Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Anomander Rake versus Mellorin Rebaine


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

Mellorin Rebaine
The Warlord’s Daughter

Age: Late teens
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Talon, the demon-forged blade
A startling level of street/knife-fighting expertise

The Breakdown


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

  • Talon
  • Kaleb the sorcerer and other allies
  • Tactical control over the situation and circumstances of the battle

  • Frankly, other than those Mellorin imposes via her choice/control of the battlefield, none to speak of

  • Young, inexperienced, and without magic of her own

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

How Ari Marmell, creator of Mellorin, thinks the match will go:

Steel screeched against steel, one blade dulling itself against the second. Too late, the sorcerer Kaleb felt his opponent twisting inside his reach, her squat and ugly dagger shoving his falchion aside. Her elbow dug into his ribs, a heel came around against the back of his knee, and he found himself splayed flat in the spongy grass.

“That was a stupid risk,” he said, squinting against the sun overhead. “Turning into that parry? I’m stronger than you are! If you’d given me even another half-second—”

“I didn’t,” Mellorin told him, voice rough with exertion (and, just perhaps, something else, something Kaleb had cultivated for weeks, now). “And it seems like you’re the one on the ground.”

He couldn’t help but grin. “It does, at that.”

Kaleb sat up, gazing idly for a moment at the ebon-haired young woman—barely more than a girl, really—standing triumphantly over him. His grin slowly faded, quirking into a thoughtful scowl.

“Sit,” he said. He crossed his legs before him and sank his falchion point-first into the soil beside him.

“What? I thought we were training…?”

“We are. We’ve still got some time before your oh-so-beloved uncle returns from his latest scouting expedition. I think perhaps he wanders off so much because he’s hunting desperately for his sense of humor.”

Mellorin chuckled, sheathed her knife, and sat. “So we’re practicing what, exactly?”

“Corvis Rebaine,” Kaleb began, ignoring her sudden frown at the mention of her father, “is more than a soldier, more than a half-baked sorcerer. The man’s led armies in more battles than you’ve ever heard of.”

“I’m actually aware of all this, Kaleb.”

“My point, Mistress of Patience, is that combat training isn’t enough. If you’re going to have any chance of taking the old man, you need to outthink him. Be a general, an assassin, an engineer, and a lunatic. All at once.

“Testing your reflexes is all well and good—and, may I say,” he added with a deliberate glance at her sweat-soaked tunic, “rather a joy to behold.” Ignoring her sudden flush, he continued, “But it’s not enough. Let’s see if you can think tactically.”

“Hmm. All right. The first thing we know he’s capable of—”

“No. Not against your father, not for this exercise.”


“I want to see how you plan against the unexpected. An opponent you don’t know, have no preconceptions of.”

“All right. Who?”

Kaleb’s eyes grew distant. “There are worlds beyond this one; lands across the abyss of stars, as surely as across the ocean.

“From one of them, sailing across gulfs unfathomable, something impossible appears in the skies over Imphallion. A mountain, floating amidst the clouds, shedding bits of rock as it soars.”

“Wait a minute, Kaleb…”

“This is Moon’s Spawn, fortress of a people called the Tiste Andii. The man who leads them is Anomander Rake, the son of Darkness itself. He has witnessed the turning of three thousand centuries and stands as one of the greatest swordsmen his world has ever known.”

Mellorin snorted. “Now you’re just playing with—”

“His powers of wizardry are no less than his skills at combat; entire armies have fallen to his magics. He can assume, at will, the form of a great dragon, as large and as black as the coming night.

“Oh, and he wields Dragnipur, a great sword whose magics are easily the equal of the Kholben Shiar, such as your father and your uncle carry. It is a weapon that feeds on the strength of those whom it slays.

“This,” Kaleb said, smiling in Mellorin’s paling face, “is your enemy.”

“Are you insane? Why not challenge me to defeat Kassek Warbringer, or one of the other gods? It’d be just as—”

“Giving up?”

The disappointment—the contempt—in his tone brought her up shorter than any reprimand might have done. She found that she’d begun to stand, sighed, and settled once more.

