Shirin (also known as Shapur and "Guilan") is the primary protagonist of Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel. The daughter of King Saman, Shirin is a Princess of a lavish palace in the city of Marv during the 13th Century AD. After pledging loyalty to her mentor, Arsalan, she chooses to abandon her home and birthright and falls in love with the "lost Prince", Ferdos.
A Princess no more
In the comfort of her palace behind the walls, Shirin works on her dance moves with her mentor, Arsalan. Bored with her current lesson, she told Arsalan that she wanted to practice the “other dance”. Arsalan hesitates, reminding her that her father, King Saman, paid him to teach her, but she persisted. When she reminded him that she didn’t have the hips for the current dance she was learning, Shirin performs a backflip and says that she was built for more acrobatic technique. Arsalan continued to hesitate; warning her of the dangers if her father discovered that he was teaching her other than was instructed.
Shirin brushed the warning off and asked that he “whirl with her”. Arsalan finally obliged her request and the two spin until Shirin loses her balance. When they recover, Arsalan tells her that this was their last lesson together and prepares to leave. When Shirin asks why, Arsalan tells her that he was ordered to leave by her father for reasons unknown. When Shirin demanded to know what was going on, Arsalan asks whether or not she was certain. She answers in the affirmative and Arsalan shows her the tattoo on his wrist.
Escaping the Palace
The truth she learned is enough that she decides to abandon her home. She and Arsalan make plans to meet outside the city. She cuts her hair to appear more masculine. Taking only her necklace, she looks down on her occupants of her home and swears never to dance for them again. She scales the wall of her home, undetected by the guards, and traverses the city without hindrance after she is chased away from the palace by one of the guards outside the wall.
Shirin wanders through the market for a time, lost. She comes across a merchant and asks for directions to the East Gate. Mistaking her for a boy, the merchant asks who still uses the East Gate and remarks on influx of Persians traveling to China instead. Undeterred, Shirin manages to find her way to the East Gate and leaves her home behind. When she arrives at the Well, Arsalan is nowhere to be found. Before she can wonder where her mentor is, one of the men harassing a caravan of travelers for water and supplies, demand that she help out with retrieving water from the well.
She accepts the tasks without argument, however, when she struggles with pulling the bucket from the well, the men begin to tease her and call her “skinny”. Offended, she declares that her name is Shapur and continues to struggle with the bucket, unaware that it’s gotten caught on a tree root sticking out the well’s wall. A man with a whip demands that she go and retrieve the bucket herself. Afraid of being whipped, Shirin descended into the well on the rope. The men above attempt to frighten her by recounting an old legend concerning little boys who were taken by a ghost that lived in the well. She tells them she’s not afraid of ghosts. When she frees the bucket from the tree root, she glimpses the reelection of strange man, but thinks nothing of it.
The Mysterious Palace
Shirin continued to wait for Arsalan’s arrival. When night falls, she is convinced that he isn’t coming to and declared him not a “lion”, but a “dog”. Deciding not to go home, she plots to join a caravan and sell her pendant for money. However, she discovers her pendant is no longer around her neck and assumes she lost it in the well. She descends back down into the well, this time going all the way down to the bottom. She spies her own reflection, but is startled when it changes into the reflection of Guiv. Shirin loses her footing and hits her head against the wall of the well and falls into the water. Moments later, she is rescued from the water by Ferdos. Barely conscious, Shirin tells him that her head hurts and loses consciousness. Ferdos takes her into the ruins of an abandoned city.
When Shirin comes to, she finds herself in the safety of the Ferdos’ home. She wanders about for a moment before she is greeted by Ferdos who calls her “Guilan”. She tells him that her name is Shapur, and Ferdos is quick to point out that her name is a “boy’s name”. Shirin maintains the ruse that she is a boy until Ferdos makes a sly remark about her clothes when wet. Frustrated, Shirin demands to know Ferdos’ name, but he evades the question and tells her that nightfall is coming and that they should return to the palace.
Shirin is confused by what he means until she finds herself in the garden of a palace, now in ruins. Ferdos speaks to her about the trees and fruit they’d receive if the stories they told are liked. Shirin calls Ferdos “strange” and asks why he calls her “Guilan”. Ferdos evades the question and declares the Prince’s Layth’s arrival. Shirin sees no Prince; Ferdos tells her to “unlearn her eyes” and covers her eyes with leaves. She doesn’t remove them until she hears the Prince’s footsteps. When she removes leaves from her eyes, “Layth” introduces himself from his throne as “ruler of Marv, Prince of Ruins”. Ferdos tells her that her name is Princess Guilan and that her brother, Prince Guiv was heir to “their throne”. Shirin appears confused for a moment, but decides to play along and pretends she recognizes Guiv’s name.
