My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This one is still on the fence for me. I think the next volume will decide if I go on or not. It's not that it's bad but it is a bit slow. Also it's too much like the news right now. The whole action of this is a religious war and by the end of this volume (which by the way is gory if you're the squeamish type) a good chunk of Pars has been tortured and murdered, including babies which one soldiers delightfully regales his fellows because they're of the wrong religion. Sorry, but I'm seeing far too much of this in the real world. I watched too much going on in Syria then sat down to this volume. So that threw a real pall over my enjoyment of this storyline.
It opens with Daryun and Arslan meeting up with former general, Narsus and his freed slave, Elam (Yes, Pars does use slaves which will be a key point in Pars's falling). Narsus wants nothing to do with the fighting, preferring to be a painter (given the reactions a bad one) but Daryun did something manipulative and crappy to force his hand. Arslan, on the other hand, finds the perfect way to gain Narsus's help, showing character growth. He seems to be doing well with Elam too.
That's the first third of the book. The rest is set in Pars and the titular character fades into the background. We are not spared seeing Pars fall. There is religious zealotry in full force (and like I said seeing too much of that lately in many countries including my own). But into this comes a few other focal characters, Gieve, the traveling bard who is excellent with both bow and sword, and to me the most interesting character so far, an unnamed man in the silver mask who seems to be using the Lusitanian zealots to his own ends and might be the mastermind of it all and at the very end, the queen of Pars who seems to have death following her, the fat dandy of a king of Lusitiana and his brother who makes a brief appearance but you can see his scheming will become more important as we go.
Arakawa's art is very good as always, though Arslan still looks like a breast-less Winry Rockbell to me (or maybe Ed and Winry's son). Tanaka's storyline could be a bit more compelling. I think it's trying to do too much but at the same time somehow moving too slowly. It dwells on its violence and not enough on the characters themselves. Let's see what number three brings. It's one of those that I like but I'm not sure I want to keep buying it (and my library system doesn't have it).
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