The Solution to MAZE: Main Puzzle

The following is the solution to the main puzzle of Christopher Manson’s “MAZE: Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle.”

This is not a solution to the book on a whole. Only 12% of MAZE is presently solved. This forum is for fans of the Manson’s MAZE to discuss solutions to the 88% that has gone unsolved and to talk about how much the book creeped us out when we were ten.

On to the main solution…

The main puzzle of MAZE has three parts:

Part I = The 16 Step Path >

Part II – The Riddle of Room 45 >

Part III – The Riddle of the Path >



Or see below for all three together as one long list:


The Path to the center of the maze:

From Room 1, you take the door to Room 26, then go Room 30, then to Room 42, then to Room 4, then to Room 29.

In Room 29 the door to Room 17 is hidden (it should be easy to find now that you know this), from Room 17 you enter Room 45.

So it goes like:  1 > 26 > 30 > 42 > 4 > 29 (find hidden door) > 17 > 45.

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The Riddle of Room 45:

The trick to solving the riddle of Room 45 is symmetry and grouping. From easiest to hardest here are the hidden words revealed:

The two pictures on the wall give the words awl = “All” and nun = “None.” You have to pick one of the two but which you choose doesn’t matter.

The sign which looks like Elvis with the “S” cut off can be rearranged to spell “live” “evil” or “vile.” The correct word is “live” because without it we have no verb to work with.

The “W” and question mark are symmetrically across from the hat. “W” + “hat” + “?” = “What?”

The shoe and the horseshoe are grouped together. If the horseshoe wasn’t called a horseSHOE this would have been easy, but it is hard to ignore that aspect and see it as just a “U.” If you rearrange the letters of “shoe” + “U” it spells “house.”

Symmetrically across from one another are a sign with and eye on it (eye = “i”) and a long thin “Z”. The eye is looking directly at the long “Z.” If we tilt the “Z” it becomes an “N” and together they spell “in.” It isn’t too hard to get this once you have the other letters and realize you need a preposition, but until that point it in near impossible.

The tree trunks on the table affixed to a board are a row of wood… “Woodrow.” I tip my hat to whoever figured this out, wow.

Once “Woodrow” is figured out the last bit is pretty easy, but beforehand it is nearly impossible. Under the wood row is a paper with a sun at the top and “I AM” with a hand shaking a spear at the bottom. Even as clueless kid I knew this was “Shakespeare” and “son.” but what to do with those words was lost on me. I remember asking the librarian at school if she knew the names of Shakespeare’s children.

With “Woodrow” in hand we know to look for “Wilson” as in “Woodrow Wilson” the former president. On the left side of the paper we have “iam Shakespeare” The solution to this part of riddle is to add the missing part of his name “WILL” as in “WILL-iam Shakespeare”

We know to include Woodrow Wilson in the phrasing of the riddle and not William Shakespeare because of clue number 3 from the publisher, “You will find two names on the table, and they go together like doughnut and hole.”

“Woodrow”is the hole, “Wil” and “son” are the doughnut).

It appears to be an extraordinary coincidence that William Shakespeare’s theater was named “The Globe Theater” and that “globe” is one of the correct answers to the main puzzle.


The “will” phrasing of the riddle:

Some take the items on the table to mean to suggest the word “will” from WILL-iam Shakespeare and Woodrow WILL-son. If taken this way the resulting riddle is written as either:

“What house will all live in?”

“In what house will all live?”

There are four problems with reading it this way: 1. The word “will” doesn’t really add anything to the sentence. 2. Both the names are pretty big clues in and of themselves (see below). 3. The clues that make up the names are separated from the other clues in the room by being on the table, suggesting they are meant to be taken as names, not a word. Much like the way names are circled in hieroglyphs  4. The hardest clues to get in the room relate to these names, which makes little sense for a non-essential word.


The “Woodrow-Wilson-on-the-side phrasing of the riddle:

Those who take the clues in this manner phrase the riddle in one of two ways:

”What house all live in?”

“In what house all live?”

Then add on the side:

“Woodrow Wilson.”

The fact that this isn’t a single phrase, suggests we are not quite there yet.


The White Raven phrasing of the riddle:

Taking a clue from the order that the clues appear in the room (and also good grammar) I am leaving behind ”What house all live in?” and “In what house all live?” in favor of “All live in what house?”

Then working the name into the phrase and taking the choice of pictures seriously we get either:

”All live in what Woodrow Wilson house?”


