SF & Fantasy

Cage Match — Round 5 — Anomander Rake versus Moiraine Damodred

The Contestants


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Anomander Rake
Son of Darkness, Knight of High House Dark, Mane of Chaos, Blacksword
Age: Three hundred thousand years, give or take a century
Race: Tiste Andii
Weapons / Artifacts: Dragnipur, the night-bladed sword containing the Gate of Darkness
A metric Warren-load of magic

Moiraine Damodred
Aes Sedai of The Blue Ajah

Age: 44
Race: Human (Aes Sedai)
Weapons / Artifacts: The One Power – Sai Dar; Angreal to boost her power

The Breakdown


  • Combat experience stretching back longer than most religions
  • Ability to shape-shift into a dragon
  • Moon’s Spawn, a floating fortress

  • Strong in the One Power—a veritable demigod amongst men
  • Battle-tested veteran
  • A woman (and therefore underestimated, because let’s face it: SF/F women often get a bum rap)

  • We’re guessing boredom at having to face such weak characters

  • Obsessive about her life’s mission, to the point that she’s willing to risk unraveling the fabric of space-time to achieve it.


  • Tarzan
    Del Rey editor Frank is crying right now
  • The Dagda Mor
    One Power trumps the Staff of Power
  • Jardir
    He lost to the very Core of his being
  • Kelsier
    She tested his mettle (metal) and he was found wanting

How we think the fight will go

With my deepest respect to Steven Erikson, Brandon Sanderson and the late Robert Jordan… game on…

Lan Mandragoran pushed hard. Kissing the Adder was met with a fast parry and countersweep from the Darkfriend’s heavy two handed sword. Crane Aloft was shoved aside by the heavy pommel, an answering lunge barely sidestepped. None of the Darkfriend’s forms were the least bit familiar. The style was wholly alien, not anything Lan had encountered before, not even the snakelike style of Myrrdraal. Strange as it was, the man’s skill was impressive. Lan had fought blademasters with less talent, and none of those wielded a massive two handed blade as if it were as light as a dagger. Lan kept close, trying to move in where the longer weapon would be ineffective, its wielder vulnerable, but the man stayed a step back and away, barely blocking Lan’s strikes – Leaf on the Breeze battered by a fast sweeping cut – keeping the distance between them to maintain his weapon’s advantage. Lotus Closes forced the Darkfriend to back quickly and Lan saw his opening. He leapt inside the Darkfriend’s reach, Cat on Hot Sand aimed for the center of his foe’s chest. He barely saw the man gesture and then everything went black.

Hard impact with the ground forced Lan back to consciousness. He rolled to his feet, ears ringing, vision hazy but ready to fight. He was well down the road from where the Darkfriend had challenged them, drawing Lan into the swordfight, Moiraine at his back, expecting an ambush any moment. Through their bond he felt Moiraine confronting the stranger, he felt her anger, her concern for him, her cool determination, her will as she channeled Saidar. Lan started to run… the fight replayed in his head in seconds… the man wasn’t just good, the man was a master, drawing Lan in, striking with some power at just the right moment to separate them… Ahead the Darkfriend staggered, almost fell, stood upright and stepped directly into a large tree by the side of the road… no further attackers had appeared… if the man was acting alone, and was as good as that… his aim the whole time had been to separate them. Lan saw Moiraine glance back his way and move after the Darkfriend without hesitation. A shout died on his lips… all his breath, all his recovering strength pushing him to run faster, to get through the Way and join her, all the while knowing what he would find.

The Way was closed. The bond to Moiraine almost too faint to feel at all.


The Darkfriend gestured and the Waygate seemed to be crushed under an immense pressure behind her. Moiraine felt nothing. If the stranger was using Saidin, or even Saidar, it was hidden from her. She scanned the broken staircases and stone platforms and pathways that angled out in every direction around them. No other enemies appeared.

The man straightened and appeared ready to speak. Moiraine didn’t give him the chance. She drew weaves of Air and Fire together, spread them wide like a wave and sent them flowing across the stone platform at her attacker. The man didn’t gesture this time, but a wave of what looked like darkness flowed up from around him and met her wave between them, the two constructs merging, flowing, vanishing together.

