Book Review: Wolf & Parchment: New Theory Spice & Wolf Volume 4

Wolf & parchment Volume 4 cover

I hope everyone is doing well this week, whether it is
fighting the holiday rush or putting with the monotony of life.

Things have been going fairly well here, except for the
annoyance that cropped up this month, and I can still do what I like.

A while back, I had placed an order for some titles and
found out that a couple were coming later than originally expected, and one of
the titles I had been expecting finally arrived, which means it is time to get down
to business.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is call Wolf & Parchment: New Theory Spice
& Wolf Volume 4
by Isuna Hasekura.

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

After dealing with a situation involving a shady broker, Col
and Myuri head off to a city where tension between the Winfiel kingdom and the
Church is quite high, to the point where war may break out, unknowingly caused
by Col’s recent actions.

And when the duo land upon the shores of this city, they
find themselves quickly mixed up in the affairs the city, dealing with three
different forces at once, including an old acquaintance Col met when traveling
with Holo and Lawrence.

While the previous
installment
did pique my interest in this series enough to give it a little
more time, by giving me the sense of adventure that Spice & Wolf
lacked, it does not mean that this series has really been able to find its
footing, so I still need to be a little skeptical.

Thankfully, after reading this, I must say that I liked it
quite a bit, though not quite as much as the first book.

From the moment I opened up this book and started reading
it, I found myself engrossed enough that I did not want to stop reading for any
reason, though still not quite to the extent that either the first installment
of this series, or even the first
installment
of Spice & Wolf.

As I have said countless times before, one of the most
important things in a work of fiction is how things begins, because the
beginning is supposed to transport the audience to another world, thereby
giving them the temporary escape that they desire, as well as give them reason to
overlook the most minor of flaws.

While this hook can be created in many different ways,
depending on the genre and the medium used to present the work, this book is a
work of mostly prose, as well as an installment in a series that is a sequel to
a series many enjoy, which means that it must use words in a way that creates
images, in addition to bringing people back into a familiar world.

Even though I am not completely happy with the ways things
began, since it picks up right where the last book left off, which was released
a little over a year ago, a little over one and a half years if you look at the
Japanese releases, according to a page
on Wikipedia that lists all books in the Spice & Wolf franchise, it
still did a good job easing me back into the world of the series and has me
looking forward to what new adventure Col and Myuri would experience next.

If Isuna Hasekura had forgotten that Wolf & Parchment
was more of an adventure series than Spice & Wolf was, thanks to the
fact that we actually saw how Col’s journey began, whereas a Lawrence already
traveled constantly at the start of the latter, and started things differently,
I would have been a little disappointed, because this series is more connected
together than Spice & Wolf was, though that would depend on how
different other possibilities would be.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura kept the same flow of things,
which makes me want to give him a good round of applause for being consistent.

Hopefully, future installments in this series would be able
to start things off just as well as this one did, as it would keep things as
interesting as they should be, but knowing that Isuna Hasekura has failed big
time before, I would not be surprised if things get worse from here.

I also liked how Col found out the things he did played a
large role in the problems of the world.

When Col set out on his journey, he thought that he could
make a difference in the world by cleansing the church, like how many people these
days think they are trying to liberate the oppressed from the chains
they think exist, not seeing their own cage or blindness, and he had high hopes
that his efforts would be well received.

However, when he reached the shores of his next destination,
he learns that all the deeds he had performed over the course of the series has
led to great instability into what had been a stabilized tension to the point where
things became a tight rope because he thought he was doing the right thing,
which creates the possibility that Col might be able to have some growth in the
series.

One of the things that I really hate about Col is that he
does not really think things through, unlike Lawrence.

Now, some of you guys might be screaming at me, saying that
even Lawrence slipped up a few times when he traveled with Holo, even though he
was a seasoned traveler, whereas Col is still as naïve as he was in Spice
& Wolf
and this is first step journey along the path he seeks, but Col is
the kind of person who has not quite learned from the words Lawrence imparted
to him in the sixth book
of Spice & Wolf, because he wants everyone to be happy.

In this book, when Col was told about the problems he caused,
and seeing things firsthand, he seemed to start realizing that he needed to
think things through more carefully, it showed that he actually learned
something and to be more careful of how he acted.

If Isuna Hasekura did not have this kind of moment in this
series, I would have been very disappointed because it would seem like Col had
not learned something that he already should have, especially considering that he
was said to have gone on some adventures of his own before staying at Spice
& Wolf with Lawrence and a Holo, which would have made things feel more
unrealistic and unbelievable, not to mention make me want to drop the series
even more.

Thankfully, Isuna Hasekura made sure that Col would
experience a catalyst that could lead to some growth in the future, which makes
me want to give him another good round of applause.

Hopefully, Col would experience more moments like this as
the series progresses, as that would help keep people interested, in wondering
just what kind of man Col will become once his journey ends, but considering
how disappointing Isuna Hasekura is outside of Spice & Wolf, I am
not sure he will be able to make sure Col will be able to stand out as an
actual person.

