Announcing Unbound Worlds Cage Match 2013: Meet Your Contenders


Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we’ve learned, by the dust of them all … Bartertown learned. Now, when men get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two men enter; one man leaves.” –Dr. Dealgood, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

The dying times are here: Unbound Worlds’s Cagematch. Smell the excitement … the fear … the magic … the death. We’ve all got heroes and villains. We put our faith in their strength. They represent us, their fans. But they can’t all be as strong as we think they are, and in the Unbound Worlds Cagematch they’ll do battle, one-on-one:  “Two men enter; one man leaves.” We’ll separate the strong from the weak, the wheat from chaff, and we’ll keep it up until only one survives, be it man or woman, god, beast or devil or … something else.

We’ve had our fill of today’s gods and monsters. This year we will summon the ancient and powerful to the arena. You may call them classics, but you learn to call them warriors. In the noble spirit of the ancients, we have split them into leagues based upon the classic elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water. By these they will live. By these they will die. Let the hard rain fall.

Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)
Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)
Griffin, The Invisible Man (The Invisible Man)
The Thing (Who Goes There)
The Dunwich Horror (Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror)
The Doctor (Doctor Who)
The Harpy Celaeno (The Last Unicorn)
IT (A Wrinkle in Time)

Atreyu (The Neverending Story)
Alex (A Clockwork Orange)
Tarzan (Tarzan of the Apes)
Count Dracula (Dracula)
Tripods (The War of the Worlds)
Jekyll/Hyde (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
General Woundwort (Watership Down)
The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Tock (The Phantom Tollbooth)
Grendel (Beowulf)
Merlin the Magician (Arthurian Legend)
Smaug (The Hobbit)
Medusa (Greek Mythology)
The Headless Horseman (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)
The Mechanical Hound (Fahrenheit 451)
Mombi (The Marvelous Land of Oz)

Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
Medea (Greek Mythology)
Captain Nemo (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)
Kull of Atlantis (Kull the Conqueror)
Bene Gesserit (Dune)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up)
Queequeg (Moby-Dick)
Prospero (The Tempest)

We’ll be releasing the bracket in the next few weeks, and as is Unbound Worlds custom, matches will commence in early March. Get ready.
The bracket is now revealed! See it here.

  • Gandalf versus Smaug in the final. WIth Gandalf winning.

    Rendering the story in THE HOBBIT unneeded. Ha!

  • JOE

    I AM SO EXCITED. This will be epic. Legendary. Songs will be sung of this cage match. I will probably be the one singing them just to prove myself right.

  • Chivalrous

    It’ll come down to Gandalf vs Inigo Montoya

  • David

    Ok. Celaeno is originally the harpy who curses Aeneas in book three of the Aeneid, whether she’s in “The Last Unicorn” or not.

  • CYGAN13

    I AM SO EXCITED. Been Waiting for this since the new year for this.

    David i would assume that their are differences between Celaeno from the two different books. they are merely making it clear their using the last unicorn version, not saying that Celaeno originates from the last unicorn.

  • Hugz

    Huh, Gandalf and the Doctor in the same bracket? I dunno, seems like Air is a bit top-heavy compared to say Earth or Water.

  • Jlingo


  • Abyss

    Oh, this should be fun. I picture someone assembling the list and laughing themselvces silly at a few of those names… i mean, seriously… The Headless Horseman….. hee

    The weight of the zeitgeist almost has to propel Gandalf or Dr Who to the finals, but there’s some fun potential in the match-ups getting there.

  • wcarter4

    Hmm…I think Glorfindel would have been a better choice than than having Gandalf if the matches will also include Smaug and Merlin.
    Can’t help but notice this year’s matches seem to focus on older “classic” works of SFF. Nice change of pace.

  • Alex Richardson

    Queequeg? That’s… an odd one.

  • The Doctor versus Merlin with the Time Lord for the win!

  • Thomas

    Seems like they’re intentionally going for secondary characters…Moriarty, Hook, and Merlin are all very well, but considering those stories, it does seem like Holmes, Pan, and Arthur would have been the more obvious choices…maybe it was on the basis of trying to balance out the teams, I dunno.

    Ah well. I doubt it’ll happen, but the image of Smaug fighting General Woundwort is going to keep me entertained for a while…

  • Dandelion the Story Teller

    Woundwort would totally win.

  • Jonrock411

    Hmm, this is an interesting matchup, and I see they’re having returning contestants this time (Gandalf, Moriarty, Tarzan, Dracula and Kull), and I do like they’re using more classic characters. Also that this is the first cage match where I actually know everybody, hopefully they are using the novel versions, especially in cases like Dracula and Hyde where they have severe differences between the novel and popular view of the character due to adaptations.

