Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 6

Spice & Wolf Volume 6 cover

I hope that everyone has been having a good week, even if it was spent doing the usual.

As most of you guys know, I got some books earlier this month, so that I can catch up on a few series, and even check out a few books that I had been meaning to get to last month.

So far, out of the seven books that I got, I have covered each one by one until only one title remains.

Today, I will be reviewing that last title, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 6 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

After having a fall out with Eve, Holo and Lawrence decide to track her down to get even and they go to find a ship.

However, their trip is not smooth sailing, as they notice somebody in trouble that they decide to help and also get caught up in troubles with water travel.

While a series can impress me for quite a few books, it does not mean that future installments will be any good, especially now that I am no longer dealing with content from the Spice & Wolf anime adaptations.

And, after reading this volume, I can say that this one was not that impressive.

Fortunately, this book did not disappoint me as much The Chapel Wars, which was a title that also made me consider making an exception to my rule of trying to talk about the good and bad, so I can at least be thankful that I do not need to rip either Isuna Hasekura or Yen Press a new one.

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 have to satisfy the same needs as every human has to deal with and things did not remain as peaceful as I would have liked.

However, unlike previous volumes in the Spice & Wolf series, where things started off slow and then eased into the crisis that the duo were about to face, this volume started off where the last book left off.

While this does make things a bit easier for those who want to jump right into the novels after watching the second season, which people should, since season 3 is most likely going to never come, unlike the highly desired third season of A Certain Magical Index, though I would rather have more seasons of A Certain Scientific Railgun, since J.C. Staff seems to always deliver something more satisfying in adaptations that series, I cannot really give Isuna as much praise as I would have liked to give him, which I will talk about later.

For now, I will give Isuna some minor applause for doing something right, since even the most minor of positive aspects deserves to be praised.

I also liked how Lawrence decided to take the person that he rescued under his wing and taught him the basics of how to avoid being swindled like he was, even passing on a harsh lesson by saying:

In life it is better to assume that bad things will happen to you rather than good things. You can't look at someone else's success and assume that it will happen to you. There are a lot of people in the world, so it makes sense that one or two of them are going to be fortunate. But There's only one of you. Assuming that good fortune will come to you is no different than pointing a finger at a random person and predicting the same for them. But do you think that prediction will come true?

In our society, we are taught that optimism is the be all end all by our elders, and even those that are considered our peers, because the good outcome occurs so frequently, when many things out there cannot be 100% guaranteed due to something that I brought up in my review of the 61st volume of Detective Conan.

One such example that I have seen this overemphasis of optimism is in the church that I attend. Almost every week, members and leaders go on and on about how the church changed their lives for the better and that if people did as the so-called prophet said, and even joined our congregation, they would be happier too.

However, their main objective, just like any other business, is to get more patrons and their counsel does not always lead to happiness because some members have noticed that people will try to convince them that the answer they came to was not the right one, which makes it look even more like a destructive cult than the rumors of their secrets make them look.

This is why pure optimism tends to lead people to ruin, much like it did for Lawrence in volume 2 of this series, and the words presented here resonated with me because of what I learned from writing my own stories.

Seriously, if more people took these words to heart, I highly doubt that I would be as annoyed with society today as I am because they will actually being weighing the pros and cons as they should.

Then again, society is not just ruined by pure optimism and pure pessimism, but it is also ruined by rampant greed and apathy too, so it will take too long for humanity change, especially considering how we continually make the same mistakes the longer that we are on this Earth.

Another nice thing about this volume were the funny moments.

While nothing here was all that unique, when compared to the rest of the series, or even manga and anime in general, I still found myself chuckling a few times.

Back when I read John Grisham's The Whistler, one of the things that I hated was how dull the characters felt and the things that they did were that impressive either, and it really would have livened things up if I could have gotten a laugh.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura rarely failed to make me laugh or chuckle throughout my time reading this series, and it really helped me be able to enjoy this series, even if it felt rather slow quite often.

If Isuna had failed to make me laugh, I doubt that I would want to check out the volumes to come after this, and I have no doubt that I would have been the only one that would drop this series.

However, because he had succeeded, I feel like giving him some major applause for remembering what made this series so good, even if I do feel like things are being dragged out a bit. Nice job, Isuna.

