Thursday, 3 September 2015

Spice and Wolf- novel 13- Side Colors 3


Part 1: The Wolf And The Honeyed Peach Preserves

I'm quite intrigued because this first short story is set a long time after Holo ate a whole piglet (which happened in Lenos) yet they are talking about this whilst sitting in the drivers seat of a wagon. This must mean that this is either novel 12's direct sequel or its set sometime in the future. Col isnt about, so I suspect the latter. Either way, COL IS GONE!!!! At some point it will just be Holo and Lawrence in the wagon again. This is great news!

Anyway, in this story they are in a busy town surrounded by mountains and forests. This means they must be in the north somewhere near Yoitsu. Im guessing here but it seems fitting. Holo is busy eyeing up the food stalls whilst Lawrence is busy trying to direct the wagon on such a bustling street.

They are tired and need somewhere to stay for the night. However they are turned away by all the taverns. The wagon crawls around town due to congestion. They overhear passers by talk of honeyed preserves they use on their bread from an apothecary shop. Holo becomes intensely interested so Lawrence makes sure they visit the shop. Holo instantly eyes up the honeyed peach preserves however it is far too expensive. He feels bad, and ends up with honeyed ginger instead.

Holo is deflated and Lawrence cant help but think it couldn't be helped. It doesn't help matters that at this rate they will have to make do with camping for the night.
Lawrence really wanted to treat Holo to those honeyed peach preserves. He thinks back to those passers by they overheard earlier. They seemed to have talked of some business in town. Lawrence turns the wagon the other way and heads back.

They find the business Lawrence was looking for. Its swarming with people rushing about. Lawrence directs the cart inside. Being the amateur pro that he is, he locates the head manager. He goes up to the man and informs him that he is here for transport of goods. Lawrence is directed to another man who deals with transport. Nobody seems to notice that Lawrence is not an official worker here but none the less they need the help. Lawrence slyly also asks if the company has a room for them to use for the night, and the guy points to the back and talks of a maid that is in charge of that. Lawrence's wagon is fully loaded with goods to be transported to a nearby village. Holo is not up for a trip out. she storms off to the back to find the maid. On Lawrence's way out, he spots her outside of her newly acquired room on the third floor, eating the ginger preserves and giving Lawrence the eye as in to say "fool".

Torches lit the way across a bad road to the village, where a mill is being built. Many other people travel across the same route which is attracting wolves and dogs. Lawrence makes several journeys before coming back wanting to rest. He works out that 3 or 4 more days of this would raise enough money to buy the honeyed preserves. When he meets up with Holo in their room he finds her pissed off at him for seemingly leaving her all alone for such a long time. She tells him she's been back to the shop and that there are only two jars left. Lawrence stifles Holos anger by working out how to correctly ask her to join him for the next journey he makes to the village.

Lawrence sleeps. At the crack of dawn they use an idea to earn more money. That idea being delivering food to the villagers. They use a two wheeled cart horse to deliver a huge pot of soup to the villagers. Nobody else would dare do such a task due to possible ambushes from the wild dogs and wolves along the way. However with Holo in tow, they enjoy a peaceful excursion to the village and ensure everyone gets a good meal, for a price.

At the end of things they both eat the final scraps of food from the bowl. There is no indication whether Holo got her honeyed peach preserves.

Part 2: The Wolf And The Twilight Colored Gift

Still travelling in the northlands, Holo gets so drunk that Lawrence has to carry her back to their inn. He undresses her outer clothes whilst contemplating stripping her naked just for the fun of it, (lol) although it says he's never undressed her completely.

She recovers and they go shopping. Holo dresses in her town lass garb. She's irritated at the prospect of two or more days on the road without a roof over her head. Peat is one of the items on sale but she cant stand the smell of it wafting through the shop so she drags him out, talking of being hungry and wanting dinner.

