I hope that everyone has been having a good week, even if it is just more of the daily.
Things are going fairly well here, even if it has not really been the kind of paradise that I was able to live in last month, and I can still do what I like.
A while back, I had preordered some titles, and the first of the titles I was expecting to arrive this month finally arrived, so it is time to get down business.
Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Wolf & Parchment: New Theory Spice & Wolf Volume 2 by Isuna Hasekura.
As I have given a series synopsis in my review of the first book, I will not go over it again.
After the events in Atiph, the tensions between the Kingdom of Winfiel have escalated so much that there is talk of war looming on the horizon, and Heir Hyland wants Col to find out if citizens of an island community would be ideal allies.
However, after seeing what life is like on the island and their struggles, Col and Myuri get wrapped up in the islands problems, as the politics involved concerning the looming war, that will once again put their lives on the line.
While I am not that impressed with Isuna Hasekura at this moment, with how the 19th volume of Spice & Wolf ended up being bad enough to make it feel like he was just milking his cash cow, I am well aware that it takes more than one piece of work to be able to really say that a creator has truly lost their talent, so I decided to check out this volume.
And after reading the book, I can say that I kind of liked it, though not as much as the last book.
From the moment that I opened up and started reading this book, I found myself engrossed enough that I did not really want to stop reading it for any reason, though not quite to the extent of the previous volume or even the first book of Spice & Wolf.
As I have stated many times before, one the moment important things needed for a good work fiction, regardless of medium and genre, is that it can capture the audience quickly and pull them into the world of the work relatively quickly, which can be accomplished via many means.
Normally, Isuna Hasekura is able to provide this necessary aspect of a work by having his protagonist or protagonists slowly start moving towards what he wants them to experience after a certain amount had passed, or, in the case of Spice & Wolf, his most well known work, starts things off in the middle of the ride that his characters, but in this volume, Isuna tries draw the reader back into his world by picking things up soon after the events of Atiph concluded, as Col and Myuri are still in Atiph and have Hyland send them onto their next destination.
Even though I was not exactly too thrilled with this, because the previous installment ended in a way that Isuna could have started things with Col and Myuri could have been traveling to their next destination and I was reminded of why I still think to this day that the sixth book in the Spice & Wolf series should not have been released as its book, it still did the job that a beginning is supposed to do, making it so that I did not have too many questions that one have to deal with.
If Isuna had started things off by having Col and Myuri in the middle of the journey to their next destination, I would have probably enjoyed things much more, as this is another involving adventuring, but seeing as Col is aiming to become part of the clergy and trying to help Hyland in spreading the unadulterated word of God to the world, I think that I would been much more disappointed, unless it was noted why they were heading out there, because I do not think that somebody like Col could travel just as aimlessly as Lawrence able to, not to mention that there would be even more proof that Isuna Hasekura only created this to milk the cash cow that is Spice & Wolf.
Thankfully, Isuna did not really go that route, and that help to maintain that this series not exactly a rehash of Spice & Wolf.
Hopefully, Isuna Hasekura can continue making good decisions in how things start in the future installments of the series, as I, and many of his loyal fans, would prefer to see him put out a worthy successor to the series that made him famous, but knowing that Isuna Hasekura is only human, I would not be surprised if things suddenly go downhill, because there is a reason why things should just end after a certain point.
I also liked inhuman creatures showed up in this book.
One of the things that I really liked about Spice & Wolf was how there were these legends that were beyond belief, even for the resident in the fictional universe, and that many of them turned out to be true and Lawrence and the others encountered such people along their travel, though the world was still somewhat realistic, in comparison to how our world works.
Seeing as how this series takes place in that same world, which is not really that surprising, since this series is considered the sequel to Spice & Wolf, I was expecting to see other creatures, and if Isuna had forgotten about these creatures that can make themselves look human, I would have been disappointed, especially considering that this series is dealing with the religious side of the Spice & Wolf, because that would have shown that there was nothing left to discover in the world, thereby giving me even more reason to believe that Isuna Hasekura was just milking the cow that made him a big name in the world of light novels.
In this book, while Col and Myuri were exploring the island with inhabitant that could be potential allies in the conflict with the Church, they hear about stories involving an incident that a creature similar to Holo could very well accomplish and that leads Col and Myuri to wonder if this island savior was really human, eventually leading into discussion of the Moon Hunting Bear as the entity that might have killed it.
Noticing this crop up, my interest was really piqued, making me wonder if Col would encounter that being, or somebody was similar, just like how Myuri was wondering if there were other creatures similar to her mother, which gave me incentive to continue reading the book.
Of course, what really this stand out for me was that a creature similar to Holo did appear later, whom Myuri did engage, and the pay off be massive, though maybe not as much as if it had turned into a mystery that would take some time to cover, and that made me feel like giving Isuna a bit of applause for not forgetting the folklore that appeared in Spice & Wolf.
Hopefully, more elements of folklore in the world of Spice & Wolf will show up as the series continues, because there needs to be something other than interesting characters to make this series worth following, but, right now, I still kind of see this devolving into nothing more than a rehash of Spice & Wolf, so I would not be surprised if Isuna either forgets about this aspect or implements it so much that it is not really worth talking about anymore.