Shirin accuses Ferdos of theft when he tells her that Guiv tried to kill him. Ferdos calmly explains that Shirin is his princess and that her name was Guilan. Ferdos shows and recounts to Shirin an illustrated history of Guilan's father's conquest and occupation of Marv and how her father took him in and raised him as one of his own children. Puzzled, Shirin asks why Guilan's father occupied the throne if the throne was rightfully Layth's. Ferdos responds that the throne belonged to whoever sat on it. Ferdos reveals that Shirin’s “brother”, Guiv, is her twin, but the two of them were the in inseparable pair.
Taken back by Ferdos’ passion, Shirin decides it is time to leave and return home. Ferdos insists that she remain with him and continues to call her Guilan. Annoyed, Shirin tells him her real name is Shirin and flees back to the room where she woke up. As she dresses, the man she knows as “Layth” suggests that she eat something before she goes. Shirin declares that the suggestion was the most sensible thing he’s said to her. As Ferdos prepares a meal, Shirin admires the amount of Khol he has at his disposal and finds her necklace lying on the shelf.
Sometime during the night Ferdos leads Shirin back into the tunnels of the well through the dark. After lifting a stone that would allow the water of the well to reach the villagers on the outskirts, Shirin pushes Ferdos into the water and tells him to catch her before she jumps down after him. The two fool around in the well before Ferdos resumes the story of Princess Guilan and Prince Layth, who take control of her father's kingdom in the wake of his passing. In that time, Shirin and Ferdos begin to grow closer together.
Inspired by his affections for her, Shirin attempts to twirl dance for Ferdos and promises to teach him how to dance; however, she interrupted by Ferdos who panics and drags her into a secluded place to hide when three wanderers arrive. They slip away and hide in his home until the wanderers disappear. Angry, Shirin demands to know why he had them hide from the beggars, but Ferdos refuses to answer her questions. They continue with the tale of a now Queen Guilan and King Layth well into the next day, Shirin continues to pester him with questions, in particular, why he chooses to remain in the ruins after she learns he’s never traveled to the city.
Evading her questions further, Ferdos decides to impress by “bringing the stars to earth” when he opens another waterway connected to the well that fills the Garden’s pools. They watch the stars as reflected in the water. Shirin kisses Ferdos and the two make love to each other in the garden under the stars.
The Lost Prince
The next day, Shirin wakes to find Ferdos missing from his bed. When she leaves his house to investigate his disappearance, she stumbles into the middle of his conversation with his guardian, Nuri. Assuming the worst, Shirin attempts to flee for her life, but Ferdos tackles her to the ground, hasty to explain himself. Ferdos introduces her to Nuri who explains that Ferdos is the only surviving child of a genocidal decree that lead to the deaths of seventy two newborn sons as the result of a prophecy that foretold the end of a ruler’s power at the hands of his subjects.
Sometime in the night Shirin experiences a vivid nightmare wherein the seventy two dead infant sons rise from the sands and attempt to take Ferdos to the grave with them. She wakes and Ferdos tries to assure her that it was all a nightmare, but Shirin is sure what she saw would come to pass. Determined, she departs from the ruined palace and returns to the city in the hopes of preventing her dream from happening. Upon entering the city, she witnesses a man losing his tongue on the orders of her father, who is attempting to weed out “traitors” like Arsalan.
Outraged, she tries to rally the crowd to fight against her father’s men. One of the guards arrest her and take her to her father. She is shocked that her father is actually behind the heinous crimes she just witnessed. King Saman calls his daughter a “disgrace to the family” and demands that she return to the palace to prepare for the committee party tomorrow.
Shirin refuses and runs away, jumping out of a window. She evades the guards long enough to run into her mentor. Arsalan leads her to a secluded place where the last of those who oppose the King now only number to eighteen. The two take a moment to catch up with each other before Shirin reveals that she has an idea to stop her father. As she and Arsalan begin planning their attack, Shirin visits Nuri’s home, unaware she’s being followed.
Nuri chastises her for exposing both herself and him to watching eyes. Almost immediately they are ambushed by her father’s soldiers. As they are carried away, Ferdos arrives and with the help Arsalan free Shirin and Nuri from capture. Ferdos’ presence aids Shirin and Arsalan’s attack and renews the hope of the people.
They storm King Saman’s palace and intend to hold Shirin’s father and his subjects for ransom when they discover the Mongols have traveled to the doorstep of Marv’s city and intend to siege the palace. Shirin and Ferdos lead what people they can back to the well and safe passage through the tunnels back to the ruined palace. Shirin and Ferdos take up the empty thrones of the ruined palace and presumably become just rulers of the Marv’s surviving populace.
- The dancer character from Arabian Nights was the inspiration for the character Shirin.