This volume kicks off with Gadhevi having his last supper with Rajendra, putting an end to the civil war in Sindhura. As well as an end to the filler arc nature of this storyline too, right? Not quite. As Arslan and company prepare to head back to Pars, Rajendra still has a trick or two up his sleeve to show that he was the superior partner in their relationship all this time. It goes about as well as you’d expect, though there’s more drama to be had once everyone gets back to Kishward fortress. It turns out that there’s some kind of supernatural presence plaguing the fortress and it’s going to take someone as clever as Narsus to flush it out. “Arslan” hasn’t shown any ambition of being a “swords and sorcery” series, and the level of fantasy on display here is basically as much as this series can have without breaking suspension of disbelief. Though it was nice to see the heroes on top of the garden variety threats they face here, it and everything up to this point in the volume does have me wanting to see them take on a threat that actually poses a challenge to their considerable skills.
Like a new offensive from Silver Mask and his Lusitanian backers. That’s not what we get here, though I’m inclined to give his story the benefit of the doubt in terms of laying the groundwork to that end. It entails the fanatical Bodin and his followers making a nuisance of themselves by holing up in a fortress and threatening to disrupt the lines of supply and communication between the Lusitanian Emperor currently in Ecbatana and his homeland. It falls to Guiscard, the emperor’s brother, to deal with this and he delegates it to Silver Mask and Parsian military loyalists backing him. There’s some interesting military and political scheming to be had here, especially once Andragoras gets a chance to fill in some backstory (Or does he?), but all that goes away once the fighting actually starts. Only the presence of the willfully, almost joyously insolent Kubard enlivens these scenes and he sees himself out before the end of the volume. It’s a disappointing note to end on, especially as this volume shows the series trying to find its focus again.