistent with the text’s discussion of “two in four,” but it still seems to have a lot of superfluous clueage about it.

    • If we take the fourth in the sequence of open/closed doors we either get 20 or 30. Those are both the good doors, and the same ones you get with the root solution, so yes that is probably the point here. It’s not unreasonable to count forward, however, and that gives us 20. I would not count backwards unless it was supposed to be Arabic or something. (I have a copy of the Koran and it opens on the left – small things like that can see very odd).

      If I had to assign words to doors – fourthwith is WITH a poster. forthright is on the RIGHT, at least from our view. forthward would be the closed door WARDing us off. The blank to be filled would go to 43 then. Not good. So that is your Red Herring for the room perhaps.

  15. We have “forth” 4 times, that is it is “multiplied” 4 times, and a general invitation to fill in half a word. We have tree “trunks”, and branches that have undergone “truncation”. Subtract most of trunk from truncation and get “-cation”. Put that together with the clue from the sign and we have “multiplication”. Then we can note that branches “divide”, and we are helped to this by the text that talks about an “important decision” and “possibilities” and “choices” these are “branches” in our possible future path. And then we have that “tower” and “flower” rhyme with “power”. Feeble support for this one comes from the “long dark corridor” where maybe the “power” is out. Put division, multiplication, and power together and we have mathematics.
    Note that the top of the trees, when turned up-side down look like roots. In mathematics a “root” is when the value of a function is zero. If we construct a function that gives us the remainder of the door number divided by the page number (5), then there are two roots here, 20, and 30, both of them acceptable exits. The text helps confirm this by asking “Are these real? There are real and imaginary roots in mathematics, but these are indeed real roots. Finally the five peddled flower, between the two correct doors, may be the final clue here. Instead of dividing by the room number 5 we could divide by the number of petals. But differently – 5 petals and room 5 together tells us we should make some use of “5”.

  16. Regarding 4-5 different reasonable ways to fill in (or not) the 4th 4th. The comments say that once one can be correct. But I disagree. Manson easily could have know that this could be solved more than 1 way, butt hat all would give the correct answer in any case.

  17. Revisiting this room…

    I counted the number of split branches that cross the top border of the image (that is, from the three foremost trees), and I keep coming up with 21. Damn, I would’ve liked for that to add up to 20. I still feel like there must be something there, with White Raven having hinted that there are three other riddles in this room. (The breakdown is as follows: 5 branches from the tree on the left, 12 from the tree on the center, 4 from the tree on the right, if anyone is interested.)

    Counting the branches in the back looks like a mug’s game, I don’t think there’s anything productive to be done there — it’s all too much of a jumble. I *think* there are thirty little sprouts in the narrow “shelf” between the two wooden boards at the top of the picture, but don’t hold me to that. I don’t feel great about it.

    Although I’d speculated as to the meaning of the “tower” on door #22 earlier, I never noticed the rhyme of “tower” and “flower” before. Maybe significant, probably not. I guess it’d be too facile to suggest that the flower sitting between the two favorable doors is supposed to draw you toward them and away from the unfavorable doors.

    • When I seeing prominently rhyming objects in a room, it makes me think of Room 4, where objects meant to suggest hit, split, lit, sit, and fit are there to suggest “it.” (I’m convinced of as much anyway.)

      Here we have “flower” and “tower,” which leave us with “ower” or, I hope you’ll allow, “hour.”

      And in the text, yet another mention of time: “As this was an important decision I encouraged them to take their time.”

      I hope you didn’t think I was building up to something there, because I don’t know how to use that hour/time connection to actually determine anything useful.

    • Oh, man, and is this “tree room” (as it is described in the text) a “bower”? Too far? I don’t know…

  18. hello.

    about the 4 “forths”. if i associate the list top to bottom with the doors from left to right, i get:

    43 -forthwith
    22 – forthright
    30 – forthward
    20 – either forthgoing or forthcoming

    now. if i am on the way IN, 20 is indeed the room i am COMING from, and 30 is the way forWARD. if iam about to be GOING OUT, i need 20.

    • You’re labelling the doors left to right with the forth- words, but note that the doors are also in four different stages of opening/closing. Do we get any helpful results if we label the doors according the where they fall in the process of opening? Or of closing?

    • I think the word is “forthought”. That seperates into forth and ought. And you ought to go through the forth door.

    • Well, but that’s spelled “forethought.” Even if we accepted “forthought,” we’re still left with “forthcoming” as another contender, and seems more promising as a connection to the fact that this room has different correct doors based on whether you’re coming or going.

  19. The only other words in English that begin with “forth-”, I believe, are “forthcoming” and the rare “forthgoing” (or variations).

    The invitation to fill in the blank, though, might itself be a red herring. If “forth” is interpreted on its own, then it is an invitation to take the “fourth” door, which from our perspective is #20. This is indeed the correct choice, as it will give you the chance to get out of the LOOP rooms and back to #1. I wish there were a stronger clue that could be filled in the blank, though.

    The tower in the poster on door #22 could possibly be a very weak trap signal, given Rapunzel’s legacy of literary characters locked inside towers. I don’t like that very much, but I can’t see any connection between the tower and the actual contents of #22.

    • I don’t know whether the 190 figure aids in solving this room, but it’s worth noting that the 190 figure is an important infodumped clue about there being a hidden door in the Maze. There’s nothing secret or tricky here, just noting this is important: combined with a little elbow grease, this informs the reader they need to look for another door.

    • Yep. If you count the gate as he says to, but not the secret door you get 190. But that is an even number, and you counted the gate once, so it SHOULD be odd. And then, yes, you can find that there must a hidden way into 17, but not where from.


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