Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 9

Spice & Wolf Volume 9 cover

I hope that everyone is doing well, and already preparing for the weekend, or still enjoying the break.

Things have gone pretty well here, though not exactly as planned, and I am glad that I can still do what I like.

Recently, I was planning to check out another title available on one of the services that I am subscribed to, but, to my surprise, I had gotten some Amazon credit and decided to get some books, to close the gap quicker in a series I have been following.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 9 by Isuna Hasekura.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post and the book concludes the story started in the previous volume, I will forego any summary this time around.

While Spice & Wolf has had its up and downs, which were not as many as the A Certain Magical Index novels, I kept it mind that things will not remain as good as they once were.

And, after reading this book, I am glad to say that such a peak has not been reached yet.

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 had to satisfy the same needs that every other human must deal with and a few possible events that could have cropped up.

Even though I cannot that the way in which words lulled me into the world of Spice & Wolf, as is mostly the case for each installment of the series, because this is part two of a story that did not conclude until this book, the fact that everything progressed pretty quickly did make things a bit more interesting did not dampened my interest in the work at all because it was finally going to give some answers that I had been waiting for such a long time to learn.

Spice & Wolf may not be the fast paced story that many of my peers would prefer, much like World End Economica, but Isuna Hasekura seems to understand quite well that knowing when things must proceed at a fast pace is something that all writers must figure out, especially considering that the writer's imagination might not have those ideas come at quite a quick pace, otherwise things would just end up being as dull as The Book Thief was for me.

Readers want to be taken on adventure through the books that writers write, and when things seem to be going to slowly, it can feel like the story is getting unnecessarily dragged out, which causes them to regret having purchased the title and possibly costing the writer and publisher the exposure that the title needed to have to make their profit.

And if Isuna had forgotten this fact, I would have been disappointed in him because the quality he seems to deliver in this series really turned around the impression I had of him from going through World End Economica, which was my least favorite work from him because things did feel like they dragged on, no thanks to the fact that it was a visual novel instead of a light novel.

However, because he was able to meet my expectations, and the afterword revealed that he may have wished to complete the story in only one book, I actually feel like giving him a good round of applause, while hoping that the next two parter is not the one that ultimately disappoints me.

I also liked was how I was made to feel a bit sorry for Eve.

Back when Eve was first introduced into the series in the second season of the anime, or volume 5 of the novels, which should have been longer because volume 6 was pointless, she seemed to be like any other adversary that Lawrence and Holo encountered in that she was looking to get wealthy by any means, even if they had to separate the two or, if Holo was the objective, get Holo away from Lawrence, so I expecting there to be some sort of clash between them and finally be on their way with a lead to the bones they were looking for.

Here, however, it seems that Eve was not as heartless as she originally came off as and that her plan to sell the furs from Lenos ultimately ended in failure and the arrest of a confidant.

Now, it is not technically unheard of for characters that were though to be evil to be redeemed in fictional works, but because of the way the story presented in this book was going, I did not really expect it, because Eve and Lawrence seemed to be on their guard throughout much of the book, and Eve was continually talking about taking revenge.

In the case of this book, it worked out fairly well and led to a pretty satisfying conclusion because it felt like Eve was getting fleshed out along the course of this book, though we never really learn her backstory in complete detail, and she seemed to have developed a good enough with Lawrence to make him want to go rescue her, as opposed to being asked to protect her.

In fact, the way that Eve is redeemed in this book is much more believable than how Darth Vader was redeemed at the end of the original Star Wars, where there does not seem to be any buildup, as mentioned by A. Lee Martinez in a post on his personal blog, whereas there are moments of peace between Eve and Lawrence and Eve is also willing to lend Lawrence a hand, in spite of unpleasant parting that they had towards the end of the fifth volume, and it makes me want to give Isuna Hasekura a nice round of applause.

This is how a character in fiction should be redeemed, not some about face change like what can be found it Star Wars because the evil person is a family member and they do not seem to have any other conflicts, and reminds us all that humans are not as black and white as many religious institutions would want us to believe because they keep instill how their members are good and everyone else is living in sin, and I wish more fictional works were like this.