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

Even though this series will not conclude for quite a few more volumes, I get annoyed with some series that obviously have more to tackle but do continue on.

Because of series like that, the biggest being The Altered Realities series from Weston Kincade, I have grown to like to see series that have scenes where I could just stop and pick up the series when I have a little more time, as they will also have an ending that is mostly satisfying in the event that the series gets cancelled.

In the case of this series, even though it was able to reach its conclusion over here and in Japan, it makes me feel less hard pressed to get the other volumes before volumes 11-14 get a digital release because there is not something that is making me wonder just what is going to happen.

Yes, it might seem like I am contradicting myself, as I keep saying that readers want series to give them a reason to continue reading, but I do have other series to deal with, including one whose final volume will finally be released where I live this year, so I cannot invest too much time in long series, especially because I have made promises on my Patreon page that I keep linking to to review titles requested by patrons, so that they have incentive to help me afford titles that I want to read, so this will help lighten my load, though that does not mean that I will be taking a break since the last of my preorders finally arrived.

Still, I feel like giving Isuna quite a bit of praise because this is a great starting point for the second third of the series, and it makes me want to see what will happen next. Thank you, Isuna, for doing something that very few writers seem to be capable of doing.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand on its own.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held for most of the duration of the book, it featured some words that resonated with me because it helped to show why optimism is not always great, I was able to get a few laughs, even if it was just more of the same, and that I was given an ending that serves as a good intermission, this was a fairly decent read.

Although there were some things that I liked, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, only one thing really bothered me.

Nothing really seemed to happen in this book.

Yes, like Detective Conan, Spice & Wolf is not known for things happening to often and Isuna is capable of making things interesting, even when nothing interesting happens, but this picks right where the last volume left off, which means most of my interest was generated by wanting to know how things would finally be resolved.

Unfortunately, the volume itself felt more like an intermission between the last book and volume 8, since the summary for volume 7 on Amazon says that Isuna decided to take a break and the summary for volume 8 talks about some introduced in this volume.

What the heck, Isuna? This volume is supposed to be part of the main adventure, and you decide to make people think that this volume will conclude the events of the last book? That is something that no writer should ever do because it makes the reader less interested in checking out the series any further.

I am okay with new things being introduced to the adventure, considering that this is only the first third mark of the series, but almost no other volume before this one continued off of what immediately happened after the last.

True, those did feel more complete than what was presented in the last volume, but it does not change the fact that nothing happened, other than Lawrence's party gaining another member, and it makes me really disappointed.

Unfortunately, there is only one way that I think Isuna and the publishers in Japan could have fixed things, which is to combine this volume with the last one, as I do not think that anybody would be interested in this volume if they had not read the last volume.

If those two books were combined, I do not think that I would have felt like I wasted my time like I did here, and I would be able to call this one of the series that I have encountered.

However, because Isuna and the Japanese publishers decided to do things like this, it makes me want to consider dropping this series, though I probably will not do that unless volumes 7-10 disappoint me even more.

Fans of any genre do not want to be given a reason to considering dropping something that they liked in the past, and writers should not want that scenario to happen either, but Isuna Hasekura has with this volume.

What happened, Isuna? I knew that you were not the greatest writer out there, since I voiced my dissatisfaction with World End Economica a few times already, but this was one of your best series and you are now ruining it.

Maybe, things will improve with the new Spice & Wolf sequel that is being published in Japan now, but, at this rate, I am not too sure that I would want to check it out, even if none of the remaining twelve books disappoints me as much as this one has.

However, Isuna is going to have to work really hard to make me hopeful, and I am not too sure that he is up to the task, so he should feel lucky that I am going to give him a bit more time to improve.

Fortunately, I cannot think of anything that was terribly wrong, at least that could not be squeezed into what I already talked about, so I do not need to bash on Isuna Hasekura more than I already have.

While there was only one thing wrong with this book, it was bad enough to hurt the quality of the release, and possibly the series as a whole.

Despite the fact that there were things to like, the only negative outweighed them enough to make this a waste of time.

I recommend that everyone avoid this book like the plague, at least until I determine whether or not is more important to the series than just Lawrence getting another companion and learning about another legend, because this volume does not live up to the greatness of the earlier volumes.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can find more worthwhile reads, as well as possibly continue to see what happens are the second season of the Spice & Wolf anime, and do whatever it is that you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.