“A moment, Moiraine Sedai.” He spoke, his deep voice weirdly echoing in the stale air of the Ways.

“I have no need to converse with you, Darkfriend.”

She sent weaves of Air to bind him, more weaves of Spirit to cut him off from his power, whatever it was. He appeared ready for the Air, but her true attack, a ripple of Earth through the rotting stone below him, delayed his response just enough and the Air and Spirit connected, wrapped tight, raising the man off the ground and holding him in place, arms spread wide, sword held in one hand.

“And now?” he asked, apparently not concerned with his immobilization.

Satisfied the Spirit was tied off and doubled for good measure, she nodded tersely. This was a delay she could ill afford, and she could feel Lan’s concern even in the Ways. Still, she had the man, and if his power was a new element the Dark One had brought into play, she needed to know about it.

“Speak your piece.”

“My thanks. I will dispense with pretense then.”

A ripple passed across the man’s face and a moment later he was taller, much taller, with skin so dark it almost faded into the depths of the Ways, long white hair, features that were sharp and not quite human, and eyes that were nothing but shifting panes of colour. His light leather amour was no style she had even seen before. It took but a moment and Moiraine made the connection.

“Ah. The contest. You are Anomander Rake. Not a Darkfriend then.”

“Not in the way you mean, certainly. I would apologize for the deception, but your… protector… would have interfered in a matter that is between us only. No others need be harmed.”

Moiraine only nodded. They stared at each other, her ageless face showing nothing, his dark features almost as still but for his eyes cycling through colors. Finally Rake spoke.

“I would offer you the chance to concede. This need not end in conflict.”

Moiraine almost, almost smiled. “You do not appear to be in a position to offer me anything. As I see it, you have already lost and this contest between us is over. I can leave you here and depart the Ways.”

“Sadly, no. Still, we are not true enemies and you only defended yourself. This contest is meaningless…”

“I understood otherwise. I understood that the consequences for loss could be dire. And thus far, I have not lost.”

Rake sighed. “Nor I. Nor will I start now.”

Moiraine expected his to attempt to unleash the darkness he had used to crush the Waygate. Instead she had the sense of him… removing something… like a noise she had not been aware of suddenly gone from a room. And then… CHAINS.

Chains. The sensation hammered her, rang in her head, shook her limbs, a sense of something massive far away over a thousand horizons and yet moments from crushing her… vision blurring… almost falling to her knees, keeping herself up by sheer force of will only… blood in her ears, from her nose…

Gasping, she opened to Saidar, drank deep its power and wove pure Spirit all around her, cutting her off from the force of whatever Rake had unleashed. Even then the echoes rang in her ears. She drew more, and Air and Water to heal herself as well, stilling her shaking limbs, clearing her eyes, in time to see Rake fall free of her bindings. A veil like the one he had used to change his appearance lifted from the sword he carried one handed. The weapon was even bigger than she had realized, and in the faint light of the ways, it was an ink-dark stain of deeper blackness, not reflecting anything at all. A ter’angreal then… and an abomination.

She saw Rake’s lips move, drew more on the One Power to heal her ears.


She shook her head, tied off the Spirit weave that kept those hideous chains away, and then straightened and gave answer.

* * *

Rake wasn’t surprised by the attack, but even so it almost staggered him. Waves of fire fell at him from every angle, streams of air tried to bind him, the pitted stone rippled below him. In turn he drew deep on Kurald Galain, shielding from the flame, pushing away the air, steadying him. He let the attacks continue, feeling them, almost tasting them against his Warren. The power was different… more… primal then the warrens, but also refined, the flame not as savage as Tellan, the air so as wild as Serc… another time and perhaps he would study it. For now, the contest had gone on long enough. He gathered more Darkness and drew it down like a falling storm on his opponent.

Moiraine felt the attack and drew shields of Air and Spirit in. The assault fell from all directions. The force was punishing, a pure darkness that seemed to writhe around her. Straining, she drew on her angreal, feeling Saidar flow double, and redouble, pushing back the cold energy with pure life itself.