”None live in what Woodrow Wilson house?”

This phrasing is backed up the placement of clues in the room:

Top and top left of the room: ”All live in what”

On the table in the middle: “Woodrow Wilson”

Bottom right: “house”


A wrong but interesting alternative phrasing of the riddle:

One of the clues given by the publisher says we need to choose between two pictures, this no doubt refers to the “all” and “none” and therefore the following phrasing is incorrect. Without the clues from the publisher the following phrasing would be greatly preferable for including all the items in the room.

Instead of Nun = None, the image is of a “habit” the robe worn by nuns. This is reinforced by the fact that in the image the nun is faceless. The “in” is attached to “habit” to spell “inhabit.” Then instead of “live” the sign is rearranged to say “evil.” So the sentence reads as:

 ”All inhabit what evil house?”

To this we add “Woodrow Willson” to make:

”All inhabit what evil Woodrow Wilson house?”


Solution to the riddle of Room 45:

A famous saying of Woodrow Wilson is:

”Without God, the world would be a maze without a clue.”

We are meant to find this quote, without it the phrase is too ambiguous to have meaning. With this quote, it is an easy step last step to reach the answer “The World.”

So either way you phrase it…

”All (or None) live in what Woodrow Wilson house?”

Answer> “The World”

”All inhabit what evil Woodrow Wilson house?”

Answer> “The World”

The Deeper Solution to the riddle of Room 45:

Mr. Manson told me that he did not make MAZE with a contest in mind, that the contest was concocted by the publisher. This means that while “the world” was adequate to win the contest, the actual solution need not be so simple, and the quote by Woodrow Wilson suggests that it is not.

The choice “all” or “none” is key to understanding the inclusion of the quote. Whether we use “all” or “none” makes a profound difference in how we understand the quote.

What does it mean if “All live in a world which without God is a maze without a clue”? It means that without God life cannot be understood.

What does it man if “None live in a world which without God is a maze without a clue”? It means that life can be understood apart from knowledge of God.

Manson leaves this as an open question, the big question of life, “Is there a God? Do we need to know of God? What is “the world?” ” Manson isn’t preaching, he is agnostic on this point, and he leaves it to the reader. The solution is “the world,” but what is the world? You decide.

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The Path out of the maze:

From Room 28 go to Room 23, then to Room 8, then to Room 12, then to Room 39, then back to Room 4 (which you visited on the way in), then to Room 15, then to Room 37, then to Room 20, then to Room 1 from which you can exit the maze.

So it goes like:  23 > 8 > 12 > 39 > 4 (I’ve been here before!) > 15 > 37 > 20 > 1

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The Riddle of the Path:

The rooms of the 16 room path to the center and back have hidden words and letters that make a sentence. The answer to this sentence is the solution to MAZE.

Room 1: “LIKE” – The word “LIKE” is on a scrap of paper hanging on the wall.

Room 26: “Atlas” – Salt is being poured on the letter “A.” SALT + A = ATLAS

To this Dave Gentile offers the following further explanation: “Saturn has a moon called Atlas, discovered in 1980, and both Saturn and a large moon can be found in this room. (The reason for the moon being large is discussed in the walkthrough). The moon is an “A-ring” shepherd. And the room contains both the letter “A” and a bell (which rings).The devils are emerging from the stage in 3 stages = 3 stage Atlas rocket. [ . . . ] The narrator also asks, “Which way now?” and to answer that, one might consult an atlas.”

There are several other indications of the word “Atlas” in this room that have yet to be discovered and posted online… and I’m not telling. :)

Room 30: “YOU” – In the room is an “O” and a “U.” One of the guests says, “Why ‘O’ and ‘U’?” As in “Y” “O” “U.”

Room 42: “bear” - There is a big stuffed bear in the room. There is no why to get this one until you have the other words and are searching for something in this room that will fit.

Room 4: “IT” – The candle and the hammer next to each other looks like “IT” There is also a hidden letter in this room to pick up on the way out.

Room 29: “UPON” –  On a sign is written “UP & ON.” Take out the little “&” and it is “UPON.”

Room 17: “YOUR” – On a sign on the wall is written “Why, oh _” and “You are _” as in “Y” “O” “U” “R”

Room 45: This room has the center puzzle and nothing else.

Room 23: The text mentions the word “shoulder” to put the word in the reader’s mind. Entire route out is devoted to spelling out the word “shoulders.”

Room 8: “S” – Not hidden. “E” formed by the table legs (or see Room 37 below).

