Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 5

Spice & Wolf Volume 5 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend, even if it is just a usual weekend doing the usual, such as attending church.

Things are going fairly well, now that my stack of titles has been decreased, though I do expect the next preorder to arrive this week, and I can relax and go through those titles without worry.

Out of the seven books I purchased, I covered each one until only two remain.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 5 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

Lawrence and Holo head into Lenos, where they hope to find more stories about Holo, in order to narrow down the search for Yoitsu, and the stories start to remind Holo of her time there from many years ago.

However, while trying to get access to those stories, the duo are pulled into a deal that seems too good to be true and Lawrence must learn what is really going on before ending making yet another mistake that could ruin him.

I must say, I really enjoyed this book.

Like many of the other titles in this series, 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 everyone else has and people were bothering me again.

As I have said numerous times already, being able to quickly capture a reader's attention and maintaining it for one or two works might be an easy feat to accomplish, but being able to do it for three or more volumes is fairly impressive, especially considering that I am nearing the one third mark.

Throughout my time reading series that are longer than three books, which is quite easy to see is an awfully long time, since I have been following quite a few manga series since the time that I started up this blog back in 2011, series do not always seem to remain that impressive the closer to the end one gets, or even when one reach the third or two thirds marks, and it leads to the series becoming disappointing, as was the case for D.N. Angel.

However, Isuna seems to show, even now, that he seems to be a much more capable writer than how he came across as while he worked on World End Economica, which makes me somewhat glad that I decided to try out this series.

Hopefully, the sequel to this series is just as good as what I am seeing here, otherwise I would be really disappointed.

Then again, considering how I am pretty far behind on this series, even in the digital releases, as Yen Press's release schedule says that the digital versions of volumes 11-14 will come out this month and I only recently purchased volumes 4-6, it will take a while for me to even consider checking out that sequel series.

Still, Isuna is doing a great job with this series, and it makes me want to give him quite a bit of applause for being able to do something that few writers can.

I also liked how there were a few funny moments.

While some of you guys may have thought that I finally reached the content not found in the Spice & Wolf anime adaptations, since the previous volume was all new content, I will have to break your hearts and say that much of what is found here may well be present in the second season, so nothing really stood out.

However, just because there was there were any uniquely funny moments, at least according to my memory, it does not change the fact that I did feel like chuckling when I noticed these events play out, which makes me pleased that things have not yet run dry, though I about about to enter territory that is not covered by the anime.

Hopefully, things do not become disappointing when I reach the end of Lawrence and Holo's journey, because the way these two characters have been able to make me laugh, as well as have one of the more interesting relationships I have ever seen in fiction, is why I am able to find so much enjoyment in this series.

Nice work, Isuna.

Another thing that I liked was how I actually seemed to feel the same things the characters were going through in this book.

In the time I have spent with the world of fiction, I have come across many works of fictions that really lacked something that could take a work from being okay to great, and that something was being able to really understand what the characters were going through because their emotions and other things did not feel real or could actually be felt.

However, there have also been writers out there that can give off those feelings in their work when the moment calls for it, and Isuna Hasekura has been able deliver that fairly consistently, even in World End Economica, even though I do not consider it one of the best series that Isuna Hasekura has been involved with.

One of the best things about what I consider the greatest works of fiction is that, like a blog post by Dr. Keith Oatley on Psychology Today discusses, is that I can understand people what they have to deal with in varying circumstances, which makes it easier for me to sympathize.

Now, there are some people out there that know me personally who think that I can understand people better if I came out of my shell, because they find something wrong with people who are mostly introverted, but I cannot seem to do that too well when I have to keep questioning whether or not the person is putting up a façade, even when they might actually be showing their true selves to me.

On the other hand, with fiction, I get to see what the characters are actually feeling and who they are as people, at least in the cases that the writer takes the time to flesh out their characters, so I can see what people might be going through, which is one of the reasons I could feel so much emotion and powerful feelings from the best routes of the Clannad visual novel, such as how Tomoya Okazaki started for feel new appreciation for his father when he found out that his mother died when he was young, just like how Nagisa died moments after Ushio born, which ultimately led to him deciding to assume responsibility raising his daughter, or the pain Kotomi experienced because she felt responsible for the untimely death of her parents.

In the case of this series, Isuna delved into things quite a bit that things felt believable and realistic, and it reminds me of strong bonds can become, even though Lawrence and Holo have not been together for more than a year, going by the timeline of the series, because they both felt connected.

Honestly, if things were covered with this much depth, I do not think that there would be so many characters that would be considered one-dimensional as there are today.

