Cage Match 2012: Round 3: Julia Wicker versus Kylar Stern


The Contestants


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Julia Wicker
Witch-queen of Fillory
Age: 27
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: None
Magic missile

“>Kylar Stern
Age: 20s
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Knives; throwing spikes; sword…pretty much any weapon
Black ka’kari

The Breakdown


  • Genius-level intelligence and extensive magical knowledge
  • Mystical bond with Fillory
  • Raging anger

  • Powerful Talent (magic)
  • Skilled assassin
  • Has endured much in the way of pain and heartbreak

  • Raging anger

  • Somewhere, deep down, he’s got a bit of a conscience

  • Kull
  • Peter Grant
    Maybe it’s time you learned a bit more magic

  • Gimli
    Well, you might make a cameo in The Hobbit movie
  • Harry Potter
    The Boy who died

How we think the fight will go

Unlike with the dwarf and man-boy, Kylar felt there was nothing funny about this next assignment. Killing a woman—no matter how vile—left that little bit of him that was still Azoth disgusted. To kill for survival was one thing.

To kill for the pleasure of others…

Yet there was an aspect of survival here, too. And that same piece of Azoth recognized the need to survive more than anyone. It just didn’t do anything for his conscience.

Not that it mattered—both he and Julia were simply pawns in this morbid game. And while he moved about the stadium, he knew there was nothing to be gained by losing—not that there was any concern about that.

Julia’s attacks were becoming repetitive, as if her knowledge of magic, while certainly great, was still limited compared to some of the great wizards Kylar had met and battled. And, despite her ferocity, he could see her frustration mounting as magic missiles, fireballs, waves of darkness, and blinding light were all devoured by the black ka’kari. Her curses—though unfamiliar to his ear—nevertheless struck a chord.

But Kylar said nothing. He simply dodged what he could—especially the attacks that weren’t directly magical, like the rocks Julia lifted from the earth to hurl at him—and let the ka’kari take care of the rest. He knew it was a matter of time…

Julia stumbled.


The poison he had selected to put in her dinner last night had been a subtle one. It was a mixture of vineshade and a rare sun-pepper root, both incredibly toxic, and yet with odd effects when combined. For one thing, the death wasn’t instantaneous. Indeed, if anything, death might not come at all. For the two plants basic natures opposed each other, and it was only through a catalyst that their potency could be observed.

In such a combination, the catalyst was anger.

Kylar knew of Julia’s temper. And he knew she would be frustrated by her inability to harm him. That her emotions would consume her—and ultimately, so would the poison.

As she fell to the ground, he breathed a small sigh of relief. It wasn’t much, but the fact that it was her own personality that was her downfall somewhat assuaged his conscience.


He knelt over her body and closed her eyes. Azoth whispered something that almost seemed like a prayer, then stood up.

He was once again Kylar Stern.

And there was more killing in his future.

Predicted Winner: Kylar Stern


Check out the previous match from the Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters: Danger Room bracket!

Check out the next match!

Check out the Bracket

Julia Wicker is a character from The Magicians series by Lev Grossman; Stern is a character from the Night Angel series by Brent Weeks.

Julia Wicker image courtesy of ~amybillingham. Kylar Stern image courtesy of *syku-wolf

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!”


  • wcarter4

    A write up that takes note of Kylar’s proficiency with poisons, that’s a nice change of pace. I don’t see exactly how anger could activate a posion (as opposed to say simply increasing heart-rate and allowing it to spread quicker), but hey what do I know of herb lore?

  • Chandran

    Well, it kind of boils down to the fact that people who’s only offensive/defensive abilities worth acknowledging are magical in nature just can’t touch Kylar. Where as he has his Talent, plus a ton of weapons skills. Kind of an easy win for him, though I’ve admittedly never any of Lev Grossman’s book, whereas Kylar is one of my favorite characters. So I might be a little biased 😛

  • JOE

    yeah. Kylar is winning it all. Let it be observed that I predicted it now. Actually, I predicted it last round, I just didn’t say so in the comments.

  • L Lawliet

    To be quite honest I see Kylar taking the whole thing. Ok, I may have a bit of a bias since I havnt read about the other characters in their respective books, but I did do my research on them. I could picture Kylar Stern and Moiraine in the final round in an epic battle. No one else really has anything that could touch Kylar; his prowess with weapons is amazing, he has massive amounts of Talant, and the Black Ka’kari would just devour any magic thrown at him. The one person I am worried about is Moiraine because of her Balefire. The Ka’kari is not invincible and can be destroyed by some magics and maybe the Balefire would do it. I’m not sure but when it comes down to it I hope that Kylar walks away the winner.

  • KayFlame

    Wonderful write up, to the point and it stayed true to Kylar’s character! I’m glad the properties of the black ka’kari were acknowledged, they definitely give Kylar the edge. Seeing proficiency with weapons would be cool, but seeing his knowledge of poison is great too.

  • Damon

    @L Lawliet re: \No one else really has anything that could touch Kylar; his prowess with weapons is amazing, he has massive amounts of Talant, and the Black Ka’kari would just devour any magic thrown at him.\

    I submit Anomander Rake as a candidate. He has 300,000 years worth of battle experience, weilds a god-forged great sword which captures souls, and has his own massive amounts of magic (yes I know the ka’kari would take care of offensive magic, but not necessarily defensive or self enhancing magics). Oh and I almost forgot… he can turn into a dragon at will.

  • Burbles

    Let us not forget that the Ka’kari has been know to eat weapons before (think back to the battle between Durzo and Kyler, where Kyler took full control over the ka’kari (you know the scene). He threw a dagger and it…. disappeared.

