SF & Fantasy

Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Anasûrimbor Kellhus versus Ray Lilly

The Contestants


Click to view original image source


Click to view original image source

Anasûrimbor Kellhus
Dûnyain monk
Age: 33
Race: Dûnyain (selectively bred human)
Weapons / Artifacts: Enshoiya (sword)
Tears you down mentally by exposing your secrets

Ray Lilly
Twenty Palaces thug
Age: Early 30s
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Paper knife
Limited magic

The Breakdown


  • Master swordsman
  • Can read your body language like an open book
  • Sorcery (Gnosis)

  • Street smart
  • His magic can be very effective in a tight situation
  • Magical tattoos protect him from most physical attacks (as does the golem flesh spell)

  • Perfection can be so boring. And insane.

  • Has to eat burgers all the time…and not in a cute, Wimpy way, but in a gross, Morgan Spurlock way.

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

How Harry Connolly, creator of Ray Lilly, thinks the fight will go

The arena appeared to be some sort of gladiatorial ring. The stone benches all around were empty of people, and the sand under his feet was unbloodied. Perhaps his battle was to be first?

Anasûrimbor Kellhus looked across at the man he was supposed to battle. His clothes were modest but of very fine cloth, as though he was a manual laborer in an impossibly wealthy society. There was magic about him, too, but it was difficult to determine its exact nature. But his posture betrayed a remarkable lack of discipline as well as a certain… reluctance?

“My name is Anasûrimbor Kellhus.” If the fellow really was reluctant to take on the task before him, knowing the name of his enemy would only increase that reluctance. As might a touch of kindness. “Welcome.”

The man nodded. “Callous, huh? Okay. Nice outfit. I’m Ray.” He looked around. “So, do you know what we’re doing here? Because this shit does not look good.”

That was interesting. “Has no one told you why we are here?”

His expression soured. “Nobody tells me a damn thing.”

“I am Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas, vanquisher of the No-God, master of the Gnosis, summoner of–” The man’s head snapped around. The word summoner had changed his body language entirely. “–demons from Outside. And I am your foe.”

The man no longer looked like a laborer. He leaned forward now, his gaze focussed and intent. His body language made it clear: “Ray” had revealed himself to be a back alley thug. “Summoning, huh? Guess what, Callous? I just figured out why they put you in here with me.”

Ray turned his hand over to reveal a piece of paper covered in some sort of transparent lacquer. Kellhus could sense the magic in it, although again it seemed different from any he’d previously encountered. As the thug started his forward charge, he flicked his wrist, flinging the paper away to the side.

The poor fool. Kellhus spoke a Cant, summoning the power of the Gnosis through his utteral and inutteral, and a wave of flame flowed away from him. It rose high, melting the sand between them and crested over his opponent.

But it didn’t touch him. Somehow the magic surrounding him had protected him in a way Kellhus had never seen. It was almost as though the universe itself bent away from him so the killing fire could not touch him.

Kellhus spoke again, then again, sending wave after wave of fire at him, and each time he could feel the man’s impenetrable defense crumble, only to be replaced by another. It was like kicking down doors in a long hallway–he knew he would reach the end at some point, but could he do it soon enough?

The lacquered paper suddenly appeared beside him, flying toward his left flank with the speed of a diving sparrow. His Dûnyain training prevented any delay in his response; he spoke another Cant to summon a shearing force that struck the flying paper on the side, deflecting it away.

He turned back, sending another wave of fire outward, but it was too late. Ray had closed the distance between them, and the flames curling over his body, futile in its attempt to touch him, was burning hot on Kellhus’s own flesh.

Kellhus side-stepped the man’s charge, but Ray swung outward, striking Kellhus hard just below his right eye. Kellhus’s own hand fell to the hilt of Enshoya.

As stars flickered in Kellhus’s vision, he could not suppress his surprised reaction, not this time. The moment this back alley thug had touched him, Kellhus knew he was not really a man at all. Not only did the universe itself bend around him, but his flesh wasn’t actually flesh at all. What, exactly, was he facing? In all his years of training and careful observation, he had never misread anyone as badly as this man.

Kellhus’s sword was already in his hand, already swinging downward in a killing stroke that would sever a normal man’s head and arm. Ray raised his left arm and met the blade with back of his wrist.

And blocked it. The sword could no more slice through this man’s not-flesh than a stalk of wheat could split a blacksmith’s anvil.

Ray held up his hand and, to Kellhus’s shock, the lacquered piece of paper flew through Kellhus’s own chest to him. The thug caught it like a master taking hold of an obedient pet.

Kellhus began to fall backward, suddenly struck weak. Ray slashed his sheet of paper at Enshoya and, with the paper’s edge, cut the blade in two.