Then again, considering how there are a few scriptural texts that are considered the greatness out there, when people do not consider everything contained presented, or even interpret in ways that fit what they believe, I doubt that there would be any work out there that would be able to truly explore the psychology of various human beings like Weston Kincade's A Life of Death was, especially because we are not really willing to challenge why we think humans act certain ways or if what we are told is ideal is actually what we should be doing.

Still, Isuna seems to understand the importance of how humans behave is to a work of fiction, and it ends up making everything a whole lot better. Nice job, Isuna.

It was also nice how things were not quite as predictable this time around.

Yes, around this point in the series, fans of the series know that something is going to happen wherever Holo and Lawrence go and that they will be able to get through it, but in the previous volume, there were things that I could spot a mile away and it kind of ruined the book a bit for me, though not enough to ruin the quality of the book itself.

Here, however, things were not as predictable and made me even more excited to see what was going to happen, especially because it has been a few years since I last got to see these scenes play out.

This is why the series was so interesting in the beginning, and it seems like Isuna finally remembered that, and I have no doubt that fans of the series would enjoy reading through these events for more than just finding out what happens after the conclusion of the second season of Spice & Wolf.

Hopefully, things remain this good with the content yet to come, as I am not as knowledgable about what happens in this series, beyond a few rumors, and I am certainly much more willing to catch up the digital releases.

Nice work, Isuna.

There were two things that I liked the most though.

First, I liked how Lawrence kept doubting the deal that he made with the merchant that he met in Lenos.

In our society, we tend to think that if we believe things will work out that they will, because being optimistic is apparently the right way to think.

However, as I stated in an opinion piece about optimism, those that tend to only see the positive will eventually be disappointed by what the results were, or might even end up hurting themselves or those that they care about, such as how soldiers that served in Vietnam that were considered optimists died shortly after the pessimists, according to a post on Glowball Web Network, which I also shared in that opinion piece.

While Isuna Hasekura never really been screaming that optimism is the answer to everything in the series, since Lawrence did decide to get a bunch of sets of armor before trying to consider whether it was really worth it back in volume 2, Lawrence has been portrayed to be an experienced merchant and he should know the importance of doubting others.

Fortunately, after that little mishap in volume 2, I am glad to see Lawrence learn from his mistake and doubt the new merchant right up to the end.

Human beings may not be perfect, but if we doubted things more often and found answers their own way because of that doubt, our society would be a whole lot better than they are.

Unfortunately, I doubt we will ever learn how important it is to doubt people and claims are, because mankind will continue to make the same mistakes, such as thinking that certain people will never lead you astray and that the way those people think that others can gain answers will work for them, seeing as how Marshall Applewhite, a prominent figure of Heaven's Gate, used a method similar to what my church uses to try to convince people to join, as seen in segments 6 and 7 of Heaven's Gate's initiation tape posted by JayDowns on YouTube, and another video on YouTube shows is a good reason why prayers to determine truth must be doubted, so I will just have to sit back and let humanity believe what it wants to believe is the truth, since I will not convince people that my view is the truth, nor would I want to.

Still, this does not change the fact that I am impressed with how Isuna had Lawrence question what was really going and having it pay off, and it makes me want to give Isuna some major applause.

The second thing that capture my attention, and most impressed me, was how I was left wondering if Holo and Lawrence would part ways.

Yes, I am not as up to date on this series as I am with Detective Conan, and can kind of guess that the two will not permanently part, but seeing how the events of this book concluded, I kept wondering if this was the end of their enough that I would want to start reading the next book right now.

For a series to maintain a reader's interest, the writer needs to create some kind of hook in each installment.

In the recent events of Detective Conan, at least where Viz Media distributes volumes, the big mystery was what happened to Akai and if Okinawa is really Bourbon, which will keep fans where I live interested in the series for quite a while, though people like me are wondering about the identity of Black Org's second in command.

Likewise, by having Holo and Lawrence talking about going their separate ways, Isuna has made me continually wonder what will happen to the duo, and makes me sympathize with those demanding a third season of the anime.

If more series made here had this kind of hook, I doubt that I would feel as unsatisfied as I am with many forms of entertainment produced where I live, and makes me want give him some major applause. Nice job, Isuna.

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

Because my interest was captured quickly and held for most of the book, I was able to get some laughs, things were not as predictable as the last book, and how the story showed how doubt benefitted Lawrence, as well as how I am left wondering what will happen with the duo, this was a pretty great read.

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 to like, especially one instance of improvement, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, as they will like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but it might be better to read the other volumes first because getting the emotional feels would be quite difficult without prior knowledge.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can continue finding more worthwhile reads, and doing whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.