They go buy cheap rye bread, vegetables and beans. As Lawrence pays up he asks for the change to be given in the Schmie currency. The shopkeeper asks if they will be heading to the northern forests, in which Lawrence replies they will be visiting a village along the way. Holo gets so drunk at the tavern that he has to carry her. He ponders at how defenceless she is by being carried into their room.

They get to the next town early. Lawrence inspects the coins he received when Holo drapes herself over his back, asking what he's doing. He gives up his seat for her and gives her water to drink. He says that he plans to sell the coins in a village of woodcutters as wards. Each of these coins has a picture of a creature or situations that in some cultures ward away what is on them. The coin Holo becomes interested in has a wolf design. Lawrence wonders whether they could make money from warding away wolves using her help. They think that herbs may give off a bad smell for animals so they decide to venture off to a shop.

Holo grips Lawrence's hand tightly when they pass a good looking barmaid. Lawrence ponders of Holos jealously to be more like a joke on her part. They enter an apothecaries shop that sells herbs and spices. The shopkeeper recognises holos skills when she shows off her skill of heightened sense of smell. She entertains him with difficult wares that he brings out whilst Lawrence sees to another shop temporarily.

Lawrence returned to find them both drinking. Her sense of smell has saved the shopkeeper from fake wares and this is his way of repaying her. Lawrence produces a present for Holo; a wolf coin made into a necklace. They realise that pete would make for the perfect wolf ward and joke about it.

Part 3: The Wolf And The Silver Sigh

They are both out of town, having stopped the wagon for lunch. Holo notices a lead necklace in the ground with the image of a beasts head. She decides to take it and wear it around the middle of her tail. Lawrence asks her where she found it. He had bought some pelts from the town they had just visited. After realising that he can profit from a gap in the marketplace (by buying and selling), they turn the wagon back. Holo is more interested in Lawrence noticing her more but isn't put off too much.

They reenter the town where he asks her to stay in a tavern whilst he does business. She's not happy by being left alone and asks for more money to spend in town. This she treats more as a revenge tactic as it would have cost him nothing if only he would have brought her along with him.

This story is told from Holos perspective so she gets drunk at a tavern and occasionally Lawrence would come in to report on how well its going buying and selling pelts.

They leave the pub only to find stall owners going crazy wanting to find out who cheated them. One of them holds up a tail with a silver mark. Holo instantly realises that what she decided to wear on her tail as jewellery was in the real world a price tag for fox tails, and that Lawrence wasn't going to tell her because she seemed to like it so much. Holo decides not to scorn him and instead lets it slide. He made profit and in fact showed more tack than herself. For once Lawrence was the wiser one.

Part 4: The Shepherdess And The Black Knight

This story is told from the perspective of Norahs dog, Enek. A little weird but it kinda works. She (the dog) tells the reader in first person about her upbringing, the downfall of her first master and how she met her second master, Norah.

They are both now in a new country (implied to be more eastern like Russia), with Norah having given up the life of a shepherdess. After 2 weeks of travelling, they arrive in a town called Kuskov where there was recently an epidemic which killed a lot of the residents. Norahs plan is that there should be enough work for her there to get by.

One night when sleeping in the wilderness, Enek hears fighting. She wakes Norah and together they sneak off to investigate. On a road lies an inn which is on fire and being attacked by bandits.

Enek goes in to rescue a pilgrim being attacked. In all there are 3 bandits which Enek wounds. One of the guys she saves is a bearded bishop named Giuseppe Ozenstein who is also traveling to Kuskov to teach of gods word.

The inn burns down and they walk on. They don't have very far to travel at all before arriving at Kuskov. They are welcomed to the gate by a man named Tory. The gathering crowd cheer at the arrival of a bishop, but Giuseppe almost forgets about Norah which leaves her and Enek alone again. However Norah does get given a place to stay.

The next day she visits the Rowan Trade Guild and hands over a letter of introduction to follow her dreams as a seamstress. The guy in charge informs her that commerce isn't happening in town because of the plague. Its still too early for Norahs wish to find work here.

