YA Fantasy Showdown

Photo courtesy Greenwillow Books


He's Eugenides
Very smart, can do far more than he ever lets on
Expert sword fighter
Has the support and communication of the gods
Doesn't reveal his secrets


Short tempered
Has only one hand
Really doesn't like killing people

Photo courtesy Marilee Heyer


First female Knight
Skilled fighter and mage
Strong desire to prove herself
Knight of the Realm and King's Champion


Unsure of herself, especially romantically
Tends to solve problems by punching things

How we think the fight might go...


Alanna swung hard. The metal rang up her arm, shaking her to the core. She spun and swung again, lower. His blade was there to meet it. When she’d first seen this new opponent, she hadn’t been impressed. A man with one hand, and clearly his dominant missing? It should have been training practice for a page.

But it was hard. He was good. More than good, he was fast. She was fast. He was faster. For every blow, he had a counter. Each move was so practiced it was ingrained. Pure muscle memory. Whoever he was, he was mere thief.

He was beating her. She knew it. So she called on her Gift as her next advantage. She said the words and directed the magic into her sword. Eugenides was knocked backwards, hitting his head most unpleasantly on the ground.

“Ow,” he said, rubbing the sore spot with his arm. His eyes glanced around and then focused back on her.

“You have very interesting eyes. Purple, right? Is that common where you come from?”

“Not as much as you’d think,” she said.

Eugenides shrugged. “Well, so long as you aren’t Mede, I don’t have a problem with you. Though…” he said, yawning, and covering it with his hooked hand.

“Though what?” Alanna said, stalling for time to regain her strength.

“Oh, nothing,” he said.

“What?” She was almost back to full strength.

“Just that it would be nice to fight a real opponent, one with proper skill, that’s all.”

Alanna’s eyes flashed. She was back. She came at him harder than ever. He still blocked her every move, but every few she uttered another strong of words, calling on her reserve of her Gift. Cuts appeared on his arms and face. It looked like some trickery was needed to beat this one.

“Don’t take offense to it,” Eugenides said, “it’s not your fault you’re a girl.”

Every emotion flared up inside her. Focus and fury melded together, channeling to the grip on her sword.

“What did you say?” she said. “Is there something wrong with being a girl?”

“No, nothing at all,” he said, raising his arms a moment. “Really.”

Alanna focused all of her Gift. She would show this boy just what she could do. She prayed to the Goddess for help and strength in this. Harnessing it and releasing it through Lightning, a shockwave blasted in every direction for fifty feet. Eugenides and she both flew backwards. He hit a tree, she fell to the ground.

Everything was still for a long time. Then a body moved. Eugenides finally rolled over, groaning He stood up, his ears and head ringing. He’d been right, but that was a brutal way for her to expend her magic, all at once. Why couldn’t she have used it up in little increments like he’d hoped? That would have spared him the bruises and cuts, and migraine that was sure to come. He could have knocked her out cleanly that way. Stubborn, feisty thing. Groggy and cursing all the way, he approached her.

She was on the ground, unconscious but not dead. A risky tactic, but he was used to that by now. And it had paid off, just as he’d thought.

He wiped the excess dirt off his sword with one sleeve.

“I’m sorry I said those things, but it looked like I was right about your temper. Don’t worry, my cousin has beaten me fifty times or more, easy. She is one of the toughest women I know and she and another mean more to me than I can say. Don't worry, there are plenty of girl fighters like you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to find a physician before I pass out,” he said, walking shakily down the hill.

Predicted winner: Eugenides

Alanna is from Tamora Pierce's The Song of the Lioness quartet and Eugenides is from Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series
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