Sunday, 31 March 2013

Spice and Wolf- novel 7- Side Colors

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

This volume comprises of 3 short stories, the first of which is about Holo and 2 children, set before she met Lawrence. This story takes up just more than half of the book.

The other two stories have Lawrence in them, but are not set directly after book 6.

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Part 1: The Boy and the Girl and the White Flowers

A boy and a girl of the rough ages of 10 and 12 respectively worked in a rich estate owned by a traveller of whom was hardly there. One day the brother of this rich man turns up and claims ownership of the estate, saying that his brother died on his travels. He then sets to sending everyone packing, essentially throwing them out on the street to become beggars.

The boy, called Klass, was a servant of the mansion. The girl, named Aryes, resided in a high stone walled area next door to the mansion. Aryes is older then Klass, but she had not so much as seen the outside world in all her years. Yet on that fateful day, Klass remembers her as being the first one to walk away drifting off into the distance. He decided to join her by quickly grabbing a  sack and stuffing it with as much food and water as he could before running off and chasing after her to catch up.

At first Aryes is a confused girl, making you think she's not all there in the head. She asks Klass why flowers do not wilt in the ground without being situated inside vases with water. She also considers birds to be spiders crawling along a high blue ceiling, and she also does not recognise him as a boy. In fact the only man she has ever recognised as being male was when a horse drawn carriage passed them on the road.

They are travelling along the same road that led out of their estate, with the knowledge that it would eventually lead the way to the sea. They spend their days walking on or near the road, rationing their food and water and sleeping on hillsides.

On their forth night Klass is awoken by the sound of wolves. He wakes Aryes, but not knowing the danger she only shivers from the cold. Just as the pack are about to attack, they retreat having noticed something (later revealed to be Holo).

On day 5, Klass pushes a weakening Aryes too much, and towards twilight she collapses and vomits. Just as it seems like they are doomed, Holo appears out the blue.

Holo tells him that Aryes is just suffering fatigue and nothing more. She shares her food with them in return for her joining their party, but the next day she leaves them be again and catches up with them toward sundown.

That night Klass and Holo are awake. She asks him whether the master of his old household was truly dead. He explains what he knows, and Holo seems disappointed. She explains that the travelling man was searching for an elixir of immortality. She explains that she wanted it for herself (its implied that she would use it on a future mate. She's most afraid of loneliness after all, especially when it comes to seeing loved ones dying whilst she stays young).

She then starts teasing Klass and eventually Aryes wakes up and notices. Holo is toying with him on purpose to see if Aryes would become jealous.

The next day their travels take them to new boggier lands with rocks and even a forest in the distance. Holo gives them a wake up call regarding the real world. She teaches them about money and how they would have to work all the hours of the day just for food alone. In other words they are likely to become beggars or even worse; die of starvation (which was nearly the case before she arrived).

Klass takes out a few coins on his possession, thinking it would get him by for 3 months. Holo tells him it wouldn't even pay for a loaf of bread. Aryes reaches round her collar and takes out a gem stone neckless that she tells them she received when she was young. She suggests using it to pay for food. Holo asks her what has been inscribed on it, and she reads "to my daughter Aryes". Clueless, she considers it a gift from god. However, Klass and Holo both realise that she must be the daughter of rich parents. Holo tells her she must be the daughter of the lord of the manor that went traveling, and that she is the true heir of the family, and should be the true owner of the estate they left.

Holo then tests them by asking if they consider it wise to turn back now that they know this fact, but they don't want too because of the evil brother who is now in charge. Holo then updates them on a serious predicament; the household know of Aryes and are presently hot on their tail to return her to the estate.

Holo suggests they run for the next town located just beyond the forest. She claims they can hide successfully within it.

After running as fast and as hard as they can muster, they find themselves deep inside the forest. Aryes rests and Klass goes off to search for water. Holo heads back carefully to see if they are still being followed. She soon reports back saying they are safe for now.

Holo teases Klass as she forces him to sleep on her lap, when all he really wants is to sleep by Aryes side.