The two forces stood in balance for a moment, and then the contesting powers took their toll on the Ways and the corrupted stone platform crumbled out from under them.

Moiraine saw Rake fall away and looked round wildly… there! Another platform. She pulled air around her and pushed herself to it, setting cushions of more air in place to catch her fall. Even as she wove that, she searched, looking for Rake… and there… floating slowly down towards a staircase adjoining two smaller platforms. Even as her weave of Air caught her, she was weaving again.. Fire, Air… Balefire. She cast it, wide as she could, directly where Rake was. Then again. And again. There was no other threads of the Pattern here to burn out. Only this opponent. Moiraine allowed herself a rare indulgence, threw herself wide to Saidar, drawing on her angreal like never before, barely a breath short of too far… and attacked again.

* * *

The sensation of burning was not one Rake was familiar with. The Aes Sedai’s attack was unlike anything he had ever experienced. There was a sense of tearing, of something trying to remove him from existence itself, something that would shred him down to nothing.

He fought back. Before Light, before the Warrens, before existence itself, there was Darkness, and he was the Son of Darkness. The primal womb of the universe had birthed him and he… would not… be … defeated…

It wasn’t enough. The brief moments in the Aes Sedai’s world had given him some small part of that world’s substance, and that anchor now threatened to tear him apart…

So he called upon his other nature… Starvald Demelain… Chaos itself… the space outside of all existence… the birthplace of dragons. And then gave himself over to it.

And veered.

* * *

Balefire practically sung as Moiraine lashed out with it one last time, scorching from existence this dangerous opponent. This opponent from another world…

Realization hit her and she changed weaves. Casting Fire and Air into the darkness. He wasn’t from her world. He was NOT part of the Pattern. Her bolts of fire lit up the empty spaces around the Ways as a great black beast rose up into the air above her.

Moiraine Demandred had spent her entire adult life looking for the Dragon Reborn. She had found him, was working to keep him alive in a world gone mad… but to her, the Dragon Reborn was a man… a symbol… a mythological beast on a waving flag… not… this…

It was huge… the neck and head alone the size of a castle tower, the body pure shining black scales over muscle and bone… the forelimbs and legs ending in dark claws like swords, the wings a massive spread behind it, blocking out the Ways from view. The face had long jaws, wide brows covered in white horn that grew into a mane of spikes that ran down its back. It was like nothing Moiraine had even seen or thought to see. It looked down on her, its eyes shifting colour…

The color shift broke the spell… this was Rake! She wove fire and cast it… the flame played across the monster to no effect. She drew together a battering ram of air, too late as the dragon… Rake… opened its mouth and breathed pure darkness and chaos down on her.

* * *

Rake maintained the attack for an additional moment, then released his warrens and glided down to the platform where the woman’s body lay, sembling back to his Tiste Andii form.

He delved with Kurald Galain and found to his surprise that she was not dead. Burned, battered, near death, but not gone.

Kurald Galain was ill suited to healing, and Starvald Demelian not at all, but he repaired what damage he could, then gathered the woman up and veered again. There was another Waygate nearbye. He would return her to her world, and then return to his own.

The sooner he was done with this contest, the better.

Abyss contributed to this Cage Match

Predicted Winner: Anomander Rake


Check out the matches from Round 4!

Check out the second Semi-Final match between Granny Weatherwax and Kylar Stern!

Check out the Bracket

Anomander Rake is a character from the The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson; Moiraine Damodred is a character from the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Rake image courtesy of Michael Komarck and Subterranean Press. Moiraine image courtesy of Jason Chan and Tor Books

Don’t forget–we’re always looking for fans’ depictions of these characters. Check out the details here

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!”


423 Responses to “Cage Match — Round 5 — Anomander Rake versus Moiraine Damodred”

  1. Tired of the B.S. says:

    If Moraine had Lan, Rand, Mat, Perrin, and all their bitches at her side and some of the Malazan gods………she’d still lose. There is no scenario where she wins….save a popularity contest.

  2. The Nameless One says:

    Even though Rake should have won, if he had to be defeated, I’m glad that it was against Moiraine rather than Kylar.

