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Quag Keep (Quag Keep (Greyhawk) #1)

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  661 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
"Do you like war games? Can you believe playing pieces might come alive? Adventure is the keynote offered in this scientific fantasy where the imaginary becomes real.

“Seven road companions travel under a wizard’s geas to encounter and destroy unknown evil. Descriptive delineation, action and special powers hold the identifying reader in the company of elf Ingrge, bard Wyma
Mass Market Paperback, DAW #353 (UJ1487), 192 pages
Published September 4th 1979 by DAW (first published 1978)
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So, back in my much younger days I was part of a subculture that got into a game called Dungeons & Dragons. You might have heard of it. Well, back then I was aware of some novels that were based on the game and published by TSR, the company that put out the game books and all the other stuff. I read some of them, and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

So now I find that the very first novel written about the Greyhawk campaign world was actually penned by a Science Fiction Grand Master.

Yeah, I wa
Well then. I kind of feel like this review is going to be hugely unfair, because I am absolutely not this book's target audience. To save time, I'll just say up front that I can't think of a single thing that I liked about it, so this review is going to be a nitpicky diatribe. I'm sorry in advance. Kinda.

I knew before I started that this was a Dungeons & Dragons tie-in type book, but that was all that I knew about it. A friend selected it for one of my groups to read, and so I read it. But
Mary Catelli
The very, very, very first D&D tie in. An actual D&D tie in -- not Advanced D&D. (Which is why it talks of Law and Chaos. The nine-fold square does not apply here.)

But it opens with a gaming group getting a shipment of figures to use in play. One player, fascinated, takes up an exquisite one of a swordsman. And then -- our point of view shifts to that of a swordsman in Greyhawk.

In the proverbial tavern.

And another character, a berserker/wereboar, is there. Both of them wearing bracel
Jukka Särkijärvi
This is where it all began. The first ever novel based on a role-playing game. The book that launched a genre with a thousand titles.

An unkind critic might say that it set the tone of things to come.

Quag Keep is a book of many mysteries. The chief of them, to my mind, is the question of how did Andre Norton turn out something so deeply disappointing. At the time of its publication in 1978, she'd been writing professionally for over forty years. The World Science Fiction Society had awarded her t
3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars

So, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those who know me but I'm a huge Andre Norton fan. HUGE. I mainly delve into her Witch World series but I also have/read a good handful of her other works. One of the things I love about Andre Norton was that she dabbled in a lot of different genres, making her backlist a true treasure.

Quag Keep is one of those treasures I just mentioned. With the creation of Quag Keep, Andre Nort
Jason M Waltz
um, fun? obviously a 1970s-80s D&D story-role-game-playing adventure tale. If I'd read it at that time, probably would have been lots of fun. Now? meh. Enjoyable moments, clever ideas, some good battle, decent characters (one I really liked), but too tongue-in-cheek for me, and I did not like the anti-climatic un-clever ending. Overall, an okay diversion; now on to bigger and better.
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
So... this thing...

Let me preface my review by saying I read this because it was picked for a group read by someone who loves Andre Norton, and I'd never read any Norton so I decided to give it a shot. I mean, I do like the occasional S&S romp, but I probably wouldn't have picked up this book if it hadn't been under group-circumstances.

Let's just say that, based on this, I have not become a fan.

It started well. The juxtaposition of the gamers and the world, the way the two were linked, was i
Apr 16, 2009 Doris rated it did not like it
This was given a 1 because -5 is not an option.
Mar 31, 2015 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, fantasy
Ugh, Quag Keep is pretty painful to read. It might have value as a historical oddity--the first novel set in Greyhawk (If you don't know what that is, don't bother reading it at all).

There's not much of a plot, no real character development (or likeable characters), it's contrived to the point of ridiculousness, and at great pains to somehow tie actual fantasy role playing into the plot of a novel, something that definitely shouldn't be attempted. To spell that out: the characters in the book so
The relationship to D&D is explicit (it's on the dedication page). Less obvious is the part Donald A Wollheim played in getting books published in affordable editions, introducing new authors, etc. It's not an accident that this is a DAW book.

