Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 14

Spice & Wolf Volume 14 cover

I hope that everyone has had a good weekend, and are adjusting back to the monotony of everyday life.

Things are going pretty well here, since I will finally have a bit of free time on my hands, seeing as people do not realize how hard it is to stay on top of things to the point where breaks can be had in a life like mine, and I am still glad that I can do something that I enjoy.

Towards the beginning of the month, I had gotten five books from Amazon and I have been knocking each title out one at a time until only one remained.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 14 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

With things wrapped up in Kerube, Lawrence and Holo return to Lenos, to wait for the arrival of the map they want and look into the things that they might be possibly heading into as they venture towards their final destination.

However, when a merchant comes seeking Lawrence's aide in getting his hands on certain forbidden book that may cause trouble for Holo's homeland, Lawrence must decide whether he will end his travels with his two companions by continuing along with the merchant's plans or doing want he really wants to do.

I must say, I really liked this book.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading it, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs that every other human must deal with.

While Spice & Wolf has had its up and downs in this aspect of what makes a good book or story, just like many of the other long running series out there, the series itself has been able to do something that no other Hollywood studio or big name writer could possibly do, which is to keep a reader engaged throughout the entire book, regardless of whether that it is fast paced or slow paced.

Now, I will acknowledge that there are some readers that prefer a fast paced story or series, as that seems to be the bulk of what gets published where I live or in the UK, which has produced many of the titles that released here, but the only thing that readers really want is to be able to escape reality temporarily, and that can be only be done if the writer can pull the reader into the book or series relatively quickly, which varies greatly depending on what kind of pacing the writer has for the story they want to tell.

For slow paced works, like Spice & Wolf, that is done by having an engaging write style and narrative, as well as giving us enough details that we see and experience the very things that the characters are going through without having things come off as too dull, or at least as tiresome as The Book Thief felt. After all, readers would not really want to spend reading hundreds of pages of a book before their interest was finally grabbed.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura really learned that lesson after the travesty that was the tenth book and was able to do things so well that I remember what originally attracted me to the series in the first place, at least the novels, since the anime adaptations were pretty dull.

If Isuna was not able to do this due during the final third of the series, I would have completely abandoned this series because it would have not been as great as people believed it was, and I do not want to deal with yet another moment in which an author I admired and like did something atrocious, much like how Gosho Aoyama created two cases that were not really that impressive, which can both be found in Case Closed Volume 63.

Thankfully, Isuna did not do something that made me want to do what Kuwabara did during Yusuke's wake in Yu Yu Hakusho like Gosho did, and it makes me want to go out and buy the final four books right now, though that would have cut into whatever free time I finally got this week, even if I had the funds to afford such a purchase right now. I am not too sure about you guys, but Isuna already deserves a nice round of applause.

I also liked how there were a few things to laugh about.

While the humor found in this installment was not that different from what could be found in the rest of the series, or even anime and in general, Isuna able to show that he could execute the comedic moments well enough that they seemed to be genuinely funny, as well as continue to help make the world of Spice & Wolf feel much more livelier than how things came off back in the tenth book.

Outside of how well fleshed out the characters are, which is something that is very much needed and expected from a slow paced work of fiction and made these characters actually come across as humans, the thing that really attracted me to this series was how the comedic moments never seemed to go stale, at least to the extent that the comedy in Detective Conan has grown stale, and was able to get me to chuckle quite a bit, whereas I hardly laughed in Imagin's anime adaptation.

If the comedy did not exist, or even made me feel as unimpressed as I was with the anime adaptation, I would have long ago written Isuna Hasekura as a joke, which I felt like doing when I read World End Economica, and I would have had no idea why people liked this series so much, much like I still have no idea why people think A Certain Magical Index is really that great of a series.

Fortunately, Isuna has not forgotten one of the things that made this series so enjoyable, and I have absolutely regrets right now about trying this series out, which is something that every reader, regardless of what genre they like, would want to feel, and I feel like giving him a nice round of applause.

Hopefully, this aspect will remain in the final four volumes, because I really want to see this series end on as high of note as it had begun back in the first book.

