「厭世の軍師」 (Ensei no Gunshi)
“The World-Weary Strategist”

Narsus may know the minds of men, but it’s Arslan who knows their hearts.

Narsus’ Stratagems

A brilliant strategist character can be hard to pull off, because his or her strategies need to be legitimately brilliant, whereas the powerful fighter is easy to write. Narsus passes muster in the same way Silvermask did, by being ahead of the curve. And by the same way, I mean that Silvermask (& Kharlan) may have stolen a page from Narsus’ book. Using rumors to turn three enemy armies against each other, and create a legends of Pars’ cavalry in the process, is quite the coup. In this case, Narsus (as a character) has a leg up on modern strategic geniuses because he doesn’t have to be more clever than the most brilliant minds we (the viewers) know—he just has to be better than his contemporaries. And with men like King Andragoras III ruling the scene, that’s extremely doable.

The Character of Arslan’s Soul

Likewise, if we were told “Arslan is charismatic” without being shown why people are drawn to the young prince, it would ring hollow. That’s not the case, because Arslan Senki is continuously showing us why Arslan is different, and he gives good reason for wise men to be loyal to him. King Andragoras is both the stereotype and the reality of most ancient monarchs, but Arslan is, as Daryun said, sensitive and kind. Those are strengths, mark my words—kindness is not weakness. Him openly crying for Vahriz’s death shows the strength of vulnerability, and is moe to boot. Arslan moeeeee!

But a new side of Arslan is beginning to poke through, and it vibes off his sensitivity. While the typical monarch would have offered Narsus money or status, Arslan rightly divined what Narsus, as an individual, most valued. I thought he was going to offer to free the slaves if Narsus helped him, and I’m glad he didn’t, because that decision needs to be made on its own merits. No, Arslan is smarter than I: the court painter! Brilliant! He may create monstrosities—and the story was smart to not show us Narsus’ paintings, allowing us to imagine something far worse than they could have shown us—but I agree with what Arslan said:

“I would rather have Narsus paint a living portrait of me, than have a famed Lusitanian artist paint my death portrait.”

Damn right, kid. Narsus get-o!

Looking Ahead

Looks like we’re back to the capital city, which should prove interesting. Talk of how the king indulged the queen but both were cold to Arslan has me wondering what Queen Tahamenay is up to now that her husband is a captive (I’m assuming). Hopefully we’ll find out.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Narsus understands the minds of men enough to derail armies, but it’s Arslan that understands their hearts #arslan 04

Random thoughts:

  • The sad thing is that Kharlan may have been right about getting Andragoras off the throne being best for Pars. The king only got one of his greatest military victories by giving Narsus leave to act so he could rub his failure in his face, whereas Kharlan actually respects Narsus’ value. Andragoras was dangerous to his own country, but replacing him with Lusitanian zealots is far worse. A net loss for Pars.
  • Smug Daryun or smug Narsus: who’s your favorite? (The correct answer is Daryun, you monsters.)

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Schrödinger’s Skill, Pricing: Ebooks and print, Happiness is low overhead, and People as things.

Full-length images: 08.



End Card


    1. I considered that too, and you could be right. If anything, he probably was impressed by Narsus’ gumption. It’s how he later exiled Narsus that makes me not want to give the king the benefit of the doubt, ya know?

      1. Well, the man obviously has a very short temper. The fact that he could accuse Daryun, one of the most loyal and accomplished captains in his army, of cowardice and then demand the man never show his face to him again (which is basically banishment), just because the guy gave one word of advice, one time, can show you how mercurial his moods are.

        I could definitely see him banishing Narsus on an angry whim, especially if the guy wouldn’t shut up about abolishing slavery.

        However, despite that, I think he did have admiration for Narsus in that moment, despite what he said. The man served the military for 2 years as secretary as well, before being exiled, so the king had to have liked him for a time.

      2. Well, he got nothing to lose there. If Narsus failed he would lost little and great benefit if he succeed. Despite whatever his motivation may have been and what he would have said, I’d think that was a actually a wise moment from Andragoras there (compared to the time with Daryun). Pettier king may not even give Narsus a chance to prove his word at all.

  1. Did anyone else notice that Arslan asks Narsus to tell him his side of the story regarding his past in his father’s court, even though, just last episode, Arslan already said he KNEW about Narsus and how he used to be part of the Court before being exiled?

    I did think it was strange that Arslan, a boy who rarely leaves the palace, doesn’t know much about the regulars of his father’s court. Also, he was only about 9 when Narsus first came to court, he would have known about the war that was going on at that time against the other three countries. I’m wondering if Arslan was actually slightly studying Narsus just as much as the man was studying him?

    1. We have seen how Arslan was 2 years ago, when he was 11, and how he got brought up by neither of his parents but only by Vahriz. Before that we don’t know anything about it. And that could be one those mysteries about him.

