Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Saphira versus Tattoo


The Contestants


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Click to view original image source

One of the last dragons in Alagaësia
Age: Never ask a lady-dragon’s age!
Race: Dragon
Weapons / Artifacts: Talons; teeth; scales (armor)
Breathes fire

The Tattoo
Magical gangster
Age: Unknown
Race: Ink-in-dermis
Weapons / Artifacts: Money, power
Sic Goss and Subby on you

The Breakdown


  • Mastery of flight and in-air combat maneuvers
  • Dragon scales that are virtually impenetrable
  • A near-constant telepathic connection with Eragon

  • Control of magical London’s underground
  • Demonstrated commitment to upcycling (people)
  • Army of devoted Knuckleheads

  • A near-constant telepathic connection with Eragon

  • Lack of independent mobility; bacne

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

Saphira spiraled gracefully out of the sky, landing silently in the abandoned lot where they’d agreed to meet.

A punk-haired man waited for her by a burned-out car. Skinny and disheveled he wore no shirt. He seemed anxious.

After silently appraising their surroundings, Saphira approached, and spoke in his mind. Paul, are you sure you want to go through with this?

The man nodded, “They said it’s the only way. I got a Londonmancer to knack me up so I don’t get killed and so it won’t hurt me none. But I’ve got to get this over with, once and for all.”

Muffled shouts came from somewhere behind Paul’s neck. Saphira raised a brow, and craned her long, elegant neck over Paul’s shoulder slightly, but she was still unable to get a good look at his back.

Saphira met Paul’s eye with a stern gaze.

Whenever you’re ready then.

Paul shivered slightly and turned slowly, bringing Saphira eye to eye with the Tattoo. The Tattoo’s inked eyes opened wide in surprise, then narrowed in fury when he saw Saphira. She inhaled deeply, smiling menacingly at him, a curl of smoke escaping between her teeth.

“Mmph! Mmphmmph!” The Tattoo became more agitated, the inked-on stitches that held his mouth shut straining against his lips. His brow furrowed with rage and his stifled threats grew louder, but no more articulate.

“Do it!” Paul shouted, bracing himself against the rusty car frame with both arms.
Saphira grinned and roared, aiming a plume of blue fire directly at the Tattoo. The flames rippled across Paul’s back but he did not scream—the Londonmancer’s spells had worked.

The Tattoo, however, also seemed unaffected by Saphira’s magical fire—though the stitches around his mouth did began to melt, inked shadows dripping down Paul’s back, sliding beneath his skin like rain on a windowpane, before disappearing below the waist of his battered black jeans.

But the Tattoo’s face remained unharmed.

His lips twisted into a menacing smile as he whistled loudly, as though for a cab.

“What’s happening? What’s wrong?” Paul shouted.

I don’t know. Saphira’s alarm skittered through him. It’s not working.

“It has to work!”

Saphira inhaled deeply, preparing to set another course of flames against Tattoo, but paused, feeling as though someone had inhaled the inhale right out of her. A dark dread washed over the empty lot. Silence collapsed in on itself. No birds, no planes overhead, no cars from the road nearby.

Then, cracking that silence, a low slow whistle, tuneless, like air from a deflating toy. Saphira turned around.

“Wot ‘ave we ‘ere then?” Goss and Subby advanced across the lot, moving faster than their limbs would have allowed. “You alright boss?”

Saphira’s panic washed over Paul like a breaking fever. Run!

Paul took off across the lot, but just as quickly Subby was there, tripping him with a little shrug and a smile. Paul landed face down in the tall weeds, sobbing.

Saphira leaped toward the sky, but Goss reached out for her, hand extending like a cartoon robot arm, endlessly telescoping toward her until he snatched her tail and yanked her from the air.

The Tattoo laughed. “Stand up you little shit,” he barked at Paul, “I want to see this.”

Subby extended his small hand to Paul pulling him from the ground with a strength beyond his small stature. Paul stood, defeated. He very much did not want to see this—he knew how it would end.

Goss, humming a discordant little tune, began to fold Saphira, starting with the tip of her long scaled tail.

“Seems like you’re fond of fire, so I’m thinking you’d be handy to keep around, but we can’t ‘ave you zipping off like that, now can we?”

Saphira roared in protest, twisting and thrashing to break free. As she struggled, she shot blue and gold flame in all directions, like a roman candle.

“Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?” the Tattoo snickered from across the lot, “You don’t think I have half of London in my pocket? It was only a matter of time before this idiot tried something stupid.”

Goss continued folding up Saphira’s diamond hard tail like a shiny origami triangle. She roared in pain.

Please Paul, help!

Paul just sobbed quietly, unable to do anything now that the Tattoo was back in control. He knew he’d be paying for this latest insurrection as it was. Perhaps this time the Tattoo would make good on his threats to hobble Paul permanently, or tear out his tongue.

Goss, on a roll now, increased his speed, long fingers moving faster. Terrible crunching noises, like a trash compactor at work, filled the empty lot. Saphira’s roars turned to whimpers turned to sickly squishing silence as Goss completed his handiwork.

“A’ight then boss, I think we’re done here.” He wiped his hands on the front of his coat. Sauntering over to Paul, Goss reached into his pocket and pulled out a slightly crumpled pack of cigarettes. Tapping out two, he put one in his mouth, and one in Paul’s.

Goss lit his, and with a wink to the Tattoo, he reached around to Paul.

“Say then mate,” Goss said, revealing a small lighter that gleamed like gem stones in the sunlight. Flicking it with his thumb, a small blue flame erupted from the lighter. “Can I git you a light?”

Nancy Lambert contributed to this Cage Match

Predicted Winner: Tattoo


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Saphira is a character from the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini; The Tattoo is a character from Kraken by China Miéville

Saphira image courtesy of John Jude Palencar. Tattoo 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!”


  • Taylor

    Let’s go Saphira! You can do it, Bijartskular!

  • Laura

    The predicted outcome completely discredits Saphira. He grabs her tail and that’s it? Without Eragon around to temper her, Saphira is a ruthless, blood lusting beast. And massively intelligent as well. As soon as she’s grabbed, Saphira would just stop fighting? As far as magic, Saphira is supposed to be protected against magical attacks and she should’ve known these other guys were coming, since she should have sensed them. (Also like to point out, if Tattoo can use others in his attack, I totally think Eragon should be there too… 😉 ) My vote would be Saphira.

    I would also like to point out the poll is closed three days early….D:

  • megan

    It says poll closed with no votes?

  • Brandi

    Just wondering, says poll doesnt close until the 8th…. Its the 5th and cant vote. Please put me down for Saphira.

  • Michael

    Poll closed without any votes? Put me down for Saphira, she can take him!

  • suzanna

    saphira would not have spoken to pauls mind without Eragon present because the tatoos magical presense would have been known to her & her magical ward would have stopped goss from being able to touch her let alone fold her ………. the real Saphira swoops in with Eragon to rescue the Elf shape shifter & destroy the tatoo & save paul

  • David

    Umm…why is the pollclosed on this match before it even begins?

  • Oop

    If Eragon is considered on of Saphira’s advantages, then Eragon should be considered in the action, as well. If the Tattoo gets henchmen, then Saphira should get her other half.


    Hmmm, after reading all 4 books and learning about Saphira and her powers. There is no way Tattoo and his henchman have a chance. She has heighten senses, magical wards, unbelievable courage and a deep out love for a good fight. There is no way Saphira would have gave in so easily and no chance Tattoo would have won this.

    Since the poll was closed … My vote is for Saphira

  • vish

    Saphira will win that is were my vote is as shes no hatchling any more and she well bite the hand that grabbers her.

  • Martin

    Oh Please! Saphira just getting overwhelmed like that? Really?? Putting aside the physical and even magical stuff the sheer power of a dragon’s mind can overwhelm even the most powerful of elves. I don’t really know much about Tattoo so I invite people to disagree with me. But I doubt that Tattoo was trained in protecting his mind, so that fight would have ended in seconds, Saphira would just enter his mind, overwhelm him and kill him. There, fight’s over, Saphira wins.

  • KySky

    OMG! Thats so wrong! Someone needs to read the eragon books!! -.- Poor Saphira would never go down like that! And i’m glad others think the same! Put me down for Saphira! Shes the best!

  • Amanda -_-*

    This totally isn’t how it would happen! Saphira would win, no doubt about it!

  • Yamafan

    Saphira would totally crush him. Tatto has to chance.

  • Yamafan

    My vote is for Saphira.

  • Joshua

    Prediction FAIL.