  • Charlemagne

    I love this competition. I think it’s cool that this year they have chosen to go with more classic characters (not even all from SFF), but at the same time I miss some characters from more recent books. My predictions are: AIR – The Doctor vs. Gandalf, The Doctor wins. EARTH – Dracula vs. The White Witch, The White Witch wins. FIRE – Merlin vs. Smaug, too close to call. WATER – Medea vs. Inigo Montoya, Medea wins.

    Does anyone else feel like the Fire and Air brackets are overpowered, especially when compared with the other two, or is it just me?

  • Thessaly

    Bene Gesserit is the name of the group, not one individual. Does that mean there will be lots of them? Just one (in or out of communication with the others)? Can Paul or Alia Atreides get in on a technicality here?

    #nitpicky #rereaddunelastweek

  • Abyss

    Interesting points… not all Bene Gesserits are created equal… and the classic Stoker Dracula isn’t necessaily the same as any number of depictions since then (or even before if you go the Vlad the Impaler route…), same goes for Medusa… ‘just’ turns people to stone, or half snake monster with penchant for arrows…

  • Gemini

    I really like the theme of classics for this year. It means that I actually know most of the competitors. 🙂

    The Doctor all the way!

  • Thomas

    I think Air and Fire are definitely powerful (anyone who has the Doctor is probably the frontrunner at this point), although I would say that with Jadis, Dracula, and the Tripods in Earth, they’re not THAT underpowered.

    Actually, the only one I think is potentially underpowered is Water, and that’s mostly on the basis of it being a little unclear. If Medea is meant as the main magician, then she’s woefully outclassed in feats by Jadis, Gandalf, and Merlin. If it’s supposed to be Prospero, things change a little, but Prospero was never really the one doing the big magic. That’s one of the unclear points: do we assume that if we have Prospero, Ariel comes as part of the package deal? Likewise, Bene Gesserit is kind of unclear…are we talking one, or the entire order? If the entire order, does that encompass Lady Jessica? Alia (unlikely, but possible at a stretch)?

  • Jonrock411

    You know, if my theory is right and each category is supposed to have characters representing that element, shouldn’t Gandalf really be in Fire?

  • Paul

    It takes time to get it right… and I do believe that this year they’ve gotten it right! Or at least very close to right… This is how the cage match should be, with obvious favorites and Cinderellas, but nobody who has no buisness in the arena with the others (either way too weak or way too powerful). Plus the horribly overloaded and biased fanbases are not represented this year (you all know of who I speak), so the fanboyism shouldn’t be nearly as bad (although I’m sure it will still exist, it just won’t be insurmountable). This should be a great year.

  • Paul

    I also like the intro… Beyond Thunderdome is an underrated classic…

    “I know you won’t break the rules… there aren’t any.”

  • Paul

    I’d like to see a write-up for Medusa against the Headless Horseman.

  • Vertigo

    Massive letdown. I love the cage match but for me so much of it’s pull comes from the dynamic mix of interesting and unknown characters from a range of stories going head-to-head with those i know and love. The cage match has led me to many of my current favourite stories and characters, and while i understand the appeal of classic match-ups it severely narrows the focus and deals only with well known characters that in most cases we have had many decades to become acquainted with, leaving almost no room for surprises. They might make for an interesting read but there’s a distinct lack of the mystery and excitement that has made the cage match such a winner for me in recent years.

  • Anaroth

    I just saw the match-ups for this years cage match and I am very disappointed. Over the last two years I have told people about this website and about the cage match because of how much I enjoyed the known, unknown, classic and modern characters. But now, I don’t think will be loggin back into this cage match until 2014 🙁

  • Ahimsa

    Hook is a good choice, sure, but they’re lucky they didn’t choose Rufio or he would have gone straight to the finals.


  • Tim

    Really a fricking Rabbit that couldn’t take out Bigwig. Last years cage match led me to pick up books that I wasn’t familiar with. This seems to be fulfilling somebody’s idea of classic characters. I read and reread many of the books represented over the last few cage matches. I haven’t reread the “Classics” all that much because frankly they aren’t as well written. With all due respect to Tolkien and other Classic authors, they laid out the genre, but they are by no means at the apex. That would be like saying that Bill Hailey and the Comets were the best Rock band because they were one of the first, that’s absurd. So much for a great vehicle to promote the growth of an exciting book genre.

  • The Person

    This is quite an interesting bracket. Air seems to have the largest concentration of power, but the rest have a few characters that may make it. I’m not sure how Merlin will do stacked up agaisnt Gandalf, if they make it to the semifinals.

    In Air, I could see either the Doctor or Gandalf. Moriarty may be able to do some, but he doesn’t have the strength or ability to get through someone who knows what they’re doing. Similarly, Griffin may be hard to take out due to invisibility, but he is just as frail as every other human. To me, IT is the real wild card here. While IT is fairly powerful, IT doesn’t seem to be able to directly effect much other than telepaths. IT is one of the few things in Air I see taking out the Doctor.