Room 12: “U” “D” – Not hidden.

Room 39: “R” – Not hidden. “O” – The white wall of the tire.

Room 4: “L” – In an image of the maze is hidden “ELL” which sounds like “L”

Room 15: “H” – Most of the objects in this room are “H” words: Heroes, Hat, another Hat, Heart, House, Hare, Helmet.

Room 37: Nothing here or “E” (see Room 8 above) – All of the objects end with “E” — Eye, Table, Sphere, Bottle, Vase, Cone, Dice (or die), rope. (The text gives the clue to look at things from all sides).Also the dice facing us has a five on it, “E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet, the rope ladder looks a bit like an “E.”

Room 20: “S” – There are two “S”s in this room but one of the “S”s is on a newspaper labeled “Extra!” (i.e. it is an extra “S”) so there is only one “S.”

The resulting phrase is:

“Like Atlas you bear it upon your SUDROLHES.”

So then you move the letters around to spell:

“Like Atlas you bear it upon your SHOULDERS.”

According to the publisher the acceptable answers were:

“World”   “Globe”   “Earth”

The Deeper Solution to the Riddle of the Path:

As I stated in “The Deeper Solution to the Riddle of Room 45″ above, Manson did not make   MAZE with a contest in mind and so while “the world” is the solution that was to gain the prize, the actual solution need not be so simple. In the case of the Riddle of the Path the phrasing of the riddle is unusual:

“Like Atlas you bear it upon your shoulders.”

Why not just:

“Atlas bears it upon his shoulders.”

Because the answer is not just “the world” but “the weight of the world.” The saying “The weight of the world” is meant to convey a high degree of emotional or mental difficulty of handling multiple responsibilities, or a single overwhelming responsibility.

Again, like the deeper solution to room 45, the message is not about “the world” as in “earth” but “the world” as in “life.” By replacing “it” with the deeper solution “the weight of the world” we can phrase the message in full:

“Like Atlas, you (the reader) bear the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Or to put it more simply:

“Life is hard.”

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The Lesson of the Maze:

Knowing that the solution is “The World” gives us the last piece of the puzzle necessary to uncover the lesson of the maze. In the prologue the guide / narrator ominously says,

“Like all others they think the Maze was made for them; actually, it is the other way around. They think I am some poet who will lead them through the symbols and spaces of this Underworld. They think I will teach them lessons. They should call me Cerberus…I am the lesson.”

Knowing the solution to MAZE is “the world” and reflecting on the book as a whole is all that is necessary to uncover the lesson of MAZE.

See if you can discover the lesson of Manson’s MAZE.

Warning: The lesson is deeply pessimistic.

- White Raven

17 thoughts on “The Solution to MAZE: Main Puzzle

    I totally got something different for the message of the maze from 45 to 1. I list the locations where we differ.
    45) M a ‘w’ when upside down, U 23) Blank 8) S 12) U, D, C at top of ladder 39) R, O 4) E 15) C at the moon, E the shadow on the wall above and between 30-37. 37)O-the shadow of the net, C the side of table and legs 20) S, S
    There is a question mark in 45 and if I have to make something of the shadows in 23, it would be an !
    Arranging the letters, it reads thus; “SUCCESS! DO U C MORE?”

    • Text speak was not a thing then and we know the real answer. It’s almost certainly not intentionally placed. However, it’s clever enough to keep a record of it. Imo

  2. Revising my page regarding the letters of “Shoulders”. I think he gives the letters one of two ways. He gives then super obvious once, or he gives them in hidden way twice. H in 37 and in 15. E in 37 and in 8. O in 39 and 23. L in 4 but maybe ? All other given once directly. He seems well aware that the more something is hidden the more times it needs to be given to show it is real.

  3. Proposal regarding the letters to spell “Shoulders”. I believe that the letters are given 1 of 2 ways: Theye are either simply given is a very unambigous obvious way, OR they are hidden but then given twice.

    The tire in 39 vs. the “nothing” in 23 has bee a dispute for some time. Suppose they are both intended.

    “H20″ in my opinion is the only way in room 37 to resolve the multiple conflicting indicators. But that means there is a VERY intentional “H” here. But then in 15, the H’s are puzzle parts as well. They are intentional too. The H is given twice so that one confirms the other.

    In 37 I am sure the ending E’s are intended, but then we also have that table in room 8 looking like an E. Again, I think this letter is given in a concealed way, but given twice.