  • Shade

    I’m not sure if he can take the whole thing (I don’t know most of the other characters and haven’t read their books) but Kylar is definitively one of the strongest Characters out there. The only way anyone’s really gonna be able to beat him is if they have Curoch (The Sword of Power) or some other weapon like it that can destroy the Black ka’kari. Of course, even if they do have a super weapon, that doesn’t mean Kylar will lose. He’s still got his talent and he can still use the Black to turn invisible. There’s nothing in the rules that says he has to fight fair. Just go invisible, stab them in the back, and walk away. Sure it’s a terrible read but, if worse comes to worse, he has quite a few tricks up his sleeve.

  • darthcaz

    One character in this could take Kylar: Revan. He has the Force, which isn’t magic, and he could not only use it against Kylar, he can see what Kylar will do before he does it, sense danger, be it from poison or attacks, and know Kylar’s location even when invisible. And then there’s the lightsaber. So unfortunate they have to face off in the semis instead of being the final match.

  • TheSaintWithinTheSinner

    Anyone else hear Kylar whisper “requiescat en pace” to Julia at the end of the write up before they could stop themselves? 😀 lolz

  • PouncySilverkitten

    Expecting Kylar to win, but disappointed with the write-up. Magic missile and fireballs? Might as well replace Julia with a generic D&D mage. She’s the underdog, so let’s find a few reasons to vote for her.
    Magic in the books: Mayakovsky reverses entropy; Josh creates a black-ish hole-ish thing; Quentin walks naked to the south pole (he could have flown to the moon, if he really wanted to); Failstaff almost accidentally flips the magnetic poles; Alice focuses sunlight into a laser, isolates a photon, and shape shifts into a dragon.
    Julia is on par with these characters. She doesn’t throw out much flashy battle magic, but she also doesn’t go around fighting magic-immune wetboys. Given her genius-level intelligence and later apotheosis, she could certainly do better than chucking rocks. Would the Black Ka’kari save Kylar from asphyxiation if Julia sucked all the oxygen out of the air, as Quentin does in The Magician King?
    The Pyrrhic victory scenario: Julia recreates Josh’s black hole and flies off into space as the planet collapses. Oversimplified? Absolutely. But the outcome should at least be debatable.

  • Jam

    Well I voted for Kylar before reading the comments, based on the fact that he has the Black Kakari which eats magic and was fighting a mage. Then I read PouncySilverkitten’s comment, and regretted my vote. With magic of that subtlety and power, simply being immune to magic isn’t enough. Look at how Mat from Wheel of Time got killed by a lightning bolt from Rhavin despite being immune to the Power at the time.

    Furthermore, I think it’s highly debatable whether the kakari would be able to absorb “magic” from different universes. Remember that magic is just a catch all term we use for a certain subset of supernatural things, while magic in the Night Angel Trilogy is a technical term for a specific force. A force quite different in its use and effect from say, Harry Potter’s magic, the True Source in The Wheel of Time, The Force in Star Wars – or even more strikingly, one of Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems like Allomancy or Hemalurgy.

    That said, I do think it’s entirely plausible that Kylar could poison his opponent in such a way that they would die during their match. I also think that he’s capable of surviving the match for long enough that the poison would have time to take effect, even against a mage as powerful as PouncySilverkitten describes – assuming that they don’t open with a Rand/Weatherwax style obliteration of the entire stadium. On the other hand though, surely a mage who could shapeshift into a dragon would be able to neutralise a poison … if they were aware of it …

    In conclusion, I have to say that this felt like a bit of a copout on Mr. Weeks’ part, especially when Julia’s description includes the term genius. And magic missile seems like a bit of a copout on the part of Suvudu. Have either of the aforementioned read the books? I confess that I haven’t … the reviews put me off.

  • Jam

    Oooh, I just noticed that Lev Grossman wrote the predictions for Julia’s previous two fights! Will we be seeing an entry from him here? It’s always epic when both authors do that. Remember Rand vs Jaime?

  • Cwhite

    I don’t think Brent wrote this one… it says “How WE think the fight will go” The past two written by Brent said “How BRENT WEEKS thinks the fight will go.” Which makes it funnier that I think this has been the write up that had Kylar most in character (though I really enjoyed Brent’s satire of Gimli and Harry)
    To address the idea of the Black Ka’kari not absorbing other forms of magic, it absorbs light and IIRC heat (but don’t quote me on that… I can’t quote why I have this impression of the Ka’kari so I may be mixing in some of the Black Prism universe) so it stands to reason that it would be able to absorb any type of energy thrown at it. Also, you would have to completely destroy the ka’kari to keep Kylar from simply coming back. Or convince him NOT to come back… might work if the sacrifice were too great… perhaps we’ll see Vi as a hostage. Can’t expect Kylar to give up BOTH of his soul mates now can we?

  • Jam

    Huh, you’re right. I guess that explains why this was a much less satisfying write up. Sorry, Suvudu writer, but you’ve got nothing on Brent Weeks. I may as well add that damn, Lev Grossman’s writeups are fantastic too – I enjoyed them so much that I just went and bought the ebook of The Magicians … of course, due to technical issues, I won’t be able to read it for a few days, but whatever. I suppose it is too much to hope that both of these authors do a writeup for this cagematch … but they would be so awesome …

    TBH I can’t remember how the Night Angel world magic as a whole works, let alone the Black Kakari.

  • Tim

    A few points (note that these will be fantastically biased towards Kylar):
    Pouncy: If she sucked all the oxygen out of the air, Kylar simply wouldn’t be able to breathe, right? Which would give him plenty of time to kill her, even assuming he didn’t/couldn’t use his Talent to negate the effect (e.g., by separating the air around him from the rest, kinda like Eragon did in Inheritance when he and Saphira were flying at some ridiculous altitude. There’d be other ways too, but that’s the most obvious, and I’m fairly sure it could be done with Kylar’s Talent (although that would assume he knew what was happening and thought to do it. Alternatively, he can work body magic, he might be able to rig something up to allow him to either not breathe or not breathe oxygen or something, but that would probably be assuming Durzo level knowledge and experience. So best bet’s probably still to hold his breath and kill her before he dies). It also assumes he gave her time to do that in the first place, as does your black-hole-and-fly-to-space scenario. In that one, he might be able to just eat the black hole too.

