This is an illustration I've been wanting to do for quite a while. I was originally going to feature a broader image with scenery and prisoners, but after a few sketches I decided to do a simpler, more painterly piece. This is one of those cases where I believe less-is-more.
Everyone, including me, has a tendency to include graphic (violent) content when illustrating science fiction or fantasy. Fighting is a key element of fantasy, whether it be swords or magic. In this case, I had originally designed a composition that included a background and an after-battle euthanizing of enemy soldiers. I believe the simplicity of the soldier in this piece is as effective as a more graphic illustration.
On a side note, as with many illustrations, I used some photo reference for the pose. I cannot find the original photographer (and believe me I've tried). If I end up finding out I'll let you know who it was and supply a link if available.