    Manson seems quite aware that the more hidden something is the more times he has to give it to prove it is a real thing.

    • David Gentile,

      Finally someone made the Room 8 and the Riddle of the Path “E” connection! I have never been comfortable with “E” being in Room 37 when such an obvious “E” is available in Room 8.

      This means room 8 has two letters and Room 37 none. Perhaps one of the purposes of the “EXTRA S” in Room 20 is to indicate that some of the letters can be found in multiple ways?

      White Raven

  4. Thanks to both of you. I pretty much just put the book down and forgot about it back in 2012. And I only picked it up again this week while doing some other website work. And I’m a lot more satisfied with some parts of what is on my page than other parts too.

    One note about the “Manson”s. My thought was not that he placed them their to be found as part of a solution. But rather he just made sure the text always included two words that worked. The fact that 24 was the only place I could NOT find one at all made me even more suspicious. But as I said , other than the best 3 I think I removed them. I suspect room 3 is the authentic author “signature” however. And room 4 could be a Manson with no Christopher. Some of the Christopher’s still remaining could be wrong too. But the best are to point to St, Christopher I think. The best are the ones that almost fall out of anagrams of Christopher like Short Perch I.

    But that’s history. Now I’m looking forward to seeing what ravens book has to say and taking a fresh look at the puzzle.

  5. White Raven writes:
    “Like Atlas, you (the reader) bear the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

    I agree. As you may remember from past discussions, I thought there were many examples of “Christopher Manson” hidden in the maze, but he infomed me that was not the case.
    “…while I dislike to go into much detail about what is or isn’t there, I do want to say that I have really only put my name in once on purpose, and besides a couple of references (nun, pair-o’-dice) used for their word value, I did not intend to incorporate any particularly Christian ideas, messages or doctrines. My first name is entirely coincidental to the book, and was not my doing in the first place.
    I hesitate to say anything about the book usually…”
    And other that at most 3 “Manson”s, I feel I simply invented them. But most of the “Christopher”s I still feel are there. But they are not there to point to the author. Rather to St. Christopher. In the story where he bears Christ across the river, Jesus is impossibly heavy, and we learn that this is becasue he bears the weight of the world on his shoulders. So the “Christopher”s are there, I belive, to point to St. Christopher, and then to the overall Maze solution.

    • Wow, I had my doubts as to whether this was the real David Gentie, but then I noticed that his page now has a link to this site…
      …which wasn’t there in 2012.

      So I think this is the real deal. My goodness. Hi, Mr. Gentile! I’m sure White Raven or someone else would like to extend a formal welcome, but let me just try to sneak an apology in there. You’ve probably already seen us, to be blunt, make fun of some of your maze-solving habits in a few pages on this site. I shared in that, and would like to say I’m sorry. It’s easy to be snide when you don’t think the person taking the jab is actually going to see what you’re saying.

      Really, though, I don’t think there’s anyone here who doesn’t respect the sheer diligence it took for you to put together such a detailed analysis. And we’re pretty much all in love with your solution to room #26, as you’ve probably seen. (Also, I think your solution to room #45 is vastly more elegant and persuasive than White Raven’s Woodrow Wilson interpretation, but don’t… don’t tell anyone I said that)

    • Beelzebibble,

      Don’t worry I will store it in my subconscious for fodder in later therapy. :}

      I have been emailing Mr. Gentile but you are correct, a formal public welcome is called for – I will post one on the main page. Thanks!

      The “will” phrasing of the riddle was discovered by Scott Purdy in 1986 and has been assumed correct almost universally since then.

      While my best guess is that the Woodrow Wilson phrasing is correct but I am not certain and I personally like Scott’s “will” phrasing more from an aesthetics point of view. Though aesthetically my first choice would be ”All inhabit what evil house?” which we know to be wrong…damn it.

      The question is if the Woodrow Wilson quote ”Without God, the world would be a maze without a clue” is part of the puzzle (also discovered by Scott). If it is than “All Live In What Woodrow Wilson House?” is a better phrasing pointing us to the quote, if not then “All Live In What House?” is a better phrasing. I would not at all be surprised if Scott’s original phrasing proved correct and the quote from Woodrow Wilson is just a coincidence.

      White Raven

    • Opps, I left out the “will.” “Will all live in what house?” is actually what I meant. Thanks!

      It should be noted that this is my rephrasing of Scott’s original phrasing “What house will all live in?” I changed it to reflect the order of items in the room and somewhat better grammar.


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