Norah next visits the needlecraft shop only to find it shut. Enek is hit over the head by a missile thrown intentionally at her. Norah has a go at the woman who threw it. local feral dogs are considered vermin due eating plague victims and this woman doesn't really take dogs lightly because of it. The woman turns out to be the master of the Clothiers' Guild named Ars. She invites Norah into the needlecraft shop. Things turn sour once inside. She is a broken young woman from the hardships enduring from living within the town. She is on the verge of lashing out at Norah when a knock on the door stops her. A man enters the shop and Norah and Enek run outside to find themselves alone again.

They go back to their inn where Norah cries for the town and her nerves. She decides their next step is to visit the bishop. Unlike Ars, the church welcomes her in with open arms. Giuseppe is asleep but the woman make Norah feel ok and wanted. The man who walked into the needlecraft shop from earlier turns up. He is some sort of lone shark of which the woman despise. He claims in front of all the people that Norah is here to look for work as a seamstress. Norah expects the woman to now dislike her but the news has the opposite affect. All in all visiting the church wasn't a bad move for her.

The next day the woman of Kuskov dump their children onto Norah for her to look after and tell stories too. After a few hours the kids leave. Norah contemplates how she wouldn't be able to make money out of looking after children full time. The inn keeper tells her that the bishop has called for her, seeing as she couldn't meet with him the evening before.

Norah makes her way to the church and bumps into the money lending man along the way. At the church Ars is there, addressing Norah on behalf of Giuseppe who is resting from wounds caused by the bandits two nights before (Norah may have saved him from the inn but he is still wounded). Ars has a heart to heart with Norah and apologises about her temper. She informs Norah that Giuseppe has made her a Deacon of the church. She explains that the town is in financial ruin, on the verge of being in a huge take over from a neighbouring town Rezul that is looking at exploiting Kuskov for everything its got.

Giuseppes's and Ars's plans are to make Norah, an outsider, a deacon of the church with a plea from god to save Kuskov. Norah recites the speech given to her if she is ever to convince the town of Rezul. Ars dresses her up ready. They talk about the seamstress apprenticeship being a skill that takes years. Far more years than Norah would have wanted. Ars is a young girl who wants to see the good times return back in her town that she hasn't given up on. She is a good person really and shows it. She will be a great friend to Norah if their plan succeeds.

Ars also mentions that the money leander bloke isn't that bad a person really. She is to marry him after all.
As Norah readies to leave, she looks at her old shepherdess staff leaning against the wall of her room. She walks out without it, ready to face this new direction in her young life.


I wasn't so keen on reading yet another side quest type book. Im only interested in reading the series to see the continuing adventures of Holo and Lawrence. However I was very pleased to see that the first 3 short stories were set after the previous volume, with no word of Col at all. It is very hard to tell exactly when they are set or how far into their relationship they are. I guess the next volume may give us the missing pieces of this puzzle.

I liked Norahs story though I did not much care for it.

Spice and Wolf is waning on me. I am ready for the end of the series and may have to force myself to read just to get to the end of it. As volumes 15 and 16 are one story I will read them together. I am looking forward to reading volume 14 very much as the series works better as a 1-story-per-book kinda series. As for volume 17 I've heard its just an epilogue kinda story much like the side colors novels. Oh well.

I rate this novel 7-10.

My Master gathered me up in an embrace, nuzzling her face into my neck
"We can't stop. Can we?"

Thursday, 9 April 2015

REVIEW: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki chan

The thing about the world we saw in the movie without Haruhi being a force of nature and all the other crazy stuff going on is that it was soulless. Just like the real world. It wasn't a world full of anime styled high jinks and stuff i would like to see happen in reality. It was just like this one. Its normal-ness hit Kyon hard like a ton of bricks. Its one of the most special things to see from an anime; a world that is as monotone as the one you are in right now. Its powerful. Its special. It gave me goosebumps.

This new anime series tarnishes that absolutely and completely.