    Jam: The Black doesn’t eat magic, it just eats. It eats Kylar’s clothes and weapons, remember? It eats that dagger someone throws at him at some point (I can’t remember anything other than it happening, not how). He could have killed the ferali just by walking through it if he’d thought to do it.

    On who could beat him, Revan’s got me worried. I think Kylar could beat him, but he could also get absolutely slaughtered by him. Moirane less so, I think Kylar could probably just avoid her attacks and kill her , or kill her before she had a chance to attack without too much difficulty, but she is one of the few who definitely could kill him if he wasn’t careful. Rake probably somewhere between Kylar and Moirane. I think Kylar would probably beat him, but could be wrong (haven’t read the books on any of those characters, but from what I’ve read of Moirane and Rake here, and what I already knew of Revan, I think he’s the greatest threat to Kylar, followed by Rake, followed by Moirane).

  • Not Telling

    Rake doesn’t just use magic, he uses Dragnipur, a sword that can one hit kill with a scratch, and takes their soul when it does. Therefor, Kylar could not come back. Moiraine could BALEFIRE him out of existance, and the Ka’kari would not be able to eat it. The Ka’kari is not made of Cuellidur, after all. Revan just force crushes him. Oh, and at the rate Zaphod is going, he may have a chance as well. What would Kylar do if the Ka’kari turned into a pink stuffed bunny?


  • Nazaar

    Having read both of the series, Julia would probably win it IMO. She’s much, much more intelligent than Kylar is. She’s also completely insane, and at the end of the series a demi-goddess in her own right.

    As for who else could take it, Rake is, as someone says, the whole bag. He’s one of the best swordsman in a world where people have hundreds of thousands of years to train (as opposed to say, 10-30). He has a sword forged by an elder god, a truckload of magic, and can turn into a huge dragon that’s mouth is gate to the plane of Darkness.

    I can see this turning into another Balefire-esque episode where \but the black can absorb anything!!!11One!\ is the answer to everything.

  • Shan

    @Nazaar, Kylar has killed full on Gods before, including completely insane ones, and a God King, and at least 1 or 2 of the Godkings children (they were adults at the time) One Demi-God = Nothing.

  • Obdigore


    In a different world, with different powers. Rake could just crash his moons spawn (his giant floating mountain) onto Kylar head, take his corpse still keeping the Black Ka’Kari on it, and chain him in the realm of shadow. Let Kylar come back to life. Let him live forever, chained in the shadow warren, unable to do nothing but see ghostly phantasms of real people.

    But I agree Kylar should win this fight.

  • Alex Weber

    Just a note for those posing the possibility of Moiraine versus Kylar in the final round: Regardless of the fact that the Black Ka’Kari protects against magical assault and therefore may or may not stand against balefire, a number of the magic users in the Wheel of Time series learned how to defeat opponents wearing devices that functioned in a similar way (specifically the paralis nets and Mat’s fox head medallion). I won’t venture to say who would win in a confrontation between these two as both characters are amazing, but I did want to point out that balefire might not be the only thing Kylar needs to worry about if he and Moiraine end up meeting.

  • Archon

    You people are minimizing a few facts when it comes to Rake… He’s an EASILY MORE POWERFUL (although probably not as versatile) magic-user than Quick Ben, who, you may recall, won this tournament last year… The Dragon he transforms into is more powerful than any save the Otataral Dragon… He’s the ultimate planner/strategist (save for perhaps Shadowthrone) as NOBODY gets over on his plans in the end… He’s arguably the greatest swordsman in the world, having had 300,000 years to train, he’s defeated guys on Drizz’t’s / Skilgannon’s/ Lan’s level, had guys on Conan’s level declare that fighting him would be suicide, and stood toe to toe with the aknowledged greatest swordsman in the world until he decided it was time to go… He the LITERAL Son of Darkness, His mother being the Godess/ Entity of Darkness… And on top of all that, he wields Dragonpur, which is a sword that can kill you and steal your soul with a single scratch. Those of you that know anything about melee combat know how much easier it is to defeat any opponent if all you have to do is hit them with no regard for how much damage you do… Kylar is a cool character, and admittedly quite powerful… but Rake is simply on another level.

  • Chris

    The greatest swordsman in the world fighting with a sword that makes him impossible to be beaten, Archon. Don’t forget that fact. :P.

    Kylar’s ability to come back to life likely wouldn’t work, since anyone so much as scratched appears to get chained to Darkness for eternity. (and Rake’s sword is so bad dragons took being trapped for the rest of eternity chained to rocks over even getting close to him, and did so with barely a protest).

  • Matt

    From what little I’ve heard of Kylar, seems like he would win.

    Having said that, I don’t think the poison as described would work on the Julia portrayed in the 2nd book. (Being very vague here to avoid a spoiler.) In addition, we don’t see her using defensive magic much in the books, but it’s seen that other magicians can fly, do force fields, and other crazy stuff.

    I must say, not having read Kylar’s books, he sounds awfully overpowered, like Garth and his “blue-stone” from the Elenium are. Part of the fun of Magicians is the feeling that there are awesome powers out there but the humans are feeling their way around with it, practicing an art that they only partially understand. The characters in those books are both fallible and vulnerable, and therefore relatable… But I like superhero stories too. So I shouldn’t judge Kylar’s books without reading them.