“All right. What are my resources?”

“Within reason, anything you require.”

“All right,” she repeated. A moment of silence, then, “Soldiers?”

“A small force. Certainly not enough to siege Moon’s Spawn.”

“Do I know why this Anomander Rake has come?”

The sorcerer smiled. “Let’s say… He’s after Pekatherosh.”

Mellorin chewed her lip. The demon Pekatherosh, bound in an amulet, was a source of enormous mystical power.

“Can I get there first?”

“Of course.”

Mellorin gasped as the world vanished around her, to be replaced by whipping, snow-choked winds. She stood upon a ledge at the peak of some great mountain, her back to the rock face and a gaping cave.


“Illusion, silly girl. Calm down.”

“I’m calm,” she insisted, though her ragged breathing might have suggested otherwise.

Around her, she could hear the shuffling boots and mutters of assembled soldiers. Above, slowly appearing through the blizzard, a second mountain began to blot out the sun.

“I don’t suppose I’ve managed to retrieve Pekatherosh myself, yet?” she asked.

Faint laughter echoed from all sides. “I’m not going to make it that easy on you.”

“Fine. Have I got you?”

She could actually hear the smirk in his response. “Sure, why not?”

“What can you do about his magics?”

She shivered, waiting for his answer. Illusory or not, it felt real enough.

“The sorceries of the Tiste Andii draw on the power of Warrens—extradimensional realms that exist far closer to Rake’s world than our own. I can’t prevent him from casting, but I can interfere with the process. Slow it down sufficiently that he likely can’t make use of his spells in battle.”

“Good. I—”

Temporarily, Mellorin. Eventually, he’s going to break whatever wards I’ve set up, if he’s not dead already.”

“Oh, good. I’d hate for it to be simple. Do I have Talon?” She referred, of course, to her uncle’s Kholben Shiar, a demon-forged blade that altered its form to match its user’s soul.

“If you’re going up against Dragnipur, I suppose you’d better.”

She nodded and began to look around her, searching for any good positions for her men. The mountainside didn’t seem to offer much.

And then she turned to look at the cave.

“Pekatherosh is in there?”


“Then Anomander has to go in there. I assume I’d have examined the caves as soon as I arrived?”

The snow faded away, as did the open sky. She found herself standing in a rocky, ice-strewn passage, her breath echoing in the confined reaches.

Mellorin smiled a nasty smile. “If we’ve had time to learn these caves, and if you’ve been with me, we’ve had time for you to alter them.”

“I… Well, yes, I suppose so. Not dramatically; even my magics aren’t that potent. But somewhat. What did you have in mind?”

“They’re too wide,” she told him. “Melt and refreeze the ice, blast down some rock, I don’t care. But I want them smaller. Narrow as we can make them and still allow passage.”

Again the world twisted around her, the walls of the tunnel squeezing in close, the ceiling dropping claustrophobically low.

“Your soldiers?” Kaleb asked.

“Ambush points throughout the tunnels. I assume Anomander Rake’s not going to try to bring his whole army in here, but let’s strip away whatever forces he has.”

The sounds of battle, weapons on armor, steel on flesh, the war cries and agonized screams, reverberated through the complex. Mellorin cringed with every cry, found herself backpedaling as they drew nearer and forced herself to hold fast.

When he appeared before her, looming from the darkness like the god to which she’d earlier compared him, her will almost broke entirely.

Rake towered almost two feet taller than her, with a physique that looked powerful enough to snap her in half. Slitted eyes gazed unblinkingly from skin as dark as Mellorin’s hair, offset by the shimmering silver of his own flowing tresses.

And before him, held in a casual two-handed grip, a blade that seemed to have been carved from night and hate made manifest.

“Is this what I am to Kaleb now?” His voice was deep, nearly a physical presence buffeting her as fiercely as the winds outside. “An exercise? I’ll have to have words with him, should we ever truly meet again.”

Mellorin blinked once in confusion, then dropped into a streetfighter’s stance. Talon, having taken the form of a heavy, serrated knife, jutted from her fist in an underhand grip.

“You would be wise to simply give me the amulet, girl.”