Another thing that I liked was how Lawrence was finally confronted about the thing that many of the fans wanted to see.

Over the course of the 14 volumes that I have read so far, which includes the one I am reviewing right now, Lawrence and Holo's bond seemed to be growing after each and every struggle they encountered, whether that was the fur deal that happened when Holo and Lawrence first came to Lenos or the incident with Amati, where I could definitely see them getting together steady, but I was I also kind of ready for them to part ways.

Now, the cliched plot device of “Will they or won't they” that is found in American television might be coming to the minds of a lot of you guys, and wondering how this could be so interesting in Spice & Wolf, but the way that Isuna has written Holo and Lwarence's relationship is not the same as the cliched mechanic because I was not caring about whether or not they would get together and was more interested in the bond that would develop between the two, much like how I was more interested in seeing how Shoya's bond with Shoko would be able to improve his life in A Silent Voice.

In this book, Holo and Lawrence were prepared for the party to split up, and when Lawrence had made this clear, as well as his desire to stay with Holo, to Elsa, who originally appeared in the fourth book and made a reappearance in this book, she said, “It's like there are two Evans. Your indecision is so infuriating I can hardly stand it. Why won't you just act the way you honestly feel? Why are you convinced that swallowing down your own opinion is best for her? God is a friend to the righteous. You have nothing to fear!”

Wow! I actually liked a quote that uses God to motivate somebody to something right. Is the world ending all of the sudden? No, the world is not ending and I do not hate God. What I hate is people using God to control others, like those that belong to my church do, and trying to convince them that people need religion to be happy and connect with him, which ends up making God look like the very person he is portrayed to be in Dark Matter 2525's God & Jeffery series on YouTube, instead of a loving deity.

This part really resonated with me because it not only motivated Lawrence to find a way to pull out the the predicament that he was in, but reminded me that the correct answer is not always rational because humans are irrational. Our emotions influence our decisions so much that many religious denominations, such as my own, and cults,like Heaven's Gate, try to get people to join their ranks through their emotions because they want us to believe that our emotions will never lead us astray.

However, if we ignore how we feel, just so we can somehow act rationally, which cannot exist to the extent that we think it does, according to a question mentioned in a post by David Berreby on Big Think that suggests that being able to define what we mean by thinking straight is not really feasible, we will not be able to be to truly happy.

In the case of this book, the conversation that takes place where the quote appeared led into the very thing that I liked the most about this book, which was how this book truly felt like the beginning of the end.

So far, Isuna has been focusing on the adventuring aspect of this series and I was fairly interested in what would happen next, but this bliss could not last too long, especially now that the series is two thirds of the way through and Lawrence and Holo have yet to reach Yoitsu or resolve the feelings that they have started feeling over the course of their journey, and I would have been very angry if these things were not starting to get wrapped up by this point.

Thankfully, in this volume, not only do Lawrence and Holo finally know where Yoitsu is located, but problem of the feelings Lawrence and Holo have for each other are finally starting to get resolved because of the conversation that Elsa and Lawrence, as well as Holo reminding Lawrence that Col joined them by his own will, which makes me sad, yet happy, that things are coming to an end just when Isuna had finally got his groove back, and it makes me want to give him a good amount of applause.

Hopefully, things will end in a way that is as satisfying as how things began, because I and the fans of the series do not want to see this series absolutely ruined, but we all need to remember that Isuna Hasekura is only human, so all we can do is wait and see how things will turn out.

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 my interest was captured quickly and held throughout the whole book, there were things to laugh about, which kept things lively, Lawrence was confronted about not doing what he really he wanted, and things seem to be starting to wrap up, this was one of the best entries in the series.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, which began bordering on a level that I cannot overlook, nothing really seemed to bother 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 and not too much to hate, though one thing that does not usually irritate me almost did, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, as they will like this the most and this is part of the beginning of the final third of the series.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but with this being so close to the end, I think it would be best to read the previous volumes first.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the review title from Amazon, so that I can finally find out how this series ends and/or help you guys find more worthwhile reads, and do whatever you do whenever you find something that impresses you.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.