Cage Match 2010, Round 2: 7) Temeraire versus 10) Polgara the Sorceress



Image courtesy of


Image courtesy of Keith Parkinson

Celestial Dragon
Age: 5
Race: Celestial dragon
Weapons / Artifacts: Talons, teeth
Special Attack: The divine wind

Polgara the Sorceress
Disciple of Aldur
Age: 3000 (or so–it’s impolite to ask a lady her age)
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Her fierce glare
Special Attack: The Will and the Word

  • Can hover in flight. Did you get that? Can fly.
  • Ability to learn languages quickly
  • Is large enough to carry a crew of dozens

  • One of the most powerful sorcerers in the world, her mastery of the Will and The Word makes her virtually a demigod
  • A Disciple of Aldur–the gods have her back
  • An amazing cook

  • Will risk anything to protect his captain, Will Laurence

  • Reed Richards called and he wants his hair back

  • Haplo (It’s a dog-eat-dog world)

  • Anita Blake (She went down for the last time)
How we think the fight will go

Rocks and uprooted trees litter the battlefield. Hillsides have been torn from the earth and scattered amongst still-burning wildfires, and the very cliff walls of the valley that form the boundaries of the fighting pit are crumbling, beginning an avalanche. Temeraire roars as he darts under an overhang moments before it gives way, nearly crushing his wing. On the ground below, Polgara is sweating, her lavender eyes bright, as a boulder hurtles toward her with terrifying speed–and then, with a wave of her hand, bounces away just as quickly.

“What are you?” she yells. Temeraire’s only answer is a sudden dive. Polgara’s never seen a dragon move so fast. She throws up a wall of tree trunks as makeshift spears only seconds before the dragon would have flattened her in the dirt and throws herself to the ground, waiting to feel the reverberating impact of scales on wood. But Temeraire is too smart for that: he’s swept over the wall and picked up the stakes with his claws, and is now circling around for another dive. Polgara’s drained beyond belief. If only dragons weren’t immune to the Will and the Word, she thinks desperately. She doesn’t know if she can survive another assault.

But the sorceress stands her ground as Temeraire begins his approach. “Shall I send you back to Torak?” she says, shaking, trying to buy time.

“Torak?” Temeraire narrows his eyes. “What language is that?” He hesitates, confused.

Polgara’s jaw drops. A dragon who’s never heard of Torak?

“I guess you’re not immune after all,” she says, and summons the final measure of her will. She waves a hand through the air between them.

The dragon is gone. Polgara steps gingerly over the fallen trees to their center, where a tiny black kitten looks up at her with frightened, intelligent eyes.

“For what it’s worth,” she says, as she picks up the kitten, “I rather liked you.” The kitten bites her. “Ow!” she says. She wags a finger at the animal. “I wouldn’t if I were you,” she says, and her other hand descends…

Predicted Winner: Polgara

( Temeraire is a character from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series; Polgara is a character from David Eddings’ Belgariad series and other Eddings books.)

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  • DiapDealer

    “Anita Blake (She went down for the last time)”
    Now that’s funny!

  • Luis

    “Anita Blake (She went down for the last time)”
    Quote FTW!

  • Bob

    I also love the blake comment!
    Temeraire is a great series but there is no way a normal non magic based dragon is ever going to win against the likes of Haplo or Polgara. All he has is a sonic attack and he is big.
    And there is no way Polgara would crush him in the end like the text seems to imply.

  • Dave

    I LOVE the Temeraire series and Temeraire as a character, and I want him to win. That said I have to go with Polgara on this one. She is just too experienced and Temeraire is too young.

  • BMannion

    Polgara would tear the dragon to pieces… she’s faced down gods with her will, what is a dragon? Not to mention she’s way too smart to fall for anything cheap.

  • leftfootofjustice

    i’m still not familiar with either of these characters and so i’m still voting for the character with the best ass and thats Polgara.

  • Ok, People the Dragon shouldn’t have made it this far there is NO WAY Polgara would loose to a Dragon she has participated in taking down a GOD! She is practically a good herself.

  • Johnny Tindalos

    Polgara kills kittens?
    Worse than Sauron (where do you think Glaurung came from?)….clearly poor Temeraire cannot defeat such evil!