The end of his sword fell to the sand just as Kellhus dropped to one knee. The sheet of paper had been sharp enough to cut metal, and it had passed through his chest. Through his heart!

“I’m sorry,” Kellhus blurted out. It took him a moment to understand, but the paper had not killed him. It had diminished him somehow. His resolve, determination, his very will to survive had been deflated, leaving him full of nothing but remorse toward this man he hated. The compulsion to offer reparation was unbearable.

No. No, he could not allow it. He was Anasûrimbor Kellhus, Aspect-Emperor. He had mastered the Gnosis. He was the epitome of self-control. He could not allow his end to come this way.

“Yeah yeah,” the thug said. “Every asshole is sorry once payback comes around.” From the pocket of his jacket, he removed a stack of papers bound together by a spiral of cheap steel wire. “Damn, Callous. Look how many you wasted. Do you realize what a pain it is to–”

Calling on his training and intellect to guide his actions, not his traitorous emotions, Kellhus swung the broken hilt of his sword at the spiral-bound paper. The hands-width of Enshoya’s blade still remaining struck the pages on the flat and knocked them to the sand.

Kellhus spoke the Cant for fire once again. The flames were so hot he felt his own skin blister immediately, but the thug was no longer protected by his bend in the universe. The flames bit deep into his not-flesh, burning down into him.

He dropped–collapsed?–onto the ground. His hand landed on the spiral pages and suddenly the flames were snuffed out in an instant.

But the man himself was destroyed. He had been burned almost down to the bone, His eyes were charred sockets, his bared teeth were blackened, and many had exploded like kernels of corn. His scorched back was split in several places as his blood blasted through him as steam. Kellhus had destroyed him.

Then Ray turned around and punched Kellhus in the throat.

His windpipe crushed, Kellhus fell back onto the ground. Part of his mind knew that he’d received a killing blow, but could he last longer than his opponent? If Ray succumbed to his injuries first, Kellhus would be permitted to survive one more day, wouldn’t he?

The nightmarish thing the street thug had become scrambled onto him, snatching the remains of Enshoya from his hand. Kellhus battered frantically at him, but his lack of air and the influence of the enchanted paper stole his vitality. Still, he pushed against the greasy, gritty living corpse even as it slashed open his abdomen and lowered its mouth to feed.

It was devouring him. As his blood flowed into its mouth, he could see its not-flesh rebuilding. He could feel it growing heavier as it lay across him. This was no man. He had no idea what this thing was, but it was killing him and he could not do anything about it.

It raised its head suddenly and looked into Kellhus’s face. Its eyes had regenerated, and its lipless mouth was full of healthy teeth and a tongue. “Nobody every made me do this before,” it said, its harsh voice sounding like a death rattle. It lifted the broken hilt of Enshoya and, with its enchanted paper, cut the blade along the guard almost all the way through, then shaved it just behind the edge, creating a stiletto-like blade.

Ray punched Kellhus hard on the chin and, in that dazed moment, slid the long slender blade up under Kellhus’s chin on the left side.

“There,” the thing said as it lifted something raw and red to its mouth. “That should have been the speech centers of your brain. According to the dude on TV, anyway. Too bad you had to be around for this, Callous, but the fresher the meat, the better. And you hurt me worse than anyone ever has, and that’s saying something.”

The edges of Kellhus’s vision went cloudy. He could feel himself draining away, dying. His thoughts–so disciplined, so clear–refused to resolve into cogent analysis. He’d already lost his ability to express himself. A wave of sorrow ran through him. There was so much he still had left to do, and now all of that potential had been lost. It was such a senseless waste.

“I know,” the thing’s voice came to him again. He could no longer see, but he could hear, and its voice sounded almost human, and so close to his ear. “I’ll bet you were capable of wonders.”

Predicted Winner: Ray Lilly


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Anasûrimbor Kellhus is a character from the Prince of Nothing series by R. Scott Bakker; Ray Lilly is a character from the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly

Kellhus image courtesy of Overlook Press. Ray Lilly image courtesy of Chris McGrath and Del Rey books

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”


85 Responses to “Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Anasûrimbor Kellhus versus Ray Lilly”

  1. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Can someone please justify how Kellhus is possibly losing this matchup?

    Just physically, Kellhus fought off 5 skin spies, in pitch darkness, the same sort of skin spies one of which was too much to handle for Cnaiur, who is a hulking barbarian killing machine that an entire group of Nansur soldiers was scared of taking on. The same Cnaiur that Kellhus effortlessly dangled over a cliff by one arms around his throat.

    Then there’s the whole probability-trance-as-applied-to-combat thing, you know, like where he out-fights the ages-old Nonman swordmaster by waiting for that one perfect opening? Or the part where he single-handedly turns the tide of a rout via the tree-analogy…

    Point being, I see nothing in Ray’s write-up that would allude to anything even approaching Kellhus’ level of superhuman physical capabilities.