    In Earth, I see Jadis and the Tripods making it through. Jadis is a powerful witch who destroyed a world and enlsaved another, while the Tripods are made by starfish aliens, and are capable of destroying cities. Sadly, I don’t know much about Atreyu, but I’ll try to read the books before this starts. Dracula depends on which version he is. Stoker’s Dracula, though powerful, has a plethora of weaknesses holding him back, most of which are fairly common. Alex, as good a fighter as he may be, is another person held back by being human. Humans are just that squishy compared to everyone else.

    Fire is another division loaded with powerful characters. The likes of Merlin, Smaug, and the Grendel are just too much for most people. I don’t see Grendel taking this, unless Merlin takes out Smaug. With his sensitive hearing, Smaug’s roar would leave him writhing in pain. Smaug could make it through, after all, he is a dragon. Merlin is the most likely, as he is arguably the strongest character this year. Medusa is also a candidate for victory. The inability to be seen is valuable, as is turning people to stone. However, Merlin may find a way to get around it.

    Water seems to be the weakest division here. Hook, Queequeg, and Nemo are all humans, who I’ve mentioned are generally squishy. Inigo Montoya, despite what people claim, is not human, and never was. I can see Inigo, Medea, and the Bene Gesserit taking it to the semifinals. Inigo could win on ability, and also is fairly popular. Medea is a sorceress, if I remember correctly, which gives her a distinct advantage of most people. The Bene Gesserit has both ability and popularity as well. However, I don’t see this division winning.

    As for next year, despite not being a Science Fiction or Fantasy character, I would enjoy seeing Hannibal Lecter. An insane cannibalistic psychiatrist can be quite a deadly foe, and could play mind games with most people how attempt the same on him.

  • WoT4Ever

    This whole setup is clearly a cop-out. They clearly didn’t want another WoT character dominating the tournament, but they didn’t want to say that outright, and it would have been too obvious if they had only excluded WoT, so they came up with this “classics” garbage to effectively exclude WoT characters without making it look like that’s what they’re doing… LAME.

    @ the person

    What is your source for determining that Inigo is not human?

  • Paul


    Wow, aren’t we a little full of our perspective? “…they aren’t as well written”?! Did you ever study literature? There is a HUGE difference between being “well written” and being entertaining… today’s instant-gratification culture tends to view older literature as unfolding in a slow and cumbersome manner. If the pace and style of those books don’t suit you, that’s fine, but It does not mean that they are not as “well written”. That would be like somebody who doesn’t care for the Fantasy / Sci-Fi genre saying that none of the books you read are “well written” because they aren’t into those types of books.

  • Jling

    @WoT4Ever: “They clearly didn’t want another WoT character dominating the tournament”. Yeah, like the way Quick Ben cleaned Perrin’s clock. Obviously you are wrong and your whole excuse is LAME…..

  • WoT4Ever


    Yes… and Oswald shot Kennedy. If you had followed the events behind the scenes you would have seen the mitigating circumstance behind that match. First, the cheating was clearly rampant for Quick Ben, as he acquired a tremedously inconsistent vote count given the vote counts for other (far superior) characters in similar matches from MBotF. Secondly, Perrin was a “B” level character from WoT, as he did not possess the ability to use the one power, he is definitely one of the less popular main characters, and (most importantly) he cannot use balefire. Lastly, even given that Perrin was a “B” level player from WoT, he still made it to the finals and would have won if not for obvious cheating by the MBotF fans. You using that as an example of WoT not being dominant in this tournament would be like saying that the Soviet win over America in olympic basketball in 1972 shows that America was not dominant at basketball at the time.

  • Moghedien

    Maybe they did not want to see another Wot character to be in the contest, and I understand it. While I’m sad that there is no one (this is the only book used in cage matches I know, and I kind of love this book), the fact that Perrin won over Paul Atreides made me understand that the WoT fans are maybe a bit too much fanatic.
    And while I think one could have maybe find some minor character in the WoT that would not have been overpowered in this bracket, I like this as it is (first for the fact that for once we do not have god-like characters…).

    On the other hand, I think it is a bad choice to do that just after the release of aMoL. Next year would have been better, and I would have loved to see Padan Fain.
    Well, the wheel weaves as the wheel will, doesn’t it?

  • WoT4Ever


    Make no mistake, I understand why they wanted to omit a WoT character… sports history is rife with examples of rules changes that were made simply because a particular individual or team was too dominant… I just don’t like the chicken-$h1t way that they did it… If you want WoT out because they’re too dominant, then just say that and continue the tournament like always. Don’t make up some lame tournament that excludes a lot of other contestants in an effort to hide the fact that you’re targeting a specific one and you’re worried that their fanbase will be angry with you for doing so.


