Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 11

Spice & Wolf Volume 11 cover

I hope that everyone is doing well, and that the US visitors are getting their plans ironed out.

Things are going fairly well, though my schedule did get messed up a bit, and I am glad that I can still do what I like to do.

Recently, I had gotten three books from Amazon, thanks to some credit that I recently received, and each one has been covered until only one remains.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 11 by Isuna Hasekura.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

Holo and Lawrence are still on a journey to find Yoitsu, and the two continue to enjoy themselves they at few stops.

However, the duo are not the only ones who have experienced hardships, as an acquaintance they have yet to encounter has been push to the extreme limits, and it is time to explore these times of peaceful and strife in three different stories.

While Spice & Wolf has been a fairly enjoyable throughout my time reading it, there have been times where I have been rather disappoint, and it almost made me want to give up on the series.

However, after reading this book, I can say that I kind of liked it.

From the moment that I opened up and started reading this book, I did not feel like putting it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as every other human being.

In the previous volume, which was part of the main storyline, Isuna Hasekura really let me down best the way he wrote the did not really grab my attention as quickly and held it for as long as he had done in many of the earlier installments, especially the sixth book, and it made me wonder if he had really lost his ability to pen a decent story, which in turn made me consider dropping this series.

Here, however, he was able to weave together three separate tales that had me engrossed from beginning to end, though not quite to the extent that he was able to capture my interest in the series when I decided to check it back towards the end of February, and it showed me that Isuna was really capable of creating something decent.

Spice & Wolf is pretty slow paced series, as many of its fans would acknowledge, and the key to being able to write a good, slow paced story is to make both the events important to the plot and the mundane stuff to be able to suck the reader in and keep there, and even though most, if not all, of the stories were not really important to the plot overall, Isuna Hasekura was able to make all of the mundane stuff so enjoyable to the point where I actually got to relax from my thoughts of disappointment that occurred because the last volume.

This is how side stories should be written, and it makes me glad that I did not decide to make this the book that would determine whether or not I would continue on with the series, since side stories are not really supposed to add to the plot, or even mess it up.

If Isuna can deliver this well on the future installments of this series, I have no doubt that it would deserve to be one of those series that people look back at as fondly as the days our elders remember, because it would not have truly wasted my time, even if there were a few volumes mixed in that were not so great.

Unfortunately, because we are human, it is not really possible to continue churning out gold, so I should just be glad that Isuna has not gotten to the point where even his side stories are as mediocre as the previous volume was for me.

I also liked how Eve had gotten a backstory that made me feel a bit more compassion for her.

Back when she was introduced in volume 5, I did not really like her too much because she seemed to have that swindler kind of vibe that made me wish that Holo and Lawrence would stop whatever she was scheming, and her appearances in volumes 8 and 9 did not change that much, though I did come out of it hating her a bit less.

If I had to say why, she did not come off so well, it was because she was not fleshed out well and she just came off as yet another enemy for Lawrence and Holo to defeat, with what little that was revealed about her not really impressing me.

Now, a good story does not necessarily need likable characters to be good, seeing as how Tanya Degurechaff from Saga of Tanya the Evil has not that likable, yet still helped to make things that much more enjoyable, but the characters themselves must still be more interesting than an expert schemer, and that was how Eve seemed to be in my eyes, so I was not initially too interested in seeing what her backstory was.

Here, however, Eve actually came off as a person that had her own struggles, and because Isuna showed how she went from a bit of an amateur merchant, unaware of the importance of doubting people, to the cold woman is willing to betray others made me sympathize a bit with her because everyone usually starts out as mostly good and innocent when they come into world and then eventually become the unlikable individual that they came to be.

If Isuna had not written this story, Eve would have remained as a character that I wish were just another character that only showed up for one book and disappeared, just like so many others, thus making the whole search for wolf bones being nonexistent.

But because Isuna did end up writing a story about her, I now kind of wish to see more of her, instead of a story featuring Col, which I am hoping that Isuna Hasekura does not turn into a Lawrence knockoff in the series Wolf and Parchment, which Yen Press will release in November, and I actually feel like giving him a bit of applause for making Eve a bit more likable.

Another thing that was nice about this volume was how I was able to get a laugh.

While the previous volume did disappoint me in the fact that I could not become engrossed in the story as much as I would have like, its worst problem was there was hardly anything to laugh about.

Now, some of you guys would probably say that this is normal because can the things that used to be funny can grow stale, much like how the humor in Detective Conan has become stale, but one of the charms of this series was how the comedic moments found in this series actually seemed to be funny, even though it was not exactly unique, and it helped to make the series that much more interesting when nothing was really happening.

Isuna completely forgot about the comedy aspect in the last volume, and led to me being much bored with it than I have ever been with the novels in this series.

However, in this volume, there were quite a few comedic moments that were executed so well that I actually felt like laughing, and it helped to make me forget how dull the last book in this series was, which makes me want to give Isuna a good round of applause.

This is what I wanted to see from this series, and Isuna was able finally to deliver.

If the humor stays this good, I might actually be willing to continue on with this series beyond a few more installments in the main storyline, as it would make the series worth following.

Then again, Isuna Hasekura is human, and not everything that he writes would as hilarious as he was able to write before, otherwise World End Economica would have been much more impressive than it was, so all I can do is just hope that the next few volumes can turn things around.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this book just seemed like it was a fun read.

Even though many people do reading for an income, either to do reviews or editing and proofreading, everyone wants to be able to sit down and just be able to enjoy the ride that the work is promising to take them on, and it makes the read feel less like work or a chore than many works of fiction come out today.

Here, everything comes together so well that I actually felt like I was reading the stories in this book because I wanted to see how things would play out, instead of reading just to get things over and done with, like I expected to feel from Isuna Hasekura's previous installment in the series, and it made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

After all, I doubt that anybody would want to read anything as boring as a book they were made to read back when they were in school, because it reinforces the thinking that reading a book is boring, and there are already people complaining about how the younger generations do not read enough.

If enough readers do not feel like they are having fun by reading a certain work, the fault lies more with the writer's inability to put any effort into their work or that they were not particularly enjoying their time writing the book, and it will lead them to lose readership, which is something writers and publishers do want to see happening.

However, if a reader feels like they are having fun while reading a work, they would probably be much more willing to overlook a few of the problems that may exist, and it seems like Isuna really seems to understand this.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could be talked about on its own.

Because my interest was captured and held quite well, as things felt like they were better written, I was able to feel a bit more sympathy for Eve because she seemed more like a human in the backstory that was told, and I was able to get a laugh, as well as the fact that I actually felt like I was having fun reading this, this was a fairly decent book.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like, even those this book only had side stories, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but the fact that these are side stories probably will not give a good impression of the series.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buy the reviewed title from Amazon, so that I can continue following this series a bit longer and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.