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. 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 21st volume of this novel series, and you can read on for the review. (You can also click here for my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases).
I’d thought Lawrence and Holo’s traveling days were over, especially given that they’re now proprietors of a popular inn. However, Hasekura-sensei seems to have decided that this couple’s dynamic is best while they are on the road. Thus, thanks to assistance from several non-human types, the pair is journeying again, this time to catch up after their daughter Myuri.
The combination of travel and moneymaking schemes is reminiscent of the original series, but this book retains the Spring Log format. In other words, rather than one continuous narrative, it consists of five short stories, each with its own self-contained arc. However, the first four stories follow one another so closely chronologically that they form a steady look at this new journey.
The first of the four is “Beyond the Steam and Wolf,” written from the perspective of Selim, who’s tasked with running the bathhouse in Lawrence and Holo’s absence. She is a relative newcomer to the Spice and Wolf world, and we get to know the shy, conscientious wolf a bit better as Lawrence and Holo eagerly prepare to leave the village. The perspective then shifts to Lawrence’s once they hit the road. “The Autumn Colored Smile and Wolf” pokes fun at Lawrence’s rusty traveling skills during their first significant journey in over a decade. He then gets to redeem himself in “The Colors of the Forest and Wolf,” when a lord requests their assistance in protecting a forest in his territory. The impact of human activity on the ancient landscape Holo once ruled was a constant thread in the original books, and this story revisits that issue. Then the first leg of their journey ends with them handling the repercussions of Col and Myuri’s activity in “The Eggs of a Journey and Wolf.” This fourth story is a lovely throwback to the original Spice and Wolf tales in that it involves economics (futures trading in herring eggs) and conflict with a religious institution (a young priest who apparently aspires to be just like Col), but it also works in a new element. Preceding Spring Log tales have Lawrence and Holo seeking ways to preserve memories of their days together, and this story introduces a new means for doing just that. An added bonus is that Holo is so desperate to attain it she refrains from her gluttonous ways for once.
The final story in the collection, “Another Birthday and Wolf,” is a brief flashback. Written from Col’s point of view, it chronicles a party celebrating the tenth year of both the Spice and Wolf bathhouse and Myuri. Most of it is Col preparing Myuri for her grand entrance. To be honest, it strikes me as odd that a young man of around twenty is dressing up the ten-year-old girl instead of her mother or another female. At any rate, the interchange makes it very difficult for me to take a romantic Col/Myuri pairing seriously.
Extras include the first eight pages printed in color, world map, six black-and-white illustrations, and afterword.
Holo and Lawrence begin a new journey! Fans of the original series will get to enjoy Holo and Lawrence essentially reliving their younger days on the road. They have the vibe of an old couple rather than the insecurity of their unmarried selves, but the stories present a nice blend of travel and moneymaking.
First published at the Fandom Post.