    What strags! Vote for ME 2013!

  • David

    Next year, they can do a tournament between WoT, MBotF, and Hitchhikers. For now, I like this group. Doctor Who fans and Middle Earth fans will probably be the wrench in this one. I happen to be both, so it doesn’t bother me. As long as Zaphod isn’t in there wreaking havoc with his improbability drive.

  • MegMcA

    I must confess myself disappointed. I had been looking to the Cage Match to introduce me to new authors and previous to now have had some success with that. Not this year I’m afraid. It’s a pity that we don’t seem to have enough strong new authors to provide us with at least a few new contenders to put up against Tyrion and Gandalf.

    Bad enough to know that Alex and IT would never be able to stand up to an onslaught from the Whovians. I’ll never understand how so many people can be gulled by such a poor plot device as time travel. There’s nothing here I haven’t already read.

  • David

    @MegMcA I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such poor experiences reading about time travel. I’ve read some stories that used it to great effect. FYI, Doctor Who is about more than just time travel. That said, I do understand your desire to find new authors. Perhaps they’ll go that direction next year.

  • The Person

    I wasn’t serious, It was a joke. Inigo Montoya is human. Why are people so literal here?

  • WoT4Ever

    @ The Person

    Np… I wasn’t trying to call you out. The way you said that was very convincing, and I actually thought that you may have read something somewhere that indicated that, and that would have been information that I would have been interested in.

  • Celtictrek

    Being an “elderly” sci-fi/horror/fantasy fan, I am really excited to see some of the classic characters being included in this one! (Therefore, IMHO, Bella can stay where she belongs: in high school!…sorry!) Always fun to watch how these evolve and especially fun to watch the comments of the oh-so-serious fans as the competition goes on!

  • Ellie

    Hmm, I was really excited about the Cage Macht, becuase I had so much fun last year. And nothing against the classics there always a good read but I kinda hope to find new cool authors like last year. So, I will be back 2014 because this matches don’t really catch my interest. I mean Gandalf is cool but I know all his adventures already, so I don’t really care if he wins or loses. Acutally I don’t care who wins the macht. I really hope that next year will be better again.

  • Grandfather

    Oh My God !!! Iñigo Montoya is going to rock this competition. Greatest swordman and most epic line ever : My name’s Iñigo Montoya. You brought me to Suvudu. Prepare to die !!

  • Metacognition

    Well, this is interesting. Where I liked the fact that last years Cage Match introduced me to a lot of new and interesting books, this should be fun as well. We’ll be able to focus on the battling instead, I guess.
    Oh, and if the Doctor makes it to the finals, it’s going to be on the power of the fan base. The dude can’t talk his way out of every fight after all.

  • That Guy

    @ZAPHOD-Hey, what’s up, ya zarkin’ frood?

    Now that I have that out of my system…..although I can clearly see that the WoT characters were receiving a large push as far as the voting went, I would have liked to see someone new (maybe, as someone else said, Padan Fain, or even Gaidal Cain?). However, I don’t really care for the inclusion of Gandalf. I can see where he would be included, as the Tolkien books are considered by some to be classics, but aren’t we opening a whole new can of worms with his inclusion, and so soon after the movies? Anyway, The Doctor and Inigo Montoya for the win, please.

  • Leaken

    At first I was disappointed to see so few new faces in the Cage Match, as I really enjoyed finding new fantasy series from last year’s one. However, now that I’ve seen what they’re doing with these classics it makes sense, and I thing I quite like it. After all, there are a good number of things here I haven’t actually read, despite being familiar.

    Aside: I notice Tarzan has made it in a second year running, despite not even being SFF?!

  • theAKpal

    So, my timing is off. Came by to see if the cage matches started only to find they’re almost over. I should’ve known they coincided with the NCAA basketball tournament. Anyways, I’m not disappointed because this bracket sucked.

    Sure, they’re classics, but that’s just it, they’re classics, meaning old as ass. I thought one of the purposes of these tournaments was to introduce readers to new or less known authors. It’s a win-win for everyone that way. The site gets traffic by drawing in loyal fans of the popular novels, while exposing them to new stuff. Help out the writers, damnit! Several of us put in extra effort last year providing support for some of our favorites (or in most cases, being rationale and not going with the most well-known and contemporarily popular) in the form of alternative battle scenarios. I’m too late this year, but even so, I wouldn’t bother. There’s nothing here for me.

    On the plus side, maybe they’ll come to their senses for next year. And, who knows, maybe I’ll see one of my characters in the list.

  • Everything is very open with a very clear explanation
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