Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Richard Rahl versus Greg Mandel


The Contestants


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Richard Rahl
Age: Early 20s
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Sword of Truth; Agiel
Anger-fueled sword attack/ Forgiveness-based sword attack

Greg Mandel
Pyschic Detective
Age: Late 30s
Race: Augmented Human
Weapons / Artifacts:

Walther 8-shot Maser, Armscor Stunshot; Heightened intuition and empathic senses

Can shut down his body’s pain receptors

The Breakdown


  • Excellent swordsman, tracker, and woodsman
  • Can spot the truth from a mile away
  • Sees solutions, not problems

  • High tolerance for pain
  • Esper abilities—can spot the truth from a mile away
  • Skilled with firearms

  • Kahlan Amnell…

  • A little worse for the wear…

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

They sized each other up, these two men. Sitting in the arena’s waiting area, wondering when the call to fight would come.

Richard was tall, young, and muscular, like a man that spent time outdoors. Greg, two decades older than his opponent, looked like a soldier who’d been to hell and back twice. Both Greg and Richard could sense the other was not of their world. Each could sense a kinship with the other… they were both seekers of truth.

Greg, for one, couldn’t help but notice the kid had a sword, but no guns. The sword had the word “truth” written on its grip. This man wore the equivalent of Greg’s truth gland in his scabbard. He had to chuckle. If his Walther 8-shot had anything written on it, it would be, Lie to me… make my day.

Richard, on the other hand, wondered if his opponent’s lack of a sword—or any blade at all—was something he should be concerned about. Was the man a wizard? If so, he knew how to deflect wizard’s fire with the Sword of Truth.

Greg had enough violence to last a lifetime. He wanted to be home with Eleanor, swimming with the dolphins, not in another war. And what good would his ability to tell the truth be out in the arena? There’s little call for his hybrid mix of empathy and intuition on a battlefield—bullets rarely lie.

Richard wondered if Kahlan was caught up in this mess somehow as well. They were together when…well—what? What exactly brought them here? He needed to get through this fight if he was to ever see her again.

“Do you want to kill me?” Greg asked the young man point blank. Greg activated his espersence: an endocrine node implant in his cortex was raiding his bloodstream for chemicals, spewing a tsunami of neurohormones that made him the greatest lie detector on Earth…or wherever “here” was.

“No,” Richard said. “I don’t.”

The boy spoke true. But there was more to it than that. There was a price if Richard succeeded in killing him… a consequence of using the sword. Greg wouldn’t have such trouble—the army taught him how to handle kills. Maybe he should kill Richard now while they waited to get it over with. Maybe this was part of the test? This whole scenario reminded him too much of the People’s Socialist Party PSP—or the German kombinates. They excelled at sick head games.

“Do you want to kill me?” It was Richard’s turn to ask.

“Only if you work for the PSP,” said Greg. “Which, I highly doubt.”

Richard’s instincts told him this PSP was probably the equivalent of Darken Rahl from wherever Greg hailed. His instincts also told him that this was a good man sitting before him, not likely to kill unless he needed to. If Richard killed Greg with the Sword of Truth, the backlash could fry him. He needed anger to protect him from the sword’s magic. But he had no anger toward Greg. The man was as much a pawn as he.

The “hangover” from Greg’s neurohormone rush had begun. Great way to start a duel to the death, he thought.

A trumpet heralded the next match; they vanished from the waiting area.


The arena was a little bigger than the Roman Colosseum, a place Greg had only been to once, on a kill. Where he stood now, the land was flat and the grass short. A plain with no cover. The far end was a thick jumble of trees and bush. Richard was nowhere in site.

Richard found himself in a wooded area. Through the trees he spied Greg standing on a flat plain. If he had a bow and arrow, this could all be over. There was no rule he knew of that said he had to use the sword. And yet — what if he let Greg make the first move. Richard realized he could survive the sword’s punishment if killing Greg was an act of self-defense. He would let Greg act first.