“Come take it.”

“How cute. Your voice only shook a little bit.” Rake frowned around disturbingly long canines. “I have you to thank for my sorcerous difficulties, I assume?”

She couldn’t help but grin.

“I see.” He drew breath to speak, then glanced around him as though seeing the passage for the first time.

“Nope,” Mellorin told him, growing ever more confident with every word. “No dragons in here. You’d never fit, and I can’t imagine the effort would be comfortable.”

“No, it would not.” Rake hefted Dragnipur, then winced at the sudden squeal and the faint shower of ice.

Just as Mellorin had intended, the ceiling and the walls allowed him no room to swing a weapon the size of that sword.

A moment’s pause, and the Tiste Andii began to laugh. “Good, girl, very good! I’m truly impressed. You’ve really accounted for almost everything. Alas, ‘almost’ won’t suffice.”

Rake twisted sideways, taking a stance more appropriate to a duelist. He held Dragnipur in his back hand, placing the palm of his other against the side of the blade.

“I’m the greatest swordsman of my people, little girl. And I’ve had the lifespan of nations to learn how to face any environment.”

Again blades met. Perhaps it was simply Mellorin’s imagination, but the clatter of Talon on Dragnipur never seemed to echo; their footsteps drifted unheard across the rock. She and her opponent came together in sudden, impossible silence.

That he was her superior in every skill of combat was clear from the outset, but the tunnel favored her shorter blade and stature. His thrusts, though surprisingly swift and accurate for a weapon never meant to be wielded thus, remained awkward enough that he was never able to land a blow.

Not that he tried all that often. For the most part, Rake seemed content to fight on the defensive, using his hand on Dragnipur’s flat to maneuver the tip of the blade in tight circles. Mellorin found herself frustrated and growing ever more tired, no more able to slip inside his reach and deliver a telling wound than he had been.

It was only after long minutes, when the sweat had beaded and then frozen on her skin and her breathing came in sharp puffs of condensation, that she realized her opponent had been whispering under his breath for the past few moments.

“Temporarily, Mellorin,” Kaleb had told her. “Eventually, he’s going to break whatever wards I’ve set up, if he’s not dead already.”

Mellorin’s eyes went wide, though not so wide as Anomander Rake’s smile, and the world went black around her.

Her lips clenched tight around a scream she refused to utter, Mellorin once more gazed upon Kaleb, sitting cross-legged in the grass before her.

“You knew!” she accused him, her voice shrill. “You knew I could never win against someone like that, no matter what preparations I made!”

“Yes, I knew. But honestly, Mellorin, you did far better than I expected. I’m impressed.”

“Well, isn’t that just dandy?” Despite her tone, however, she couldn’t quite keep the ghost of a smile from her face at the sorcerer’s praise.

“Now,” Kaleb continued, “let’s go over what you did right and what you did wrong. I want to make damned sure you’re ready to take Daddy on, so my next test is going to be really tough…”

Predicted Winner: Anomander Rake


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Anomander Rake is a character from the The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson; Mellorin Rebaine is a character from the Corvis Rebaine series (which begins with The Conqueror’s Shadow) by Ari Marmell

Rake image courtesy of Michael Komarck and Subterranean Press. Mellorin image courtesy of Larry Rostant and Spectra 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!”


  • Anomander Rake all the way!!!

  • Rand-a-Sheer

    I’ve never heard of Mellorin Rebaine and she isn’t coming up when I google her. Can someone tell me more about her because I have read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and I am very doubtful she could win against Rake but I could be wrong.

  • D.I. Waisanen

    That Rake wins was inevitable from the moment the brackets were chosen, but I’m glad to see that Mellorin at least got the chance to put up a fight instead of just “Anomander Rake saw the girl. She died.”

    Although, if I was Rake in this situation, I would have just sheathed Dragnipur, walked into the cave, and disarmed her with my longer arms, great strength, and superior martial skills. ; )

  • Voight

    The write-up was a little off with its information on Rake but it was done with respect for the character so I liked it. I’ve never heard of Mellorin Rebaine or the series she is from before but the write-up gave enough hints to what her story is about to intrigue me. I think I may just have to go out and add The Warlord’s Daughter to my ‘To Read’ pile.

