Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 8

Spice & Wolf Volume 8 cover

I hope that everyone had a good weekend, and are readying to get back to the daily grind.

Things are going fairly well, in spite of my current predicament, and I can at least continue doing what I like to do.

As I have noted in the last review, I was able to actually get a few titles this month, though a few titles will not come until much later, and, so far, of the three titles I currently have on hand, I have only covered one of them.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 8 by Isuna Hasekura.

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

After experiencing a minor setback, Lawrence and Holo, along with their new companion, Col, continue their trek to Kerube, in order to find more information about rumors possibly involving one of Holo's kin, and they seem to have been struck with some good fortune.

However, the town of Kerube is on the brink of collapse because of horrible relations between two factions, and people are trying to get the trio involved in the mess as well.

I must say, I really liked this book.

Just like many of the previous volumes comprising the main storyline, I did not want to stop reading this for any reason, though I did have a few distractions beyond the usual needs that every human must satisfy.

Throughout the many volumes that are found in this series, Isuna has been able to hold my interest quite well from beginning to end, with maybe the exception of the sixth book, and this volume is not quite so different from those.

If I had to say why this book, which was only two installments after the most pointless book in the series, was so fascinating, it was because things actually happened this time around.

Back when I read the sixth volume, I hated how Isuna did not seem to have Holo and Lawrence deal with enough things to actually warrant its own book, as it did not really progress things any further beyond what was seen at the end of the second season of the anime adaptation, making it feel more like an interlude than the seventh book, which was a true interlude for story.

Here, however, things actually did seem to occur, even though it was still at the same slow pace that Spice & Wolf is known for, and it gave me the feeling that I was back to reading the series that so many people enjoy.

Seeing this vast difference between the sixth book, the last installment of the main story, and this volume, the true continuation to the series, I am glad that Isuna Hasekura really stepped up his game, instead of just delivering what fans expect.

People might enjoy series way more than they should, as people continually demand that writers produce sequels for stories that do not need them, but that means that things can feel more dragged out than they should be, which is why I tend to not really enjoy prose fiction series as much as manga series, not to mention the fact that prose fiction is harder to deal with because finding your spot is not as easy it is with comics.

However, when, like as seen in this book, things are not dragged out too much, or even feel that way, readers tend to enjoy series that much more, and is something that I wish were more consistent.

Unfortunately, I do not really see a day when the best selling trilogies that come out do not feel like they are being dragged on in the last book, though there is one writer where I live that I am confident can pull off such a feat, as long as he remembers what he has done right over the course of his career and what he needs to improve upon.

Still, that does not mean that Isuna Hasekura should not be praised for making me feel like things were a not as much of a waste of my time as the sixth book in this series. Nice job, Isuna, I hope that this feeling can remain throughout the ten remaining volumes, because this makes me want to make the stupid decision of going out getting the those ten books right now.

I also liked how I did not feel lost, even though it has been almost two months since I read the last installment in main storyline.

While the sixth book was not that great overall, one of the things that I liked was the things that did happen and were worth noting made it real easy for me to take a break from the series, which may sadly have to happen again because of what has been troubling me recently, and the wait that much more bearable.

Now, it might not be as easy to get into if one decided to transition from the anime to the light novels via this volume, because Col was introduced immediately after the events of the anime and the rumor was first brought up around that time, but the transition would be far easier than if somebody were to try transitioning between the manga and anime versions of Detective Conan, as things in the Detective Conan manga crop up earlier than they do in the anime.

In the case of this volume, unlike Detective Conan, the only thing that I really see people going from the Spice & Wolf anime to these light novels wondering is how Col joined Lawrence's party and how they came across the rumor that is being investigated in this volume, and that alone is reason enough to be glad that Isuna Hasekura does not write things in a way that one must read every volume of the series to be able to enjoy it.

For a series to be any good, it needs to be easy to follow, regardless of how much time one spends away from it, and Isuna Hasekura was able to deliver on that quite well in the second third of this beloved series.

If Isuna was not able to do this much, I would have probably dropped this series, as much as I do not want to do so, because he would have not shown himself to be any better than he was in World End Economica, even though this series came out before that one.

However, because he was able to meet my expectations, I feel like giving him another major round applause.

Keep up the good work, Isuna, because this is still looking like a better series than anything being written these days.

Another nice things about this book were that the humorous scenes were still pretty funny.

One of the biggest problems that I have with titles that so-called literary experts call classics is that there is nothing that is all that interesting, aside from plot and a few things that catch people's eyes because of how they interpret things, especially when they seem to do even less work than an archeologist, who at least digs up something before spinning their own tales, and it makes me less and less interested in reading them, though there are titles out there that do deserve to be considered classics.

Likewise, Spice & Wolf in general does not really seem to have much going for it, aside from having a writer that seems more competent that what many literary experts consider great, and I would have felt rather bored with the series if Holo and Lawrence's journey was the only thing going on, not mention it would feel too unrealistic and not very believable.

Fortunately, the humor, while still not all that unique, is still present and balances things out well enough to keep me engaged with series in spite of the slow pacing that this series is known for, and makes me want to give Isuna some major props, because he is continuing to deliver what the reader wants, instead of pandering to those that do not know what readers really care about.

The thing that I liked the most though how the book ended.

While I have not had as much experience with light novels as I have had with manga, though they are not that different from the books regularly published where I live, I have noticed that light novel series usually cover only one storyline per installment, and I had grown fairly used to seeing that in the many series, but I am more particular about series being delivered in a consistent way.

Here, however, the story presented here is a two-parter, instead of the usual way.

Now, some of you guys may be thinking that I am giving this a free pass because I am much more fond of this series than A Certain Magical Index, which recently had a two-part story released where I live, but, just because I am a fan of a series, it does not mean that I will go easy on it, like the Detective Conan community would tell you. A Certain Magical Index took more than two or so volumes to be any good in my eyes and tends to fail to deliver a high quality experience consistently, but Spice & Wolf only had one volume, so far, that failed to impress me too much, so I can be a bit more lenient.

In the case of this book, like the 9th volume of A Certain Magical Index, which did alleviate my disappointment of the Daihasei Festival arc being two books, Isuna Hasekura wrote the ending in a way that made things interesting enough that I want to read the next volume right now, though that would mean that I would have to spend want little I can spend right now quicker than I should.

This is how a two-part story should should end, and Isuna delivers as expected from the quality of his previous work.

Honestly, if the sorry excuse of a movie industry that exists where I live took a look at how works like this handled two-parters, I doubt that movies would be as disappointing as they are today, because they would know how to make a decent movie.

Then again, this is only part one of the events in Kerube, so Isuna Hasekura could fail as miserably as the second part of the many film adaptations made today and may not be as deserving of the pedestal that I and many others are giving him.

Still, I do acknowledge that Isuna is doing something right right now.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, especially because the story has yet to conclude.

Because the book held my interest from beginning to end, and much more so that the last installment of the main storyline, and it seems to be like a good place to start transitioning from the anime to light novels, even if it is not perfect in that regard, as well as how the comedy was still funny and ended well enough that I want to buy the next book right now, this was a pretty decent read.

Although I did like the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, nothing seemed to bother me too much.

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

Considering how there was more to like than hate, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Spice & Wolf, especially those that want to find out what happens after the second season of the anime, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, especially because this series is not so different from the anime adaptation that one should start at volume 1, but things would probably be a bit more enjoyable if one reads the other volumes first.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed title via the link found in this review, so that I can continue following a series that many of enjoy, and doing whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.