    And that’s completely ignoring the tear-dragons-out-of-the sky, one-shot-demons, rape-all-other sorceries and laugh-off-entire-armies Gnosis. The same Gnosis that is dependant on the wielder’s grasp of logic for its power… with Kellhus shaming the greatest philosopher to ever live with his proofs within moments of studying the guy’s work. Oh, and you know the whole second Inutteral cant thing that lets him do things with the Gnosis other Gnostic sorcerers think is impossible…

    But that’s besides the point, because the sheer overwhelming effect of Kellhus’ charisma and his ability to read reactions would almost guarantee that Ray would be worshiping him like everyone else within moments of meeting him.

    So, basically, popularity contest is more fun?

  2. Master of Destiny says:

    Most people don’t know who is Kellhus and what can he do. He is a master swordman. With his superhuman intellect he can induce you to do as he wish, and he has the Gnosis, one of the most powerful kinds of magic ever seen in fantasy. In terms of power the only one who is at a similar level is Anomander Rake. Both are well above the capabilities of most contestants.

  3. Cas says:

    Meh, guess he underestimated Ray… Its a mistake people much more powerful than Kellhus do on a daily basis…

  4. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Kellhus doesn’t underestimate, period. He has no ego — he analyzes and then acts in the most efficient manner possible. Literally, the only way to defeat him is to beat him at his own game, which is going to require power on the scale of what most fantasy defines as “divine”.

    And you will of course provide evidence of “people much more powerful than Kellhus” and justification for why you believe that to be the case.

  5. Callan S. says:

    Indeed – the whole ‘I am your foe’ thing? Not his approach vector – why destroy such a valuable asset? How is that the shortest path?

    But I guess weve gotta fight, marvel style!

    In which case it all hinges on whether Kellhus would, like a world born, simply give into an assumption of having destroyed a target?

    Seriously, atleast dress up the ‘turn and throat punch’. That takes a long, long time, given the thing Kellhus is. You could atleast say some lightening speed magic made it real fast or something. Because otherwise that’s like someone charging from a hundred feet away, screaming, and you or I not noticing it happen, that’s how slow it is for a Dunyain. It needs a bit more than ‘Oh, I really, really want Ray to win and…OH he IS winning! Oh hurray, I believe that could happen (and not at all because I really wanted him to!)’. C’mon, a bit more effort than just relying on that old psychological trick to make it seem plausible!

  6. Rorschach says:

    Ray Lilly kills Wizards and Summoners. That is what he does. He always is underestimated because they just think of him as just a wooden man. Cannon fodder for the more powerful wizards to use and abuse.

  7. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    “Ray Lilly kills Wizards and Summoners. That is what he does. He always is underestimated because they just think of him as just a wooden man. Cannon fodder for the more powerful wizards to use and abuse.”

    And this means what? What experience does Ray have facing something like a Dunyain Conditioned warrior with access to the metaGnosis? Kellhus IS., NOT. HUMAN. He does not think as a human does whatsoever. He’s like an emotionless machine that always takes the most effective action at any given time.

  8. Lannister says:

    Ok, this is just ridiculous. It seems Harry Connolly will write himself winning no matter what foe he is up against. It doesn’t seem like he has even read The Darkness That Come Before. The Gnosis is much more than casting fire spells. Kellhus is the ultimate killing machine, his intelligence surpasses every character in the cage match. The only competitor in the competition that could rival him would be Anomandor Rake. As usual it boils down to a popularity contest and lesser known characters are taken out quickly.

  9. Jim says:

    Reiterating the previous comment. Defeating people/things like that is what Ray DOES. Read Harry’s three (4? sort of 4) books and you’ll get it.

  10. judge says:

    Ray faces both humans and non-humans for breakfast and comes out all battered and bruised but still breathing. Perfection is over-rated. Can’t depend on too much logic in a dirty, slug-fest fight. As they say, muscle memory is always better than philosophy in a dark alley. And everyone knows ray doesn’t play nice.

  11. Callan S. says:

    If it’s what Ray DOES, can it be listed under his powers then? “Always kills magic users, perfectly, every time, so don’t bother reading the story below as it’s a foregone conclusion”?

    Perfection is over rated, and it seems Ray is apparently perfect at fighting magic users.

    Please, a bit more in the story than ‘Ray always winzors, alraight!!!’ as the depiction of the winning moment. Currently it’s not much above “But then Ray punches him really, REALLY hard! And winzors!”. I’d just prefer more effort put in.

    On muscle memory, one of Kellhus’s simpler party tricks is dodging arrows without fail. Atleast tell me Ray can do the same on demand, so as to forshadow some sort of fast reflex system in him.

