Kouen is a scholar, a general, a noble prince, and a King Candidate. A rather impressive one, to most eyes, with three Djinn and an army of over 100,000 behind him.
(Let me pause here and argh. Because numbers. No country in the world has been able to keep more than 10% of their population in a standing army, max. In medieval-level agricultural cultures as seen in Magi, you’re talking more in the 3-5% range, and that’s it. So we’re supposed to believe the Kou Empire has over 2 million people in it and committed all of that army to attack Magnostadt? Or that they’re big enough that’s only a piece of their army? Not to mention the logistics of feeding an army that size….)
Ahem. Back on point. Kouen is, on the surface, an impressive king, determined to aggressively protect his people.
He’s also a guy who would fail the starfish test.
Short recap for anyone who hasn’t heard it: Man walks down to the seashore, littered with starfish washed in by a storm. Sees one boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. Asks kid what the heck he thinks he’s doing, he can’t possibly make a difference to all this.
Kid picks up another starfish. Throws. “I sure made a difference to that one!”
That, IMHO, is Kouen’s problem. He thinks in absolutes. He found evidence that Alma Torran had separate languages and cultures, decided that’s why the old world died, and determined that he would save the world from itself by making one Empire, one culture, over the entire planet.
By, of course, wiping out every culture and person who resists.
I’ll try not to sputter too much about the utter logic fail and ignorance of basic human nature this shows. Much less the horrible ignorance of agriculture: if you insist everyone grow rice, for example, anyone north of a certain area is going to starve. We know Arba and Al-Thamen were all over that family like ants on a picnic. Plenty of time to warp worldviews.
But Kouen’s biggest, most crippling problem is that he thinks in absolutes, and he thinks power is an absolute. No one has the power to successfully stand against the Kou Empire, so of course no one should try.
Kouen the scholar-general, in short, is most likely to die stabbed in the heart by a desperate librarian who’s seen the Empire steal or destroy the books just down the road – and knows they’re coming for hers next.
And he would never see it coming.