  • TC

    Yeah, I don’t think she’d kill the kitten. She would probably find some careful way to allow Terminare to survive and learn a lesson.
    Terminare-as-kitten would probably end up in recurring cameo appearances where he is winding around Aldur’s ankles and purring.

  • Shadow

    A good reason to vote for Polgara: She can probably take Cthulhu. If Kahlan can call on her husband to help out, Polgara should be able to give Aldor a holler, and be safe from both the insanity and the squish, as well as banish Cthulhu back to his own dimension. Temeraire, not so much of a chance at the next fight. I love him, but let’s be practical, shall we? Plus, wouldn’t a Polgara vs. Kvothe fight just be a riot?

  • Aryador

    So far, it does not look as if Cthulhu is advancing to the next stage. 😉
    And I honestly find these “B has to win oder A, because he can beat R and Z in the next rounds” arguments a bit pointless.

  • Fobok

    As much as I love Temeraire, who’s kidding? This is *Polgara*. Not much of a fight here.

  • Richard. No, not THAT Richard, another Richard

    A dragon’s a Dragon. Even from another book. All fantasy agree that Dragon are magic and somehow immune to certain aspects of it. The will and the word do not affect Dragons. Polgara’s done for.

  • As much as I’d love to postulate a scenario where Temeraire wins, I don’t know a thing about Polgara, so I don’t have any frame of reference.
    But I will say that she sounds incredibly dull to me from what people are saying.
    What is it with the love for overpowered characters? Did Eddings really write her so that she was this invincible being with no weaknesses? I can’t imagine that being a very interesting book. Possibly, this is a matter of fans overstating the abilities of a favorite character here.
    If she’s flesh and blood, if she’ll die when her head comes off or if a 20-ton dragon lands on her, or if she can drown when someone hits her with a Divine Wind-produced tidal wave, then there is clearly a chance that she’ll lose. Maybe not a great one. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the character to devise a plausible situation.
    Pity, because I do love Temeraire.

  • Ben

    Judging from the number of people who give a crap about this matchup, whoever wins should be destroyed by Jaime’s fanbase.

  • Bill

    Unfotunately, the real losers in this match is the audience, who die from apathy at the contestant selection.

  • Ross

    I was pretty upset that Haplo lost to this dragon and now freaking POLGARA is going to lose?!?
    Comprehending either character losing to any dragon is really beyond me, but to each their own…

  • Wendy

    I’m voting for Temeraire because while I have read both series, his is the only one I’d be willing to re-read.

  • Jason

    We’re forgetting a critical thing in the match-up– Temeraire’s captain, Will Lawrence.
    While Polgara is busy being confused about a Dragon that doesn’t know Torak, Will sneaks up behind her and blows her brains out with a little bit of non-medival technology, his trusty pistol. For good measure, he severs the head of this witch with his sword, and the fight is over.

  • josh

    Temeraire just annoys me. how can a massive dragon be such a sap? i read the first 2 or three of the temeraire books and wont be reading more… too dull and sappy. i hope polgara wins but then i dont like eddings much either.

  • Chris

    Dude, read the description up top. Using her magic is physically and mentally taxing.
    And I can play the exact same game as your comment. Leaving aside the question of whether any dragon that is present in Polgara’s world is connected to the dragon-god Torak or not, why is it that Temeraire is so stupidly good at flying that he has (apparently) the ability to dodge every boulder that Polgara throws at him for so long that “[r]ocks and uprooted trees litter the battlefield. Hillsides have been torn from the earth and scattered amongst still-burning wildfires, and the very cliff walls of the valley that form the boundaries of the fighting pit are crumbling, beginning an avalanche.” Did Novik really write her so that she was this invincible being with no weaknesses?
    See what I did there?
    As for Eddings as a whole, his work does have a bit of a god complex. Yes, Polgara is a being of immense power (and age). Does that make her “invincible?” No. In the books her allies were kings and queens and fellow sorcerers and her enemies were kings, queens, and emperors; sorcorers; and gods. It’s just putting the “epic” in “epic fantasy.” In contrast, Temeraire puts the “dragon” in . . . “historical fiction with dragons” . . . I guess?
    Polgara wins this one.