    Because some goose turning around and extending a punch is slower than an arrow.

    I could take Ray winning, but a turn and punch just seems an incredibly lazy way for it to occur.

  12. D.I. Waisanen says:

    I haven’t read the series of either of these characters, but from what research I’ve done and what others are saying, Kellhus seems like the one to pick. An enormously powerful archmage-type figure with numerous superhuman abilities up against someone who’s magical abilities are more minor and specific.

    I encourage everyone to read the other comments and read up a little on both characters before voting.

  13. Every year the cage matches bring comments from readers unhappy that their favorite character loses a writeup or a vote, but I knew this one would especially upset people, and I’m glad you guys have come to the comment section to speak up. Seriously.

    The best thing about these cage matches is that readers get to talk about why they love this book or that character. Dozens (hundreds?) of people leave the site with new entries on their reading lists and as far as I can tell, it’s the enthusiasm of the commenters that makes the biggest impression.

    So, having read a few “Kellhus vs” forum threads, I knew folks would be aggravated. What can I say? I root for Batman over Superman every time. But speak up! The best thing you can do is share your passion. That’s what this whole silly thing is all about.

  14. Resident7 says:

    Kellhus is closer to being a god than human. Ray’s mary sue ability to just kill wizards no matter what sounds like poor writing to me.

  15. Chris says:

    I gotta go with Ray on this one as well.

    From what I understand (still reading the books), Magic is not going to affect Ray except to a small degree. Swords won’t cut him. That leaves Kellhus’s ability to talk his way out of a fight. Ray’s magic is mostly defensive save for the ghost knife, and that can (and apparently does) affect Kellhus. It cuts the soul, and the effect from that is, as shown above, makes the victim feel remorse for everything they have done. It seems the bigger the fight in the person, the more remorse they feel. The fact that this guy shrugs it off is amazing in itself.

    Granted, any time there is a match up between 2 different people from 2 different books/series/shows/etc it devolves into \Your mary sue is not as cool as my mary sue!\, and you can throw reason after reason from book after book at EITHER contestant and still come up with a draw. Hulk vs Superman, Batman vs Captain America, Coke vs Pepsi. It’s kinda the grown up version of the 5 year old in the playground, talking about how you totally didn’t hit him cause he activated his shield, but you totally did hit him cause you shot 5 billion bullets, but you didn’t actually hit him cause all that did was knock the shield down and how he threw a fireball at you and you totally are on fire etc.

    Ray takes this one home for me because that’s what he does. He faces down the big bads of the universe with a GED and a give em hell attitude. He’s perfectly willing to die if it means that his target goes down with him. Short of an Elder God I can’t think of anything that would really cause him to pause and think \Oh, crap, gotta run!\.

    It’s a good fight (and a great write up), and it makes me want to read more about Kellhus.

    Now to really blow your mind, who’d win between Kellhus and Richard from the Sword of Truth? :)

  16. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    That’s all well and good, now please detail how he goes about defeating a Kellhus who is metaGnostically porting around the battlefield and devastating miles of terrain with his Cants while hundreds of feet in the air protected by a labyrinthine web of wards, perfectly cognizant of everything around him.

    *White-luck Warrior spoilers*

    Kellhus incinerates an entire army of Sranc as a *side-effect * of his teleportation Cant

    Are you honestly telling me this guy can just stand there and take that kind of damage with no effect? What if Kellhus blasts a huge hole under his feet and just leaves him there to starve to death?

    I mean, the man has almost unlimited options and an intellect that can categorize those options and implement the most effective one at any given time faster than any human can react.

    So I will ask again: What, precisely, is Ray doing that qualifies as defeating Kellhus?

    I *will* offer as a counterpoint in the spirit of charity that Kellhus’ one (presumed) weakness is to indeterministic forces a la the White-luck Warrior who

    MAJOR SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Effortlessly killed Maithanet, Kellhus’ brother, due to being completely unpredictable through the Probability Trance. Maithanet is like a mini Kellhus sans Gnosis,


    So, if Ray is by some chance an indeterministic force, that would be an advantage in his favor.

  17. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Oh, and I once saw a comparison of Kellhus and RIchard Rahl, the author of which came to the conclusion that Kellhus is in fact a very subtle yet scathing parody of Mr. Moral Clarity. :P

  18. Voight says:

    ‘What if Kellhus blasts a huge hole under his feet and just leaves him there to starve to death? ‘

    I remember people saying that a lot throughout last year’s contest in regards to magical contenders who versed non-magical contenders.

  19. Callan S. says:

    Every year the cage matches bring comments from readers unhappy that their favorite character loses a writeup or a vote

    Hoo, jeez, the old ‘you’re biased!’ which is a bias in itself.

