There is a book that was written during 12th century England, called Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). The writer was supposedly a teacher from Oxford, but prior to Sir Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte d’Arthur, had already recorded the famous exploits of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
According to the former book, after King Arthur had united the entire island of Britain, he clashed against the tyrannical Roman emperor for the dominion of all Europe; several battles ensued, all of which he won, thus bringing about the fall of Rome and the emperor’s defeat, upon which he seized the throne and crowned himself emperor of Europe. However, faced with the betrayal of his illegitimate son Mordred, he returned to his native England and was stabbed in mortal combat — or so the story goes.
Of course this is not so much actual history as it is a tale of romance, but the author, a man named Monmouth, grandly professed this to be a true historical account. In creating this fictitious “history” of his, he no doubt expended a great deal of effort and toil.
I’m extremely fond of the tale written above. I love made-up stories, and I love the people who pour all their passion into creating such pointless fairy tales as well. Though not when politics gets involved and they’re fabricated just to curry favor with those in power.
Because I like made-up stories, I thought I’d like to become a writer of fiction. If even after blending together not only the Historia mentioned above, as well as The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, Nansou Satomi Hakkenden (Tale of Eight Dogs), Water Margin, and other such key ingredients, I have still been unable to concoct an interestingly flavored soup, it’s probably because I haven’t yet realized the limits of my own skill. Having already written a historical in a futuristic setting (T/N: Legend of the Galactic Heroes), this time I wanted to set a story in a parallel universe of our own planet’s past — thinking, perhaps, that this might make my life a little easier.
At any rate, though no match for the incredible passion of the great Monmouth before me, but determined to concoct a soup of my own, I set about doing my homework. Chang An in the Tang Dynasty, the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the Ilkhanate and the Byzantine Empire — I went through two or three rounds before finally settling on medieval Persia as my setting. Of course, not the actual medieval Persia, but a nation just like it in a parallel universe. “Pars” is a corrupted pronunciation of Fars, the primary lands of the medieval Persian dynasties. (T/N: Apparently the other way around actually, despite modern pronunciation. Old Persian = Parsa)
Both character names and place names were taken from the history and mythology of pre-Islamic Persia. Strictly speaking, there’s a different feel between the names of ancient Persia and the names of medieval Persia, but please go easy on me with those!
What I mean by going easy is because, as you see, I’ve peppered this book with quite a lot of Persian terms, and have furthermore used them wherever appropriate, so serious scholars of Persian history and literature may perhaps be rather annoyed. To avoid that, I set this in a parallel universe, but please keep that point in mind beforehand. After all, this is just a fabricated story, so please do go easy on me.
Meanwhile, the enemy armies that invade Pars are based on both the Crusaders as well as the Spanish conquistadors in America; though I painted them in a garishly cruel light, it is only due to the demands of the story. That said, if you’ve read books like Amin Maalouf‘s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, you will understand the extent of the atrocities the Crusaders did commit in the name of God. Richard I, “the Lionheart,” became popular in Japan through the Robin Hood legend and Ivanhoe, but when he took 2700 hostages at the city of Akka, he demanded 20,000 gold in ransom from the Arabs, and upon being refused, massacred them all. On the other hand, the Arab general Saladin, when occupying Jerusalem, allowed his captives to leave safely with all their wealth and possessions. To claim the two were equally worthy rivals is perhaps a bit insulting to Saladin.
Setting aside our own world, in the world of Pars, there of course exist countless other nations; Arslan, who in the first volume has already seen his own kingdom stolen from him, his capital occupied, and both parents captured, will no doubt be passing through quite a few of them in the future. However, before that, he who has yet to mature as either a ruler or a warrior has quite a bit of growing to do. At the very least he’ll need to learn how to command the four-and-a-half people who currently consider themselves his subordinates. Otherwise there will be no point to the title “Arslan Senki.” (T/N: literally “War Chronicles of Arslan”)
At the moment, Arslan is nothing more than a piece of luggage to his subordinates. He must grow up in a hurry, and clear all the plots set before him by his evil creator: danger, warfare, secret plots, natural disaster, death, and so on — or so I hope. And so, if my readers continue cheering on this unreliable protagonist and the various figures around him, that will be most reassuring to me, as the one cooking up this soup.