Unfortunately, many people out there do not seem care whether or not characters are fleshed out, even when it is absolutely necessary for the story to be any good, and, until that changes, the book market will only be flooded with characters that are about as one dimensional as the characters found in stories from religious text, though that does not necessarily make the work bad, because publishers and writers will just put out what they think the readers would want to see.

Still, that does not mean that I would not appreciate when a write does take the time to make their characters feel more realistic like Isuna has done in this book.

Another nice thing about this book was how I did get quite a bit of chuckle.

While the comedic elements found in this book are not that unique to either the series or manga and anime in general, I am still glad that Isuna remembered that being able to execute them well enough to be funny is much more important than whether the kind of comedy is low level slapstick or the supposedly high class satire.

There are many great works of fiction out, regardless of whether they deliver everything that I want to see in a story or not, and many of the ones I like seem to be able to balance things out well enough in being comedic or serious to remain relatively interesting, and likewise make the characters that much more enjoyable to follow, whether they are unlikable or likable.

This is the kind of balance that readers want to see in their favorite works, and, as expected, Isuna Hasekura has done a fairly good job of maintain a more consistent quality in the humor of the series than Gosho Aoyama has in Detective Conan, where the comedic elements are not quite as funny as they used to be, leading it to be somewhat dull outside of actual cases.

If he had not been able to do this much, I think that would have become as bored as this series as I was with World End Economica, and I would not have bothered continuing to read the final nine books of this series, but because he did remember, I kind of wish I had gotten all of the remaining volumes in this series, instead of only the few that I had just recently bought.

The thing that I liked the most though was this volume ended with a clue to the next destination and nothing else.

In many of the books in this series, every time Lawrence and Holo got a few more clues to their initial search, which was the location of Yoitsu, the two would end up leaving the town with the same volume, which meant that there had to be some sort of reason that they needed to leave town.

Yes, because Lawrence is a traveling merchant, he does not benefit from staying anywhere for too long, not to mention that it helps to build the world where Spice & Wolf takes place, but that does not seem to give Lawrence and Holo time to rest beyond the time that they spend in each town, nor would it keep things too interesting because there are only so many ways to make a book starting with traveling to capture the reader's attention.

Here, however, because it ends shortly after a little chat with Eve outside Lawrence and Holo's room, I feel like I should read the next volume right now, in order to find out if the two would be able to leave town safely, though that can be guessed quite easily by knowing how long this series is, and it might lead to some more interesting banter in their group, as well as be able to get a glance at how Col will develop, seeing as he will become the main character in the sequel series, whose first volume will be released by Yen Press in November, according to Amazon.

This may not be the kind of cliffhanger that too many readers would want to see, but it is one of the better ways to end an installment and shows that Isuna had planned things out fairly well, even if he had originally intended for this story to last for only a single volume.

If he can keep this up, Spice & Wolf might actually live up to hype that it has, unlike a few other series that I can think of off the top of my head, but that will only be the case if he remembers what made this series so great to begin with.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be shoehorned into what I already talked about.

Because my attention was captured and held throughout most of the book, which was helped by a pacing that was a bit quicker than usual, I was able to get a few chuckles, and the book did not end with the start of a journey to the next place, this book was fairly enjoyable.

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

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, and one thing that can be inferred from what I already said, nothing really bothered me too much.

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

Considering that there was quite a bit to like and not too much to hate, other than the obviously stated fact that this book concluded a two-part story, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this mainly to fans of Spice & Wolf because they will enjoy this the most, though fans of Isuna Hasekura would probably not be disappointed.

As for everyone, while I would not say that this volume should be avoided at all costs, as there were some things that were quite entertaining, I strongly recommend putting this book to the side until you have read the previous volume, otherwise you feel much more lost than you would have in the other installments.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the reviewed the reviewed title from Amazon, so that I can continue following this series to the end and possibly finding oher worthwhile reads for you guys, and doing whatever you do whenever you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.