The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a story chronicle, first published in 1986 as a series of fantasy novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka. The latest serialization is actually the second time it has been adapted into a manga, this time in the hands of the legendary Hiromu Arakawa of Full Metal Alchemist fame. Historically based on the Persian epic of Amir Arslan, the story is also heavily inspired by the life of Cyrus the Great and other events in 6th century BCE Persia, as well as the Byzantine – Persian Wars of the 6th century CE.
The story is centered around the land of Paras, a wealthy kingdom that profits as a crossroads between its neighbours, and engages in institutional slavery. Paras’ leader, King Andragoras, has a well-known reputation of being undefeated in battle and hopes to harden his soft-hearted son, Arslan, through rigorous military training. In a war with the neighboring kingdom of Lusitania, Andragoras is betrayed by one of his most trusted advisors, and Arslan is forced to flee for his life. With the help of his trusted acolyte, Darun, and a mismatched band of misfits, Arslan seeks to reclaim his place as the crown prince, and take his country back.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a rich story based on a fairly obscure but essential piece of history. It is brought to life by its expert illustrations, and the story’s early stages explore complex themes of morality. The battle scenes are white-knuckle, and as the series continues, fictional elements are added, making an already intriguing story even more interesting. If readers have somehow missed this gem, now is the perfect time to grab it.