  • Tallis

    Something tells me Rake has this one!

  • Shadow

    Genuine question –

    If it’s Rand ‘Al Thor against Rake, who would win??

    Both at full strength.

  • Hey, folks.

    Apologies for anything I got wrong regarding Anomander Rake. Obviously, I know my own character better. 😉 But I did really try to make sure I treated Rake with respect in my write-up.

    For those who can’t find any information about Mellorin, she’s the daughter of Corvis Rebaine, who’s the main character of the novels The Conqueror’s Shadow and The Warlord’s Legacy. Mellorin appears briefly in the first one, and is much more of a major character (as well as older) in the second. I tried to write Legacy so that you don’t HAVE to read Conqueror’s Shadow first, but it’s a much better series if you do.

    In either case, thanks so much to any/all of you who expressed an interest. It’s very much appreciated–especially after an ass-kicking like this one. 😉

  • Voight

    My money would be on Rake. Have you read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series? I don’t want to give anything away here but I’d have to say that Rand would lose in a fullblown battle with Rake.

  • Lord Eltar

    That was a fantastic write up, with my only criticism being that Rake is never that verbose. But as other’s have said, I think that The Warlord’s Daughter just got added to my “Find and Read” list.

  • Voight

    It was very obvious that you tried to be true to the character of Anomander Rake. I don’t think any Malazan fan would be disappointed with your write-up, Ari!

    I’m really quite interested to your books – prior to this match I had never heard of them (sorry!). I take it that it would be best to start with The Conqueror’s Shadow?

  • Rand-a-Sheer

    I hate to admit it but Anomander Rake would defeat Rand 🙁 I’m hoping Moiraine will meet Rake in the final – she’s the only Wheel of Time character I can see possibly winning in a fight with Anomander Rake. I really hope she wins the title this year!

  • trench

    Well count that as one win for Rake and The Warlord’s Daughter gets added into the to be read pile.

  • Voight

    Lord Elthar, honestly!!!! You are giving away SERIOUS SPOILERS!!!

    Suvudu guys – PLEASE DELETE HIS POST!

  • Rore

    @ Lord ELthar – Thanks a bloody lot! I’m only up to Reaper’s Gale. Keep your bloody spoilers to yourself.

  • Crump

    Yeah, serious spoilers there, keep in mind some people have only started on the series and that some will only pick it up after these matches possibly.

    As a Malazan fan I was happy with the write-up, like the illusion set-up going on there as well, will have to take a look at the books, these matches always end up adding to the to be read list.

  • @Voight: No worries. A lot of people haven’t heard of my stuff. Yet. 😉

    Of the two Corvis Rebaine novels, yeah, it would be best to start with The Conqueror’s Shadow.

    If you’re reading any of my non-Corvis novels–The Goblin Corps, Thief’s Covenant, or Agents of Artifice–it doesn’t matter where you start, since those are all either standalone novels or are the first books of their respective series. Really, The Conqueror’s Shadow and The Warlord’s Legacy are the only ones where it really matters which you read first.

  • Loki ~TQB~

    @Lord Elthar – Honestly, if you want to discuss something from one of the series at least TRY to warn people in advance. Toll the Hounds is the eight book in the series and you just went and told everyone that one of the regular characters gets killed. And for what? The off chance one of the Suvudu team reads and pays any attention to your point? So a little consideration.

    @ Ari – No need to apologise. It’s clear you tried very hard to do justice to Anomander Rake and it is greatly appreciated. Though, I have to say, the idea of Anomander smiling made me laugh 😀
    Your character of Mellorin sounds interesting – I wouldn’t mind knowing more about the reality changing thing she has going. Think I’ll add the The Conqueror’s Shadow to my pile of ‘Books to Read’ as well. Cheers for the write-up!

  • Raki

    @Lord Elthar–Are you kidding me? I can’t believe you wrote that in the comments. Thanks-jerk.