Greg’s intuition said that the woods were Richard’s primary terrain. The type of man who could navigate a forest blindfolded. So his strategy was simple… stay out of the trees. Greg picked up a lot of information from Richard’s response in the waiting area. For instance, he does not come from a scientifically advanced world. When Richard cased him he looked at the hunting knife, but glossed over the gun. He’s unfamiliar with tech, whereas Greg was very familiar with knives. Greg ran through several scenarios. One involved his Walther 8-shot maser gun and a burning forest. But the simplest idea always came back to the top of his list. It was so obvious, how could it possibly work? Greg sat down in the lotus position thirty yards from the tree line with his back to the woods.

Richard realized soon enough that Greg had no intention of walking into the forest. Was the man just waiting to die? Richard didn’t feel the gamesters would allow them to circumvent the rules. Fine with him. He would search for his own solution to their dilemma, or wait for Greg to tire.


The entire day had passed with no results, and it finally grew dark. Greg continued to sit in the middle of the plain with his back to the trees. He missed Eleanor. The sky rumbled. Greg took out his army issue poncho and unfurled it. Soon, the rain began to fall.

Richard huddled under a makeshift shelter, waiting for Greg to come into the forest and do the same. The man just continued to sit in the rain with his back to the trees, refusing to play the game. Richard grew impatient. The longer this went on, the more worried he was for whatever Kahlan was being subjected to. He wished she was there with him. With a single touch, she could make Greg love her enough to kill himself just by asking. Then an idea occurred to Richard. Love was the key. Love for this man who did not wish to kill him or cause him pain. If he killed him out of mercy, as a release from the pain of this duel, then he could tap into the other part of the Sword, the one that turned it white—the one without the consequence of stuffing his brain with waves of pain.

Greg heard a rustle in the brush. A pure white light behind him illuminated the darkness, except for the shadow his body threw on the grass before him. He remained sitting and reached out with his espersense to pinpoint the boy now walking on the plain. Greg took a moment to think of Eleanor.

Richard had found a solution to his dilemma. He was there to show Greg love. As Richard approached the man, he allowed himself only noble thoughts regarding his target. This soldier could have made a better fight of it, but instead he chose a pacifist’s path, robbing Richard of his choice. He did not deserve to suffer this game any longer. When he was ten feet from Greg, Richard caught a small whir from under the man’s olive green covering. He heard a pop and a small section by the man’s waist melted open. Richard took another step forward and then he felt it. He touched his chest and it was hot and wet with blood. Several more pops, and he felt his blood boil where the beams hit. Richard dropped his sword and fell to his knees, stunned.

Greg held his Walther nestled under his left armpit, pointing behind him. He hadn’t needed to turn around to pinpoint his target; if the light hadn’t given the lad away, Greg’s espersence sealed the deal. He had shot through his poncho, putting aside the innate goodness he sensed from this man. He neither hated nor loved the boy. Mindstar training had taught him not to make kills personal. What little sympathy he had would soon be buried under several whiskeys…and hopefully Eleanor’s legs.

Greg went over to the body to confirm the kill. “Sorry kid,” he said. “Soldier’s first rule: never bring a knife to a gun fight.”

Write-up provided by Edward Lazellari, author of AWAKENINGS (TOR Books). Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Predicted Winner: Greg Mandel


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match–in the Starfleet Academy: Holodeck bracket!

Check out the Bracket

Richard Rahl is a character from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind; Greg Mandel is a character from the Mandel Files series by Peter F. Hamilton

Richard Rahl image courtesy of Tor Books. Greg Mandel image courtesy of 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!”


  • D.I. Waisanen

    There are some serious errors regarding Richard here.

    First, the white magic has no backlash? That’s not right: the whole point of the white magic is that Richard suffers even WORSE than with the “rage” aspect of the Sword of Truth, because he can only use it when he feels no anger towards his victim and forgives them utterly, meaning that he will always be forced to regret the kill.

    Also, Richard’s magic was completely left out, both in the break-down and the fight.

    From what I’ve read, Greg Mandel sounds like he would probably be a more interesting character than Richard Rahl, but he doesn’t seem to have anything to counter what Richard can do when he actually uses his magic: I.e. lightning, air manipulation, erasing things from existence, explosions that engulf a thousand men on horses at once . . .

