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 Volume 14 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
Previously, Lawrence and Holo traveled to the town of Svernel in order to meet with the Myuri Mercenary Company and find out more about Holo’s past companions and her home. But now Lawrence has gotten completely caught up in the political strife of the Debau Trading Company.
It all surrounds the Debau Company’s desire to issue a new currency, with which they have apparent plans to unite the surrounding northern region. For their aim, the Debau Company needs to acquire raw ore and materials but this has caused their opponents to increase their own efforts to foil this plan. In the middle of all this, Lawrence is trusted with delivering a forbidden text detailing the necessary mining techniques to the trading company’s executive, Hilde Schnau but will it really go so smoothly?
At the end of Volume 13, merchant and wolf looked bound for a happy ending, and as Volume 14 opens, that tidy conclusion seems a done deal when Lawrence figures out the motivation behind the Debau Company’s actions. The company’s plans to create an empire in the Northlands through the power of trade are far and beyond anything a small-time merchant like Lawrence imagined possible. However, he recognizes the opportunity approaching and positions himself to have the store of his dreams and live happily ever after with Holo.
But just when everything seems perfect, a new character arrives to throw Lawrence’s plans into disarray. Hilde Schnau, the Treasurer of the Debau Company, makes his first appearance, but just as Lawrence and Holo have been observing the Debau Company’s activities, Hilde has been observing theirs. And he knows more about them than most because he is a being similar to Holo. Similar… but not alike. Watching Hilde interact with Holo and Lawrence keeps bringing to mind a certain scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Because despite his cute appearance, he wields considerable power.
While it is a bit strange to watch a rabbit manipulate a wolf to do his bidding, it effectively drags the two travelers into an internal battle within the Debau Company. Thus the story zooms out from Holo and Lawrence’s intimate plans to the factions struggling within an economic giant. As it turns out, the forbidden book of mining techniques is key, but not in the way Holo and Lawrence thought. Once more, our heroes get swept into an affair much larger than themselves, and Holo especially must consider the future ramifications of the choices before her. And while mercenaries take arms and Holo makes use of her true form, Hilde does a wonderful job showing how well-placed words and pieces of paper can shape the outcome of a regional conflict.
Extras include title illustration in color and afterword.
Just when the series looks about to conclude happily for Lawrence and Holo, a new character appears to throw everything into chaos. Wolf and merchant once more wind up entangled in a scheme—one that not only involves trade but armies of mercenaries and the fate of the entire Northlands. While the plots and counterplots within the Debau Company are a bit complicated, the interplay of economics, military, and supernatural might makes for a gripping narrative.
First published at the Fandom Post.