  • @Chris
    You make a fair point. I was mostly responding to the comments from the Polgara fans rather than the Suduvu write-up. There’s a great deal of “there’s no way she could lose” from her fanbase. To me, there is a qualitative difference between “I think X should win” and “There’s no way X could possibly lose.”

  • Chris

    Ah, I see what you mean. Yeah, setting out to compare the uncomparable does sort of beg for fallacious arguments.
    As seen in my comments in the Raistlin/Dumbledore thread (which is still my favorite) I think the only way to make these calls is to base them on the human characteristics of the characters. After all, the point of writing fictional characters at all is to get your audience to connect with them.
    I said Polgara wins and I’m sticking with it because of her age and experience, but it wasn’t an easy call to make. The character intro above characterizes Temeraire’s relationship with Will as a disadvantage, but I see it as an advantage. Polgara and Temeraire are both engaged in their respective wars primarily because of their loved ones, and I think each would recognize that in the other. But in a cage match you have to play to kill, and while dragons are inherently good at killing humans, Polgara is good at doing what has to be done, at never wavering (see: refusing Torak), and at thinking a step ahead (see: flight from Rak Cthol). Can she throw a rock that the dragon necessarily cannot dodge? No. Can she hit him before her mind is worn down? More likely than not.
    And of course if we roll with the intro above and she actually can transmogrify the dragon, that’s that.

  • Aryador

    Yes, Grayson, Eddings did write her a bit like this.
    The strong point about Eddings work is that he plays with archetypes. His Belgarion serie is full of, let me call it cliché characters who are put together into one group. And this actually turns out to be very, very entertaining.
    But it is not comparable to the characters of, say, George RR Martin or even Robert Jordan, which are more realistic, have more shades and round characteristics.
    Besides, Polgara was never meant to be the main character of the story. She got her own spin off, but that was way later. The main focus is on Garion, and he has his weaknesses, doubts and so on. Polgara was one of the wise consellours in the back. What Gandalf is to Frodo, if you want to put it like that. And thus being an archetype herself. A female Gandalf who is obsessed with cooking and taking care that the hero always washes himself with hot water.
    This is why I loved his Garion series, and why I hated his Sparhawk series. In the latter ones, he took the godlike, always good behaving characters to extreme. And he almost completely annihilated the irony that was very much present in the Garion series.
    And that is, on another level, of course, the problem of the whole contest. Pure Uber heroes with gandalflike qualities (does Gandalf has weaknesses? No. Is he supposed to have weaknesses? No, because Tolkien is making his strong point here that even the most powerful being cannot stop the ring or Sauron, and that you need a small, weak person instead. Take Gandalf away and you destroy that message)… that those people clash with “normal” ones.
    There is nothing to avoid this and it is as much of a problem as it is part of the fun.
    As for the match: I have to say, Polgara would win this. I don’t know much about Temeraire though, but after following the comments, I am curious to read the book.

  • Joel

    Temeraire finally puts an end to that insufferably arrogant witch, and the world rejoices.

  • P

    Voted temeraire, He’s like Ben Franklin if Franklin had been born during the napoleanic wars, as a dragon.

  • Smaug the Golden

    Why, isn’t it obvious? My poor servile country cousin will do what comes most naturally to us, and eat the maiden. Much tastier than dwarf, I might add.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a hoard to count…and I must do something about that little crack in the ceiling; I don’t like the way the wind blows down it of late; it makes one fancy one hears voices, whispering.

  • Sudonym

    Polgara is overpowered but so are her enemies. In the Belgariad, the servants of the gods were themselves demi-gods. This went both ways, so the bad guys were pretty damn powerful too.
    As the same time, she’s only 3000 years old because she keeps herself young. She’s not immortal or superhumanly strong. All the dragon has to do is get a good blow in and she’s toast.
    The difficulty I see is that Polagara has 3000 odd years of fighting demi-gods under her belt. This dragon is old hat.

  • Chris

    “This is why I loved his Garion series, and why I hated his Sparhawk series. In the latter ones, he took the godlike, always good behaving characters to extreme. And he almost completely annihilated the irony that was very much present in the Garion series.”
    The irony? Really it comes down to Kheldar, right?