After waking up and traveling some more inside the forest, Holo turns back to them with a sour look and tells them she may not be able to help them any more. Klass hears a noise directly behind him, and turns around slowly to find a giant stag god standing right behind him.

Klass and Aryes run whilst Holo takes up the defensive. She jumps through the trees with such agility that Klass mistakes her for flying.

Soon the epic battle between Holo and the giant stag continues downhill near a stream. Klass and Aryes become cornered by a gathering of deer, and the giant stag catches up to them, without Holo around.

Klass assumes that Holo has been killed. He tries to protect Aryes but the stag comes after him. After taking up the defensive and dodging the stags kicks, he manages to pounce up towards its head and uses his staff to poke its eye. The stag wails in agony and flails off down towards the stream. Klass runs to check on his girl and then collapses from fatigue.

Klass wakes up in a new place. He checks his surroundings and realises that Aryes is there with him, safe. He's lying in a cave, laying on straw. To his astonishment Holo is behind him.

We learn that Holo lied to the children about being chased by people from the estate they walked away from. In fact this was all part of Holos teasing, as a way of making Klass more of a braver man for his girl. The deer and stag god were also a test of courage. The giant stag shows up without any injury to his eye. Apparently even Aryes was in on it, which explains why she wasn't that bothered about the giant stag and never ran away from it.

The novel finishes with Holo basking in the sunlight shining down from deep inside the forest, in the deers 'holy ground'.

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Holo mentioned these two children in the previous novel. With Col having just joined their group and Holo acting like a mother, its nice to see how she acted around kids in her past.

Holo tells Klass that she is 2 centuries old. This isn't much information, but it does give us something at least. The time frame of this story still seems like a very similar age to the main story, yet it has to be before the time Holo settled in the village of Pasloe, which she resided in for "hundreds of years". So I'm guessing this particular story must be set in the early hundreds, like maybe 500BC-ish? Maybe? Just how old is Holo anyway?

I found it hard imagining them following the road 100% of the time. It was slightly contradictory in that it would say they are following a road to the sea, yet they would be climbing grassy hills, stopping to look at flowers, and find it hard passing through thick forest understory.

I'm guessing there will be a follow up story at some point down the line. We still haven't seen them reach the sea, nor who Aryes parents really are. I would also like to see how Holo parts with the couple and whether it would be a sad moment for her as it would mean her being lonely once more.

I'm giving this short story the benefit of the doubt. I assume there will be a part two at some point, so because of this I'm still going to rate it high at 8-10.

Overall its nice to have had a glimpse at Holos life before we met her in volume 1.

Holo, Aryes and Klass
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Part 2: The Red of the Apple, the Blue of the Sky

This was a very short story set directly after novel 1.

Holo and Lawrence are still in Pazzio despite kinda needing to run away from those who would recognise them, especially those that would recognise Holo as being a wolf.

Holo had bought a few crates of apples whilst Lawrence was recovering from his injuries. She had also bought a few expensive clothes using Lawrence's money. Holo slowly eats her way through the apples in their room. Lawrence wonders where she packs it all, and even contemplates that maybe her stomach is somehow magically the size of her true form. He teaches her about the delights of baking apples for a pie, but they never get round to making one.
Lawrence then tells her that they need warmer clothes for traveling north with. Needing to change his money, they visit Weiz. He acts all seductively charming around Holo again, which annoys Lawrence. They decide to visit him later in a bar, and set off to a clothing stall in which Holo turns her nose up to some second hand wares, but eventually settles on some more expensive clothes which she would later wear as her 'town girl' look.

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After visiting Weiz, Holo tells Lawrence that she considers Weiz a 'better male' for flirting/bantering with her. No wonder Lawrence fought so strongly from then on to be a person Holo would honestly admire.

Not a bad short story, though I'm surprised they didn't just get out of Pazzio ASAP. I thought they had enemies in that town after novel 1? See, this is why I write a synopsis to everything, otherwise I forget key points. Eerghhh maybe one day I will write the first novel's synopsis.