It's an indication of Norton's prejudices that she set up a crude dichotomy ('law=good, chaos=evil'), and that neutrals are marginalized and often despised. I played only rarely, but I remember clearly that there were characters whose alignments were ch
It's not clear if Norton knew what to do with this material. There's nodding references to staple Greyhawk stuff, even name-dropping the Temple of the Frog at one point, but aside from the Sea of Dust it all comes off as flavorless. And then there's the Dungeons-and-Dragons-as-game themes that crop up and thrash around: a Law versus Chaos conflicts that on one hand is tangental to the main quest and on the other is better-developed than the protagonists' main concern, references to numerical "ra ...more
Mark Woodland
Jul 28, 2011 Mark Woodland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The very first Andre Norton novel I read, and still among my favorites. There is a sequel as well. Ms. Norton deserved more attention than she got from the general sci-fi fan base, and I know this because I heard from a friend that she was very ill (a few years before she died), and he gave me an e-mail address through which I could send get-well wishes. I got a very touching answer from her personal assistant, who thanked me for being among the fairly small number of fans that wrote and how muc ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Skedatt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
Not my favorite Andre Norton, but definitely one that stuck with me through the years. I reread it again and was kind of astonished to find that it read like a game. Not that it should be really surprising, given the premise, but still. That said, it is the best "people get stuck in the game they are playing" that I have ever read--and I have read a few (I am not sure why, since I am not really a gamer).

I also tried to read the sequel, which was written by someone else, but the styles were so di
Dec 12, 2015 F.Lokmen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to the world of "light novels" thanks to LMS .. most of light novels are re-recycled cliches with an OP MC + a heroine or a bunch of them + an evil person or group whom I end up sympathising with as I gradually discover that the MC is the more cruel IMHO + a bunch of random characters that serve as stepping stones to the MC..
There is rarely an interesting plot & most characters are at most 2D (usually they r 1D) .. but the author tries to smooth things over by writing a good
Oct 05, 2015 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Note: This is a Dungeons & Dragons book without the D&D logo as it was written before TSR had a publishing wing for novels. The book was written after Gary Gygax hosted a game for Andre Norton to play in. Thus it has the feel of a gaming session.

A variety of gamers from a variety of places pick up their neat new miniatures and suddenly find themselves transported into different bodies in a different world... This is the premise for many gamer daydreams back in the late 70s and through th
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
Guag Keep by Andre Norton was another book that I read but didn't care about. The premises were good. A boy from our world is transported into the game. Who of us didn't thought of that? Unfortunally it didn't work out that good.
Apr 02, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, definitely not Andre Norton's best. I came in with high expectations.

For me, the golden age of science fiction and fantasy is the golden-yellow spines of the DAW Books paperback imprints. I was reading an original 1979 printing of this book from DAW.

A mediocre quest story, a series of ill-thought out mechanics, and an obvious lack of understanding from Andre who gained her understanding of role-playing / war games only by interviewing Gary Gygax and a miniature war-gamer. Concluded by a
Tom Fredricks
Sep 11, 2014 Tom Fredricks rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Unfortunately not a very fun read. Half developed story about being transported into a game. Then being enlisted by a wizard to stop the guy running the game? The plot was confusing and even at the end I'm not sure that was the point of the characters adventure.

The value in this book is in the nostalgia for those who played dungeons and dragons in the days of the games first edition. It was apparently the first book written based on Dungeons and Dragons. Even having that going for me it was not
Apr 11, 2014 Nathan rated it it was ok
The first ever book based on D&D and set in a D&D setting world. Seven player characters are sent on a geas quest to uncover and defeat a new alien power upsetting the status quo of the world of Greyhawk.

Clever, in that the heroes are inextricably linked to that alien power because the alien power is a Games Master running a game set in Greyhawk and the characters are the creations of some of the players. They are literally player characters, and come with all the usual two dimensional c
Andrea Santucci
Jul 11, 2013 Andrea Santucci rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, letture_2013
Le uniche stelline che questo libro si meriterebbe sono dei buchi neri supermassicci che lo imprigionino per sempre con la loro superforza di gravità.

Questo libro è talmente pessimo che, al confronto, Licia Troisi sembra Tolkien. E la cosa più triste è che è stato scritto da una autrice affermata, una che ha pefino un premio letterario titolato alla sua memoria. Per dire.

Eppure Il gioco degli eroi è il peggior fantasy possibile immaginabile. Peggiore perché è essenzialmente la novellizzazione di
Mar 06, 2013 Tony rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, rpgs
This is actually the second published book based on a role-playing game. The first was War-Gamers' World published in the original German in 1975 as Reiter der Finsternis. This book shares some similarity to War-Gamers' World in that real-world RPG players are whisked away into the fantasy world they game in, something like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or the "Dungeons & Dragons" Saturday morning cartoon.