    Now my only hope is that Damodred > Stern.

  3. Po says:

    So now we know that proxy voting did, in fact, happen.

    It’s sad. I’d rather lose a close, honest contest than one that ended dishonestly. Sigh.

  4. frothbyte says:

    It’s sad. Rake, one of the most powerful characters in the malazan universe, a universe filled with overwhelmingly powerful gods, demi-gods and ascendants…. loses to a midtier character from WoT.

    I’m a huge fan of WoT, but I know what “fairness” means. And Rake did not deserve to lose against Moiraine.

    Moiraine has trouble keeping her shields up against some of the weaker forsaken. Considering the amount of power Rake possesses, he’ll crush any shield of Moiraine through sheer force.

    As for balefire, we have seen it dodged before. Granted it wasn’t easy, but still possible. If people like Nynaeve can do it, than some with Rake’s incredible speed feats should be able to do this. Don’t forget that Rake can also levitate, which should make it harder to hit him

    Besides, I doubt Moiraine can aim her balefire properly when Rake can just make the whole hill she’s standing on explode.

  5. Terez says:

    Po—Again, you seem to be missing the point. There is always some form of cheating in these matches. Since both sides usually know how to do it, it comes down to fan dedication in the end, usually. This match was not one of those matches. For one thing, proxy voting is incredibly difficult, and most people don’t bother with it. (In previous matches, there was an easier way to cheat.) Therefore there was probably only a small handful of people cheating on either side in this match, and their impact was minimal. But more importantly, the match was neck and neck for three days when both sides were proxy voting. Moiraine won because the match was promoted on Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday afternoon. She might have won without that, but the margin would have been much smaller thanks to dedicated proxy voters on each side. So the match ended as honestly as you could possibly hope for, because the margin of legitimate votes was so wide as to totally negate any effect that cheating might have had. And we observed those legitimate votes coming in with our own eyes the moment I posted the Facebook link. We went through the same thing last year when I used it; everyone assumed we just HAD to be cheating. But the page has 30,000 likes, folks. The fact that it pulls in close to a thousand votes in a few hours should not be surprising.

  6. Po says:

    That’s a pretty sorry state of affairs, Terez. “Well, everyone knows how to cheat, so might as well do it!” I’m sorry, but that’s pathetic. Also, you have no proof that proxy voting was occuring while things were neck and neck, but there is proof that it occured later when Moiraine jumped way ahead.

    To me, it honestly sounds like you’re trying as hard to as you can to justify dishonest actions after the fact in any way possible, and it’s unbecoming.

  7. dpomerico says:

    We hear you all, concerning the state of the write-ups (and while we don’t necessarily agree, we definitely hear you!). So, as such, we want YOU to give us how you think the fight will go.

    The one we like best will be kept on the site permanently, with the writer getting full credit.

    If you want to start submitting, just start placing your write-ups in the comments of this post:


    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  8. Terez says:

    Hey Po—You’re not actually making logical arguments, you know. You’re just attempting to insult. I do happen to have plenty of proof that there was cheating during the beginning of the match, and absolutely no reason to believe there was any increase in cheating later on. I also have proof that the votes began coming in as soon as I posted the Facebook link. All of the Malazan Empire members here have seen that proof, as well as the result of various other power cards. The fact that you still refuse to believe that Moiraine’s victory was legitimate just makes you a wanker.

  9. Nardwar says:

    Why do people keep saying Nynaeve dodged balefire? I don’t recall that happening.

    In addition what is this proof Po that proxy voting happened when Moiriane made the jump?

  10. Loki says:

    So we are finally throwing names at each other like Helios suspected we would? Wonderful.

    @Nardwar – I haven’t read WoT in a long time but I think it was when she was on a boat? I doubt that helps. I’m sure if you go to Dragonmount and look around you’ll be able to find more on it. :)

    Is anyone taking Suvudu up on doing their own write-up? I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

  11. Lita says:

    Nynaeve didn’t dodge the balefire, it missed her and because the caster was startled by, birds if I’m not mistaken and the blast of balefire went off on a tangent to the original target.