Rating this is difficult because it was so short. Maybe a 6-10 for being average. However it was still a nice filler episode of sorts.

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Part 3: Wolf and Amber Melancholy

This was a very short story set directly after novel 2.

Lawrence and Norah are busy chatting over a lavish meal in a tavern. Naturally, Holo is there as well, but she's being very insular. She meticulously watches Norah's mannerisms to try and understand why Lawrence is so infatuated with her. Holo is also somewhat drunk and hazy, and soon realises that she is ill. Instead of making a scene and disrupting their well deserved victory meal, she decides to stick it out and challenges herself not to make a scene until she is safely inside her bed.

Unfortunately for her, she passes out at the table. Next thing she realises is waking up in bed, hearing Lawrence about to walk through the door. Upon his arrival she pretends to act weak and feeble to see how he would react, hoping to get a response he would likely give to Norah. However, her plan backfires as he scolds her for not telling him sooner that she felt unwell. She's shocked because throughout her whole life hardly anyone has ever told her off, and whats more, he was right.

He feels her forehead for her temperature. She feels slightly embarrassed but doesn't let him show it. She then thinks of him taking advantage of her weakness and jumping her, and even comes close to asking him if he would, just so she could tease him about how red in the face he would be. Alas these only remain as her thoughts.

The next morning Lawrence introduces her to something she has never even heard of before- medicine. He explains the human theory for the use of medicine as she's forced to drink weak apple wine. We learn that she never could finish off the crate of apples from the last story, and had to share them with him. Even though she was reluctant at first, she ended up preferring to eat them with someone.

He tells her that he expects the same amount of treatment and attention she's getting from him if he ever were to fall ill, and she smiles and says thats fine, so long as he doesn't mind it being done in the style of the Yoitsu wolves. He reserves his next comment, and we readers learn that it would mean licking the body and cuddling up. LOL.

He spoon feeds her out of a bowl, and she loves being treated as a child or a wolf cub.

Holo apologises for her falling ill and delaying their trip up north, but he says it wasn't so bad after all as in his extra time he has been able to make up and restore his friendship with the townsfolk of Ruvinheigen.

Lawrence mentions that he has also been spending time with Norah, which makes her considerably jealous. She tries her best to hide it but he ends up asking her why she hates her so. He explains how he considers her sweet, which makes her think that she may be over thinking things. With a cooler head, she sees that Lawrence doesn't notice her jealousy.

Lawrence leaves Holo to rest once again. She lies in bed pondering about Lawrence being a sheep. Eventually he comes back, with Norah. Instead of throwing a fit, Holo asks Norah what the best way to control sheep is, at which Norah realises she's talking about Lawrence, and quickly replies "you need a generous heart". Holo is moved by her reply, and instantly comes to realise just how wrong her misconceptions were about the girl. She decides to like her from here on out, and whats more concludes that the feelings that she holds towards Lawrence are in fact the emotion of love.

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This story is told from the perspective of Holo, which makes for a nice change. Its interesting to know that she considers everyday situations as mini hunts which should always see her as coming out on top.

It was really fantastic to learn that this was the moment that she started to love Lawrence. Its just a shame that later she would be over thinking things to the point that she would want to push him out of her life.

This short story was KEY to the franchise, so I'm giving it 10-10.


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Volume 7 is the first book in the series NOT to be released with a western style cover jacket. Yen Press must figure that by now everyone is used to the manga style images, rendering the blonde American Holo redundant.

I hate being harsh, and I know it must be a fucking pain translating from Japanese to English, but so far this book in the series is the worst for having English grammar errors. Whoever is working as proof readers at Yen Press need to step up their game. We are only talking about 20 to 30 occasions that I noticed of, but it still becomes obvious that the proof readers were strapped for time.

This book does not get an overall score. I only rate the quality of the stories only, ignoring the translation errors.

2 comments:

  1. I proof read this and editied this article listening to OST 1 found here-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWWETTms5kg&list=PLB9886EBD77459D02

    ReplyDelete
  2. This part 3 remember me the OVA.

    thank you for another review

    ReplyDelete