Sunday, January 27, 2013

Maze, Solve the World's Most Challenging Puzzle -- Christopher Manson

Title: Maze, Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle
Author: Christopher Manson 
Publishing Information: An Owl Book by Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1985, New York 
Source: My library (a lovely Christmas present in 2012)

Short Bio: I found very little information online about Christopher Manson. His biographical blurb on the Simon and Schuster website ( pretty much summarizes what I read in other sources.  It states that, “Christopher Manson is an author and illustrator of children’s books. He studied art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia and at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.” One interesting fact I found on Wikipedia ( was that his illustrations are first rendered as wood cuts, which he then prints and sometimes tints. 

Comments on the Story:
Let me begin by saying, this is not a children’s book.  A child could read it – there isn’t any material unsuitable for young minds – but the complexity of the “story” is way beyond a child.  As a matter of fact, I believe it is well beyond most adults who don’t have a solid knowledge of western literature and mythology! However, I won’t delve into any of that as it might give away too many clues.

I first ran across Christopher Manson’s book Maze, Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle on the website, which lists twenty wonderfully odd books that you might like to check out. Of the books listed, I was particularly struck by Maze due not only to the incredibly detailed illustrations it contains, but also by the concept.  As the author puts it: “This is a building in the shape of a book…a maze.” And it isn’t just a maze, it is a riddle too.

Here is how it works.  You start on page one where there are four numbered doors you can choose from, and each door represents a page you can turn to. On each page is a new room with more doors and more choices.  Within the illustrations of each room are clues telling you which door to select. The object of the game is twofold.  Part one consists of moving from room #1 to room #45 and back to room #1 in the shortest number of moves – which the directions at the beginning of the book advise is sixteen.  This is harder than it seems because some doors lead you into an endless circle from which you cannot escape, one simply dead ends,  and most cruel of all, one door is hidden in the most conspicuous where-are-my-glasses-oh-they-are-on-my-head sort of way. It took me weeks to find it.  Part two consists of figuring out the riddle hidden in room #45 and its answer. To help you with this latter problem, there are clues dispersed throughout the path you discovered in part one of the puzzle. However these clues are – well, let’s say they can be quite obscure and subjective, not to mention, there are more clues than you need, many of which were designed to send you down the wrong path.  And as if all of this wasn’t enough, there is a second tier of information thrown at you by the owner of the house who accompanies you along the entire journey. He narrates snippets of information about each room you pass through. You are well advised to take, or leave, his assistance at your own peril. 

When Maze was first published, the publisher offered a $10,000.00 reward to the first person to solve the puzzle.  Two years later, twelve winners were announced and the prize money split between them. However, even though there is no longer the promise of gold at the end of the maze, this little gem is still well worth giving a try. If nothing else, the illustrations are stunning and the narration quite clever.
Spoiler Alert:
I spent a month examining the illustrations before I finally broke down and looked up some cheats online. (To all of you puzzle purists out there, forgive me). I limited what I read to information that would simply get me to the next step without giving the entire puzzle away, but even by constraining myself thusly,  I discovered there were so many more levels to this puzzle than I had ever imagined.  I will share one of them with you now, only because it doesn’t assist in solving the main points of the puzzle in any way that I can tell. I discovered this on a walk-through of the maze done by Dave Gentile (  (NOTE: this site is a full walkthrough, so if you choose to take a peak at it so if you choose to take a peak at it,  beware your eye wandering and finding a clue you didn’t want to be revealed).

If you look closely at most of the illustrations, you will find drawings or letters that either represent or spell out the author’s name. For instance, on page 3, there is a stick MAN next to a SUN on the door to room #18.  Put these together and you get MANSUN, or MANSON.  And from all of the letters strewn about the room, you can spell CHRISTOPHER, with the exception of the letter “C”, which can be found if you spell out “stiCk man”.  Yes, this last bit seems like a stretch to me too, but this little game within a game  occurred in so many other rooms, that I found it impossible to deny its existence.  

Great walk-through site: 
This site has a number of great links to reviews and other walk-throughs as well! 


  1. Awesome! We would love to borrow this book from you. If it's the one we're thinking of, we heard of it years ago when it first came out, but never got it. We always wanted to solve the puzzle.

  2. No problem, I'll bring it next time I visit. I still haven't figured out the riddle part, but that may take stepping back and looking at it later. A lot of people said it took them years to figure it all out.

  3. FYI: There's a group of MAZE fans trying to solve all the riddles at I don't post I just read. Lot's of fun and good ideas too.

    1. Lots of new answers at

    2. 11/11/2015: This blog seems to be defunct.

  4. Thank you for the info and the link, George!

  5. Thank you for the new site to find more clues, ThailKrider!