  • KiManiak

    @Ari – Excellent write-up. I appreciate your “integrity” to the “realistic” outcome of this matchup. Not too many authors would write their character to lose; and I respected the fact that you gave Mellorin -control of the scenario, environment and battle-limitations but still showed that Rake would prevail.
    You have definitely intrigued readers (at least, this reader) about Mellorin and your various books. I will add your Corvis and Mellorin Rebaine novels to the Future-Read list.

    @moderators, I echo the requests to remove Super Spoilery comments from this section, like Lord Eltar’s. I have read Malazan, but if I found similar spoilers on other unread novels that Suvudu had just introduced me to (like Warlord’s Legacy, for instance) it would ruin the experience for me and leave me less inclined to check it out.

    Thank you.

  • The thing I like most about these Suvudu Cage Matches is that every year I walk away with a list of new authors to look into and a list of new books to read. Plus, new readers come across to Erikson and the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

    No offence to Ari but I had never heard of his books before Mellorin was named Rake’s first opponent and I went in search of information on who she was (which there was suprisingly little of). Now, I’ve just put through an online order for The Conqueror’s Shadow and The Warlord’s Daughter 😀

    I’m unsure of Ari’s other books because I’m not sure which are individual novels and which ones are set in D&D worlds and the sort. Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure it out.

    I’m looking forward to the remainder matches and the characters and authors they will introduce me to.

  • eric

    I liked the style of the write up. I hate when anyone falls victim to Dragnipur, and I’m glad yoit didn’t happen to a character who seems interesting. Will check out the Ari Marmell books now.

  • D.I. Waisanen

    Rake’s victory here was inevitable from the moment that the brackets were chosen. However, It’s good to see Mellorin actually be able to put up some semblance of a fight in an authorial match up, as opposed to just “Rake saw her. She died.”

    Although, if I were Rake, I would have just sheathed Dragnipur, walked into the cave, and disarmed her with my superior reach, great strength, and vast combat experience. 😉

  • @Loki: No worries. Most of my novels aren’t tie-ins, so you should require no advance knowledge of any games. The exceptions are Agents of Artifice (which is a Magic: the Gathering game) and the upcoming Darksiders: The Abomination Vault (which is based on the two Darksiders video games). But even in those cases, I tried to write them so that newcomers could still enjoy them. 🙂

    I do want to warn you, though, just in case you got the wrong impression from my write-up: The “reality altering” thing in the above entry is purely due to the fact that the whole thing is a training illusion by the sorcerer Kaleb. It’s not an ability that she actually has in the books.

    Although, now you’ve got me thinking about what it WOULD be like to write a book where the main character can slightly rewrite reality, and how you could still challenge such a character… 😉

  • Spindle

    Good write-up! Rake would beat Mellorin, no contest.

    Made me interested in Ari Marmell’s books with Mellorin in them. Aw shucks, my to-read pile just got bigger.

  • D.I. Waisanen

    Oops, posted twice. Sorry about that.

    I also have to agree that the write-up portrayed Rake well, except possibly for him speaking under his breath: I’ve never seen him use words to cast magic in any of the Malazan Books I read, but that’s a minor quibble at worst.

  • Chandran

    @Lord Elthar
    Well, thanks. I just started Toll the Hounds. I didn’t want to know who died until it happened :/

  • @Ari – I admit that I did miss that from the write-up but no worries, there’s more then enough there is stoke my interests in the books. I’m really keen to find out what the go is with Kaleb – I get the definite feeling that there’s a lot more to him then what’s on the surface. Plus, the more I read about Corvis Rebaine the more I can’t wait for the books to arrive. The man sounds diabolical!

    As for the novels not being tie-ins – Awesome. It means I’ll be able to read them without issue. I actually have a friend who is a fan of Magic from years back and now he wants to give the Agents of Artifice a look. And can I just say that, whilst I have only played the first Darksiders game, a novel depicting The Four Horsemen origin story/past sounds epic.

