It’s been a month. I promised myself that I would be reading more books this year but it’s been a challenge. Through other plans, health problems and a general lack of focus I’ve not been able to read as much as I wanted to. Luckily I did find the time to read this volume Spice & Wolf. Just like the first volume, this part of the story has been covered by the anime as well. I’ve never actually read all of the second volume before, although I did read a bit of it back in the day when I first bought it. Now without wasting any more time, let’s have a look at the second volume.
We follow Lawrence and Holo as they continue traveling up north. They’re going through the city of Poroson and make their way towards the religious beacon for the church that is Ruvinheigen. Since the roads there are dangerous they decide to go through a lesser traveled road. This road is supposedly prone to wolf attacks but with the wolf goddess of the harvest on their side they should be fine. On their way there they run into a shepherdess which is curious. They travel to Ruvinheigen together where they part ways. Lawrence meets up at his merchants guild and slowly the signs that something is off start to creep in until Lawrence gets to the company where he’s planning to sell off his armor. There he finds out what was wrong. The price of armor has plummeted to mere scraps compared to what it once was. The company that sold them to him has had to default and the loan now belongs to the company he was initially hoping to sell the armor to. With a debt that’s too large to do anything about in a short time, and a cart full of useless armor, Lawrence and Holo are getting desperate.
So they hatch a plan. Together with Norah, the shepherdess, and the Remilio company that is facing bankruptcy with them, they decide to smuggle gold into Ruvinheigen. The city taxes gold extremely heavily so the price is very high in town. Being able to smuggle some into town without paying taxes on it would lead to ridiculous profit. But many have tried to do so in the past and a majority has failed. They’re now faced with finding a way to succeed against the odds. That’s where Norah and her shepherding skills come in. Having her sheep swallow small clumps of gold to then excrete them after they enter Ruvinheigen is a brilliant plan but it can go wrong at any moment. They decide on it against these odds and manage to convince her as well, allowing her to dream of quitting this job and becoming a seamstress. Together with a member of the Remilio family they travel through dangerous wolf-filled forests to the nearby Lamtra and back. Will they make it safely and avoid certain doom? You’ll have to read the book to find out. (Spoiler, there’s another 20 or so books after this, so I don’t think the worst case will happen to them. Just a hunch.)
The (new) Characters
We know about Lawrence and Holo at this point, so let’s have a look at some of the other characters introduced in this novel and what to think about them.
The first one that’s arguably the most interesting character as well is of course Norah, the shepherdess. They meet her on the road from Poroson to Ruvinheigen and hire her to protect them. Norah doesn’t really know that they don’t need her help at all with Holo’s talents, but Lawrence likes the extra company. She’s a young woman who’s been herding sheep for a handful of years. She’s employed by the church at the moment who aren’t really paying her well. It’s a stable line of work though, even if the church doesn’t really trust anyone who’s talented or even remotely different from the norm.
She has bigger dreams than being a shepherdess forever though, and that’s how she gets caught up in Lawrence’s scheme in this book. She wants a different career path and the money that Lawrence provides can just get her there. There’s the obvious risk though, but she decides it’s worth it. My favorite part about her character is that she is a lot more clever than Lawrence initially thinks, which leads to some interesting conversations. Holo is of course ever the smart one and realizes all this at once.
Besides Norah there’s no real major characters in this book. There’s the trade guild master that Lawrence visits, who is friendly but a lot colder when he finds out Lawrence’s predicament. He doesn’t seem like a bad person. Besides him there’s Hans Remilio, the man who’s going down with Lawrence into bankruptcy as well as Marten Liebert, a young upstart with the Remilio guild who is accompanying them on this trip. Besides these minor characters, the story mainly focuses on Lawrence, Holo and Norah. And the dog, Enek, of course. Can’t forget the goodest of bois.
Overall this volume felt similar in pacing and storytelling as the previous one did. The story is one I’m vaguely familiar with because season 2 of the anime covered it. Speaking of season 2 of the anime, as I was writing this, fresh of the press, season 3 of the Spice & Wolf anime has been announced. I’m still half worrying that it’s not real, but it looks real. I can’t put into words how excited I am for another season of Spice & Wolf. Putting that aside though, I liked this volume. I think Norah was a fun character that really complimented Lawrence and Holo’s cynicism a lot. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but there is definitely a sober way of looking at the world that Norah doesn’t quite have yet. Yet she’s also not so naive that she becomes an unbelievable character. The story was fine, although the situations surrounding the specifics of Lawrence debt and the way his guild handled it did feel a bit overly mean. I get that business is business, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
The final chapter is where it’s at though, and we’re reminded that Holo isn’t just a young woman with a tail and wolf ears and some good senses. She is the wise wolf of Yoitsu. As the troop is harrowed by wolves in the forest, she’s the one who has to stand up in the end. I urge you to read the book itself to see what happens next, but I can assure you that it’s quite good.
I might make a separate post about the announcement of Spice & Wolf season 3, but I don’t know yet. It’s something I hold very dear as it’s the show that convinced me to start buying light novels and manga. Over the years it’s no longer my favorite show per se, but it’s very high on my list still. Holo was my avatar and steam on discord for a long long time and she’s still one of my favorite characters. She’s so sassy, whimsical yet emotional, flawed and so small at times. But she’s also this ferocious wolf goddess and it’s such a complex and amazing character I can write about it for days. But enough of me gushing over Spice & Wolf, I’d love to hear how you enjoyed volume 2. We’ll be covering Volume 3 next month, so make sure you get ready for it. I found myself zooming through the chapters once I started reading, which admittedly was way too late, I only just finished it. As always, thanks for reading and until next time!