To say this anime is crap isnt really the point. It angers me.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Spice and Wolf- novel 12


Holo and Lawrence share a few intimate moments early on in this novel. Once whilst still on the island Kingdom of Winfiel where their banter leads to mutual hand holding, and again when on the return boat to Kerube where Lawrence lovingly brushes her hair back without her asking whilst they talk. Their actions are showing more instinctive intimacy. Both don't question it, nor blush nor feel weird about it.

Piasky's letter suggests that the real wolf bones may be in the possession of the Debau Company, whilst Huskins information talks of another sheep god named Hugues and his colleague Fran who can be found in Kerube.

At the trading house on the south side of Kerube, Kieman gives Lawrence a letter from Eve which states that she profited with the furs. Kieman also directs them to the location of Hugues, which turns out to be an art shop in town.

Hugues shop turns out to be full of paintings. Lawrence and Holo explain what they are there for and Hugues reveals that the paintings are primarily for other wandering gods that wish to purchase a visual record of their homes before they were destroyed by mining or from the Moon Hunting Bear.

Fran Vonely
Holo fails to find any visual records of Yoitsu. The painter named Fran turns up. She is only a girl who also specialises in silversmithing. Fran is a frequent traveller to old villages in the north and knows a lot about the old tales and stories attributed with them. When asked, it is revealed that she knows about Yoitsu. Lawrence puts his foot in it and asks to pay for a map. Fran seizes this opportunity to exploit them and forces them to embark on a quest to a northern village named Taussig where local tales tell of an angel and a witch. Fran needs co-operation from outsiders in order to investigate the story. Otherwise she would come across as visiting the village as an associate of the supposed witch.

They set out by using Hugues' wagon with Fran riding her own horse. They travel north to the planes and find the village at the foot of a few mountains. They are welcomed into a household where they are served dinner whilst the husband tells them the story of a local legend, a tale of the appearance of an angel many years ago. After that the gang are led to a wood by the same guy. He tells them another story of a witch which occupied the wood a few decades ago. Our gang plan on staying the night in this wood to investigate further.

They reside in a cottage next to a lake with a waterfall where the Angel was supposed to have appeared. Inside the cottage they find the so called witch. She's long since dead still sitting in her chair. Turns out she was a nun who came here years ago to see the Angel.
Fran and Col go off exploring together a few times, giving Lawrence and Holo some alone time. Again theres a bit of handholding going on between them and again its considered not that big a deal.
Once everyone is together in the cottage, Fran explains that the village has used the tale of the witch to deter the church from caring about the angel rumour. The village are scared of higher factions such as the church coming in and setting up a water mill at the river. Otherwise the villagers would be burdened by heavier taxation.
Our gang is being watched during their stay, presumably from the villagers.

It comes to light that the reason why Fran is so interested in the Angel rumour is because it was mentioned from her lost friend, or maybe lover.

Its agreed that the Angel rumour must derive from falling snow and ice from above the waterfall, with the falling ice looking like wings.

Fran asks Lawrence and Holo to ride into the village on horseback to acquire a map of the river path and its streams. They do so but out of the blue arrive men by horseback with spears, demanding the village representatives to come out. Apparently this is the landlord arriving demanding to lay waste of any lands where the legend of the angel remains.

Holo and Lawrence escape by foot back to the lake and cottage. they meet up with Fran and Col along the way. Fran says that soldiers were also here a moment ago.

Fran has the idea that the landlord has chosen a third option without being confrontational to both the church and the pagans. This third option is to erase all traces of the dead nun entirely, construct a water mill and therefore profit from travellers coming in from the Northern Campaign. She reveals that the dead nun was actually called Katrina Lucci, a woman currently being canonised as a saint. Her possessions, the cottage, the area and even her dead corpse will soon be considered holy relics. This should bring in enough profit in itself for the landlords (the Debau Company) so there should be no need for a water mill.