    I agree that a character who could slightly alter reality would be interesting, especially in regards to how they would/could affect fields of battle and how their opponents would combat this. If you do decide to create such a character just remember who helped flame your interest to begin with when it comes to advanced copies… 😉

    Also, thank you for replying to my post here and on Facebook. It’s really nice when authors take an active interest in their fans (and soon to be fans 😀 )

  • @Loki: You’re very welcome. While there’s obviously only so much communication an author can participate in, I’ve long felt that, at least to a reasonable extent, an author who takes an interest in his fans is far more likely to have fans who take an interest in him. 🙂

  • Yrrt

    I was going to vote for Rake as he is the obvious winner but once I saw the poll results I felt a little sorry for Mellorin so I voted for her instead. I’ve read both series and I like both characters quite a lot. I knew it would never be a close match but I wouldn’t mind seeing Mellorin get some more votes 😀

  • StoneDogAiel

    @Rand-a-Sheer and Voight

    I can’t say for sure that Rand would beat Rake, but Rand as he is now, with (Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler) is by far the strongest character in that series, and if you allow him Chodean Kal, or even Callandor, I think he would probably win.

  • Lisa

    I was going to vote for Rake but I don’t think I really need to.

  • KevinB

    Wow, an author who wrote his own character to lose instead of winning against all possible odds. Nice.

  • Mordenkainen

    Frankly it seems a shame that Mellorin seems likely to be going out so early given the quality and effort put into the write up (never going to be easy to find the bits about Rake given how many extremely large Books of the Fallen there are). However I suppose that is the problem with running up against one of the more formidable characters and (possibly more importantly) an active internet fan base.

    Could Suvudu do a mini bracket for the four most popular characters, possibly by number of votes cast, that go out in the first round?

  • D.I. Waisanen

    Whatever the circumstances, Rand al’Thor (or any other powerful channeler) could defeat Rake if balefire was used against him. (Including possibly Moiraine in the semifinals.) However, I also think that Rake is a little higher in raw power than Rand, unless Rand is using Callandor, in which case it’s a lot more even.

  • Chosen

    Love the write up, but its Rake all day long.

  • Well, it’s ended as we all knew it had to. 😉 At least she lost to a cool character from a cool writer.

    Thanks to everyone who voted for Mellorin, even if it was just to make sure that she didn’t get COMPLETELY trounced. And thanks to the Suvudu dudes (say that ten times fast) for choosing one of my characters to participate.

  • Frothbyte

    What people keep forgetting about balefire, is that it’s not a sure hit. The Forsaken have been throwing balefire at Rand and his allies for the entire series and look, they’re still alive. So just coz Moiraine can shoot balefire doesn’t entirely mean it’s going to hit, especially if the hill she’s standing on is exploding.

    Besides, with Rake’s superhuman speed and reflexes (not to mention his levitation) I doubt he’ll be that easy to hit.

  • Taz

    People seem to love Erickson’s books. I’ve tried reading Gardens of the Moon twice and it’s like slowly gouging my own eyes out. Where does he fit amongst the likes of Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb,…?

  • Meggs

    I decided to be random and started with Toll the Hounds. I’m actually enjoying it and am fond of Erikson’s writing style.

    Martin is okay to me, I think he’s a good writer, but his books aren’t my taste so far. Abandoned Game of Thrones because it just wasn’t my thing.

    Erikson’s cast is a titch hard to follow I think, it’s not always easy to keep track of who is who but I manage. 🙂

  • Chris

    Rand Versus Rake, depends on when it takes place, assuming post VOG Rand, and him having a decent sa’angreal, either could win. I only know I don’t want to be in the same Galaxy, wait, universe, that that fight is taking place in, as when it ends it is likely that the winner will be the only thing left intact. (The amount of power both have is ridiculous, a fight between them would crack a planet like an egg).

    As her writer admitted, this was never a real fight, Rake is virtually God level.

  • Archon

    @Taz: Erickson is a very good author with a different style than the others you’ve mentioned… It would depend on your tastes really to rank him in that group… but the Malazan book of the Fallen series is absolutely a far broader scope than any of the other series… I personally think that the Song of Ice and Fire series by Martin is probably still a bit better overall…

    @ Chris: Weighing all of the abilities of each character into a total package, I would have them about even in total power, but Rake is by FAR the cooler character 😉