Lawrence and Holo are on the road again. Traveling to the city of Ruvinheigen, they pass their days bantering with each other, each trying to get the verbal upper hand, and planning what they will spend their money on. Lawrence is particularly pleased because Holo helped him get the better of an underhanded merchant in the last town they were in and now he has a wagon of armor to trade. But when they get to Ruvinheigen, Lawrence discovers that not only is the armor worthless, it is less than worthless. Suddenly, Lawrence finds he has two days to pay back a large debt or forfeit his freedom. But with Holo the Wise Wolf to back him up, he just might prevail.
These are not the most action-filled books, instead time is spent explaining the intricacies of trade and the dynamics of Lawrence’s and Holo’s relationship. Lawrence and Holo spend a lot of time bickering and trying to get the upper-hand in their relationship. There is so much unsaid between them that the reader can get lost. Are they flirting? Do they care about each other? Why do they act that way? Given that Holo is supposed to be the wolf god, it does make some sense that the two don’t understand each other.
The author frequently over-explains these interchanges, telling rather than showing. Consider the following exchange:
“‘I thank you for your consideration. I’ll try to find the money in the next two days, somehow.’
‘There are always possibilities in business – and some you can only see when you are in true danger.’
Lawrence’s heart thudded at the statement. It could be interpreted as illegal.”
To me, this is a weakness in the writing. If you need to tell me every thought and explain every sentence, you are not writing clearly enough. It is as though the author writes the scene and then writes an analysis of the scene immediately afterward in the form of a character’s thoughts. Maybe this is a weakness in the translation or maybe it is a cultural issue. Still, these books are a good supplement for fans of the anime, giving more background and insight to the characters and the nature of their world.
Safe for middle school (no sex, little violence, no rude language), but will appeal more to high schoolers.
Spice and Wolf novel series, vol. 2
by Isuna Hasekura
Art by Ju Ayakura
Yen Press, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: 13 and up