  • david

    ok to clear up a few issues i keep reading about here are some answers.
    The black Ka’kari
    the Black Ka’kari works like balefire for all those familiar with the WOT series. it just unmakes anything its against so vs balefire im certain it would cause the fabric of time space to rip open and unravel the whole multiverse. that being said im certain anyone with knowledge of how to make balefire would not take the risk using it on something that can unmake magic for the obvious fear of undoing everything.
    The Black can not be destroyed unless you unmake the host. So literally the host has to be hit with enough magical force to obliterate the soul so nothing would remain. But for the purpose of a cage match the stopping(death) of the host physical form could essentially be called a win since the time it takes to regenerate is not quick or consistent (sometimes it takes a few hours other times a few days).
    Can make the host completely undetectable, The host puts off, no heat, no sound, no smell, nothing to give any trace they have been there.
    Is a living entity and can be used as another set of(figuratively speaking) eyes and ears on the battlefield.
    Now to clear up some areas about Kylar.
    Kylar has been trained since a young age by the worlds best wetboy (not an assassin). so he knows how to use every weapon known to man and has been trained to never be hit by any of them as well.
    He has an immense physical magic talent allowing for super human strength speed agility etc…
    His only weak point is his lack of motivation to kill those who are not evil.

    So my point is that he isnt going to be killed by magic and he isnt going to let someone get a lucky blow in so the only real way to defeat him is to call it a draw and destroy everything with him or gain enough leverage over him (like the vi example though that might be just as hard as killing kylar as vi isnt exactly a push over) to make him give up. The greatest advantage kylar would have over his opponents is the fact that his powers are so limitless while being very well kept secrets so that no one would know until it was too late he wasnt dead or went invisible etc…

  • Tim

    Ok, so how does this balefire thing work exactly? I get that it basically unmakes the target, kind of making it as if they didn’t exist for the last while or so. What I’m wondering is why that’s any harder to absorb than any other magic, and same for evade. And how Moirane can stop Kylar just stabbing before she knows he’s there. Can someone give examples of ways magic-immune people have been killed in WoT? Because just saying magic-immune people have been killed before is hardly a convincing argument for why this particular magic-immune combatant would lose to that particular mage.

    On Revan: I know, that’s why he concerns me the most. I still think it’s plausible that Kylar could kill him, depending on whether or not he could get to Revan undetected, and on which if any of his force powers could be negated by the Ka’Kari, and how the lightsaber interacted with Retribution. Lightning could nearly definitely be absorbed, grip maybe (something’s got to be holding him, right?), pushes and pulls less likely. I suppose Kylar’s got his own magic in opposition to The Force (eg those phantasmal hand things), but his main Talent (and certainly training) seems to be in body magic, rather than things he can use directly to attack or disable an opponent. Way lightsaber and Kylar interact could be interested actually, seeing as Talented people absorb light and turn it into magic, so he might be able to basically use the lightsaber as a source of unlimited magical energy.

    On Rake: Looking tougher than I realised. Didn’t know that Dragnipur could do that. Not worried about a dragon or his magic, but only having to scratch Kylar from a swordsman in all likelihood at least as good as him, if not better? Doesn’t look good, considering that’s his only option for attack (I’m assuming anything along the lines of throwing knives would be no more dangerous than flies to someone of Rake’s power). I’m assuming a sword like that would be very very very well warded against magic, too, so he probably couldn’t just have the Black eat his sword (then again, the ferali were practically immune to magic, and he could have just walked through one of them coated in The Black and destroyed it, so maybe…). But yes, on the whole, probably in Rake’s favour. Maybe if he used illusions cleverly enough he could get Rake attacking them, but even so he’d need to manage a clean kill to stop Rake just scratching him in his last moments, and that’s assuming Rake didn’t catch on (he sounds pretty clued in). I’m assuming the simple assassination on Rake would be impossible, Rake would probably have some sort of magical alarm system set up or some way to detect the undetectable (no visuals, silent, scentless, apparently the user gives off no heat either so something like infravision wouldn’t help (although I’ve never noticed that last bit about the heat). Echolocation or something would probably do it though). But I’m still more concerned about Revan.

  • DAVId

    I think the big things everything has to overcome in order to beat him are 1. Detecting him, 2.hitting him, 3. damaging him.
    1- as i said before his ability to hide all traces of himself would extend well beyond just visible site, so finding him in the first place would be hard.
    2- Once you’ve found him he is more then likely stronger and faster without his talent then his opponent is so with the talent there is no chance of someone hitting him even scratching him without some major error on kylars part.
    3- If you actually do manage to hit him it would need to be something powerfull enough to destroy him and not be stopped by the ka’kari

    People need to stop seeing this as immunity to magic and start thinking of it as automated defensive balefire. He can litterally coat himself in balefire and walk right into his opponents and they would be devoured but hes choosing to give them chances that if they were threats he would not afford them.

  • Mikayla

    LOL Kylar could do that too, btw
    In the 3rd book (Beyond the Shadows) Durzo shapeshifted into a an over-30-foot dragon in a matter of seconds, n I know Kylar may not b able to do exactly that, but I believe (by now, cz he’s retired as a wetboy n probably has nothing else better to do than just train, possibly for that fight w Lantano Garuwashi the next decade) Kylar could be able to turn into a dragon at will, too. 🙂

  • Voidus

    Sorry everyone, He may have virtually non-existent offensive magical abilities but defensively he is completely unparalled. Balefire vs. the black honestly I think that balefire would just get absorbed. The black is completely impervious to anything but 1 known weapon which was specifically designed to combat it. On the dragon thing, I don’t think dragons are any more capable than people when half their vital organs have been removed.
    Sorry but i think that Kylar has this in the bag.

