The Amazing Book of Mazes.

By Adrian Fisher

Printed: 2006

Publisher: Thames & Hudson. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 21 × 23 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 21 x 23 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Binding same as the dustsheet.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Mazes are more popular today than they ever have been. It is said that over half of the mazes in the world have been constructed in the last twenty-five years. Adrian Fisher is without question the world’s leading maze designer, and here presents a comprehensive, fascinating and fun account of the history of the maze that has an equally strong interactive element. This stunning volume will delight mass audiences everywhere.

Review: Mazes are commonplace in puzzle books and can also sometimes be found in other books, newspapers and magazines, but this book is about full scale mazes that you only solve by walking round them. If you get lost, well that’s just tough. I do remember that I once visited Hampton Court maze (featured in this book) but I don’t think I’ve visited any other real life mazes. Still, this book may encourage me to visit a few more in my retirement. Not that one actually needs to visit them to enjoy this book, which is really about the mazes as an art form. The author rarely gives tips about how to solve these mazes, although as some of them are illustrated by aerial photographs and/or diagrams, that might help if you think you need it. Personally, I would regard that as cheating. If you visit a maze knowing how to solve it, what is the point? Some mazes illustrated were created primarily for their aesthetic appeal and aren’t intended to be puzzles, but most are designed to be both aesthetic and puzzling. The bulk of the book is taken up with vertical mazes – those in which the paths are separated by vertical barriers that are sometimes (but not always) high enough to prevent you from seeing the overall layout of the maze. These barriers may be hedges, panels (usually wooden), maize (corn), mirrors or occasionally other materials. Each is dealt with in turn. The rest of the book is shared between horizontal mazes, which are similar to vertical mazes but with very low barriers between paths, and quick mazes, which are a different concept entirely.

Longleat, which became famous for its safari park (and which I visited a few times with the family in its early years) now has several mazes that seem quite intriguing, though I doubt that I will ever return to Longleat. To add to the confusion, the big maze includes a few footbridges, but you can’t use a vantage point on any of the footbridges because the view is blocked by wood panelling; other mazes that feature footbridges have sometimes been kinder to puzzlers by not blocking the view, so that people can look around. Elsewhere, maze designers have developed other tricks such as a series of gates, some of which are locked while others are not. The management have the option to lock some gates and open others whenever they choose, thus changing the solution to the puzzle. Panel mazes may not always look as attractive as hedge mazes (though judging by the pictures, some of them are attractive, especially the Celtic maze at Legoland made from wattle), but they are easier to set up and maintain. They can be dismantled and re-assembled at will, so they can be set up during the summer months and stored during the winter, further reducing maintenance costs. Maize may appear to be unsuitable, as it is a seasonal crop that needs to be re-planted, but some people enjoy the challenge of starting again each year. Some American maize mazes make use of double-decker footbridges. I cannot really imagine what a mirror maze might be like to experience. They first appeared in the late nineteenth century, but since a new mirror maze was installed at Wookey Hole caves (another place I visited a few times as a child) in 1991, there has been a resurgence of interest in them. The so-called quick mazes can be abstract designs, perhaps generated by computer software. As such, they can have different rules to conventional mazes. I question the right of some of these puzzles to be called mazes; they are definitely puzzles, but I wouldn’t think of them as mazes if I hadn’t seen them in this book. However, they are interesting in their own way.

This is a fascinating book, but I regard the vertical mazes, which occupy the major part of the book, to be the most interesting. If mazes arouse your curiosity, you will find much to enjoy here.

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