Quag Keep

~ 1st Novel in the Quag Keep Series by Andre Norton



Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 1978 dustjacket ~

SITTING ALONE IN A SEEDY INN IN THE FREE CITY of Greyhawk, Milo Jagon, swordsman, has deep forebodings of impending danger. On his wrist is a strange bracelet made of two metal bands that hold between them miniature, gemset dice, but he has no memory of whence the bracelet came or what power it contains. One by one, Milo encounters six strangers of vastly different backgrounds, each having half-memories of belonging in another world, but each wearing a similar bracelet and under a wizard’s geas to find and destroy an alien and evil power that is controlling their lives. When their bracelets grow warm, the dice roll and they enter another stage of the game in which they seem pawns.
Using as background the complicated and fascinating war games that are now so widely played, Andre Norton, a leading science fiction and fantasy writer, has created a game within a game, played for life-and-death stakes, that sweeps the reader into an extraordinary world of high adventure where the forces of good and evil War incessantly.


Write-up from the back of the DAW paperback edition ~

Do you like war games? Can you believe plating pieces might come alive? Adventure is the keynote offered in this scientific fantasy where the imaginary becomes real.
“Six 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 Wymarc, cleric Deav Dyne, swordsman Milo Jagan, lizardman Gulth, pseudo-dragon Afreeta, berserker Naile Fangtooth, and battlemaid Yevele.
“Go to the sign of Marvel’s Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas.
“A good book for anyone who can experience this strong pull of fantasy.” - Signal


Write-up from a fan ~

Ah, yes--"the forgotten Norton".    Andre met Gary Gygax the creator of "Dungeons and Dragons" and she sat in on some of these role-playing adventures. She decided to write a novel about Gaming gone awry. A quest involving a diverse group of stock type fantasy characters (as usual in D&D). A reptilian, a berserker were-boar, an Evish bowman and humans including a priest /healer, a bard with a magic harp, male and female fighters, and then for flavor she adds a pseudo dragon. One thing they all have in common is that all have irremovable silver bracelets with various dice attached. A wizard has brought these people to this world to stop another wizard from taking over and causing chaos in several worlds. To keep them focused he places a Geas (pronounced geese) on the group. This powerful spell forms a compulsion that binds them to their task. The perils are a-plenty, the dangers are Dire and the challenges unending. Each character has his/her own strengths and weaknesses and is vital to the team and they quickly discover that teamwork is the order of the day. The more you like RPG's, the more you will like and appreciate this tale. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Booklist Review ~ March 15, 1978
This fantasy is much the same as Andre Norton's other titles. It will appeal to a small group of fantasy readers of early young age. Characterization is good but at times the pace is slow. The fantasy elements of the battle between good and evil are carefully drawn.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1978 by C. Schacht in School Library Journal, March
1978 in Publishers Weekly, May 01
1978 by C. Draper in Horn Book, June
1978 by C. Newman in Voice of Youth Advocates, June
1979 by Francis J. Molson in Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review (fnz), March reprinted in: 2009 - Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review: The Complete Series, Vol. I, No. 1-Vol. II, No. 13, January 1979-February 1980
1979 by Francis J. Molson in SF&F Book Review (fnz), March
1979 by H. Flick Jr. in Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, October
1979 by A. Osborne in Fantasiae (fnz), November/December
1980 by Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April
2020 by Judith Tarr
2022 by James Nicoll


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

The author wishes to express appreciation for the invaluable aid of E. Gary Gygax of TSR, expert player and creator of the war game, Dungeons and Dragons, on which the background of QUAG KEEP is based. I wish also to acknowledge the kind assistance of Donald Wollheim, an authority and collector of military miniatures, whose special interest was so valuable for my research.

Note: The dedication for Quag Keep was slightly changed when it was included in Quag Keep & Return to Quag Keep ~ "Military minitures" was changed to "Fantasy minitures"


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • Excerpt ~ The Dragon: The Magazine of Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery and Science Fiction Gaming Vol. 2 # 6, February 1978, Edited by T.J. Kask, Published by TSR Periodicals, Mag., $1.50, 32pg, (pgs. 22-30) ~ cover by Dave Sutherland
  • (1978) Published by Atheneum, HC, 0-689-50107-2, LCCN 77017771, $7.95, 224pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan {Red Cloth Boards, Brown End Papers}
  • (1978) Published by MacMillan, HC, $8.95, 224pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Jack Gaughan
  • (1979) Published by DAW, PB, 0-451-UJ148-7, 0-879-97487-7, $1.95 US, Canadian $2.25, 192pg ~ 4th printing #97794-9 UE1794 1983 $2.50 192pg ~ 5th printing #77250-8 1987 $2.95 192pg cover by Jack Gaughan
  • (2006) Published by TOR, TP, 0-765-31302-2, $13.95, 272pg ~ cover by Justin Sweet
  • (2010) Published by TOR, DM, 0-765-31302-2, $9.99, 276pg ~ cover by Justin Sweet
  • (2018) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no isbn, $3.99, 180pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth?


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1989) Published in Milan, Italy; by Mondadori, Urania Fantasy n. 9, 4,000 lir, 158pg ~ translation by Gaetano Staffilano ~ illustrated by Maren ~ Italian title Il gioco degli eroi [The game of heroes]
  • (1994) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Rebis, 83-712-0114-1, 176pg ~ translation by Jarosław Kotarski ~ cover by Rowena Morill & Thomas Schlück ~ Polish title Twierdza na Moczarach [The fortress on his]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2002) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-040-09134-6, HC, 416pg ~ cover by Igor Varavin ~ Russian title Рыцарь снов [Dreams knight]


    • "Knave of Dreams" as "The Knight of Dreams" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, p. 5-214
    • "Quag Keep" as "Swamp fortress" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, p. 215-414

View the Original contract

View the 2004 TOR contract

View the 2001 Russian contract

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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