Before they set off on this journey, Fran was informed about Lawrence's skill as a ruthless profitable merchant from Lud Kieman of Kerube. Fran expects Lawrence to somehow help sell the so called witch off as a saint, the complete opposite of a witch. Lawrence thinks this is totally impossible. Fran is so annoyed at Lawrence's unwillingness to help that she storms off. Col, having spent a lot of alone time with Fran, thrusts a book of scriptures at Lawrence and storms off after her.

Lawrence and Holo open the book. It has blood stains and is very old. Inside it are letters from Frans friend who told her about the Angel. These letters confirm that he was a soldier that died, and she was born on the battlefield, using the church as a means of saving her life.

Lawrence consoles Holo. He draws her in close and they bump foreheads. He decides with a clear head that instead of running away he will instead choose to help Fran. Otherwise Fran could easily end up dead; 'erased' alongside the dead nun/saint.

The two head back to the cottage. Lawrence does not plan on selling Katrina off as a saint, but instead will refer to her as one as a representative of the church during the canonisation process.
Later on Fran and Col arrive back. Fran is surprised at Lawrence's willingness to help.

Soldiers arrive on horseback, followed by most of the villagers. Lawrence and Fran head out to confront them. Lawrence is addressed by the landlord appointed governor who points a spear at him. Lawrence introduces himself as a merchant that has been sent by a bishop in order to render the legend of the angel in silver work, the exact same story our gang had agreed on in the first place. However Lawrence then goes on to say he was also sent to check on Katrina whilst her application of canonisation was still ongoing. This surprising news stirs among the locals and troops alike.

An old knight steps through the soldiers and reveals to be the true leader, a man named Kirchner Linguid. He greets Lawrence and asks him for proof of his word. Lawrence has none. Instead Lawrence recites a list of relevant names attributed to the canonisation process he memorised from Katrinas book of scriptures, and tells the leader that he should ask them for proof.

The leader Kirchner is more timid than Lawrence would have suspected, and the man is just about to believe Lawrence when a solider in the ranks shouts out that he recognises Fran Vonely as the chaplain of the Kirjavainen mercenary troop from the battle in Ploania where the resulting battle led to the leader being hung on suspicion of being a pagan. Therefore Fran could not be attributed to the church, so the soldier says.

Tensions are high but Fran steps out admitting she was the person who the solider claims her to be. A spear is pointed at Fran as she tries to defend herself with a strong speech. she is injured by a spear in the shoulder. A villager then shoots an arrow in the leg of the soldier that did this. This starts a battle between those willing to believe the angel legend and those that do not. Lawrence takes Fran away from the fighting and she asks to go to the lake. She is bleeding quite badly.

Holos wolf form appears at the top of the waterfall. her howl is so powerful that everyone stops to look up. A rumbling occurs which some say sounds like a heavenly troop. An avalanche occurs from the top of the waterfall. The crash of ice and snow sends icy water into the air in such a way it appears to be wings taking to the sky- the angel legend in fruition.

Back at Hugues shop Lawrence recites the rest of the story. The village accepted the legend and came to believe in Lawrence and Fran, as well as Katrinas sainthood. Fran was fussed over by the villagers so much that Holo looked at her with delight at seeing a person loath so much attention, similar to when she was worshipped as a goddess in the past.

It took 3 days to return to Kerube. Everyone goes to bed that night on the second floor of the shop. Just before retiring for the night, Lawrence talks with Fran in her bedroom about the map she promised to draw. Its revealed that it was her intention to die at the lake once she solved the mystery of the angel and put her past behind her.

Lawrence leaves Frans room and finds Holo waiting just outside. He ignores her and they retire to their bedroom together.


I have not experienced a decent Spice and Wolf novel since volume 6. This book was fantastic. I read it in the blink of an eye I just couldn't put it down.

The author reveals in the afterword that he wrote the story when on a writing holiday in Okinawa. The quality shows. This is a beautiful story that equals the tone of those original novels.

Despite having two extra people around (Col and Fran) not once did they get in the way of Holo and Lawrence's important alone time. Talking of which this novel starts with the important statement of saying to the reader that Holo and Lawrence love each other, the two characters have known it for ages, but now they don't care about being free to express this to one another with simple gestures such as handholding, caressing and intimacy.

