Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 16

Spice & Wolf Volume 16 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, as they either get back to the usual monotony or continue to enjoy the long break.

Things may not have gone exactly as planned, seeing as my break ended earlier than I wanted, but are not exactly terrible, and I am still glad to be able to do something that I can enjoy.

During my break, I used some Amazon credit that I got to obtain the last few volumes of a series that I had been following.

So far, out of the four books, one has been covered and only three remain.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 16 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

Just when Holo and Lawrence think that they can finally settle down, people from the infamous Debau Company come to seek the aid of the duo, so that the dream that Lesko gave merchants could continue to survive, as there is internal strife inside the trading company, and the two agree to help.

However, when things start going south, the two find themselves further entangled the mess of the Debau Company and it might very well end the duo's journey tragically.

I must say, I really liked this book.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading, I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to statisfy the same needs as everyone else.

While I cannot say that it was able to grab hold of me like the first five books did, seeing as there was no slowly easing of the audience into the world, which makes sense since this is just a continuation of the story from the previous volume, Isuna was still able to capture my attention very quickly by actually picking up right where things had left off, which clued me in that things were not done yet, aside from the fact that I knew there were more than fifteen books and read that this was the final installment of the main storyline, not counting the epilogue that occurs in the next volume and a mini adventure in the one after.

If Isuna had forgotten how to maintain momentum between each portion of a two parter, I would have been as unsatisfied with this book as I was with the sixth book, which I still feel should never have been written as its own book, and I would have written Isuna off as a shell of his former self because he had impressed me quite a bit in the early installments of the series.

Thankfully, Isuna was able to keep the momentum going quite well and I did not feel like things were being dragged out as much as they were back in the sixth book, which makes me feel like giving Isuna Hasekura a good round of applause.

This is what readers want to see from a book that bring about the finale of their favorite series, because no avid reader wants to feel like things are just being dragged on towards the end.

After all, would any of you want to check out a writer's other work if the last series or title you read from them felt liking is was being dragged on? I know that I certainly would not, especially considering that was why I did not entirely like Sword Art Online, though I do not hate it with a passion.

Hopefully, writers will learn the necessity of making sure that things do not feel like they are being dragged on, otherwise they would not deserve patronage from people like me.

I also liked how Lawrence was not automatically willing to do whatever he was asked to do.

Even though Lawrence has been a fairly suspicious man when dealing with others, though his level of doubting others was not so good that he came off as perfect as Jimmy Kudo from Detective Conan, as he has been skeptical enough to look into things, he just seemed to be going with the flow a lot of the time and had the urge to help everyone he encountered.

Yes, he did not decide to see everything through to the end, as he was going to abandon the place where his then party of four, which included Fran Vonely and Col, discovered a corpse back in the 12th book, but he felt more like he was going through whatever Isuna wanted him to do, instead of Lawrence making his own decisions, though fictional characters never do really get to choose anything, and it just made things seem to be less likable, even if the characters still came off as actual people.

However, in this book, when we find out that Holo had not arrived in time to help Hilde and Debau maintain their positions in the Debau Company, Hilde asks Lawrence to deliver some letters and Lawrence initially refuses, not seeing how they could be of any help.

I liked this sequence of events because Lawrence was finally did not feel like he was just blindly following whatever others, especially Isuna Hasekura, wanted him to do, as there were risks that he was not willing to take.

Not only did Lawrence actually feel like he was making decisions for himself, even though avid readers and experienced writers know that it actually is not the case, it also reminded me of how people constantly try to get me to do something that they want me to do, such as handing out money when I cannot afford it or, in the case of my church, get closer to God.

We, as humans, are limited in what we can do and if we stretch ourselves too far, we cannot ensure our own survival by helping those that we should and/or do care about because we think that being selfless is important.

However, unlike what many religions teach, the world is not always black and white, and there are times when the choice that appears to be greedy to the masses ends up being the most selfless choice possible.

Here, Lawrence originally chose not to help Hilde went south because he did not think it would help and Holo did not want him to be risking his life so much, now that the two of them knew that they had feelings for the other and Holo rebuked Lawrence for not finally living his dream.