    To me, I let it tip in your biased direction because ultimately you put in the effort to write some story (and I didn’t). I’d just like to encourage something more.

    Ohh, but hey, maybe…post script…

    Kellhus’s body flitted through a space and in a moment was transported back to whence it was first taken, a dusy field. Laying across the ground, fluids oozing from a corpse, suddenly a black column of shadow darkned his face. Light, like it was water, rippled back from thin air. Kellhus stepped forth, observing the condition of his echo. Like a schoolman brings up the echo of the ground to walk into the sky, with the gnosis the matter that was the ground of Kellhus could be given it’s own echo. While the light around him, merely a correspondence to bend and warp. Whatever had taken him, he had observed – and he would come for those who had. The dead echo infront of him collapsed to the nothing it had always been.

    Rays conditioning had been complete. Everything the man had needed to see, he had seen. He needed to be seen as a thug – it was given. He needed the repeat of so past seen lamentations – it was given. But his path had been reshaped, sharpened. So many more wizards and summoners – obstacles to the shortest path – he might kill in future, when there might have been another path for him. Embedded deep, he could never accept there had been a manipulation. The very ide would always seem…

    A weak fiction.

  20. Vath says:

    What I think many people are overlooking is lilly doesn’t do the majority of the damage. Kellhus’ own super powerful magic fire damages himself twice to the extent that ray can take him down with a throat punch.

  21. Callan S. says:

    Got too excited, posted too soon, lack of edit button regret setting in! Oh well!

    Spectre of Eschaton, I think it’s still speculation that that was the white luck warrior who did that, and Maithanet is a half breed Dunyain, not a full breed. Not actually arguing with you as you can see, but just chin wagging over the books a bit :)

  22. judge says:

    Yeah, I agree. You’re getting far too excited it’s embarrassing. Chill dude. This is just the old paper/scissors/stone except its happening on the web. And you don’t have to “correct” the writer himself for writing the piece. That’s being obnoxious. So you like Kellhus. Good on ya. I like Ray. Good on me. All in the spirit of fun.

  23. Voight says:

    Let’s keep it all friendly. So, I can why Lilly fans believe he would win and I can see why Kellhus fans believe he would win also. My questions is this – who do Lilly AND Kellhus fans think would win?

  24. atrasicarius says:

    It’s not just a matter of some people liking Kellhus better. His abilities are seriously underrated in the description. I don’t know all of what Lilly can do, but if his description is accurate, this fight should be as one sided as the Anomander Rake vs Mellorin Rebaine one. In fact, Kellhus is one of the few characters who actually stands decent chance against Anomander. Nerfing Kellhus like this is basically handing the tournament to him, unless Revan or someone can pull a surprise upset.

  25. Yrrt says:

    Based of what has been said here and what I could find online about each character (I’ve only just started to read Connolly) I think I’m going to have to go with Kellhus. From what I understand the way he fights is not as predictable and as static as was written in the write-up. I may be wrong as I haven’t read his series but I am reading Connolly and I’ve yet to see how Lilly could defeat such a varied and focused combatant.

  26. Madness says:

    I think Bakker’s fans are just now weighing in. 49% to 52% overnight.

    Wish Bakker had a chance to write this cage match. Though well done to Connolly, for writing despite not having read the Prince of Nothing.

    What is Ray? Something other? Magically imbued?

  27. KevinB says:

    Nicely written, Mister Connolly. I’m intrigued by your character, I might have to check out your books. There’s still no chance in hell he’d win from Kellhus though. ;) He’s one of the most powerful characters ever on the roster.

  28. Callan, no worries. As we used to say in my pickup basketball games: “No blood, no foul.” (I wasn’t much of a basketball player as you can probably guess.)

  29. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Please do elaborate, someone, what kind of entity it would require to defeat Ray. Because, Kellhus really is sitting near the top tier of fantasy powerhouses. Short of things like the Shrike or outright mass-scale reality-warpers, he’s pretty much at the top. There’s a reason he’s worshiped as a god by the entire civilized world of his setting, and it isn’t all subterfuge and diplomacy. The metaGnosis is actually that powerful.

    He’s seems to me like something of an out-of-context problem for Ray, unless someone can provide evidence that Ray has dealt with someone of this scale before. And if not Kellhus, then who? What is Kellhus lacking exactly that keeps him from winning> The entire argument in support of Ray seems to amount more or less to authorial fiat that he always wins. On top of being a sure guarantee that I will never read Mr. Connolly’s work for that reason alone, how is that possibly germane to a cross-over tournament? It’s blatantly breaking the 4th wall, and if accepted, renders this entire contest moot. Just crown Ray right now, as things just always seem to work out for him, so he’s obviously going to, just somehow, defeat every opponent who has the misfortune of crossing his path.

