I hope that everyone is doing well, especially now that we are at that point of the year the temperatures start getting to the point everyone expects them to be at the December Solistice.
Things have been going pretty well, even though the format of the class I am taking has changed up enough that I cannot be confident I am done with it, and I can still do what I like.
While I have not been good about keep things very active, thanks to the aforementioned class and making sure I have time for it, I have been trying to keep up the many different series I follow, and the last book I was expecting month has finally arrived.
Today, I will be reviewing that book, which is called Wolf & Parchment: New Theory Spice & Volume 3 by Isuna Hasekura.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
Col and Myuri’s adventures continue, as they head out to new location and find themselves stranded in a port town that seems to have suffered a great loss after the spark ignited in Atiph.
However, upon finding out that Col has been given a title that he does not deserve, the duo find themselves wrapped up in more mischief surrounding the possible corruption of a local priest and a broker with their own agenda, and they must uncover the truth, to be able to continue their journey.
While Isuna Hasekura has not really been that impressive to me of late, no thanks to the fact he gave me more reason that he was just milking his cash cow than just writing a sequel series to the point where I only want to focus on this one, I think it is only right that I give him a fair chance by covering at least one more title in this series.
And after reading this book, I can say that I really enjoyed it, though, like its predecessor, not quite as much as the first installment.
Upon opening up this book and starting to read the first few pages, I found myself so engrossed with it that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.
As I have said many times before, one of the most important things in a work of fiction is how things begin, as the purpose of a beginning is to draw people in enough that they can temporarily escape the real world and enjoy themselves.
While this can be accomplished in many ways, depending on the medium used to present the story and the type of story, as well as whether it is a stand alone work or not, prose works, and works that are mostly prose, like light novels, rely heavily on how a writer writes things and presents them, and Isuna Hasekura wrote this book in a way that seemed to be nearly as engaging as the first installment of Spice & Wolf.
Even though I cannot if he has gotten his groove back or not, since his one of his recent creations, World End Economica, which came after Spice & Wolf was rather dull, though I would likely attribute it to being a visual novel that does not work out well as being what is called kinetic, he does not seem to have quite yet become a complete shell of his former.
If Isuna Hasekura was not able to do this much, I would have been very disappointed that I would have dropped this series without a second thought, as Isuna had been able to change my I,pression of him once before.
Thankfully, he did not write things in a way that was just as boring as the worst books in Spice & Wolf, so I do have some reason to check out more of his work.
Hopefully, Isuna Hasekura can keep this up in future release, because I am sure that his loyal fans would want this series to sell well enough that his other works get brought over, but because he is human, and the very first work I encountered from him was very unimpressed, I would not be too surprised if this series goes downhill quickly in the regard.
I also liked how a supposedly mythical being in the Spice & Wolf franchise reared its head.
While reading Spice & Wolf, one of the things that I really enjoyed about it was how the myths were explored, and some them turning out to be true.
However, there has been one creature that was mentioned often enough that I thought Lawrence and Holo would encounter on their travels, but never did, which is called the Moon-Hunting Bear, and I assumed that it was either just myth or legend in that world.
Here, however, the series that is a sequel to Spice & Wolf, that bear was mentioned again and there was even somebody who believes they saw its tracks.
Seeing this, I went from considering dropping this series to wanting to see if Isuna Hasekura will have Col and Myuri encounter it or find its remains.
If Isuna Hasekura had not tied things like this into the book, I would be even more disappointed in him than I was when I read the 19th book of Spice & Wolf, as this is series is supposed to take place in the same world as Spice & Wolf, and by ignoring that lore, it would give people an even bigger impression that all Isuna Hasekura is doing is milking a cash cow than he already does.
Fortunately, there are some signs that this is not a Spice & Wolf sequel in name only, and that makes me want to give him a good amount applause, though not as much as if he put in the effort to make something just as good as Spice & Wolf.
