Cage Match 2012: Round 2: Napoleon (on a dragon) versus Iorek Byrnison


The Contestants


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Click to view original image source

Napoleon Bonaparte (on a dragon)
Emperor of the French (on a dragon)
Age: Late 30s, early 40s (don’t know how old the dragon is)
Race: Human (and, you know, his dragon)
Weapons / Artifacts: Saber; pistol; dragon
It’s Napoleon…on a dragon

Iorek Byrnison
King of Svalbard
Age: Unknown
Race: Panserbjorne (armored polar bear)
Weapons / Artifacts: Teeth and claws
He’s armored polar bear—use your imagination

The Breakdown


  • He’s on a dragon
  • Brilliant military strategist

  • Larger, faster, and vastly more intelligent than an ordinary polar bear
  • Completely clad in impenetrable “sky-iron armor”
  • Has almost supernatural blacksmithing skills

  • Often has to fight one-handed, since the other is usually inside his jacket

  • A little too fond of alcohol (has yet to discover the joy and camaraderie of Coke)


How we think the fight will go

The strangest thing in Unbound Worlds Stadium that day was not the colossal polar bear, armored like a tank in sheets of gleaming gold; nor was it the dragon, so dazzling a sight it shimmered with a faint haze of unreality. It was not even the dragon’s rider, who was, quite improbably, the Emperor of France himself.

No, it was the peculiar, excitable little old man, accompanied by a camera crew, who had wandered into the middle of the fight, and was offering a cheerful running commentary on the proceedings in a wholly delightful British accent.

“This is David Attenborough for BBC Wildlife,” he said, “And we are about to witness one of the rarest and most extraordinary sights on the planet: a battle between two of nature’s most magnificent creatures: a polar bear…and a dragon.”

Napoleon halted his dragon’s charge in mid-air long enough to utter a rather self-important, “Ah hem.”

At this, Attenborough said wonderingly, “This particular dragon seems to have formed a symbiotic relationship…with a slow loris. Or perhaps a three-toed sloth?”

But the little old man’s musings were cut off by Napoleon as he screamed, in his reedy, unnerving voice, “Vive la France! Vive Josephine! Vive Jerry Lewis!”

“Ah, the chilling war cry of the pygmy marmoset!” Attenborough cried with childlike excitement.

Napoleon spurred his dragon on, and the creature dove towards the waiting polar bear. So massive was the dragon it cast the entire stadium in shadow as it flew overhead.

“It appears that the polar bear, Earth’s largest carnivore, has finally met his match. In the wild, even the most fearsome predator can become prey.” The bear himself—who spoke excellent English and was quite capable of understanding what was being said about him, unlike the documentarian’s usual subjects—did not seem to partake of the commentator’s doubts; he stood absolutely firm as the dragon barreled toward him at awesome speed.

The bear, too, moved with surprising quickness and as soon as the dragon approached, the bear leapt and caught the dragon’s neck in its massive jaws. The dragon crashed to the ground with a thud that made the entire stadium shudder.

“But can the bear’s claws and teeth penetrate the dragon’s scales? He seems increasingly desperate…It’s now or never! He must avoid the dragon’s snapping jaws, his terrible claws…”

The dragon’s head snapped to the side and its entire serpentine length writhed. This worked Attenborough into a fever pitch. “And as the dastardly hyena must succumb to the mighty lion, the hapless mountain goat to the elusive snow leopard, the adorably obese pika to the bizarre Tibetan fox, so must the dragon fall to the polar bear…But what’s this?

For Napoleon had not been crushed by the dragon’s fall—indeed, he was on his feet, with his sabre drawn, and an impossibly French sneer curling his lips.

“The battle is not over yet!” Attenborough said breathlessly. “The swordsmanship skills of the colobus monkey are legendary.”

Napoleon danced forward with the sabre and rapped it several times against the bear’s helmet, screeching “En garde!” The bear roared in reply and the sheer force of it knocked the little man backwards. The bear stalked menacingly towards the fallen man. Attenborough continued to warm to his subject. “The bushbaby is not the natural prey of the polar bear. But as the ice sheets melt and his territory disappears, the increasingly desperate polar bear must take his meals where he can find them.”

Just then, a tall, funereal man with a gloomy aspect, and a camera crew of his own, emerged from the shadows. It was Werner Herzog. He had also been filming the proceedings, and when he offered his own commentary, it was in a sinister German accent. Every so often, the sound of the bear’s jaws crushing Napleon’s bones could be heard. “Napoleon has learned the same lesson as did Timothy Treadwell,” Herzog said. “The common character of Nature is not Harmony…” Crunch. “It is Chaos.” Crunch. “Hostility.” Crunch. “And Murder.” Crunch.

Predicted Winner: Iorek Byrnison


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Napoleon (on a dragon) is a character from the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik; orek Brynison is a character from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

Napoleon image courtesy of Del Rey Books. Iorek image courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers

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!”