“Maze, Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle” by Christopher Manson
These pages contain a solution and walkthrough of the Maze.
First of all, I should say I did not figure out everything here myself. Many years ago I did figure out the path through the maze, but that was about as far as I got. Then in 2012 I was cleaning up my basement library and found this book, and I began this project. I found these internet resources:
But they lacked a “total” solution with, for example, a walk-through of every page. So I invested some time in the maze myself, and eventually decided to make a web page. Contributions are welcome and I will credit your name if I use the contribution on my page. I’m not, however, going to try sort out, at this point, what parts of this walk through are mine (although I believe it is fair to say the great majority is mine), and what parts I owe to those before me, since often credit would be partial and the details are somewhat lost to me at this point. I will say, however, that the riddle at the center of the maze, and the clue along the shortest path I owe to others (See links above), but then, even there, I added many more ways the clues could be found, at times. Significantly, I think all the “Christopher”s are mine, and almost all of the “Mansons”, almost everything relating to “Atlas” in room 26 with the exception of the basic “SALT + A” part, the Beethoven stuff near the back of the maze, pretty much all the tarot card references, and just about all the shortest path clues. Also the final message in room 43 was mine as well.
Contributions and comments can be sent to GentDave @ att.net (with spaces removed).
The main solution
The shortest path to the center of the maze is:
1, 26, 30, 42, 4, 29, 17, 45
The return path is:
45, 23, 8, 12, 39, 4, 15, 37, 20, 1
Clues that might lead one to find the correct path are discussed in the walkthrough of the individual rooms. Also, my map of the maze is linked here.
The riddle at the center of the maze is either:
“What house will all live in?” or “In what house will all live?”
These were the additional clues that could be received from the publisher at the time of the contest (borrowed from the pages linked above). Each of the additional clues below applies to one word of the riddle to be found in room #45 of MAZE:
1.) I'll tip my hat if the two of you can solve this.
2.) You can get into these two shoes only if you don't go anywhere.
3.) You will find two names on the table, and they go together like doughnut and hole.
4.) You must choose between two pictures.
5.) There are no two ways you can read this sign.
6.) You can see that another two pictures demonstrate their own kind of symmetry.
These clues lead to the riddle as follows:
WHAT = the W (2 of U) + HAT (the picture of the hat).
HOUSE = the SHOE and the horseshoe U around the table leg next to it (SHOEU is an anagram of HOUSE).
WILL = "IAM", "SHAKE SPEAR", "WOOD ROW", "SUN" -- all of the objects on the table. The missing syllable WILL makes "William Shakespeare" and "Woodrow Wilson."
ALL = the picture of the AWL. (Not the picture of the nun = none).
LIVE = the sign reading "ELVI" -- an anagram of LIVE. Note: In the links above someone points out that there are many anagrams for this sign but only one of them can be pronounced two ways – live.
IN = EYE (I) + "N" spells "IN"
The clue to the answer is found along the shortest path:
"Like Atlas, you bear it upon your shoulders"
Room 01 = LIKE. The word LIKE is painted on a scrap of paper on the left.
Room 26 = ATLAS. SALT A is ATLAS spelled backwards.
Also note: 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.
In the text we have “tidy” and “light in”. Together you have “Titan” and Atlas was a Titan. The narrator also asks, “Which way now?” and to answer that, one might consult an atlas.
Room 30 = YOU. There is an O and a U, but the text says "why 'O' and 'U'?"
Y, O and U spells YOU. (The O and the U also have another function discussed in the walkthrough).
Room 42 = BEAR. A BEAR (stuffed).
Also note bare bear feet on the poster and the 4 boots = another clue to the word “bear”. Also in room 25 the door to the room is marked with a crown and the man about has a “bare crown”. See the walkthrough for more on this. Also, in room 37 the door to this room is a completely “bare” space.
Room 04 = IT. The chair = "sit," the hammer and nail = "hit," the pieces
in the picture = "fit," the candle = (can be) "lit," the wood = "split". That's five verbs ending in "IT".
