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Quag Keep (Quag Keep (Greyhawk) #1)

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  702 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Seven strangers, each wearing a similar bracelet, meet and become pawns in the continuing struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 1978 by Atheneum (first published 1978)
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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
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
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
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
Apr 16, 2009 Doris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was given a 1 because -5 is not an option.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
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
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
Jun 25, 2014 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
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
Jul 24, 2016 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book many years ago and gave it a reread this morning after discovering it again in storage. Being an avid rpg player, this one holds a special place in my heart. It was the first true Dungeons and Dragons book. It's not fancy, nor deeply engrossing. It is not even especially well written, because the author has done so much more great novels. What Quag Keep is to me is nostalgia and the opening of the door for gaming fiction. This is basically a whimsical tale of a game group being dr ...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
Sep 08, 2013 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
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.
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.
Adam Windsor
Feb 06, 2017 Adam Windsor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Oof. I really wanted to like this book - I'm a gamer after all - but "Quag Keep" commits the cardinal sin of being boring, which is one flaw I definitely cannot abide.
Feb 16, 2017 Arch rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Carino, ma il finale mi ha un po' delusa... speravo in una battaglia finale col botto, e invece tante cose vengono lasciate inspiegate.
Peccato, perchè il racconto mi era piaciuto molto.
Aug 09, 2016 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Man, this is a hard book to review. On the one hand, so much of it--from the characters, to plot points, to the ending--was so terribly cliche, it was hard to get through. On the other hand, Quag Keep was written in 1978; those things probably weren't cliches at the time. So then, what to do? Do I review it through the lens of a book I happened to pick up in 2016, focusing on the time I had with it in isolation--in a bubble, as it were? Or do I try to take into account the fact that it's nearly ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Tony rated it it was ok
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'
Jan 02, 2012 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2016 Ally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I know this book was written a while ago, but there are still people doing it today so, can we all just agree to stop describing women as girls while all their male counterparts are called men? Every time the story went from talking about the "sworsdman" or the "lizardman" to calling the one and only female character a girl, I was immediately yanked out of the story. Like this story isn't a long one, but it took me so long to get through it because of things like that which broke the immer ...more
Andrea Santucci
Jun 30, 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
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
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
Aug 17, 2016 Tayranno rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book... 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, the deed is done. Wha? We haven't been graced with that information. Why don't they just teleport in at the end of th
Apr 09, 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
Dec 04, 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
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
Oct 19, 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
Aug 22, 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
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
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Flights of Fantasy: April 2016 - Fantasy: Quag Keep by Andre Norton 81 38 May 04, 2016 08:28AM  
  • Saga of Old City (Greyhawk Adventures, #1)
  • Urshurak
  • The Time of the Vampires
  • The Illustrated Roger Zelazny
  • The Blue Star
  • The Song of Mavin Manyshaped (The Chronicles of Mavin Manyshaped, #1)
  • The Broken Lands (Empire of the East, #1)
  • The Three of Swords (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #1-3)
  • Swords Against Darkness (Swords Against Darkness, #1)
  • The Book of Wonder
  • Rats and Gargoyles
  • The Name of the Game (Greyhawk Adventures, #6)
  • Chernevog (Russian Stories #2)
  • The Fallible Fiend (Novarian, #3)
  • The Princess of Flames
  • Judgment Night (Bureau 13, #1)
  • Elf Defense (New York, #2)
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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