Flash Review – Spice & Wolf (Vol. 2)

The vagabond life has become livelier for Lawrence, who has to put up with the antics and abuse of his traveling companion, Holo. Troublesome as she is, her title as the Wisewolf is handy to have around. While settling a business deal, she helps Lawrence realize he’s being shortchanged and after exposing the merchant strips him of his massive stock of wares. But in taking advantage of the man, Lawrence soon learns that he was the one being taken advantage of the whole time.

The Shepherdess:

Lawrence and Holo meet a young shepherdess who’s top-tier at her job, and her inclusion is both smartly written and unfertilized. Her job title itself drops us in the know on more of the world and how it operates, but her very character is shrouded in mystery. We get the bare minimum of backstory and personality, only enough that the plot can slide smoothly forward. It’s a shame that this volume is most likely all we’ll see of her, because there’s plenty of questions which arise around her intriguing character, and the series doesn’t seem arsed to answer any of them.

The Lack of Explanation:

I appreciate it when a book respects the reader’s intelligence and lets them come to their own conclusions rather than explain things like they’re a six-year-old with crayons shoved up their nostrils. However, this series respects its readers too well. I know this and that about business, but purchasing something “on margin” isn’t a concept I’m familiar with, and even though I eventually learned just by reading the volume normally, I spent a fair chunk of it in the dark. Looking up a definition of a unknown term is fine, but it’s a bit much making chapter 7 of an economics textbook required reading.

The Despair:

A point where I’m glad it forewent explanation was Lawrence’s moment of despair. Most series, I find, have the protagonist think through a problem as opposed to feel it, and while we do get some of Lawrence’s thoughts, what we’re treated to are his emotions of helplessness and hopelessness. This volume does well toward making us understand how it feels for a man struggling with his sundered reality.

The Verdict:

All in all, I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for items to discuss, because I don’t have much to say about this volume. Its literary prose is refreshing in a medium of casual first-person narrations, but it rests in this zone of quality where there’s nothing bad enough to warrant criticism, but nothing good enough to demand praise. It’s just fine overall.

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