“Journey Horse, Sad and Solitary”
Exile doesn’t seem so bad when your friends come along.
More Than Just a Rageaholic
It turns out that Hermes is more than just the rageaholic he appears to be. He’s still mostly that, but a little delving into his past shows that his unbridled ambition isn’t out of spite alone. Mostly, but not entirely.
Enter Irina (Kayano Ai) the blind princess of Maryam. It’s clear that her introduction is meant to humanize Hermes, to show that he’s capable of love, or at least sympathy for another human being. That transparent plot purpose doesn’t entirely prevent it from working, though Arslan Senki’s often shallow approach to character development does mean we’re going to need more time with her before she’s more than just a message received. Basically, to be continued with Irina. She does humanize Hermes, but she feels too firmly ensconced within her own tropes to excite me so far, like the petty villain who immediately began groveling when the tables were turned. I look forward to seeing more of her, to see how she can add to the tale.
You Are (Not) Alone
As much as people complain about clichés, and even I pointed out some clichéd character development in the previous section (though that was an observation, not a complaint), sometimes the obvious thing is fine, because the obvious thing works so damn well. Would it have been surprising if Arslan’s cadre didn’t break out from under Andragoras’ thumb and help their young prince? Yes, but it would have sucked. That’s not what Arslan Senki is about. Not having Daryun, Narsus, Farangis, Gieve, Elamn, Alfreed, and Jaswant would have made the story suck. And Azrael! Can’t forget Arslan’s loyal mascot. I expect him to be the one to claw out Andragoras’ throat personally.
If anything impressed me, it was that they walked the fine line between having Kishward side with the king (or Pars, really—loyalty to the state, not a man) without ruining his likability. I’m not terribly surprised, once Arslan Senki establishes a character the story usually uses them well; it’s only in introducing new ones and enriching minor characters that it usually cheaps out. Nonetheless, I appreciate how Kishward maintained his loyalty to Pars, to the point of locking weapons with Daryun (I’d like to see that fight for real!), while still making it clear (to us) that he doesn’t much mind Daryun and Farangis giving him the slip. Good man.
All of this culminated in another moment that proves why Arslan deserves the loyalty he’s earned. First was when he was determined, even now, to avoid hating Andragoras—that’s moral character uncommon in modern humanity, much less people in a more barbarous time. Then, when his companions reunited with him, he refused to reprimand them. Arslan knows when to stand on ceremony, and when to ignore it to reward the loyalty and love of those around him. He’s going to make a good king, once Azrael claws his old man’s eyes out.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A blind princess adds depth to Hermes’ character, while Arslan’s cadre breaks out to help their prince #arslan s2e3
- Irina raised up on her tip-toes to kiss him, HNG~! That’s undoubtedly my favorite kissing trope, in fiction and in real life :3
- With Bodin exploiting the toppled nobles and royalty of Maryam, it feels like swallowing Pars is shaking Lusitania apart. That both makes a lot of sense, and will justify it when Arslan takes his country back.
- I appreciated the mention of Vahriz. It reminded me of how responsible that wise, wily old bastard is for enabling the events of this story. His foresight made the whole thing possible.
- Only 49,993 men to go. Nearly there already.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: I love sales jobs, Good realism is character realism, Dying idols, and Frictionless routines.