I hope that everyone is doing well, and having a good weekend.
Things are still going pretty well, even though I am bit behind on thing, due to people not realizing how busy I am, and I am still glad that I can do something that I can enjoy.
This week, I was able to finally get started on the last few books from my recent Amazon purchase, and I now have only two of the five books left.
Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 13 by Isuna Hasekura.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
The adventures of Holo and Lawrence continue on, as they make a few more stops on their journey.
However, while the duo tend to experience some moments of peace, an old acquaintance who had quit being a shepherd and is determined to pursue her dreams, but when she arrives in a town where she can get her start, she must make a decision that may impact her ability to see it through. Explore these events in four stories in only a single book.
I must say, I kind of liked this book.
Like many of the other books in the series, I did not want to stop reading this book the moment that I started.
Over the course of the Spice & Wolf series, Isuna Hasekura has been fairly good at grabbing my attention, regardless of whether the installment was part of the main storyline or if it were a collection of shorts, like volumes 7 and 11, though there have been a few a book that seemed to be rather uninteresting.
Here, Isuna has demonstrated that he really has not lost his edge like he seemed to have back in the tenth book.
If I had to say why, it would be because Isuna has finally found what his true writing style was, and made sure to bring out what made the Spice & Wolf series so great to begin with, which was how both the things related to the plot or mundane things expected in the every day lives of the characters.
This series is fairly close to the end of the main story, and if Isuna had failed to meet the bare minimum of providing what is needed in a good story, I would have been truly disappointed in Isuna, as the experience would not be any different from the disappointment that was World End Economica, not to mention lead to further regret giving this series a chance.
Fortunately, he did not forget the importance of this aspect of a good book, and it makes me feel like giving him a ton of applause.
I also liked how I was able to get a few laughs.
While nothing found in any of the four stories was that unique, compared to either the series or anime and manga in general, the comedic moments were still handled well enough that they seemed to be rather funny.
After having to deal with one installment in the series that failed to make me laugh, things seem to be looking for the final third of the series, because this is the third book in a row that has managed to make me chuckle.
If Isuna had forgotten this aspect of the series, Spice & Wolf would have lost the charm it had back in the early books in the series, and I would have been very disappointed, as slow paced series are just not that enjoyable when there is no humor.
Thankfully, Isuna seemed to not have forgotten to make things funny again, and it makes me feel like giving him a nice round of applause.
Hopefully, the humor remains the same during the final five volumes, because this series deserves to end just as well as it had begun.
Then again, Isuna Hasekura is human, so he might end up ruining things to the point where Spice & Wolf becomes yet another World End Economica.
Another thing that I liked was how the story that Isuna was told in the perspective of an animal.
Back in the afterword of volume 11, Isuna said that he had planned to do a story featuring Norah, instead of the one that covered Eve Boland's past, and he finally delivered.
Now when I first read this from the afterword of that volume I was hoping that he would just forget about her because she did not seem really appealing to me, and I expected the story to be told in her perspective, much like Eve's was told from her perspective.
However, instead of seeing a story from Norah's perspective, Norah's story was told from the perspective of her dog Enek.
According to the afterword of this volume, Isuna originally wrote the story from the perspective of Norah, but he himself did not seem to be that impressed with the story, even though he had in his mind that using Enek was just inexcusable.
Knowing this, I have to say that Isuna is definitely more capable of making better decisions than Kazuma Kamachi, because Kazuma decided to put more focus on Touma Kamijou than Mikoto Misaka, who should have been the one with the most focus, in A Certain Magical Index Volume 3, even if the novel version of the Sisters arc ended up being than what J.C. staff did in the Magical Index anime, whereas Isuna knew who perspective worked best.
Pretty much everyone can come up with a great story idea, but a ton of stories end up suffering because the writer ends up picking either the least interesting character or the most annoying one out to have the most focus, and good writers understand that difference.
After all, readers do not really like it when they find out that they know nothing about the characters that truly matter in a story, and when they get that feeling, they will most likely feel like never supporting that particular writer again, which will cost the writer and publisher a potential sale, which is something that neither of them wants to see happening.
If Isuna had stuck with Norah's perspective, I would have been just as disappointed as I was expecting that I would be from seeing yet another story featuring Norah, and I probably would have changed my mind about not including short story collections into the count that would determine whether I would truly follow the series to the end or not.
However, because Isuna was smart enough to write the story using a different perspective, which ended up making the story fairly enjoyable, I actually feel like giving him another round of applause.
Hopefully, he can go back to writing things as interesting as this, instead of making things that are only okay, such as World End Economica, because his more recent work seems to be ruining his reputation more than helping it, and he does not deserve to be dragged through the mud any more than he has been.
Then again, only the Japanese know what to expect from Wolf & Parchment, so until official translations come out, it is up in the air whether he has reached his peak or not.
Still, he does at least deserve some praise for doing something right.
The thing that I liked the most though was that I actually felt like I was having a fun time reading this.
While installments in the main storyline of a series needs to move things along further and allow the characters to develop into the people that the writer had intended, side stories need to feel fun and relaxing, so that the fans would not feel like they wasted their time.
So far, Isuna Hasekura has been able to succeed in accomplishing this feat in each of the previous short story collections in this series, but I was not too sure if he could keep things up as the series progressed.
After all, readers enjoy reading more when they feel like they are having fun, as opposed to when something ends up feeling like a chore or tedious, and they would drop any writer who does not impress them.
Thankfully, Isuna was able to make most, if not all, of the four stories found here end up being pretty fun reads because the charms of the series were still ever present, and I probably would have been able to read this in a single sitting, if it were not for the many distractions that came up recently, which makes me feel like giving Isuna some major applause.
Hopefully, this series stays fun in the five remaining installments, otherwise the series will not be able to end well enough to deserve the praise that it gets.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out on its own.
Because my interest was captured and held quite well throughout the four stories, there were a few things to laugh about, even if it was just more of the same, Isuna chose the right perspective for Norah's story, and many of the stories were fun to read, this book was fairly decent.
Although I did like the book, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, and one thing that can be overlooked because the book was just a collection of shorts, nothing really bothered me too much.
As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.
Considering that there were a few things to like, and nothing to really hate all that much, this was definitely worth reading.
I mainly recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, as they will like this the most, especially if they are fans of Norah.
As for everyone else, of might be worth giving a try, but because this is the start of the final third of the series, it would be better to read the other volumes first, as side stories are meant more for fans.
If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed title from Amazon, so that I can finally wrap up this series and/or find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.
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