    Aspect-Emperor/Conditioned Dunyain/genius metaGnostic sorcerer/living god? No sweat. Ray’s got this. 300,000 year-old Ascendant son of the creator of the universe who can glass continents with his magic, wields a hax-powerful 1-cut-and-you’re-perma-dead sword, and can transform into a titanic dragon? Pfft. Tuesday for Ray. *rolls eyes out of skull* Can’t wait to see *that* fight…

    And @Callan, I’d honestly never heard the contention that it wasn’t the WLW who offed Maitha. Interesting. I’d never considered that before.

  30. D.I. Waisanen says:

    I think that the numbers are changing direction more due to these discussions. Ray Lilly had the initial advantage when everyone who didn’t know about him and/or Ray Lilly would only see the write-up. However, the comments are now filling up with people who are saying “No, Kellhus is much greater than that and won’t lose.” I think the surfacing facts are reversing the flow of battle.

    Maybe it mirrors how the fight would actually go? Ray Lilly is initially able to thwart Kellhus and hold out, but as time goes by, Kellhus starts exploring new options and finding ways to bring Lilly down.

  31. Ryk E. Spoor says:

    Well, I have no opinion directly on which would win; I know something of Ray Lilly’s abilities but none of Kelhus. However, the ability to cut through magic and spirits (Ghost Knife) and regenerate from nearly all damage (Golem flesh) and shield from any mystical effects (notebook) certainly makes him a formidable foe of wizards of ANY type. (me? I’d cast a Mordekainen’s Disjunction or Greater Dispelling on the whole area FIRST, then go after him, to use gamer terminology. Wipe out all existing magic on the field then go for it with spells of my own, confident that he has no specialized defenses left)

    MORE IMPORTANTLY, hey, they ask the AUTHORS to write up HOW THEIR CHARACTER WOULD WIN — or at least, how they’d do well — in the match. If Kelhus’ author wanted to throw up HIS take on how things would go, he could certainly do so, but he didn’t. So naturally, if the creator of Ray Lilly is asked to give his description of the fight and how it goes, he’s going to pull out the stops for Ray unless he sincerely believes Ray wouldn’t have a chance.

    I’d do the same if someone chose one of my characters from my books. Some of them I would say wouldn’t have a chance — for instance, A.J. Baker from _Boundary_ — others would have a small chance but likely get their butts handed to them (DuQuesne from Grand Central Arena), and still others might very well kick ass (Kyri Vantage from my forthcoming _Phoenix Rising_, Amas-Garao from Grand Central Arena). But even the ones I would have to say DIE, I’d give them at least SOME kind of cool moment, and if I thought they had ANY chance to win, I’d write THAT story. Let the OTHER guy write HIS victory.

  32. Huh. My previous comment never appeared.

    Let me try that again: Callan, as we used to say in pickup basketball games, “No blood, no foul.” Actually, it reminds me of an old joke:

    Q: Why are university politics so nasty?

    A: Because there’s so little at stake.

    It’s all in fun, and I’m happy to see enthusiastic readers, even when they’re accusing me of mary sueism. No big.

  33. Don says:

    I don’t get all the heat over this. It’s clearly just a fun little genre mash with a popularity contest tacked onto the end. Even if Connelly is biased, so what? Ray is his character and Kellhus isn’t. If you think it shoulda gone another way write your own version; you’ve got as much claim to the character as Connelly does and it’ll be every bit as binding for Bakker’s future stories: not at all.

    What I REALLY don’t understand is why any author agrees to come play along and get the abuse. Sheesh.

  34. Stacia Kane says:

    But Harry, it makes perfect sense to pick Batman over Superman; there’s nothing unusual or “off” about that. Because everybody knows Batman will win that one. BATMAN ALWAYS WINS.

    (As for the rest of the discussion, I’m not going near it.)

  35. Ryk E. Spoor says:

    Don: “What I REALLY don’t understand is why any author agrees to come play along and get the abuse. Sheesh.”

    That’s easy, speaking as an author who’d LOVE to be in one of these:

    1) Free publicity. Even this argument is getting Harry a lot more attention. Maybe some of the people arguing will say “Jeez, lemme see what this Ray Lilly is really like” and buy one of his books.
    2) Fun. Even if you’re not gonna win, it’s fun to write a little crossover like this, especially when you get to write it your way.

    Some of us also laugh at the “abuse” — I’ve been online since 1976 and on Usenet since about 1988-89, so this isn’t abuse, it’s a positively genteel and kindly discussion compared to the flamewars I’ve seen (and been a part of, on occasion).