  • sacredhonour


    WoT SPOILERS: In Wheel of time there are only a few cases of the magically immune being hurt, mostly because those are actually pretty rare fights. Mat tends to be the main source of our information on how it works and to get around it.

    Mat is killed by lightning. Lightning is considered an indirect attack, because weaves make lightning possible, but don’t create the lightning itself. Its a fine thread, but being the lightning is not “magical” itself magic-immune people are hit by it.

    Other examples were him being hit by Rocks which were thrown by Air (magic). They went through a whole series of test at one point and basically made it pretty clear that he is only safe from direct attacks.

    This would seem to apply to a lot of things in the world, the lightning being the one which provides the most clues. In the battle of Dumai’s Well, the Asha’man used what they called “Rolling Ring of Earth & Fire” which caused the ground to start explodiing and crack with fire spewing out. The theory is the weave causes the beginning, but the earth exploding and the fire are natural, so those would affect the immune. Same thing with shaking the ground using Earth; magic affects the ground, the ground affects the person.

  • david

    @ sacredhonour
    your forgetting that kylars immunity isnt immunity at all but pure absorption. so it doesnt matter wether you throw a rock a ball of lightning or a vat of acid it will all be absorbed the same. Also in the WOT a weave must be actively held to continue its effect or otherwise tied off meaning there is something between the user and the destination to be severed and therefore stopped.

    One big thing i think people are missing that the site nailed is that kylar isnt just a killer he is a wetboy, he plans how people die for a living and not just which way to kill them but how long it should take where it should happen if it should be traceable or thought an accident. the majority of his work is finding the balance between life and death and exploiting it. He is essentially a physical manifestation of the grim reaper. and to quote a great movie “and that is one mac daddy you do not want to fuck with”

  • Archon

    @ David

    The defensive stuff does sound completely impressive… But Rake has godlike speed and strength, He has defeated gods (and goddesses) who’s best attributes were speed, quickness, and agility… Kylar is certainly not to fast or strong for him… As for detection, If you are a LIVING BEING anywhere in the same city as Rake, he knows you’re there… He’s so Powerful with his magic, that he singlehandedly went toe-to-toe magically with the half-dozen NEXT powerful Mages (simultaneously) in an over-powered world and fended them all off using only magical powers… And as far as Kylar being trained from birth to hit people with weapons and avoid being hit, so was Rake, and Rake is 300,000 years old… BIT of an advantage… again, Kylar is a cool character… he’s just not on Rake’s level.

  • Chris


    Rake would win a fight against Kylar. For while Kylar is impressive, the very way to destroy the Ka’kari is exactly what Rake’s sword does, it utterly seals a person away inside a separate world for the rest of time, with no (accessible) way out.

    Rakes fighting ability is… unmatchable. Simply put, he fought the best swordsman in the world, who was using a weapon that makes it wielder unbeatable (If they possess a singular will, which that character very much does), and only lost because it was exactly according to plan (which, specifically, meant getting killed by his own sword). Another character, who is a great swordsman, but considered inferior to Rake, was able to hold off a characters who fury leveled a continent, for an entire night, and in the end likely only lost because he never attacked (not because he couldn’t, but rather because his order were to delay and he did not wish to harm the attacker).

    I highly doubt Kylar is any better at scheming than Rake, but only because in his 300,000 years Rake has been dealing with a world filled with scheme upon scheme upon scheme, and was at the heart of the war between the Tiste, itself a massive scheme, and had about a dozen schemes of his own going on under the surface. (It isn’t so strange in context, the entire series is a twisting, seething mass of plotting tangled together so that Mortals and Gods are constantly fighting for power, and Rake has stood it for 300,000 years.

  • Chris (And not the same as the one above me)

    Kylar’s got a real chance to go far in this cage match, but he cannot get past Rake. Rake and Sparhawk both should not have been in the draw, they are OP enough to be Gods. Sparhawk’s gone now, which means Rake should clear this out, save for popularity power.
    A note about Kylar’s ka’kari, I think it noms just about anything, not just magic. This means he’s even more deadly against magic users than some might think, since lightning and fireballs will be absorbed as well as ‘pure magic’ like balefire. It also means Kelsier’s metal projecticles will be rendered useless, though I might be missing something cause I haven’t read the series.
    Revan is probably Kylar’s biggest threat in this half, and it will come down to how their advantages match up. I’d be inclined to think of the force as magic, simply because it behaves like magic does and usually treated as such. How a lightsaber and Retribution will match up will be a topic of debate.

  • Tim

    (most recent) Chris: That is correct, the ka’kari can (and frequently does) eat anything.

    sacredhonour: So basically, all these arguments people are putting forward are completely irrelevant, because the Black ka’kari can eat all the things they’re using magic to attack him with?

    Archon: How does that detecting any LIVING BEING work though? There are a lot of ways which could be used that Kylar could probably hide, which is why I’m wondering.
    Also, what’s he like with detecting illusions?

  • Damon

    ** minor SPOILERS for the Night Angel books **
    You’re making a couple of huge assumptions by saying that Kylar could also turn into a dragon. First off, I had forgotten that Durzo did that (it’s been a couple years since I read the books), but just because Durzo can do it, that doesn’t mean Kylar can.

    Assumption 1: Kylar has more raw power than Durzo. This may be true, but I don’t think we really have enough to justify saying either one has more raw power.

    Assumption 2: Kylar has the same control of his Talent and other abilities as Durzo. This is just plain falacy. Kylar has a huge amount of Talent, but he has almost no idea how to use it or what it can do. Durzo outright said he never had time to train Kylar in the use of his Talent, so how is Kylar supposed to know that changing into a dragon is even possible, let alone know how to do it?