  • Jaded bookworm

    There’s just one little thing people here have overlooked.
    Polgara’s life is devoted to protecting the descendants of Riva from the DRAGON-GOD Torak, especially during belgarion’s quest.
    So over the course of her long life, she’s most certainly learned how to defend herself from a dragon, add that to the fact that there is only ONE dragon in her universe, of which she’s encountered and recognizes. She’s not stupid.
    Temeraire although powerful is still a young dragon who has never encountered the will and the word. Ditto that for his captain laurence. Perhaps if he was as old and as wise/power as lien he would have a greater chance of winning. I think it all depends on being able to surprise polgara. (which is highly likely as their standard response is to try and light a forest fire which is part of their-world dragon’s mating ritual to lure the dragon away from them)
    It’ll be a close match but my money is on polgara. She’s bigger, more powerful and much more experianced.

  • @Jaded bookworm,
    Not that I’m arguing with you about most of your assessment, but… Polgara is bigger? Really?

  • Sanctuary

    @ Grayson Towler
    “Polgara is bigger? Really?”
    I laughed about that too. 😀

  • Russ Miller

    Polgara is just too damned old school tough to be beaten by a new-agey emotionally vulnerable dragon.
    Temeraire is just too soft to carry the day.
    Polgara wins.

  • Jaded bookworm

    @grayson towler and sanctuary.
    XD sorry, My brain farted at that precise moment.
    I meant “bigger” in terms of having more power, allies, experience and not physically bigger. (although if she chooses she can change her size but that isn’t her style at all.)

  • Aryador

    No, it was more than just Silk/Kheldar. The whole group was full of shining characters that were fun to follow. Even Kal Zakath was kind of wittingly written, faintingly reminding of Pratchetts patrician. And, hands down: It was this wonderful style of writing that actually allowed you to read an almost exactly identical plot (Belgarion/Malloreon) twice. You simply did not care as a reader, the whole setting was too much fun.
    Sparhawk was just boring, and most of his group was lame. Bevier had some characteristics of his own, but that just wasn’t enough. The Tamuli serie was just horrible.

  • Samuel

    Heh heh. Yeah…this isn’t a great one for me, because I have no idea who Polgara is. I’ve never read her books. Temeraire, I’ve read the first installment of. He’s not a big love for me either, though.
    I voted for the dragon, mostly because that scenario with the “my magic doesn’t work on dragons. Oh wait! It must work on this one!” seemed a little dicey for Polgara. I mean, if it’s a universe v. universe toss-up on whether or not her magic works, and Temeraire is still a vast flying lizard big enough to eat her like a piece of popcorn whatever happens…I mean, odds have got to be on the big guy, right?

  • Montaz

    This is no contest; Polgara has such a vast arsenal of abilities to draw from and she is practically a goddess. So, why is this dragon winning the vote?

  • Chris

    I guess that’s fair, though I reread Pawn a few months back and was really disappointed – less fun than I had remembered. FWIF, Kurik and Kalten were your actually funny guys in Sparhawk’s crowd, and while I don’t think they can hold a candle to Silk, they were about as good as Zakath or the other Garion characters.
    And I agree, the Tamuli wasn’t worth it. It’s one thing to have main characters almost as powerful as gods, but by the end of book 4 Sparhawk was MORE powerful.

  • P

    I voted Temeraire, because he’s a classically trained scholar fighting for civil rights.
    And he’s a dragon.
    I just cant vote against that.

  • Sudonym

    Not really.
    Polgara could just launch rocks faster than cannonballs or summon blades in the air or call lightning down.
    She was a bad ass first class and 3000 odd years of serving a god in a war against another god who grants vast amounts of power to his servants would give her the edge.
    Neat as I can tell, this dragon is just a big lizard with projectile heart burn. A flying English poofter if you will.

  • dpomerico

    And thus ends Polgara’s run.
    But stay tuned: Temeraire battles Jaime Lannister starting this Wednesday, and in the meantime, make sure to watch the video recap:
    Also, make sure to vote on the beginning of Round 3, which just began:

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