TheHeroic Legend of Arslan, book 4 isthe fourth collection of Hiromu Arakawa’s adaptation of YoshikiTanaka’s light novel series of the same name1.Itcontains issues 20 to 29.
Hundredsof thousands of Lusitanian soldiers are occupying Pars. PrinceArslan’s handful of companions will not be enough to free his landfrom foreign religious fanatics. Arslan needs an ally who commands anarmy.
Hodircommands Kashan Fortress’ troops and Hodir is eager to supportArslan. There are, however, two impediments.
Hodirwants fourteen-year-old Arslan to marry Hodir’s thirteen-year-olddaughter. Although she is not present (and is never, as far as I cantell, even named), Hodir assures Arslan that she is a beauty. WhileHodir talks about how happy the couple would be, a cynic might sayHodir’s true motivation is the power the connection to the futureShah will give him.
Moreover,Hodir doesn’t trust Arslan’s current advisors. Narsus is inparticular a dangerous radical who wants to free Pars’ slaves.Hodir has a brilliant scheme to deal with this. Arslan can simplydismiss or even better kill his superfluous retainers, allowingfaithful Hodir to take their place.
Theconversation that follows does not go entirely to Hodir’s benefit.At the end of it, the ambitious commander is sans head and has beenfreed of all political concerns. Arslan’s attempt to capitalize onHodir’s sudden exit by freeing Hodir’s slaves encounters anunexpected road-bump: for all his faults, Hodir was kind to hisslaves and they didn’t want to be freed.
Backin the capital, the alliance between Lord Silvermask (rightful kingof Pars whose father was deposed by Arslan’s father) and theLusitanians is beginning to crack. He cannot rule Pars if there areno Parsians left to rule. Although not every Lusitanian is abloodthirsty religious fanatic, enough of their commanders arefanatics to ensure brutal massacres. Worse yet, another Lusitanianarmy of crusaders fresh from a massive genocide is on its way to Parsto deal with the unbelievers.
Dependent(at least for the moment) on Lusitanian support, Silvermask may notbe able to save his people. Arslan might be the nation’s only hope.It is a shame therefore that his outreach to Hodir gained Arslan nonew troops. Rather, the Lusitanians searching for Arslan have beenjoined by a legion of Hodir’s troops, eager for revenge.
Thegood news is that not all of the Lusitanians are Always Chaotic Evil.Young Etoile (a Lusitanian whose ability to randomly encounter Arslanis only matched by their2inability to realize the young Parsian is the Prince everyone islooking for) is sincerely devout, wanting to convert unbelieversrather than kill them. King Innocentius II of Lusitania is naive andisolated; he is more focused on his infatuation with Tahamine of Parsthan on ruling his domains. Even many of the Lusitanian officers arerevolted by the violence inflicted on the Parsians.
Ofcourse, it doesn’t matter how nice any of the individualLusitanians are. The church militant is in firm control and it is runentirely by mad bastards, most of whom appear to crave power onlybecause it allows them to slaughter unbelievers. Judging from howterrified Lusitanians are of the crusaders, “insufficiently vocaldevoutness or qualms about horrific brutality” counts as being anunbeliever.
WhileTanaka is trying to go for a bit of nuance (plot-lines such as“freeing slaves is not a full solution if they’ve been denied theskills needed to prosper,” the occasional not-a-mad-bastardLusitanian, not to mention Silvermask’s legitimate claim to thethrone), on the whole the story is pretty black and white or at worseblack and light gray3.The reason I’m continuing to read this series is Arakawa’s art,which is effective at conveying the story while also being pleasanteye candy. Well, whenever what she is drawing isn’t someone’shead being bisected…
1:My review of volume 1 ishere.
Myreview of volume 2 ishere.
Myreview of volume 3 ishere.
2:I think Etoile is a girl cross-dressing as a boy so she can be a soldier.Sometimes Etoile disguises herself as a boy dressing as a girl, whenbeing a girl would be more useful. She’s not taking off the boylayer; she just adds another layer of girl on top. If someonesnatches off the top layer of disguise, they see a boy disguised at agirl, not a girl disguised as a different girl. Tricky.
3:There’s also an ongoing comic element, mostly focused aroundchronic womanizer Gieve; what turns him against the Lusitanian faithis the discovery that it demands chastity from true believers.