If Lawrence had immediately granted Hilde's request, as opposed to how things played out, Lawrence would not have only felt like he was just still going along with the flow, but he would have been disregarding Holo's feelings and his own dreams, as well as making this book less satisfying.

Fortunately, because things played out here the way they did, it allowed Lawrence to grow a bit more and finally learn that there are times that he must give up things in order to get what he wants, and it makes me want to give Isuna Hasekura another good round of applause.

Hopefully, things like this will be present in the Wolf & Parchment series when it finally starts up here, because Isuna has definitely work hard to overturn the impression of him that I got from him in World End Economica.

Then again, Isuna Hasekura is only human, and, as such, Isuna could very well go on to be yet another Nobuhiro Watsuki and have only one relatively decent series over the course of his career, even though his fans would not want to see that happening.

Another thing that I liked was how I was able to get a chuckle out of this book.

While, as per usual, the comedic moments found were not really that unique, when compared to either the rest of the series or anime and manga general, Isuna was still able to execute things well enough that things still seemed to be funny as well as lively.

Throughout its many incarnation, whether it be these books or the anime adaptations, which I still do not understand how people find enjoyable, there have been some moments where people could laugh and it really helped to make the world and the characters seem to be much more lively and enjoyable than many of the other works of fiction released here.

However, I was not too sure if Isuna could actually be able to keep things consistent all the way until the conclusion of this series because many other writers and manga artists seem to lose the ability to keep things funny, as is the case with Detective Conan, and the funny moments found in this series did not necessary carry over well, at least to me, in the anime adaptations.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura was able to deliver that in this volume, which marks the official end of the series, even though it is not the final volume, and I feel like giving him a good amount of applause.

If he had not been able to deliver, I would have felt severely disappointed because these books had felt more entertaining than the anime adaptations because the comedic moments actually seemed funny, whereas they felt rather flat in the anime, and the series would not have ended, instead of feeling like he did a fairly decent job.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this actually felt like the end.

Even though I know that this is not the final installment of the series, I knew beforehand, from looking around, that this was the end of Holo and Lawrence's journey, so I was expecting to be given a finale of some kind, and Isuna was able to deliver.

Once I finished reading this book, I had a feeling that was kind of similar to what I had when reading the sixth book in that I could just put this book down and just walk away from the series.

Now, some of you guys might be wondering why I would be happy to be able to walk away from a series when the writer did so much right and the original work ended up impressing me more than its anime adaptations, but, just like I liked how I pick start and stop reading The Innocence of Father Brown, a book does not have be bad for me to be done with a series.

In the case of this book, things ended so well that I felt like there was actual closure to the series as a whole and I did not have any lingering questions as to what happened or would happen, which made it so that I did not feel like I just had to read the final two, or, if you want to go by Japanese count, three, volumes.

Seeing as this book was originally advertised to be the final volume of the series, according to the afterword, this is exactly what I expected and is also how a series should end.

Towards the end of a series, readers would want to be satisfied enough that they should be able to feel just fine if the writer never released more, though still be good enough that they would want to check what the author has in store next, and Isuna was able to deliver.

If Isuna had not written the conclusion of Lawrence and Holo's journey as well as he did, I would have been disappointed enough to the point where I would have easily put this series in the same trash bin than anime fans place titles like DBZ and Sword Art Online into, and I never would be willing to give him another chance.

Thankfully, that did not happen and it makes me want to give Isuna Hasekura a big round of applause.

Hopefully, he can maintain this level of quality in the future, because Isuna has certainly impressed me enough to make me want to continue giving him my patronage, which is is something that every writer and publisher ultimately wants.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least without spoiling more than I already have.

Because the book captured and held my attention rather quickly, Lawrence did not seem like he was going with the flow like he usually did, thehumor was still present, and it ended so well that I did not care if there were more books in the series, this was one of the best books I have read so far.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from something that can be inferred from what I already mentioned and things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, nothing really seemed to bother me.

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

Considering how there was so much to like, especially how this book ended things so well that I did not care whether there were more books in the series, this was definitely worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, as they will like this the most and it also brings everything to a close.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but because this was a direct continuation of the previous installment, it would be best to read that before even considering picking this one up.

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 find more worthwhile reads for you guys and possibly check out more works from Isuna Hasekura, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.