    Kylar is certainly powerful enough and probably creative enough to learn how to turn himself into a dragon, but there is no way he knows how to do it by the end of the trillogy. As for the, “by now, cz… he has nothing else better to do than train…” this means almost nothing. The cage match, as I understand it, uses characters as they appear in their respective books so you can’t assume a Kylar that has been doing nothing but train for years after the books end.

    One other thing people have been forgetting about the black ka’kari. It is a sentient being in itself. Why does this matter? Because it can choose to not serve the one who carries it, and it tends to do this with some frequency. Admittedly we don’t see it do this to Kylar, but Durzo frequently asks, “Will you serve me in this?” to the ka’kari before he begins his mission.

  • Archon

    @ Tim
    The Tiste Andi are a race evolved from pure darkness. Rake himself is the LITERAL Son of Darkness, his mother being the Godess-Entity Darkness (I think of Rick James in the David Chapalle skit calling to Charlie Murphy as I type this… DARKNESS! GET OVER HERE DARKNESS!) As a being of complete and total darkness, Rake senses the presence of life as if he were looking at it… Quick Ben, who you may recall won this tourney last year, wasn’t even CLOSE to powerful enough to hide his presence and position from Rake when Rake was coming for him.

  • Joseph

    Ok, well I’m an avid fan of Mr. Weeks having read all of his books, as well as the NAT numerous times. Let me clarify some things because it seems as if people are making a lot of assumptions that are just not quite correct. First off, that bit about Durzo turning into a dragon, that didn’t happen. What it was, was Durzo using advanced body magic to change his skeletal structure. Basically, he studied dragons and made his bones lighter, enhanced his vision so he could see when he was flying, made changes to his heart and lungs so that they would function at high altitudes and when he was diving, and he pretty much grew wings out of his back. I can see why people would think he transformed into a dragon since he had wings, but it was pretty much just a human body that had wings attached to it, almost like an angel I guess you could say.

    Secondly, yes the Ka’kari can absorb just about anything. It’s name is the Devourer and it can absorb pretty much any physical attack thrown at him, hypothetically at least. The Ka’kari has been seen to absorb magic attacks, such as fireballs, it absorbed a knife that was thrown at him by Durzo, and it also absorbed magic that was in the air when the meisters were creating the ferali. The thing is, even if the Ka’kari can do all of this, it all depends upon Kylar’s own will. He has to will the Ka’kari to do those things, much like how the Ka’kari was trying to tell him how to combat Khali’s compulsion at the end of the 3rd book. It made a comment that in order for the Ka’kari to combat it, Kylar had to will it to, which he was unable to since Khali stole his very will with her compulsion.

    I may be a bit biased since I absolutely love the NAT books and haven’t read about Rake or Moraine or played the Star Wars games to get a glimpse of Revan..Buttt I think Kylar could take Moraine. Revan might be a bit harder seeing as he was a Jedi or I guess he’s a Sith lord right? Anyways, he could use the force to sense where Kylar is, it depends on how their strengths stack up against each other. Rake just seems way too overpowered to be in this cage match and I don’t know much about him so I don’t really have an opinion there. Hope this helped clarify some things.

  • Chris

    What about the time Kylar’s clothes were being dissolved due to the kaka’ri’s effects? I doubt he willed that.

  • Cwhite

    Not sure if anyone addressed it, but when it comes to that sword that “just has to scratch Kylar to kill him”, Kylar does his research and can literally just cover his body with the black. So hitting him with that sword will just cause the sword to be devoured by the Black. The only way Kylar loses in a write up is if the writer WANTS him to lose, because he really is that over powered. He is so over powered in fact that Brent isn’t going to write any more books where he is the main character because there is no more room for growth (quoted in Brent’s FAQs). BUT he could lose in the vote because frankly, most of the vote comes down to fanboy syndrome.
    Chris: You have to remember that the ka’kari is a sentient thing. If I recall it devouring his clothes was sort of a “HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME” type deal. The ‘ownership’ of the Black is a partnership. And the Black can be one cheeky bugger

  • Eltar

    Having read both the Malazan series and the Night Angel Trilogy, I thought that I would try and add my two cents. The following post is an attempt to give a rational analysis of the abilities that both Kylar Stern and Anomander Rake possess. I love both characters (and the novels that their respective authors have written) immensely and would highly recommend that anyone in search of a good read go and buy them post haste.

    If you have not read one or either of the series and do not wish to be influenced by spoilers, then please stop reading now. You can safely pick up reading once you reach the conclusion of this post.

    A case by case comparison between the abilities of Kylar Stern and Anomader Rake:

    *******SPOILERS for Malazan Book of the Fallen and the Night Angel Trilogy follow*******
    **********************READ AT YOUR OWN RISK************************

    1) Swordskills:
    Kylar- is tall but not incredibly so. He is skilled, talented, and is supernaturally strong and fast. He also wields a nigh unbreakable sword (Retribution/Lures) that could, potentially, make him into a far more skilled magic user than he is (although he never used this ability in the actual novels). But he is not the most skilled swordsman in the series, as evidenced when he lost a swordfight against the Ceuran leader.
    Anomander Rake-is over seven feet tall. He is faster than even other master swordsman from his universe can follow and incredibly strong strong. He is arguably the most skilled swordsman in his entire universe and has had age upon age to hone his knowledge of combat. His sword, Dragnipur, holds the literal Gate of Darkness and sucks those it has slain into its realm and forces them to pull a wagon for eternity or else be devoured by Chaos. I believe that this ability is activated only upon Rake striking a killing blow with the sword, not giving the other guy a \scratch.\

    Edge: Anomander Rake by a foot. Kylar could hold his own and make it an epic sword fight, but Rake would win out in the end. Speed and strength are comparable. Yet Rake’s greater experience would give him an advantage and Draginpur cancels the Ka’kari’s revive ability (more on that in a bit).