The angel legend involves a 'beast'. In the grand scheme of things with Holos life span its a relatively new legend. Could it be from a wolf god? Does this mean at least one other wolf god is out there somewhere?

I love this novel. Its been two years since I've read a decent Spice and Wolf novel. I might have slated volume 6 but honestly looking back it wasn't that bad. Things got worse which made vol 6 look good. That was the last good novel. I thought the series was on the slippery slope of mediocrity.

10-10. Yes thats right. Ten out of friggin ten. Spice and Wolf is BACK.

"If you fail, I won't forgive you."
"Of course." Lawrence said, lightly bumping Holo's forehead with his own.
"Of course." he said again.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Spice and Wolf- novel 11- Side Colors 2


Set before Holo and Lawrence arrive at Lenos, I think? They sidetrack to a new village being set up in the middle of nowhere for the sake of building an abbey. They help out around the village and settle skirmishes by translating poorly written church plans for them to follow.

The second short story was about them going through a forest on a detour to find a place to relax in the sun.

The last short story takes up about half of the book. Its about Eves life after falling from nobility and trying to cope being a much poorer person. Spoiler alert she murders her first victim in her first trading attempt. Cold blood. However she was stuck between a rock and a hard place so she didn't have much choice. However if you read this chapter not already knowing the character you would say it was out of character for her to kill him like she did. She fancied him for crying out loud.


Overall this book sucks. The two short chapters with Holo and Lawrence were actually good. However at this point I would say I'm bored to shit with the series.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Spice and Wolf- novel 10


The gang travel by boat to the island kingdom of Winfiel, where Lawrence follows written instructions given to him by Lud Kieman from Kerube to meet with certain salesman in order to gain access to an abbey which may hold the wolf bones Holo is after.

The kingdom is on the verge of financial ruin. This is evident by their failing nobility and their nearly worthless currency. To make matters worse the worlds most powerful economic alliance, the Ruvik Alliance, are taking interest in the abbey our gang want to visit in what may be the first signs of taking control of the kingdom.
This bloke named Piasky from the Ruvik Alliance escorts them up to the Abbey which ends up a 3 day trip by horse.
During the day or so Holo and Lawrence just chill out. Their banter involves him burying his head in her chest apologetically because he failed to find information that day, and there was another one before that where he and Holo shared a bed with her lying on top of him.

Piasky cannot find specific details which is relevant for Lawrence, but is interested in using him as a means of breaking down the power that the Kingdom of Winfiel has over the all important abbey. He explains that the Ruvik Alliance has bought the land as a means of building towns and villages for the sake of refugees for those affected from war or religious tensions. Holo feels emotional during this bit and Lawrence wonders what would have happened if she met him first before Lawrence.

The shepherd they are staying with named Huskins turns out to be a sheep god. He found a letter from a messenger lying dead in the snow which informs that the Abbeys taxes would cripple the Ruvik Alliances plans.
Huskins tells them he was hoping to meet his kind in the area after the Moon Hunting Bear destroyed his homeland many eras ago. Holo breaks down during this bit and cries. She understands this guys intensions however her plans were to walk away with Lawrence and Col only for her to storm back alone in her wolf form to raid the abbey for the bones then come back.

Lawrence somehow forces Piasky to look into the Wolf bones in more detail. It may be their last chance to save the Ruvik Alliances plans.

Lawrence then has to convince a council of higher ups to look into it. Which they do.

Complex stuff happens and in the end Huskins uses his godlike powers to drive a herd of sheep into the opposition. Holo goes on ahead to the abbey and storms the place, only to come back and inform Lawrence that the bones were fake all along.


This novel was dead boring. I gave up on it for months. Luckily its over now, and my synopsis should spare you the need to read it.

The series needs to drop Col, up the romance and focus on the risks of Holo being a wolf more often.