    As to comments about Rake winning – perhaps, I haven’t read the books he is from, but I do know that I won’t read a book where the main char is so powerful there is no point to a story with him in it. Where is the fun in someone or something that is all powerful that they can just snuff out any foe as people suggest this guy can.

  12. Nardwar says:

    Thanks Lita, that’s how I remembered it as well…

  13. Rizzen says:

    @Lita – Except, Rake isn’t the main character. The Malazan series really has no main character. Read the books before you criticize them.

  14. Kaladin says:

    so true rizzen .. so many good characters in the malazan books.

    and lita you wrote
    \As to comments about Rake winning – perhaps, I haven’t read the books he is from, but I do know that I won’t read a book where the main char is so powerful there is no point to a story with him in it. Where is the fun in someone or something that is all powerful that they can just snuff out any foe as people suggest this guy can\

    honestly how can you say that with a straight face when rand is basically just that? ;p

    in all honesty i dont see moraine ever beating rake 1v1 it would be like her going against rand 1v1 .. now rake and rand. that would be a better fight.

    and to end it id suggest anyone who hasnt read the malazan books to read them. same with the wot.

  15. Brujah says:

    Moraine defeats Anomander Rake in the 2012 Suvudu Cage Match.

    Although STRICTLY IMPOSSIBLE, somehow Moraine comes out on top.

    So for those of you that are unfamiliar with Anomander Rake, the title The Son of Darkness might make you think of an evil character. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Malazan world, Dark is just another aspect of the Universe. The stereotype of Light meaning good, and Night even evil is not the case here. The various aspects of the universe are such as Dark, Light, Shadow, Life, Death, etc. Each have the full spectrum of good to evil aligned characters. So you could have someone from Kurald Liosan(The Light) actually being the bad guy whilst someone titled Son of Darkness is the good guy.

    Anomander Rake is one of those rare characters that deserves to be known across all realms. One of the coolest characters of all time, if not the coolest.

    ….and as Anomander faces down Moraine, he knows that he could kill her with ease. All too terrible ease. And then he feels the crushing weight of such power baring down on his extremely worn soul. For after hundeds of thousands of years of life, he felt as if he were stretched too thin. But he’d held on and learned to love the frailty of mortal men with their all too short lives, as well as his brothers and sisters for whom time stretched on forever. He also understood that the rules dictating the extremely odd circumstances surrounding the upcoming battle with this Woman from another realm would only allow for one to live. One had to die.
    And there lies the problem. He admitted he did not want to die, but he had sensed something in his opponent. No mere mortal. She possessed an inner light that in what he had already determined was going to be his last living moments was one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen. She was a kindred spirit. She too would one day make the same choice he was about to make. This made it all feel right. Sacrifice. The most potent weapon against the agents of Chaos that writhe through the universe with the single purpose of destroying……..everything. Forever.
    And Anomander also knew that all worlds and realms were linked. It was common knowledge among the ancients. And that if one were to fall, then the rest were soon to follow.
    Therefore with his great wisdom, unyielding patience, and infinite love and compassion for every living creature, he allowed himself to be killed instead of taking this woman’s life.
    For those of the womans vast world whom can see such distant things, as well as Anomander, all know that she is critical to the saving of her world. For she must be there as The Dragon Reborn, Lord of the Morning, Rand al’Thor makes his final stand against the Dark One himself, her realms manifistation of the same Chaos that gnaws at the frayed edges that link all realms. But nothing is assured. Failure is still possible. But a chance is a chance. Because if they fail, it will not only mean the death of a world, but the unraveling of time itself.

    “There is no struggle too vast, no odds too overwhelming, for even should we fail — should we fall — we will know that we have lived.”
    ? Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness

  16. Lee says:

    I love both Malazan and the WOT as well as the characters that are in this fight. However there is no way in hell that Moraine has the capability to defeat Rake. Hell he killed the God of Death and only died himself because Draginpur betrayed him at the exact moment he was fighting the greatest warrior to ever hold a sword. The one comment earlier that stated that the rest of the WoT characters were there to help defeat Rake it would still not be enough to take him down. She isnt in his league.