Also note: The candle and hammer together can spell “IT”. And the puzzle could be part of an Intelligence Test (IT).
Room 29 = UPON. It's written on the blind man's sign.
Room 17 = YOUR. "Why, oh _ You are _" is printed on a sign. This is Y-O-U-R.
The word SHOULDERS is spelled out of order on the way out.
Note in Room 23 the word “shoulder” can be found in the text, providing a clue to the word for which the next rooms will provide the letters.
Room 08 = S.
The text here says “make sure you take that with you”. This probably refers to the umbrella (see my comments on the prologue and in the room), but also might refer to the letter “S”. With “shoulder” from the previous room you have “SHOULDERS” and the last word of the clue. (Or the text could have a double meaning for both the umbrella and the “S”).
Room 12 = U, D
Room 39 = R.
Note there is also an old tire and I think that is the “O”. I don’t think, as my source for this solution says that the “nothing” in room 8 was intended to be the “O”. (What is does mean is in my walkthrough of room 8).
Room 04 = L. In the diagram of the maze posted to a wall, the word ELL is spelled out.
Room 15 = H. The objects all start with H: HEART, HARE, HATS, HOUSE, HEROES, HELMET.
Note: I don’t think “HEARTH” is here as my source comments suggest, but in the notes for the room, I’ll argue “Hope” and “Holy Spirit” might be here.
Room 37 = E. 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).
Room 20 = S. You might think there are two S's here, but no; one of the S's is "extra!"
World, Globe, or Earth were acceptable overall answers to the puzzle.
Christopher Manson puzzles
The author has scattered his name throughout the maze. There are places where we can find clues leading to “Manson”. Notably there is the face of the man in the sun in room 4 and we are told by the narrator, “What a foolish face, pay no attention”. Then in room 3 we have perhaps two examples. There is a stick-man and a sun near each other on one wall, and the answer to the riddle of the sphinx is “man” and “What is your sign?” is another was of asking what sign or house the sun was in when you were born. Room 29 also features two examples. And, there are many others.
Clues to spell “Christopher” are in so many rooms that it would be too time consuming to enumerate them here. But it also seems the author scattered one example of Christopher across a number of rooms. We can get a “C” and a “P” in room 44. We get an “S” and a “T” from room 20. We can get an “O” and an “E” from room 22. And, we can get two “H”s from room 15, and two “R”s from room 35. Finally, a single “I” is found in room 34.
Finally, there are also clues to the meaning of “Christopher” which is the name of a traditional saint and means “Christ-bearer”.
Many of the puzzles are fairly clearly intentionally placed once identified. The “Christopher” puzzles often involve two words that give us most of the letters and then a couple of objects whose first letters give us the rest of the word. The “Manson”s are a bit less clear. Often they are just two words from which we can spell Manson, often close together, but it is a bit harder to know sometimes if they were intentional. Some help seems to be given by the fact that for the most part, at least, we are supposed to find “man” in one word or object and “son” in another. I don’t doubt that I’ve missed a “Christopher” somewhere, but probably even more “Manson”s.
After everything else in the maze is decoded, there is a final message to be found in room 43.
The walkthrough of the individual rooms is linked here.
I wrote to Christopher Manson and he kindly replied. He said in part:
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
I hesitate to say anything about the book usually…
He also elaborated that when he said his name was not his doing he meant that his mother chose it, not him. This alters my analysis of page 43, and certainly casts serious doubt, on most of the “Manson”s I identified in the text, since many pairs of words might contain these letters. However, I think most of the “Christopher’s” and at least a couple of the “Manson”s in the text are clearly intentionally present, and as a statistician, I believe it would be possible to demonstrate it to be extremely unlikely to be a random coincidence. I leave it to the reader to decide if I’ve done exegesis or eisegesis on the text.
I’ve left most of my work I did before receiving the above note unchanged, however. The reader can choose to accept my interpretation of the clues or search for another. The changes I have made involve removing a few Christian re-interpretations based on my analysis of page 43.