The thing that I liked the most though was how I had gotten a
quite a bit of a chuckle out the book.

One of the things that I really liked about Spice &
Wolf
, and even the start of this series, was how I got a pretty good laugh
from the interaction and banter between the protagonists, and in this book,
that seemed to be in full swing.

While comedic or humorous moments are not exactly necessary
to make a great work of fiction, a big problem with books and other works of
fiction over here is that there is nothing that can really keep a reader
interested beyond the plot and storyline because they characters are not really
that interesting.

In the world of anime, manga, and light novels, this problem
does not really exist because the humor helps to make the characters
interesting and lively, unless even the humor itself was executed poorly enough
that it contributes to it being generic.

Here, in this book, while the comedy was about the same as
what could be found in the Spice & Wolf franchise, things were still
executed well enough that things still felt as lively as ever.

If Isuna Hasekura had not made room for comedic moments like
he, I would have been disappointed because that was part of the reason why
Isuna Hasekura was able to keep things interesting in slow paced works like
this, otherwise the mundane activities featured in his work would just come off
as mundane.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura remembered to maintain the
comedic atmosphere that made his work intriguing to begin with, which makes me
even more glad I took the time to read this.

Hopefully, there would be even more humorous moments that
crop up in future, as that will help keep things interesting, but considering
there were even moments in Spice & Wolf that were not that funny, I
would not be surprised if there are dry spells in this series.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that stood out as much as what I talked
about.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up
to the end, there was a possible catalyst that might give Col some growth,
after finding out the consequences of his actions, and there were things to
laugh about, this was a decent read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about,
such as typos, there was only one thing that really bothered me, which was how
it seemed like this was a rehash of something already out there.

Now, some people will probably be even more angry with this
about this than my problem with Col, because there is hardly anything truly
original these days, which is why I place more importance on being made to feel
like I am being given something new, rather than expecting something truly
unique or original, but this can still be something that is problematic.

When people pick up a book, they want to be taken to another
world, because they know that they will be able to experience something that
they may not be able to experience themselves.

However, because the masses have been able to get their
hands on many different books, even these days, where many people are consuming
books digitally, they have encountered various plot and stories that start and
end the same way to the point where they can see where things are going, and
when they can predict those situations and situations just continue the
formula, rather than execute things properly, the reader become bored.

While that is not necessarily a problem with this book,
since it was not complete run down through a check list of items, the problem
comes about in this book because I got too much of a feeling that the events
found here were like those featured in the fifth book
of Spice & Wolf, where Lawrence met Eve and was questioning her.

Like in the aforementioned book, Col meets with Eve, who is
trying to get Col to leave the situation alone for his own good, and gives him
a proposition that sounds too good to be true, though Myuri was the one to
notice that, that ultimately leads Eve to draw out a knife in one meeting with
Col, much like how Lawrence made things difficult enough for Eve that he forced
her hand, and Vol also spends much of the book trying to figure out the hidden
dangers of Eve’s plan.

Yes, things did not exactly go the same way they did in Spice
& Wolf
, as the fifth book in that series ended with Lawrence and Holo
deciding to chase Eve, while Col was ultimately able to get a happy ending,
through a method that seemed way too convenient, but it still gave me the
feeling that this was Lenos all over again.

Really? I know this is the same world that was introduced in
Spice & Wolf and is one that is portrayed as a world that is very
much like our own, which means that people can experience situations that are
very similar, but this really killed my enjoyment.

This is supposed to be Col’s story, not Lawrence’s, which
means I wanted to actually see things be a bit more different.

If Isuna Hasekura had took more time to work on this,
thereby making me wait even longer for this volume to come out, I think I would
have been able to enjoy this more.

Sadly, things felt too similar to Lenos, with the exception
that Myuri was not given away as collateral like Holo was, I kind of started to
lose a bit of interest towards the end.

Hopefully, future releases will start feeling more like Col
and Myuri’s own adventure, because that is that is how readers are going to be
convinced to stick with this series, beyond believing they can get more of what
they got from Spice & Wolf, but because I have already been
disappointed with at least one of Isuna Hasekura’s works that came out after Spice
& Wolf
, I doubt that he can do what is necessary to make this series
being able to stand out.

Thankfully, that was the only thing that really bothered me,
so Isuna Hasekura and those helping him bring his stories to the masses can
walk away knowing that they did not completely and utterly fail.

While there was only one thing that really annoyed me, it
was the kind that no reader really wants to see, which hurt the book badly.

Despite the fact that there was quite a bit to like, the
fact that there was a problem that readers do not enjoy seeing ends up making
this book only good enough to kill time.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Wolf & Parchment,
as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but
it might be best to read it without trying out the prequel series.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
considering supporting me on either Patreon or SubscribeStar, or if you would
like a copy of the reviewed title, please buy
Wolf & Parchment:New Theory Spice & Wolf Volume 4
from Book
Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so I
can try to find more worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.

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