Another thing that I really liked was how Col was given a hard time in the realm morality.
In this series Col is portrayed to be a very devout person, trying to stay chaste and always studying his scriptures, as well as trying follow what he believes is right, and seeing as he wants to be a member of the clergy, he is going to encounter situations that makes him upset or gives him troubles.
A big problem with people like Col that I have encountered in real life is that everything is black and white and that there are things that people should not do because their church leaders or their scriptures say that it is wrong or indecent, and they stick those convictions no matter what.
However, things are not black and white in our world, because there are times when the best thing to do is do something that people consider wrong or selfish, such as not giving a homeless money or, in the case of the religion I belong to, question leaders that people claim are men of god, and because of that fact, we need to actually think through what needs to be done and be willing to do it, even though deep down we might not feel like it is the right thing to do.
In the case of this book, Isuna Hasekura shows how people that are strongly religious might have to go through situations by having Col witness that makes him made, even though he knew what was happening was not necessarily the wrong decision.
After meeting the monk that Col was determined to see, the monk takes him along with them to somewhere where an injured father is begging the monk to not take his daughter and sell her to slavers, and Col is angry over how this monk is participating in the slave trade, taking a young girl's freedom, but he knew that the island had limited resources and could not take care of too many people who incapable of contributing, which that they needed to get rid off people in some fashion, and this conundrum of what is right and what is moral causes Col, as well as the monk and others, some grief.
As much as I hate highly religious people, because many of them are not really members of God's church, like they claim to be, I really liked how things were portrayed here, because if helped to make people belonging to a religious organization or trying to join one come across as humans, trying to do their best to help others and can be aware of the pain they are inflicting upon others, showing that they are not quite as apathetic as the members of church I belong to, who ignore that what they are trying to do to help somebody may actually hurt more.
Now, fiction does not do too bad in making sure that religious people come across as human, with only a few works showing them being nuts, cult members, or people that are apathetic to worst extreme, but I do not think I see too many works out there where religious characters are actually questioning those in positions of authority with their standards of morality or leaving them conflicted about doing something that is moral or right.
If Isuna Hasekura had ignored situations like this, I would have been angry, because the book would have ended up looking like another Christian work where the moral choice is always the right one, not to mention show me that Isuna Hasekura does not want to continue portraying how things in our world could be so complicated, thereby making me feel less inclined to continue following Col's adventures.
Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura remembered that the world he created was not too different from our world, and he made sure to illustrate that good decisions are not always things that we happy making.
Hopefully, Isuna can continue implementing situations similar to this in future installments, because I highly doubt that this will be the only time Col will feel so conflicted.
The thing that I liked the most though was how this book did not seem to be useless.
While the Spice & Wolf series is a series that I do not regret reading, though I will not be reading any more volumes from that series, not all the books felt like they really needed there be, even though it was not considered one of the side story collections, because nothing really happened.
When Isuna Hasekura started this series, I was wondering whether I would encounter a situation like that again, because I did not want to go through the same that I had with the sixth book of Spice & Wolf.
In that book, Lawrence and Holo had just left Lenos and are chasing Eve, but something happens during that travel and nothing ends up happening, other than Col deciding to join them on their journey.
Because practically nothing happened in that entire book, I felt like my time was being wasted and I did not even know why that just had to be its own.
Thankfully, even though I do not know whether the events in this book hold any importance to the overall story, there was enough going on here that I did not get the feeling that this should have been merged with the first volume.
One of the things readers hate the most is having their time wasted, and there is nothing worse than an installment that just does not feel necessary.
If a reader feels like their time is being wasted, they will not given much incentive to continue on a work and they will just ignore anything else the creator makes.
However, when it is not so balantly obvious that a book was unnecessary, the reader would be able to say that they were able to get some enjoyment from a work, and Isuna Hasekura able to deliver in that aspact, which makes me feel like giving him another round applause.
Hopefully, none of the installments to come in this series will feel as useless as Spice & Wolf Volume 6, because I do want this series to succeed, but I would not be surprised if Isuna ends up failing in this area someday.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what I already talked about.
Because my attention was captured quickly and held right up to the end, Isuna Hasekura remembered the little things about the world he already created, helping to make things both interesting and making it easy to believe that this series takes place in the same world, such as the folklore and how things can be complicated enough that we can feel conflicted, and that the book itself did not feel completely useless, this was a fairly decent read.
Although I was able to find things that I liked about the book, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor talk about, such as typos and other small errors, though those may have begun to be almost revenant enough to be annoying, and one thing that I thought I noticed, but realized that the issue was not really there, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.
As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.
Considering that there was quite a bit to like, and nothing to really hate, though that only became apparent after looking through things again, this was definitely worth reading.
I recommend this to fans of Isuna Hasekura and Spice & Wolf, as they will enjoy this the most.
As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but seeing as it starts off where the last book left off, though that story was complete, it would be best to read the first book prior to this one, as it would be important to at least set the stage.
If you liked this review and wolf like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you want to check out reviewed title for yourself, purchase a copy of it from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following this series and find more worthwhile reads for you guys to read.
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