Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 12

Spice & Wolf Volume 12 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, regardless of whether it is back to the daily grind or you are still on break.

Things are going fairly well here, especially because one of the things I was expecting arrived (not something I purchased for this place), and I can still do what I liked to do.

Earlier in the month, I had gotten five books from Amazon, and I have finally started going through each one this week to the point where only three titles remain.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 12 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

After receiving tip from an acquaintance at Brondel, Lawrence and Holo head back to Kerube to find somebody that can give them a map of the northern region, and an agreement is struck between Lawrence's party and the individual.

However, this deal may get the party of three entangled in yet another mess, as an investigation into legends and rumors turns into a situation in which Lawrence must do something to prevent the destruction of the area under investigation to get his map.

While the last book in the main storyline was a travesty to the Spice & Wolf series, it does not mean that this series has gone downhill just like one of my favorite series has.

And after reading this, I can say that things are looking bright.

Just like many of the earlier volumes in the series, I did not want to put this book down for any reason the moment that I opened it, though I do need to satisfy the same needs that every other human has.

Back when I first started reading this series in late February, I liked how Isuna could wrap me up in his world so well, in spite of the fact that it was mostly the same as the anime, that I decided to try to read all the way to the end because Isuna seemed to be fairly talented.

However, when the tenth volume rolled around, much of the charm that the series had was gone, as nothing seemed to happen in a series already known for its slow pacing, and made it end up appearing to be worse than the sixth book, which was the only volume before then that really disappointed.

Fortunately, it seems like Isuna Hasekura really has gotten his groove back, and he was able to deliver almost everything that changed the impression I got of him from World End Economica.

If he had utterly failed to accomplish this, especially after how well he was able to write each of the three stories in the previous volume, this would have the first of two or three chances I have decided to give him, seeing as this story officially ends at volume 16 and the books after that are either more side stories or something to send it off on one last hurrah, at least from what I can dig up, and the next book is more side stories, according to the summary on the product page on Amazon.

But because Isuna has not failed to deliver on one of the reasons that this series so good, I actually feel like continuing on with the final four volumes of the series.

After all, readers read so that they can temporarily escape reality, just like movie fanatics, and if they cannot be drawn into the book, they will only be dissatisfied and probably stop reading anything else from that writer.

I also liked how I was able to get a few chuckles out of this volume.

While the fact that Isuna seeming to have lost his touch in writing a story that pulls me in very quickly did ruin my enjoyment of the tenth book, the other thing that really hurt it was how there were not any moments present that were actually funny, which made it appear that he had really lost his way.

Here, however, that humor was back, and it really livened things up enough to further remind me of why this series was so good, in spite of the fact that it was more of the same things normally found in the series.

This was the one place where the books in this series surpasses what Imagin delivered in the anime adaptations, and Isuna finally remembered that fact by executing the comedic moments in an almost masterful fashion.

The writing itself may have improved, but if Isuna failed to deliver in the humor, I would have still been greatly disappointed in this book, since comedic moments make slow paced stories feel less dull than they would have normally been, but because he kept up the same level of comedy that I saw in the previous volume, I actually feel like giving him a major round of applause.

Hopefully, this stays intact as I get closer to the end, because I do not really want to see anything as bad as, if not worse than, volume 10, but I have to keep reminding myself that Isuna is only human.

Another thing that I really liked was how Col, the person who joined Holo and Lawrence back in the sixth book, started to become his own man.

Now, Col is not necessarily an adult at this point in the series, so I do not expect him to be doing the things Lawrence does, but he just seemed to go along with whatever Lawrence and Holo are doing at the moment, or collect information.

Here, however, when Lawrence and Holo initially give up on protecting the land that housed the legend they chased, Col got mad and went off on his own, which made the duo and I both relatively happy.

Col is supposed to be getting his own series soon, costarring with somebody related to the main duo, so he eventually needed to become his own person, to ensure that he is not some knockoff of Lawrence, and Isuna finally allows him to grow a bit.

If he had not done this, I would have been more unwillingly to even give the Wolf & Parchment series a try than I already was, but now that he is more than just a follower or information gatherer, I might be willing to give that series a chance, even if the last four books of this series end up disappointing me, as well as much angrier with him because this is the two thirds marker for this series.

Fortunately, Isuna is still doing things right, which makes me feel like giving him even more applause.

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

While I have hardly felt like things were a chore reading the many installments in this series, unlike A Certain Magical Index, the series started to feel dull around volume 10 because that fun was no longer there, though the previous volume did fix things in this regard a bit.

Luckily, I am glad to say that this was the second book in a row for this series where I just felt like I was having fun the whole way through, because everything comes together was handled quite well, especially considering that this book is part of the main storyline, and not a collection of shorts.

This is what every avid reader wants to see and Isuna was finally able to pull this off consistently.

If I did not feel like I was having fun, I would have been severely disappointed because the previous volume excelled here well enough that it only served as a reminder that I made a good decision not to drop the series just yet.

Fortunately, Isuna did not fail, and I actually feel like giving him another good round applause.

Hopefully, this will stay consistent throughout the series, so that I can rightfully call this one of the best series I have read.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I already talked about.

Because many of the things that I liked about the series, such as having my interest held from beginning to end and enough humor to liven things up, Col finally started to grow a bit, and that I had fun reading this, this book was one of the best I have read so far.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

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

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

Considering that things have greatly improved for the better, with nothing major to complain about, 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, as it gives a better impression of the series than the last book, but I would suggest reading the earlier installments first, especially since this book marks the end of two thirds of this series.

If you liked this review, please consider supporting on Patreon or buy the reviewed title, which I highly recommend doing, as it turned out to be so good, from Amazon, so that I can finally finish the series and possibly find other 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.