Manga Review: Spice and Wolf Vol. #12

Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has  a unique bent to it. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.

Yen Press has released the Volume 12 of the Spice and Wolf manga, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Lawrence and Holo’s long journey to Yoitsu is finally approaching its conclusion. Having arrived in the town of Lenos, they encounter a jolly bookseller named Le Roi–but is he truly the fool he seems? They’re closer than ever to laying their hands on a forbidden tome whose contents threaten to transform Holo’s homelands, but in the world of merchants, sometimes the only one you can trust is yourself…

The Review

Volume 12 brings a number of past characters back to the story. Not only do we have both deaconess Elsa and her loyal friend Evan from the village of Tereo, but members of the Rowen Trade Guild’s Kerube Branch also show up. Even Eve figures into the plot, although she doesn’t actually show up in person. With Yoitsu in striking distance, it’s as if the creators want to remind readers of the varied encounters Lawrence and Holo have had in their journey.

The business aspect of this arc also combines several elements introduced in earlier chapters. At the heart of it is the forbidden book that threatens Holo’s homeland. As it turns out, the bookseller with access to the book is an acquaintance of Elsa’s, the funding comes through Lawrence’s Kerube guild associates, and the fallout from Lenos’ fur riots a few volumes back creates the particular conditions required for the deal to work. However, there is a new development in the mix: word of a mercenary band bearing the name of one of Holo’s packmates.

Whereas the ultimate solution to other Spice and Wolf schemes get laid out gradually, this one comes in a massive info dump. The logic is clear to be sure, but its presentation is abrupt. Instead, the creators spend more time dwelling on the emotional turmoil that leads Lawrence to concoct the scheme, which romantically minded readers might prefer anyway.

Lawrence’s attraction to Holo has always been kept in check by our wisewolf’s cutting remarks and his own pride. Now with their destination looming close, he must face the fact that he doesn’t want to part from Holo. Then the possibility of Holo reuniting with one of her old packmates adds jealousy to the equation. As usual, Lawrence suffers most of the angst while Holo plays it cool. Part of this is because Elsa, in a somewhat out-of-character moment, practically forces Lawrence to use her as a confessor. Even so, we get two instances where Holo shows her softhearted side, which should be plenty to keep the Holo/Lawrence fans happy.

Extras include the title page in color and closing remarks from the creators.

In Summary

For a transaction dilemma that takes an awful long time to set up, the resolution is rather quick. However, Lawrence/Holo fans might be more interested in the emotions stirred up by the deal, and Volume 12 delivers plenty of Lawrence’s internal angst. He might not be the devout sort, but he spills it all in an unusually candid and heated confession to Deaconess Elsa.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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