Underground beneath the jail was another prison, this one with thick walls and heavy doors, and isolated from the cells on the ground floor by long flights of stairs…
Notes under the cut:
And the bombshell drops. Not that you should be surprised if you’ve been paying attention. Or if you’re familiar with the story from other mediums. (Don’t forget to check out the illustration btw.)
I just want to say though, Hirmiz’s name gave me the WORST headache ever — especially frustrating because he’s such an important character. It was subbed back in the day as Hirumes/Hirmes/probably other variations I’ve long since forgotten, and was even thought to be a misspelled Hermes by some. I always thought that was silly (the transcription for Hermes in Japanese is unmistakable), but as it turns out… apparently… that’s not entirely off the mark…
Anyway, when I first started this project I had him down tentatively as “Hirmez” (solely because I preferred this spelling over “Hirmes”) — then M.A.KH pointed out to me the Hormuz option — which is a real name relevant to the setting. I was positive this was on the right track, but was still bothered because the official Japanese transcription of “Hormuz” is ホルムズ (ho-ru-mu-zu), whereas the transcription Tanaka uses is ヒルメス (hi-ru-me-su, hence the original subs). I briefly considered the alternative “Hurmuz” spelling, but found that spelling really ugly, so decided to stick with Hormuz until I figured out anything better.
Well… during my research on Gnosticism… I finally hit on Hirmiz. Which is apparently the Mandaean variation of Hormuz. And which was, according to the same source* (full txt link) linked above, deliberately conflated with Egyptian Hermes (“Hirmis“, ).
Here’s the relevant passage (discussing what little is known about the religious beliefs of the historical Mandaeans and related sects):
The evidence of Arab authors is, for the most part, concerned with the Harranian Sabians, a people with whom primitive pagan usages seem to have lingered until late into the Moslem era. […] In the mass of hearsay which Arab authors bring forward there is, however, a good deal to indicate that the Harranians had points of common belief with the orthodox Mandaeans, and that the learned Sabians of the Caliph’s capital chose to assume Neoplatonic terms in speaking of their religion in order to lend an air of scholarship and philosophy to their tenets. Magianism was still alive and hated, and any semblance of relationship with Persian beliefs was to be avoided. The existence of the name Zahrun amongst these court philosophers may be adduced as a proof of their identity with the Mandaeans, for Zahrun is one of the Mandaean spirits of light who, together with Shamish (Shamash), ride in the sun-vessel across the sky. It was easy for them to camouflage the Mazdean name Hormuz, Hirmiz, Hirmis (Ahura-Mazda) into the name Hermes, and proclaim that the Egyptian Hermes was one of their ‘prophets’.
So yeah, Tanaka pulled some hardcore research on this one. And a very fitting name it is, too, considering the character’s background and alliances, both past and future. (Yeah, “Hirmis” probably comes closest to matching the Japanese transcription, but I didn’t want anymore Hermes confusion. D: Note also that “Hirmiz Shah”** is a very Arthurian sort of figure in Mandaean folk belief — “They say that Hirmiz Shah will return one day to rule over Iran” — and according to author’s notes, the Arthurian legend is a key influence on this series.)
* The author of this source is an interesting figure herself: Ethel Stefana Drower.
** I should note here that I’ve been nervously prefixing titles (“Shah Gotarzes” instead of “Gotarzes Shah”), although many cultures attach titles to the back of names (e.g. Andragoras-ou, Arslan-outaishi… or even pulling an example from elsewhere, “Theoden King”). Two reasons for my choice: first, Tanaka specifically places “Eran” and “Marzban” in front (“Eran Qaran”) so I figured I’d be consistent. Second, I’m not super sure how regnal numbers would be dealt with in this context. (East Asian monarchies, frex, don’t do regnal numbers, but posthumous names/era name + dynasty……. my nerd is leaking, I’ll stop.)
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ANYWAY — Whoohoo! The first volume is complete at last. Still a long way to go before I catch up to the latest volume — but maybe that’s okay, considering how much longer it’s been taking Tanaka to finish each book :P. (To be fair, I think the longest time he’s taken between volumes is 6-7 years, and only three books have taken him that long…)
Some random stats, if you’re into that sort of thing:
Time to complete: almost 3 years (orz. Not totally accurate. I started this in April 2012, but if you asked me how much time I spent actively translating, I’d say about 4-5 months on the side? It might be more interesting to clock by hours spent, but I can’t be bothered to track that precisely. [I do have a general idea how long it takes per update — I’ll talk more about this in a separate post next week.])
Final word count: ~49.3k (Not counting the afterword/supplementary materials/notes. Probably about 150-200 pages in print. [Original Japanese edition was 250 pages.] A short novel by modern US fantasy standards. All the volumes are roughly the same length, in case you’re wondering, meaning the entire series is currently at about 700k translated words. I wonder if we’ll hit 1 million by the end?)
Total installments: 29 (This book had pretty evenly spaced chapters/scenes. The next volume is less even.)
Cast size: 37 named characters (Cheating a little. This includes both “Silver Mask” and the elder, plus backstory figures/off-screen deaths/glossed-over references. Named characters with speaking roles probably number much fewer.)
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By the way, unlike other light novel fan translators, I have no intention of offering a compiled pdf or epub of the book — perhaps I’m paranoid, but imo it opens up far too much potential for abuse in this day and age. Of course, I don’t care what you do for personal use, but please don’t share the results publicly. Thanks for understanding!