Hopefully, Isuna will be able continue weaving in more stuff from the original Spice & Wolf, as that is going to keep the Spice & Wolf fans happy and give them reason to invest in this series, but I would not be surprised if he forgets his own lore.
The thing that I liked the most though was how there was a sense of adventure.
While Spice & Wolf was pretty much an adventure series, the adventuring aspect either seem nonexistent or boring until after the events of the sixth book.
However, in this book, and even the series as whole right now, it actually felt like I am exploring another world.
Yes, this is the same world as Spice & Wolf, a world that is pretty much like our own, but with myths of animals being able to turn human being true, but the way it is presented here, it feels like it is a whole new world.
If I had to say why, there are two reasons.
First, the perspective that this work is being presented in is different from Spice & Wolf.
In Spice & Wolf, even though we are traveling the world for the first time with Lawrence and Holo, Lawrence is introduced as a traveling merchant, which tells me that this guy travels most of the time, and because of that the adventuring aspect felt very much downplayed, since I was just following his daily life, and the only thing that really kept things interesting was the dynamic between Lawrence and Holo.
On the other hand, Col is presented as a priest in training, with a bigger goal than the one Lawrence had, and Col is not quite as perceptive as either Lawrence or Holo, or even as confident in his own abilities, and he has only just begun traveling after staying at the bath house, Spice & Wolf, whereas Lawrence was already traveling through the land in the beginning of Spice & Wolf.
By presenting things in this perspective, it allows for the adventuring aspect to be a much more major aspect of the series, allowing for even the most minor events to be interesting, such as the kind found in the aforementioned sixth installment of Spice & Wolf.
If Isuna Hasekura approached this series like he did Spice & Wolf, I would be very disappointed, as that would be that Col really was Lawrence 2.0 and there would be very little that I could find interesting, even if Isuna is capable enough of making the most mundane stuff seem to be fun and interesting.
Thankfully, he remembered that he wanted to explore the world of Spice & Wolf more, and decided to take an approach that felt more adventurous.
The other, and biggest reason that I got a sense of adventure, was that things seemed to be very interesting, even though nothing really took place.
Yes, there was the incident of the possibly corrupt priest and a whole investigation surrounding a character introduced in this book, but the way things played out did not really seem to be that big of deal, yet I did not suspect that things were minor until I realized I was more than halfway done with this book.
If things had proceeded like they did in the sixth book of Spice & Wolf, where the only thing that happened was that Col joined Lawrence and Holo in their journeys and everything before that felt too pointless to deserve a separate book, I would have been disappointed, as fans of adventure want to be excited about seeing and exploring new locations, even when nothing happens, and by giving them something like the book that immediately followed the events after the end of the second anime adaptation, they will likely never come back.
Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura had things progressing quite well, and made sure that things did not feel too boring.
Hopefully, this sense of adventure will continue on as the series progresses, but seeing as Spice & Wolf is the only series Isuna Hasekura is known for, I would not be surprised if things become just as dull as World End Economica.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I have already talked about.
Because my attention was grabbed quickly and held right up to the end, in spite of the fact that nothing really occurred until the end, lore from the prequel series was brought up, which made me interested in continuing on with this series, and the fact that I got a better sense of adventure than I did with Spice & Wolf, this was a pretty decent read.
Although I liked the book, there are some problems.
However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, even though one did trip me up, and something that I mentioned earlier than got negated after reading all the way through, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.
As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.
Considering how there was quite a bit to like about this book and the way things were written made the only thing that was truly problematic go away, this was definitely worth reading.
I recommend this to fans of adventure, Isuna Hasekura, Spice & Wolf, and Wolf & Parchment, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.
As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but the lack of anything really happening until the end might be a turn off if Isuna Hasekura is unable to grab your attention.
If you liked this review and you would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you would like to check out the reviewed title, buy volume 3 of Wolf & Parchment from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so I can see where this series goes and maybe find other worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.