  36. Lanceheim says:

    The only other character in the tournament that would come close to Kellhus’s power would be Anomandor Rake. These two characters are practically gods. If Ray Lilly has a single flaw Kellhus will see it and exploit it in the most efficient way possible. If you have read the series you would know Kellhus could win this fight without even having to battle. His intellect is like a super computer calculating every action and its effects instantly. Then selecting the option that gets the job done by the “shortest path”.

    I know that this cage match is just for fun, but to see one of the most powerful fantasy characters in recent times taken out so early would be a bit disappointing. Kind of like Jaime Lannister beating Cthulu again.

  37. Cas says:

    someone stole my Batman vs Superman comment, yes Mister Connolly, I’m looking at you!

    What makes me chuckle, is how worked up folks get over this. If you put a near godlike character into a fight, whats the point?

    When I was, but a lad… I used to roleplay. I dont get time any more, but it was a hobby I loved. In the group, we had players who would manipulate their characters to the point where there were near on invunerable. Nothing, short of the magical equivelent of a nuke could kill them. Wheres the fun in that?
    My kids, when playing certain games, play through on God mode, with the thought process that they’ve beaten the game when they finish it… Where the challenge in that?

    Surely its more fun to see a battle where the outcome isnt guarentee’d? one where theres a small percentage of chance that the poor mouse, fighting the lion, might accidentally critical hit, and eat the lions brains?

    I ‘get’ that this is supposed to be “Superman is more powerful than Batman, faster, immune to everything Batman can throw against him, and can react faster than batman can think…”

    Sometimes though, its much more fun to give a bit of kryptonite to Batman. It makes for a more interesting read.

    Someone said this is coming down to a popularity contest… people are voting for who they want to win, rather than who they think SHOULD win…

    Isn’t that how we read stories? cheering for who we want to win?

  38. Jorge says:

    This fight is a joke.

    For starters, Kellhus would cut Ray to the bone of his SOUL before a finger was even lifted. He’d look at his face, figure out all the relevant neuro-psychological shortcomings and insecurities, play and them, and have Ray cutting his own throat before the bell to begin fighting even rang.

    The only way Ray would have a chance is if the following 3 things were true:
    1. He has a Chorae. I’ll be kind and assume those magic tattoos of his serve a similar function, although… come on, we all know that shit ain’t Aporetic Sorcery. (Jaques Derrida eat your heart out)

    2. Someone told him about Kellhus’s ability to see into souls and rewrite motivations. He could then start by using the “Esmenet Strategy” and wear a mask, since the ability relies on extrapolating from subtle facial muscular movements to the underlying physiology.

    3. Total surprise. The gods of Earwa have been working on this one for 20 years and have issued a fate-appointed Divine Assassin to try and execute the Aspect-Emperor. GOOD LUCK!

  39. Player Two says:

    Kellhus would have Ray sobbing like a baby questioning his own sexuality and so twisted with past emotions and guilt that he would just kill himself in an eager attempt attempt to please his new savior and personal god Kellhus.

  40. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    @Cas, the thing is, there are quite a few other contestants in the tournament who can legitimately give Kellhus a run for his money. And if you think Kellhus is overpowered, take a look at Anomander Rake. @_@ (I imagine more than a couple people want to see *that* match-up*)

    This is honestly just a badly-designed match-up. It isn’t fun to debate, and any arguments made for Kellhus losing end up sounding absurd precisely because he outclasses Ray (and so many other characters) by so much.

    I almost worry that Kellhus is a bit too much like the Shrike when it comes to vs. matches — either he stomps, or he gets stomped with no middle ground in between. But, we’ll see. Hopefully. >_>

  41. Beth says:

    I *was* thinking of checking out Bakker’s books but I’m not so sure now. Kellhus sounds rather boring, going by the descriptions here. (Sorry.)

    I enjoyed the fight description a lot, though.

  42. Reamde says:

    I’ve read both series and have enjoyed them both in different ways. I think Kellhus would win this fight just because he is one of the most overpowered anti-hero characters in fantasy in a long time. Looking forward though, Tyrion will easily be voted for despite whoever he faces. As much as I would enjoy reading Kellhus going up against another super powerful god-like than character in the tournament I fear either winner here is destined to lose soon anyway. I’m voting for Kellhus in the hope that he stands a better chance than Ray would win fighting Tyrion.

  43. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Beth, that would be the case if Kellhus was the protagonist of the series and the series focused on him overcoming challenges — it is nothing of the sort, and as the books progress, Kellhus gets less and less PoV chapters as he becomes more and more accepted as a god. The books are really about the way he affects others with his ruthless manipulation (they’re about a lot of other things, too…)

  44. Ryk E. Spoor says:

    The Dagda Mor will be a tough opponent for just about anyone, and of course he’s by Terry Brooks which will give him MASSIVE voter appeal.


    It appears his chosen opponent was terribly outmatched. Curbstomp victory for Dagda Mor, round 1.