  • T.W.

    You mean the magic he can’t control?

  • Confused

    What do you mean magic he can’t control?! He is a WAR WIZARD. Mandel should be dead.

  • Chris

    War Wizard wins every time…

  • D.I. Waisanen

    Well, yes, Richard can’t always control his magic, but it tends to come in fits and starts. That is, he either has all of his powers at his disposal, or he can’t get them working at all. Greg would probably win if Richard can’t manage any magic, but it’s a different story if he can.

    What I’d like to know is how Richard, without his magic even taken into account, was somehow seeded higher than Anomander Rake.

  • Tye

    Your prophesy of Richard’s loss means very little to him.

  • Will

    I’m now interested in reading the Hamilton series; the character from the books featured in this battle sounds interesting. And obviously, whoever wrote this battle never read more than the first Goodkind book. Richard Rahl can kill this poor sap while staying the forest with any number of magic spells (control of the magic isn’t an issue by book 7). Its bad to have one sided fights where one of the characters stands no chance at all; it is worse when the people writing these have no knowledge of the characters.

  • BitterCold

    This was not so much a vote for Greg as it was a vote against Richard. Exercise your rights.

  • Gringo en Mexico

    Look I love Richard Rahl, but there is NO WAY he can beat someone with a gun. I can’t suspend disbelief. I havent read the other series, but a gun beats a sword anyday, ask the Samurai.

  • Nikolay

    I’m really disappointed with this write up…I mean come on Richard is pretty much the Rand al’Thor of his series – he can do anything and annihilate anyone. And he’s up against a guy with a gun. That’s it. BS.

  • Asteron

    Oh how I loathe the Sword of Truth series… Vote against Richard!

  • David

    I think this is Richard before he learned about his abilities as a sorcerer. On that basis, Greg Mandel wins everytime.

  • D.I. Waisanen


    Isn’t an issue? Richard still has no training at the end of the series, or in the sequel book “The Omen Machine” and relies on the rare moments where his magic does come to him.

    However, if he does get it working, I stand by my initial stance that Greg will not be able to defeat him.

  • Malina

    The whole point of being a war wizard is his magic is instinctual and responds to NEED. I would say this situation would apply…so if you are voting on who would actually win, I would think Richard.

  • Gelhertz

    This is some serious disrespect here. So pretty much I gather that the author of this write up either had only read the first book in the SoT series, or else had such an agenda against Goodkind as to blatantly skew the vote against his Richard, who is a pretty good character and a lot more powerful than he has been represented as here.

    All I’m saying is a little less bias in the write isn’t too much to ask for. Save your vendettas guys. Give us something worth the time it took to read it.

  • Dunkkan

    War Wizard = Win

  • Jdavis

    Eh. Toss a copy of Atlas Shrugged at Richard, and he’ll be so absorbed you can walk up and whack him on the head with a rock.

  • Triskal

    Ok, for all those who say Richard can’t control his magic, he doesn’t have to. That’s how war wizards magic works, it’s based on NEED. What magic does Richard need to survive? Boom he has it! Plus Richard could have exercised his right as a human being to do what he wants, not being controlled by anybody, and made a bow out of something and just shot him. If you’ve read the series then you should know that he is good at absolutely everything and he is absolutely always right.

  • John

    I would think that the 12 paragraph diatribe on the virtues of libertarianism would bore Mandel to death in the end.

  • Clavicle

    Richard’s magic could win it for him… but I think the write up does a good job of creating a scenario where he really wouldn’t have time to react to the situation. Richard doesn’t know what a gun is, so he wouldn’t be concious of the threat until there’d already be a slug in him.

    The write up also brings up a good point. Richard is an idealist, and he doesn’t kill in cold blood. Between the two characters, Mandel definitely would have an easier time “pulling the trigger” in a meaningless fight like this.

    Also, I don’t think it’s bias against Goodkind that led to Suvudu writing Mandel as the winner. They came up with a creative and realistic way that the obviously less powerful (and less popular) character could pull out the win. They knew it probably wouldn’t sway popular opinion (it didn’t) but it’s a nice try.

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