I Hear You Knocking

Hiromu Arakawa & Yoshiki Tanaka
The Heroic Legend of Arslan, book 2

Arslan V2

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 2 is the second collection of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka’s light novel series.

In volume one, overconfidence and arrogance led King Andragoras and his vast Parsian army into ambush and defeat at the hands of the Lusitanian invaders. The King’s fate is unknown. Prince Arslan escaped, but it is unclear how long he can remain free.


Arslan and his trusted companion Daryun flee into the mountains, where Daryun seeks out disgraced former advisor Narsus. Daryun worries that Narsus will not agree to help the prince, so prepares a challenge that will test his loyalty. Daryun leaves a trail that will lead Lusitanian soldiers directly to Arslan … and Narsus. The former advisor must help out his prince. He can also demonstrate his cunning by foiling the hapless soldiers.

The next item on the Lusitanian to-do list is capturing Pars’ capital city, Ecbatana. The walls of the city are high and well-defended. The Lusitanians bring several assets to bear: their own, vast army and a well-informed traitor in a mask, a man whose identity is a mystery but whose knowledge of Pars is without equal. They can also count Ecbatana’s legions of slaves as potential allies; the Lusitanians are happy to offer the slaves their freedom if only they will open Ecbatana’s gates.

As it becomes clear that the city will fall, Queen Tahamine is forced to turn to an unlikely ally. Wandering minstrel Gieve is a self-centered rogue. He is also trapped inside Ecbatana. He will suffer the same dismal fate as the rest of the city’s inhabitants if he does not find some way out. The Queen can give him the information he needs to escape, provided that he escorts her out of the city.

Unfortunately, what is for Gieve and his companion a way out of the city is for the masked man and his companions a way into the city. One crack in the defences is all the enemy needs. A once-great city is occupied. The slaughter begins.

 ~oOo~

The manga may need a brutal violence warning, particularly when Lusitania’s demented Grand Inquisitor is on stage. He’s not keen on pagans and heretics, but he is quite keen on beating people so viciously that their teeth fly out. He is also bullish on putting unbelievers in pits and burning them alive. Infants included.

The manga makes it clear: Lusitanians not nice. Bad behaviour, ugly appearance. If introduction to the demented Grand Inquisitor isn’t enough to convince us of that, meeting the Lusitanian King will do it. The king is a morbidly obese fanatic who is convinced he is at the top of the heap because his god decreed it so. It follows that his god must want the king to have anything or anyone who catches his fancy. Bad news for the Queen of Pars, of whom stories are told, stories of men crazed by one sight of her peerless beauty1.

The question the surviving Parsian aristocracy might want to ask themselves is “how is it the Lusitanians, who are so clearly violently bonkers, managed to convince a significant fraction of Ecbatana’s slaves to come over to the Lusitanian side?”

This was very much an early instalment in what is clearly going to be a long-running series. Although dramatic events do transpire, this volume is more focused on sketching the characters who will populate the series: Lusitanian maniacs and the various stalwarts, advisors, and cunning rogues who will no doubt side with Arslan in future volumes.

I am not keen on the whole “ugly = evil” treatment of the king and his Grand Inquisitor, but the rest of the story is intriguing enough. I will try a few more volumes to see where Arakawa and Tanaka take this.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 2 is available here (Amazon) and here (Chapters-Indigo).

1: Pars appears to have been settled by exceptionally pretty people but the Queen manages to stand out nevertheless. Not that being a stunning beauty has done her much good. She’s a rather Tanith-Lee-esque figure, valuable but not necessarily powerful.


Comments

  • Robert Carnegie

    I suppose that people with ugly personalities may be drawn ugly, and that will include the enemy. On the other hand, in real life you can't assume that the people who look good/bad are good/bad. It may be particularly hard for some of us - not excluding myself - to see good in people who don't look like the people we grew up with. One remedy is to arrange to grow up with lots of different-looking people to average out, but that requires cooperation of different-looking people who may not see benefit for themselves in the arrangement.

    The episode perhaps is... Ver-y slightly Star Wars-y. Young hero seeks antique general, with stormtroopers close behind; royal lady rescued by a rogue as the city of Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star and the creepy mask guy... It's not exact. For instance, the evil priest hurling a kid to their death is from late in The Empire Strikes Back. Or maybe Revenge of the Prequels.

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Reviews by Date