    *********************More SPOILERS********************

    2) Magical Abilities:
    Kylar Stern: The Black Ka’Kari is his foremost magical ability. It grants him near total immunity to magic. In order to get around this ability, one would need a literal mountain of magical power. And even then, unless enough magical power to raze a continent was used, Kylar could probably get back up. It also devours swords, rocks, and other potentially dangerous things, although the extent to which it can do so is unknown (it cannot, for instance, consume a dragon, as evidence when Kylar fought one). It also has the ability to revive Kylar in the event of Kylar’s death by trading Kylar’s life for one of Kylar’s loved ones. E.g., someone close to Kylar dies instead of Kylar himself. The Black Ka’Kari also has the ability to judge a person’s guilt or innocence and take the place of a cut off limb (and in doing so provide Kylar with another blade). Kylar also has the ability to cast illusions, heal major near instantaneously through a spell taught to him by his master, become invisible, break out from magical bindings with raw magical power, and do other minor magical feats (not including flying). He also wields a sword which has the potential to multiply his magical skill by a thousandfold, although he never used this ability in the novels.
    Anomander Rake: One of the premier High Mages/Archmages of his universe. His exact power is unknown but it is within the realm of possibility to say that in terms of sheer magical skill and power, he could probably level Mount Everest. He could not, however, destroy a continent, and he has been stalemated in magical battles within the Malazan series. He possesses the ability to transform into a giant winged dragon whose breath attack is literally a stream of raw magic from one of his two sources of magical power, the Elder Warren of Darkness.

    Edge: Anomander Rake, slightly. He could singe Kylar Stern with his direct attacks, or as others have pointed out, possibly use his magic to turn the environment around Kylar into a maelstrom of death and destruction. But it is unknown how broad Kylar’s immunity to magic is, as is the Ka’Kari’s ability to eat dangerous objects thrown at Kylar, so if an author were so inclined, they could probably get away with writing that all of Rake’s attacks would be ineffective (or nearly so) against Kylar. Kylar’s ability would also negate the advantage offered by Rake’s dragon form. Rake’s breath attack would be useless since it is magical in origin, and Rake’s increased size in that form would offer less of an advantage than his humanoid form. But Kylar’s magical skills would be nearly useless against a mage of Rake’s caliber and Kylar’s revive ability is canceled out by Rake’s sword. Rake’s sword would also most likely be immune to the Ka’kari’s devouring ability, since the one time that Kylar faced an opponent wielding a powerful magical blade the Ka’Kari was nearly destroyed (the blade in question was created in part to counter the Black Ka’Kari and parallels can easily be drawn between it and the sword that Rake uses).

    Also, if someone were so inclined, the fight could end in a draw. Kylar has no means to fight a flying creature, so Anomander Rake could sit up in the sky all day long. Or just leave.

    *******************Final Batch of SPOILERS*******************

    3) Intangibles:
    Kylar Stern – is a skilled wetboy (a magical assassin) and an experienced fighter. He can create poisons, prefers to strike from ambushes, and is good at employing the environment to his advantage. He can set traps, outwit most of his opponents, and use the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents against them.
    Anomander Rake – a skilled leader and veteran of hundreds, possibly thousands, of wars. He is the one man in the Malazan universe whose attention spells the end for any scheme or plot. Last year’s tournament winner, Quick Ben, a powerful mage and one of the most intelligent and skilled schemers in the Malazan universe, turned tail and ran whenever he saw Rake coming because he did not want to draw Rake’s attention. Rake has also killed the goddess of thieves from his universe when the goddess tried to steal his sword while Rake was sleeping. The Malazan god of assassins, Cotillion, once backed down from a confrontation with Anomander Rake, even when the god had multiple skilled and/or powerful allies within arms reach and Rake stood alone.

    Edge: Rake by a mile. Kylar is talented, but he is only twenty some years old. He could ambush Rake and possibly injure him in the process (and if he managed to poison Rake while doing so then things could get interesting) but Rake is just too skilled and experienced a fighter. Kylar could turn himself invisible and ambush Rake after luring him into a trap filled environment. But Rake has experience in fighting invisible opponents and, as previously mentioned, killed a goddess of thieves – and it’s hard to imagine Kylar being more stealthy an opponent than that. The traps could slow Rake down but he could just use his aforementioned magic to destroy them.


    Kylar could – and should if a write up were to occur – give Rake an incredibly difficult fight. And in order for justice to be done to both characters, no matter who wins, the other should not walk away unharmed – no matter the outcome. But with that being said, Kylar just isn’t in Rake’s weight class. It’s like sending a champion college football team against the reigning Superbowl champions or the lightweight champion boxer against the heavyweight champion boxer. Kylar is spectacularly talented and powerful, so much that he easily outclasses most of his opponents in this tournament, but Rake is that and more.

  • Archon

    ^ This x 1000

  • see

    This Kylar stern has got me curious so i downloaded the audio book and will start listening to it this morning. Now I wonder has anyone here read both the Erevis Cale trilogy and the night angel triology. how do you think the fight would go since Erevis Cale is chosen of his god and basically a demi-god especially after killing kelson rel.?

  • see

    better yet don’t actually I think thats the next match and i’m listening to the book right now no spoilers.

  • Damon


    That is by far the most complete and most accurate summation of those two characters that I’ve seen. I might argue a few minor details, but it would be very nit-picky so I won’t bother. I will say thanks for the great summation, and hopefully this will settle some arguments and get people interested in some great novels!

    Side note, I totally agree with everyone who’s been saying Rake is too OP to be in this contest… I really just isn’t fair to anyone.

  • Eltar

    @ Damon

    Thank you for the compliments. I can completely see where you, or anyone else, could nit pick what I wrote- and I’d actually probably agree with you on many of the details 😉 But like I said, I just wanted to give people who are not fans of either series a source to settle debates calmly and rationally while potentially getting others interested in reading either series.