Quag Keep is not a good story: the characters are mostly generic and don'
Peter Greenwell
Feb 11, 2016 Peter Greenwell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was nigh on unreadable. I mean, there's little wrong with the basic premise - gamers get transported into the Greyhawk world they're role-playing in, but it all goes south in a tremendously awful manner after that. It's the prose of the narrative that's the worst offender - it's over the top melodramatic in a "ye gods!" kind of way.

I've heard many great things about Norton's writing too so I guess this is the stinker every author is allowed to have.
Jun 04, 2014 Taya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, no-just-no
This book... is so bad... 1 star is generous.

I didn't finish this one.

It's is supposed to be about a group of role-players from our world who somehow coalesce with the bodies and minds of some adventurers in a fantasy realm. For some reason.

Frankly, I don't know why this was included in the book at all. It doesn't describe how this happened. Some sorcerer is blathering on and all of a sudden, they're there! Wha? We haven't been graced with that information. Why don't they just teleport in at the
Feb 19, 2015 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so bad It's practically unreadable. To be honest, I didn't get far, so maybe it suddenly got drastically better halfway through. I just could not stick with it...
I can't believe this was written by Andre Norton. Did she maybe let a young niece or nephew who was short on lunch money publish this under her name? It's so bad it makes me feel sad to criticize it, like kicking a puppy.
Dec 08, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book itself was good. That's about all I can say for it. It had some nice people and places but in the end no one was really fleshed out all that well. I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment. Throughout I felt they were building to some great mystery and in the end it was really lacking. It left me with a very ho-hum feeling. The characters themselves had some really nice visuals but in the end I don't feel like I got to know them at all. Everything felt a little hollow. Fighting ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always thought a book based on the premise of role playing game players getting sucked into the game world would be corny; here, at least, the concept is given a sharp "sword & sorcery" treatment by the late, great Andre Norton. Most significant to me is that Quag Keep uses, as it's setting, the World of Grey hawk -- E. Gary Gygax's Dungeons & Dragons game setting -- way back in the day when D&D was still in its infancy. The story captures the spirit of a D&D game... at least t ...more
Oct 21, 2008 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Sometimes all you want or need from a fantasy novel is to have a bunch of guys with swords go on a quest and fight some monsters.
That really is all there is here and Norton only makes the slightest effort to pretend she's trying to do more than that.
We get a nice mix of various fantasy 'types' with the bare minimum of characterization, as they travel exotic locals and fight everything from evil druids to zombies to a dragon.

You read it, every couple chapters mutter 'Oh, that was cool.' and then
Morris Nelms
Oct 02, 2014 Morris Nelms rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-booked-up
A well established writer decides to write a book based on a new game called Dungeons & Dragons. What she did was creative to say the least. Game players (and Dungeon masters) roll dice to decide what characters will do, what kinds of things lie in wait for them, etc. In this book, the story starts with people in our world playing the game. Then it shifts suddenly to the game world, and the characters have a sense that they are not in control and someone is watching them...but they have a qu ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Christopher rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Pretty bad. The first book (and definitely my last) based upon Gary Gygax's "World of Greyhawk" in his "Dungeon's & Dragons" setting, somehow manages to turn a fascinating place of magic and mystery into an endless glaze of descriptive paragraphs in which the characters "do this" and then they "do that" and eventually they end up having "done it." Perhaps I'm spoiled by the more recent stimulating adventures of the likeable "Acquisitions Incorporated" as guided by Chris Perkins but it's a go ...more
May 16, 2016 Nibrock rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alternate-worlds
Dungeon & Dragons style story. "Players" are pulled into another reality to fight the "bad guys". There's not much of a fight/challenge. Not much suspense. No real ending either.
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Flights of Fantasy: April 2016 - Fantasy: Quag Keep by Andre Norton 81 38 May 04, 2016 08:28AM  
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  • The Song of Mavin Manyshaped (The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped, #1)
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  • The Book of Wonder
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  • The Illustrated Roger Zelazny
  • Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and the Fianna of Ireland
Alice Mary Norton always had an affinity to the humanities. She started writing in her teens, inspired by a charismatic high school teacher. First contacts with the publishing world led her, as many other contemporary female writers targeting a male-dominated market, to choose a literary pseudonym. In 1934 she legally changed her name to Andre Alice. The androgynous Andre doesn't really say "male" ...more
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