Return to Quag Keep

~ 2nd Novel in the Quag Keep Series by Andre Norton

Written by Jean Rabe

return to quag keep 2006 31298


Synopsis ~

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

“Believable characters, plenty of action, and storytelling of the highest quality.” – Library Journal
They were role-playing gamers from different places and backgrounds. Summoned together by an unknown magical force, they found themselves swept into the heart of the very game that they were playing.
Thirty years ago, Andre Norton wrote the first novel based in the now-bestselling Dungeons & Dragons universe. In Return to Quag Keep, her intrepid adventures must once again band together to unlock the secret of their summoning. They must revisit the legendary Quag Keep to rescue someone who may be able, in turn, rescue them. They could be returned safely home…
But even having the strength of a mighty warrior of the craft of a cunning thief may not be enough to save them. There are dark forces plotting their deaths, and not everyone seems to be playing by the rules.


Write-ups from fans ~

After winning through to the end and destroying the evil presence, the gamers in Quag Keep discover that they cannot return to their own world. But while playing Dungeons and Dragons was fun, living it isn't nearly as much fun. So they have to set off on a new adventure to find their way out of this world and back into their own. But there's a new Game Master who would rather see them dead than let them return to their own world. ~ SL


Thirty years after Andre' novel Quag Keep became the first book based of E. Gary Gygax's Dungeons and Dragons game we now have a sequel. The gamers from the first book, trapped in the world of Greyhawk have fallen on hard times. Gulth, the lizard man is dying. He and the priest Deav Dyne leave the group to go to the swamps and revive Gulth. The fighter, Milo and the berserker were-boar Naile get into a brawl in a tavern and are promptly arrested and thrown into the nastiest jail imaginable. They are bailed out by the leader of a merchant's caravan who hires them. He has paid for the damages the two caused and they will work to pay him back by becoming guards. Also hired were Yevele the Swordswoman and Ingrge the elf. The bard/minstrel Wymarc stays in town to earn money. After the caravan has departed, Wymarc is murdered by Fisk Lockwood an assassin working for an evil entity (Pobe) who has ordered him to kill all of the outworlders. When the caravan is attacked by an undead army, our heroes barely survive. They meet up with a thief, the lone survivor from another D&D group tells them that they have to return to Quag Keep to rescue a powerful wizard (ironically, the same one who summoned them from Earth) who is being held prisoner by the Evil entity who is sucking the magic from Earth to feed on. Yevele and Ingrge make the classic D&D blunder; Yep, they split the party. They go with the thief toward Quag Keep, leaving Milo and Naile with the caravan which then gets attacked. The three get sucked down into a cave by three baby dragons (hey this is D&D--you gotta have dragons somewhere). The dragons' mother lets them go on to Quag Keep. There are booby traps ogres and giants guarding the keep. Somebody loses an arm, Milo and Naile are magically teleported into the wizard's cell the other two must fight a roomful of Were-rats to get to the cell to free the wizard who tells them that they must locate the device that Pobe is using to siphon the Earth's magic. Action, loyalty, friendship, betrayal, treachery and a final plot twist keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Nov. 15th, 2005
Unimpressive sequel to Quag Keep, the first novel based on the Dungeons & Dragons game franchise, published 27 years after the original.
In Quag Keep, a number of Dungeons & Dragons gamers were transported to the fantasy world of Greyhawk (the setting of their game) after encountering some mysterious tabletop miniatures. The magical miniatures dictated what sort of “character” they became in Greyhawk—e.g., the gamer who picks up a thief miniature finds himself in the body of a thief, but with all his memories of the real world intact. Now those stalwart adventurers are still trapped in Greyhawk, though a stranger they meet leads them back to Quag Keep, with a plan that could help them find their way back to the real world. Action and conflict ensue, with the characters collecting plot coupons and plodding through the motions of the formula. The concept might have been fresh and exciting in the original, but in the 21st century feels trite and clichéd. Moreover, the market for the book is questionable—the hardcore gamers will find it antithetical to everything they like about gaming, and readers of heroic fantasy will simply sneer.
Derivative, stale rubbish.


Booklist Review ~ Jan. 01, 2006

In 1976, the late Norton, not yet declared an sf grandmaster, was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons by its founder, Gary Gygax. In 1978, she wrote Quag Keep, a novel in which seven gamers were thrust into their collectively imagined world, cast as the characters each had chosen to play and set off on a quest that they had to fulfill before they could go back to their world. The quest was successful, but the players remained in the imagined world. In this long-delayed, coauthored sequel, the players discover another evil that endangers not only the world they are in but also the Earth they came from. Evil wizards, dragons great and small, intrigue, comradeship, and the irony that comes of trying to live one’s fantasies—Return to Quag Keep has them all. And a further book can be expected because while some of the players make it back to Earth, others don’t. And no decent hero leaves comrades in distress. — Frieda Murray


Review by Publishers Weekly ~ Nov. 07, 2005

In Norton and Rabe's serviceable sequel to Norton's Quag Keep (1978), the first novel based on a role-playing game, the original seven adventurers have survived their quest and regained their memories of who they really are—gaming nerds from a variety of locales and occupations on Earth. The "grand purpose" for which they were spirited away to fight may never have existed. Trapped in a backward medieval world, the seven yearn to return home. Eventually, they meet another human in their same situation and discover there is a purpose involving Earth for which they must fight. For the most part, the story and characters lack the magic and imagination typical of the late SF Grand Master Norton at her best. While unrestricted by the gaming conventions of its predecessor, this remains stock fantasy that will appeal primarily to young readers and newcomers to the genre.


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

2020 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Don and Linda


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2005) Published by TOR, HC, 0-765-31298-0, $24.95, 304pg ~ cover by Justin Sweet
  • (2008) Published by TOR, PB, 0-765-35152-8, $6.99, 304pg ~ cover by Justin Sweet
  • (2017) Published by Worldbuilders Press, DM, no ISBN, $3.99, ~ cover by Matt Forsyth
  • (2018) Published by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, PB, 978-1-680-68021-8, $11.99, 294pg ~ cover by Matt Forsyth

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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