    2. I think Arslan wanted to get the whole story from Narsus, not the “party line” he would have heard in the palace. (If he heard anything much about Narsus at all.) I don’t think Arslan is as calculating as to be “studying” or “testing” Narsus, he just wanted to hear his side. That’s the kind of guy Arslan is.

  2. I thought Arslan would offer to open a “Narsus Gallery” his very own place to display his art, didn’t even think of naming the man a court painter.
    I didn’t even remember such position exists though. On other hand, I guess Pars setting is similar to time when galleries didn’t exist so…
    Of course, once Narsus gets that position, they only need to display his paintings all over the place and the national defense is perfect =3

    Anyways, Narsus seems both cool and entertaining, looking forward to more of him.

  3. Having to choose between the lesser of 2 evils, I’d choose the Parsians. Even if you can’t stop slavery, you could still convince them to treat their slaves more humanely,and maybe influence liberal-minded ones like Narsus and Arslan.
    On the other hand, asking the Lusitanians to lighten up and tone down on religious tight-assery will result in you getting hung, drawn and quartered on the spot…

  4. The only “problem” i have with Arslan Senki is the music, because is pretty similar to the Suisei no gargatia´s (They were made by the same composer), so in my mind mechas are figthing squid-like aliens…

  5. Theory: Silvermask is the first son of the kings, but something happened and the king exiled him(maybe is not the real son?), something happened and the king forced the queen to have a new heir, so we have a cold mother/queen towards his husband and his son.

  6. I always found how King Andragoras is both cold to the Queen and his son quite fascinating. I always wondered, given how different Arslan is from his father and Andragoras’ disdain for his son, if the boy is a bastard and deep down, he suspects it and it’s why he treats them so coldly. Of course, could just be his personality though.

    1. Actually, he’s not cold to the queen, it’s she that is cold with him. You can see that he tries to please her, he comes to see her first before even taking his armor off, delivers her gifts and tries to talk to her even as she brushes him off, and it’s only after Vahriz mentions her that Andragoras finally relents to order a retreat.

      Even Daryun and Narsus talk about how the the king is cold to his son, but indulgent towards the queen. What is strange is that both monarchs are pretty cold to their son. It’s an interesting situation.

      1. Perhaps something alike Arthur the Excalibur wielder?

        Arthur was a bastard Child. One night standing of the ex-King with a Woman. Well, i bet you all know the History of King Arthur and Excalibur

        Both parents where cold to Arthur..

  7. The signs are there – Arslan is very much ruler material. He just needs a little polishing and some worldly experience. (The preview’s ending statement helps with regards to his eligibility, of course :p)

    The offer Arslan made to Narsus was bloody brilliant, yet it spoke a great deal about how wise a decision that was despite his age, which was summed up pretty well in his declaration regarding his portrait. Where Andragoras sees valor, Arslan sees value in the people he meet. But Narsus and painting? Arslan saw one of those, so that also says he has a LOT of guts to make him that offer. :p

    Narsus seems more Han Xin than Zhuge Liang to me, considering how Kharlan values both his brains and brawn (it’s somewhat justified too in that little flashback segment). Spreading rumors isn’t exactly genius, but it’s pretty damn unexpected and the way he went about it was intelligent. I’m glad, of course, that the rumors about him defeating the army without using a single soldier were exaggerated. It’s a nice comparison between hearing about a feat and listening to the person responsible for it talk about it.

    For all the fun and laughter, there’s a eerie foreboding with the appearance of Kharlan’s men and the preview that it’s not all as much fun and games as it was with Akatsuki no Yona, as the mood probably shifts back to grim when the focus returns to the Royal capital. I’m putting my cards on Andragoras being humiliated publicly so as to break the spirit of Pars’ people (that is if they took control of the capital) or simply to break his pride.

  8. Btw, this Rumors Tactic, was used earlier in another Anime. So this tactic works wonders in fresh Allies, that was Enemys in their past or not Trustful.

    the Anime i am talking about is: Last Exile -Ginyoku no Fam- Episode 17. You see the same Gist here, there the old Geezer used this Trick..

  9. Good job by the writer to show (and not tell) and nice for you Stilts to point that out. I’m really enjoying this anime the way it is written (even over *gulp* UBW).

    I’m splitting hairs here but, it would be perfect if the story showed how valuable is the 10,000 gold to show how King Andragoras really valued Daryun’s achievements.

    2nd point: I want to hear your thoughts on how cold Elam‘s treatment towards Arslan is. I hope the story doesn’t juxtapose them as the typical slave vs. royalty treatment.

  10. “I would rather have Narsus paint a living portrait of me, than have a famed Lusitanian artist paint my death portrait.”
    Arslan, you magnificent bastard!

  11. Ep 05:

    Show Spoiler ▼


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