  • Ethan

    Has no one told you about Laser Tattoo removal? Tattoo, would just be so much ash blowing in the wind. That is if Saphira, hadn’t eaten him, squashed him flat, or just plain shredded him like last weeks wet newspaper, regenerative abilities or not. Win goes to Saphira.

  • Britney

    Go saphira!!!!!! All the way!

  • I need to read the Eragon books (and re-read Kraken), but I must say people are underestimating Goss and Subby. From what I recall, they are nightmarish and terrifying in their power. Could a dragon beat them (and thus Tattoo)? Probably, but I can see this playing out like the scenario described.

  • D.I. Waisanen

    Since Saphira isn’t talking about her age, I’ll say it: Throughout most of the Inheritance Cycle, her age is measured in months. I.e. she hatches in the first book, and is maybe one year old at the end.

    The Saphira in the books struck me as rather more ruthless than the one depicted here. I don’t think that she would have any magical protection–since she needs Eragon to cast the wards on her–or any magic, because she doesn’t have conscious control over her magical abilities and can only use them in very select scenarios when the right inspiration strikes her. However, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s the clear winner.

    Paul: Please, I have an evil, sentient tattoo on my back! Can you burn it off?

    Saphira: You’re carrying my enemy. Therefore, you have to die, puny human. *roasts him*

    THAT’S what Saphira would do.

  • Darren

    I don’t really like commenting about a book I don’t know. But I have to say, the scenario described is ridiculous if you’ve ever read Eragon.

    Saphira is no coward, and not quickly stopped by pain.

    and I agree, if Tattoo (WTF?) gets support, so does Saphira. Chris Paolini (sp?) has designed his magic system so that Eragon could literally steal the life forces of of all those present without a mage countering him.

    Secondly, why is Tattoo’s vessel allowed to be guarded from pain and death? is that seriously a plot device is those books? that’s an AWEFUL plot device, nearly as bad as Paolini’s plot device that allows magic to easily snuff the life from those who don’t know magic.

    alright, but even if you don’t let Saphira have Eragon, and you let Paul (is it?) be essentially immortal with no pain sensation. Saphira is fly not by wings, but by magic. Dragons essentially have infinite magic at their disposal, they are just limited to instinctual uses of it. Saphira instinctually flies, no matter how hard someone pulls at her, they wont pull her down. she would loose the end of her tail first if need be. but more likely, Goss would just be lifted off the ground.

    Now apparently Goss and Subby are from a world where immortality is easy and an afternoon chore. So I don’t know if Saphira could kill them, and since paul is immortal and impossible to wound, and the tattoo is apparently the same. I don’t know if Saphira could win. But these plot devices are so ridiculous it reminds me of playing super heros with my brothers as a child “No you can’t hurt me because my shield can stop anything” “yeah, but my punches can break anything, even your shield” “Nuh uh, nothing can break my shield!”…. Seriously?

    Saphira should win because (according to this post) the things stopping her victory are too stupid to accept as literature.

  • Shadow’sBane

    in Cage Match 2010…Eragon Without Saphira…
    and now Saphira without Eragon…which part of Dragon and Ryder are one you donot understand?

  • Hagalaz

    They obviously forget the part where Saphira has enormous teeth and would nomnom them all up without any effort involved.

  • jacobrh

    utter bullcrap.
    Eragon should be there, and Saphira should win.
    Also nonsense that the poll closed early. Shame on you suvudu, SHAME!!

  • xxii

    dragons can use magic when inspired

  • KevinB

    Not a fan of the Eragon books (anymore anyway. Seriously what the fuck is up with Brisingr? Incoherent drivel). But Saphira’s a freaking Dragon, with all the usual immunities and strenghts. She’ll win here.

  • Nick

    i have to agree with laura tattoo got his friends and harry potter got ron and hermione so saphira should definitely have eragon

  • Austin

    Wow, you need to read the books and put your head on straight. Saphira could’ve destroyed those thugs without moving a muscle with mental combat. Sorry, Tattoo, but you never had a chance. And also, where’s Eragon? Like it was said earlier, if Tattoo can call help, Saphira should be able to as well. Ono ach néiat threyja eom verrunsmal Saphira, O losers.

  • John

    Regardless of the debate over henchmen, has Anyone read Kraken? Goss & Stubby are near invincible…

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