「王都炎上～前編～」 (Ou Toenjou ~ Zenpen ~)
“The Royal Capital Burns ~Part One~”
Strategy is how the weak defeat the strong, and the invincible falls.
The Price of Victory and the Peril of Might
What I love about great fiction is how it illuminates the world around us. Everything Narsus says to Arslan is applicable on the world stage today. For instance:
“We make the enemy focus their manpower where we wish them to.”
That’s as applicable in video games as it is business, politics, and anti-insurgency warfare. Or:
“No matter how great your military prowess, the value of strategy is in securing victory before you exhaust it.”
That’s echoes much of what is written in the Art of War, which goes on to posit that if your army has to go to war, you’ve already failed. Best is the victory that is won before armies ever mobilize, or when armies don’t have to mobilize. Politics is not the realm of the weak, but of the strong—it’s how we solve problems without spending our sons and daughters on a battlefield. Or take this:
“Brave warriors such as Daryun are one in a thousand. The commander of an army must think of his weakest soldier as the standard and still emerge victorious. This holds doubly true for the monarch of a kingdom, who ought to devise his plans so that even his most incompetent commander will not be defeated.”
If you ever hear someone complaining that everyone at their company is worthless, it’s not (necessarily) their co-workers faults. Yes, there are incompetents, just as there are exemplars such as Daryun, but in all likelihood it’s the fault of the company’s strategy, or the systems it uses to accomplish its work. It’s possible to create systems to continually recruit rockstars, but if you need rockstars to keep your company (or army, or country) afloat, the problem is higher up. Or:
“When he is too sure of the strength of his men and neglects strategy, if matters should go awry at some point… I am sure Your Highness experienced the result for yourself at Atropatene. King Andragoras never knew defeat. That self-conceit gave rise to the king who was uninterested in politics. The king who tried to resolve all matters with war.”
Failure is valuable, and there’s weakness in knowing nothing but victory. As for the leader who always rushes to resolve all matters with war … well, going further might get a bit too current event-y. Whether you agree with any of these themes or not, they’re ones that are relevant today, because we’re dealing with many of the same concerns. Just on a larger, if usually less overtly bloody, scale.
The Martyr Shapur
Ahhh, psychological warfare. When they rolled the battered Shapur up to the walls, I wondered: Would this galvanize the Parsians, or break their morale? The crazy archpriest was comical in his evil—let it never be said that Arslan Senki isn’t willing to deal in tropes and stereotypes from time to time. But Shapur, ahhh… Now there’s a soldier. Rather than allow himself to be the instrument which breaks his people’s spirit, he withstands the blows and calls for an honorable death, transforming himself into a martyr instead. Though he died, at least he went with a smile.
Gieve: Jack of All Trades, Master of All
It’s hard not to like Gieve (KENN), even if he’s a bit of a duplicitous, conniving, womanizing bastard. To be good at so many things—the oud, flute, singing, poetry, dancing, the bow, spear, sword, and the way around a lady’s heart—is impressive, no doubt. It doesn’t make him a good guy, but there is a war afoot. Perhaps useful is better than morally praiseworthy, at least until they figure out how to clone Daryun. Plus, Gieve looks like a ton of fun to watch.
I’m also a little surprised that Gieve appeared so quickly. I don’t know why, but I expected a bit of an interlude before they picked up someone else. Arslan and co are going to need to hurry—once the way is clear—else he’ll burn with Ecbatana as well. Oh, who am I kidding—Gieve is too slick to die yet. Though I’m sure he’ll still die young, probably from a jilted lover.
Looking Ahead – Rise Up, Up, Up
I don’t think I need to make the case for why slavery is bad. We’re a bit past that, as a world (mostly). But here’s another example of why it’s not just evil, but stupid. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but I feel like fostering thousands of enemies within your city walls isn’t going to end well for Pars. Ask the slave owners at the time of the Haitian Rebellion, or those during the American Civil War. Oh wait, you can’t—that didn’t go well for them. (Though they’d all be dead anyway, the inexorable march of time and all that.) Once again, Lusitania is using strategy where Pars is using might. I have a feeling the results will be similar.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – #arslan 04, or: The Foolish King, the Martyr Shapur, the Master of All Trades, & the Case Against Slavery
- Early MVP for this quest: Elam’s cooking. Nothing made Arslan and the others agree quicker than the thought of losing Elam’s oishii tabemono!
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: Old to them, Stop sending me job ideas, Schrödinger’s Skill, and Pricing: Ebooks and print.
Full-length images: 15.