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".
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.
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.
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?"