  17. korlat says:

    Lee I think you may have misread/misunderstood that section, Hood allowed Rake to kill him, because death was the only freedom for those trapped in the sword, and Rake intentionally turned his blade so that Traveller/Dassem,s blow would drive the blade into his skull, sending him into the sword to save Mother Dark and the Gate from the forces of chaos. That is why Traveller was so Distraught after the end of the fight because he saw Rake change the position of his blade just before he swung the final blow, He never wanted to kill Rake and only attacked him because Rake took his only chance at avenging his sisters death by killing Hood. Also Hood and Rake new they would die, as it was all part of their agreement with Shadowthrone to save Mother Dark and the Gate from Chaos.

  18. finally31 says:

    Darn spoilers. Now i just want to finish the series to see this epic fight.

  19. sukitiki says:

    WoT has been my favorite series for years until I read MBotF. I love moraine but anyone who has read both series completely will tell you that she has no chance against him. His usage of warrens to direct balefire, his insanely fast speed, combat experience, insane amount of magic and the greatest willpower of any character can take out any character. A character with the choden kahl, rand/morodin power, mats wit and memories, Lans sword skills will be more fair. I would recommend everyone to give the series a shot because it is the best :)

  20. Archon says:

    I cant even begin to imagine how MBotF and WoT are your top two faves… That’s like saying your favorite band is the Rolling Stones and your second favorite is the Beatles…

  21. Amaranth says:

    I`ve read all books of both series. Everyone who has done the same ( and they are the ones who should really vote here) knows that this is not even a contest.

    Rake would crush Moiraine in a matter of seconds.

  22. Owain says:

    I really like this contest, and I’ve read both series. Don’t get carried away about the technicalities involved in how powerful Rake is over Moiraine. The point of this passage is not the polls, regardless of who wins, but the homage.

    While I think the writing is typical past-tense fantasy, the characters are both portrayed rather close to their original. Also, the writer has included little bits here of ‘the contest’ and changes that brings to the rules. By the rules in the WoT balefire should simply remove Rake from existence, but it doesn’t because he’s brought something wholly unique into the universe (much as Dragons do in Malaz, simply entering existence, one of many elemental anchors in that continuity). Likewise, Rake’s soletaken form would wipe out (or match) most of the more powerful entities in The Book of the Fallen, but he’s not in that world.

    Also, the ending here is perfectly construed. Rake is (in The Book of the Fallen) incredibly powerful, but there is no such thing as all-powerful in the Malazan Books. Instead, Rake is more often a dissident when you read him closely, a rebel. Rake refutes the constraints of his archetype in fantasy (which Rand, Lan, etc… do not do, or at least not as successfully) and so it’s really no surprise that he would refuse to actually kill Moiraine (and, indeed, offer what healing he can and return her safely) for something as pathetic as ‘the Contest’. Rake’s flaws are, I think, partly pride and partly faith and partly the fact that he is a dissident. That’s why he chooses to fight her, pride, but it’s his dissent that offers her the option not to fight (and to return her to Lan).

    Moiraine succeeds against her archetype much the same way that Rake does. They don’t want to wield, and therefore also abuse, the power they have. But they are both people who have learned the value of resistance. And if they must fight, than they fight. Moiraine and Lan attempt to avoid confrontations throughout the WoT, and so does Rake (look at his relationship with Baruk in Gardens of the Moon and with Whiskeyjack in House of Chains).

    Moiraine wins here because of the poll. However, in passage makes it clear that Rake doesn’t give a fuck about the contest. She wins because she pushes the fight, supports the contest. But Rake allows her to live, despite that.

  23. Owain says:

    Also, to those who may be interested (Lee, Korlat…), should it ever be read, the scene between Rake and Dassem Ultor was decided by one person rolling a critical success. And all the machinations that Rake sets up (especially in delaying Kallor) are all true (or mostly true :P ). The gamble was the fallout of the meeting, it could have gone the other way just as easily and the entire series would have spiraled off into a different ending.

    No other fantasy series makes it even close; read it if you haven’t (Lita! haha) nothing is stable or all-powerful, and it’s all through the eyes of characters that are witness to characters like Rake, people who are not archetypes).

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