  45. Jennifer says:

    Based on the description here, Kellhus sounds like a pretty dull character to read about. All-powerful characters who can’t lose (which is how Kellhus’s fans appear to think he ought to be portrayed) are frankly pretty boring. They also tend to be Mary Sue wish fulfillment fantasies (so it was funny to me that Ray is accused of being such, when it’s pretty obvious that it’s Kellhus who fits into that category). Superman’s greatest problem as a character, after all, was that nobody could beat him. Snoozers. Ray Lilly, on the other hand, is an everyman whose abilities have exacted a terrible price from him — and he is not all powerful. Ray most certainly COULD lose, every fight, every time.

    Good to see him win one. Especially one he apparently shouldn’t be expected to win.

  46. Spectre of Eschaton says:

    Yeah, Jennifer, totally… if you completely ignore the entire point of the Prince of Nothing and look at it as some kind action-adventure hero-story.

    Kellhus is a complete deconstruction of the epic fantasy hero archetype. Your analysis based off the libelous presentation Suvudu has so odiously provided him (they couldn’t even spell his name right? Really?) displays an ignorance and shallow judgment that frankly says you’re not worth Bakker’s time as a reader anyway.

    This entire assertion that Kellhus is oring is hinged upon the inane conception that fantasy stories bear some semblance to a Saturday-morning adventure serial that provides one with a weekly cliffhanger to angst over. The Prince of Nothing is… not that at all.

    The question is never whether Kellhus will make it; as this is not a heroic adventure story, such things aren’t germane to the work. Kellhus is a *force* within the world of Earwa, and it is downright fascinating to watch the way his presence changes the world.

    It’s a series that is about human nature, ultimately. Kellhus is only a plot device within the narrative that lets us see who the other characters are when they’re placed within the extremity of his presence.

  47. Hey, Spectre, take it easy. I’ve never met R. Scott Bakker but a mutual friend tells me he’s a terrific guy, and I’m not sure he’d want you saying “… displays an ignorance and shallow judgment that frankly says you’re not worth Bakker’s time as a reader anyway.”

    Chill out. One of the artifacts of online culture is that books and authors create vague, amorphous communities, and toxic behavior from that community can drive potential new readers away.

    In other words: Don’t Be That Guy.

  48. Don says:

    Ryk, we are of similar vintage. But the fact that so much of the net is filled with crappy behavior – and may even be part of its pedigree – doesn’t make it okay in my opinion. I’m sadly unsurprised by it but its prevalence doesn’t mean the less nuclear abusiveness isn’t still abusiveness.

  49. J.N. Duncan says:

    Geez people. It’s a game. And what would be the point of this if authors had to take the powers of the contestants literally? If that were the case, there would be 3 or 4 in the tournament that would wipe the floor with everyone else and it would be predictable and boring. The fun part, as a writer anyway, is coming up with creative ways for victory. And let’s face it, the writers involved aren’t likely to know half the characters they’re up against, so it’s kind of ridiculous to point out that so-and-so took down a god in book three, and thus should in no way lose to anyone. It’s an apples and oranges sort of affair, and all in good fun regardless. Make fruit punch and enjoy it for what it is.

  50. D.I. Waisanen says:


    It looks like this is the individual match that is the first to tread the unending path of the Standard Suvudu Flame War this year. It’s always the same.

    “Character A wins because he has so much power that he could crush Character B beneath his thumb without trying.”

    “Wow, Character A totally sounds like a boring Mary Sue who solves every problem by wishing them away. Vote for Character B, even though he stands no chance of winning, because we like him more and don’t want the Mary Sue to win!”

    “You idiot! Character A is a BADASS and is more powerful, therefore he wins! You’re all RETARDED if you think Character B should win!”

    People, having powers beyond “slightly more than the average human” does not make someone a god-modded Mary Sue, and it doesn’t mean that they solve all of the problems within their series just by thinking with no conflict, or that the stories themselves have no merit and are just Mary Sue wish fulfillment. At the same time, just being more powerful doesn’t guarantee a win; the underdog could win, if that is a logical possibility. Some fiction is about very powerful characters who change their worlds and some is about ordinary people.

    Whatever happened to analyzing both characters abilities, deciding how they would interact with each other, and then voting for the clear winner? Whatever happened to enjoying the interesting discussions, speculating on how fantastic elements would interact, and finding new worlds to enjoy? Why turn it into just a game of “Who has the bigger powers” or, at the other end, “Which character I like the best.”

    C’mon people, play nice. This is supposed to be fun. It isn’t an insult to your favorite series if Joe B. Average can’t defeat Godly MacPowerful in a fight, or some such.

Leave a Comment


Del Rey Spectra 50 Page Fridays

New Releases

Del Rey Spectra on Facebook