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Quag Keep (Quag Keep (Greyhawk) #1)

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  571 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In 1976 Andre Norton was invited to play a new sort of adventure game, Dungeons Dragons. Its creator, E. Gary Gygax, introduced Norton to his world of Greyhawk. After a session of world building, role playing, and fantasy adventuring, Norton wrote Quag Keep, a tale of six adventurers from our world who journey to the city of Greyhawk in order to aid a wizard and unlock the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 1978 by Atheneum (first published 1978)
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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
This was given a 1 because -5 is not an option.
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
Mark Woodland
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
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
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
I picked up this book since it was the first one to be tied to Dungeons & Dragons. I have never read anything else from this author, but I've heard that she was well respected amongst the Sci-Fi/Fantasy community. This book, then, must have been an outlier. I couldn't get through it... For whatever reason, the author attempted to blend the dice rolling and game mechanics with an adventure set in the Greyhawk world. The characters were flat, the world was bland and the game mechanics, and tho ...more
Tom Fredricks
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
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
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
Andrea Santucci
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
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'
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I was never into D&D, so I knew nothing about the rules or people in the book. It was okay, but never very involving. I liked other Norton books much better.
K.C. Shaw
I read this book several times as a kid and loved it. I reread it as an adult and found it enjoyable, although not as compelling as it once seemed. The atmosphere is still as eerie as ever, though, one of the things Andre Norton does best. While the book is based on Dungeons & Dragons and was probably developed from a campaign she played (or witnessed being played), it's strongly plotted and feels fresh even when it hits events that are cliches these days (but which weren't so common back wh ...more

I really, really like this, not only because I've gotten into the habit of playing board games of the D&D sort; but because it's one of those rare books by authors that are just a fun find. Because of gaming pieces, people from our world are drawn into their "fantasy"; and the fantasy becomes reality

Milo is the swordsman. Naile the barbarian (with a little dragon companion), the elf Ingrge, the battlemaid Yevele, the priest Deav Dyne, the bard Wymarc, and the lizardman Gulth....(but
Jonathan Stevens
The original Dungeons and Dragons novel. Features of the Greyhawk map are not
quite in sync with the Greyhawk map I knew in my youth. I probably should have
read an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons novel. I picked up one of those at John
King recently.
There are other archaisms, some of which I remember from a brief stint playing the
original D&D before moving on to the Advanced version. For example the elf is a character class,
and the choice of alignments is "Lawful" or "Chaotic" (and "Neutral" of
hehehe.... only Niven and Norton on my shelf starting with N... might have to fix that... but in the meantime, I have gone with Norton with a revisit to Quag Keep... because the good Lord knows my life has been one game after another, and wouldn't it be soooo cool to actually BE in one! :-D

So not the literary genius one would guess at, nor was it what I remember... nice walk down memory lane... I found myself spending more time remembering gaming sessions than concentrating on the story. This on
A perfectly crafted tale of what it is, a spartan quest story, and the now-stereo-typical transportation of players to the gaming world is so minimal, which makes it all the better.

Gave this to Sarah, a friend and co-worker, for her birthday.
Sep 19, 2008 Hannah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hannah by: Small town libarary
This story totally maxed out my weirdness at the time. Several years latter I heard about D&D and figured out what the story was based or structured by. It was slightly less mysterious after that.

The sequel (written by another author) lost this mystery entirely and promptly started killing off main characters. Made me ill to skim it.

Andre Norton knew when a story should trump random dice rolls and probabilities.
I read this before I ever got my hands on a set of multiply-shaped dice (that would be years later). It was fascinating to me then, and remained so even after I'd played D&D, AD&D, and god knows what else.

Why? Because, if you do it correctly, you should have some sense of the character you're playing. This novel takes that a step further—what if the character has some sense of you?
Bereft of story, characters and comprehensible prose this was hard, hard work. While I'm not averse to florid writing, sentences herein often seem less than intelligible and more akin to bad fridge-magnet poetry.

Viewed as a satirical take on poor D&D sessions, this might have some merit. As fiction, however, I can find little to recommend it.
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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
More about Andre Norton...

Other Books in the Series

Quag Keep (Greyhawk) (2 books)
  • Return to Quag Keep (Greyhawk)
The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, #1) Elvenblood (Halfblood Chronicles, #2) Elvenborn (Halfblood Chronicles, #3) Witch World (Witch World Series 1: Estcarp Cycle, #1) The Time Traders (Time Traders/ Ross Murdock, #1)

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