    Enjoy the tapes! It’s an awesome series, and it only gets better when Vin is introduced.

  • David

    I think allot of people are forgetting that lures/retriution can become any sword the owner wants it to be just like curoch so he could litterally make a copy of anyones weapon or make it into the perfect counter weapon to theres simply by need alone.
    now @ Eltar
    Kylar did not lose any sword fight in the books yes he came across someone who was THE best physical fighter in his world and managed to make it into a draw based on impressing Lando with his skill but he did not lose.
    now the revive ability isnt even in play and neither is Rakes sword as niether one would be applicable to the fight, if Kylar dies he has lost the fight even if he is reborn by the rules of a cage match once a character has died they lose because he comes back to life doesnt mean he gets a round 2. If rake manages to hit kylar with the sword the Ka’kari would shield him before any damage so the trapping his soul is out of the question + the logistics of trapping a soul that is magically attached to an artifact is kind of wonky to begin with.
    now again your limiting the powers of the kakari greatly by assuming indirect magic attacks will have any effect on him which from the series own lore will not as he was able to devour objects non magical at the same rate as magic. As for just leveling the whole continent it still wouldnt do anything to kylar himself as every bit of magic that came near him would just instantly dissapear, with the heat electricity or any other biproduct from the attacks. as for not being able to fight against flying foes i dont get how are weapons not effective in the sky for some reason im unaware of? do bow and arrows not work? does a poisoned dagger lose its ability to be thrown at somoene when they fly????? your reasoning there mkaes no sense.

    Kylar has taken down a God and a Titan so killing a god is nothing impressive to him, as for the magical assassin bit you are obviously not a true fan or you would not insult him by saying the words assassin. Kylar is a Wetboy not an assassin to clarify the difference i will quote from the book “an assassin has a target, because assassins sometimes miss,” also “assassins have targets, wetboys have deaders. Because once a wetboy accepts a contract, that person’s days are numbered.” “Wetboys are to assassins like a tiger is to a kitten.” just to clarify the difference a little more for ya =).

    Now i see rake as a formidable foe and against kylar and most people wouldn’t win 1 out of a 1000 matches with perfect luck when kylar fights in a fair fight But rake would probably win 80% of the time or more if Kylar fought him fairly. BUT and this is a big but kylar would never fight an opponet like rake in a fair fight, he would literally just use the kakari to devour him whole and be done with it.

  • HoosierDaddy

    Kylar would fail for several reasons, but the most important reason:

    If Kylar needs more than one go, he’s fucked. Rake spent 100 years just hanging out as a regular human for fun. Have fun fooling him.

    If he needs more than one go, which is extremely probable (which would me he isn’t chained in Dragnipur, but somebody else is): How many souls would he allow to be chained for eternity to keep coming back to fight Rake til he wins?


    Might come down to dueling compassion!

  • Adam

    A good write up, I love how kylar is just smashing past the opposition still, and a poison activated by rage, does such a thing really exist? i can see how it’d work, mixing with chemicals released in the body.

  • Chris

    Slight spoilers.

    @Eltar, we know the blow does not have to be fatal, from what happened to the second hound of Shadow, but we do not know exactly how bad it has to be, as we have never actually seen Rake fail to strike a serious blow while still injuring someone.

  • Tim

    see: I’ve read both sets of books, and I have no idea how it’ll go. Been hoping for a Cale vs Stern match since I saw the lists. If I have to guess, I’m going to go with Cale by a hairsbreadth, but there are so many variables when two people with these skillsets clash. Like who’s hunting who? Because they’ll be the best prepared. If they’re hunting each other, that’ll probably come down to who finds the other first. I think Kylar would win that, as he can turn invisible, and from memory Cale just hides in impenetrable shadows. Seeing as Kylar can see through all normal shadows, he either can see through Cale’s too and see him perfectly, or he knows that Cale’s the shadow he can’t see through. I think Kylar’s probably the better fighter, and a black-coated Retribution would probably cancel out Cale’s regeneration, but might not. Weaveshear’s power is going to be next to useless, as Kylar’s doesn’t generally cast offensive spells. Honestly though, I don’t think it’s going to come down to swordplay. It’ll be more about maneuvering, as in Kylar’s fights with other wetboys in the Nightangel trilogy (would give examples, but spoilers…). And when it comes to that, it’s basically going to end up between Kylar’s illusions, Cale’s shadowstep, and the reflexes of each once they realise that the other’s in all probability standing behind them with a sword aimed at their neck/heart. And in that case, I think Cale’s shadowstep’s probably the more useful technique, but Kylar’s reflexes might be a smidge better. Of course, if Cale starts using all those clerical spells he’s been holding back from on us, it could be a whole different sort of fight.

    Archon: So he sees, what exactly? Life itself somehow? So we treat it as basically like the detect life effect from the Elder Scrolls games? In which case, I would say it would be entirely plausible that Kylar could hide his sorta life aura thingy. In which case this would probably work in Kylar’s favour, as Rake would see that there was no life there and assume that that meant there was no Kylar there. Most similar example I can think of is in Robin Hobb’s books, when Fitz is so badly thrown off when he can’t detect Forged with his Wit.

  • Luke

    I can see Revan giving Kylar problems, but I think it would be a strange match up. The force isn’t magic so the ka’kari may not devour it but Kylar is still a mage so they could both hit other with those and Revan could predict SOME things like poison and kylars next move. But both Sith and Jedi are known to not for see things, there senses aren’t perfect and tend to only give them a moments notice. So I would be interested to see how that turned out, Kylar is my favorite character out of the two but I also love Star Wars so I look forward to that.