Lawrence gets caught between his guild and a scheming female merchant!
Story: Isuna Hasekura
Art: Keito Koume
Translation/Adaptation: Paul Starr
What They Say
With his carthorse as his only companion, the young merchant Kraft Lawrence slowly wends his way through dusty back roads in search of profitable trade. But this monotony screeches to a halt when, one night, he encounters a harvest goddess in the guise of a beautiful young girl . . . with wolf ears and a tail! Longing for the northern lands of her birth, Holo the Wisewolf joins Lawrence as he follows the ebb and flow of trade through the countryside. And when the two come across a compelling but suspicious opportunity for profit, will Lawrence with his mercantile chops and Holo with her ancient instincts be able to separate the truth from the lies – and make some coin while they’re at it?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Eve, whom we only caught a glimpse of in Volume 8, gets introduced in earnest in Volume 9, and she is, if nothing else, complicated. While shepherdess Norah and clergywoman Elsa were both interesting in their own right, their respective occupations weren’t too terribly unusual. Eve, however, is a merchant, which is such an anomaly for her gender that she dresses as a man to conduct business. On top of that, she’s former nobility. She’s no shrinking petunia though. She’s bold enough to literally sink a ship for profit and so successful she’s no shortage of people wanting to partner with her.
A complex personality indeed, and thanks to her, Lawrence gets to speak to the Jean Company regarding the strip mining book that could threaten Holo’s homeland. Of course, it’s not charity on Eve’s part. She’s involved in the Kerube dispute, acting as the Northerners’ “mercenary” in negotiations with the Southern moneylenders. While land and massive amounts of money are involved, this Spice and Wolf conflict is less an economics lesson and more a behind the scenes power struggle. Unfortunately, so many nuanced details are involved that the intrigue is difficult to follow, and I still haven’t figured out what Lawrence means when he laments to Holo that Eve is being used as a “scapegoat.”
However, everything changes when a ship just happens to catch a narwhal in the middle of the negotiations. The timing is extremely convenient, but at least it simplifies the town conflict to “the side that gets the narwhal wins.” As a result of this unexpected development, Eve finds herself needing Lawrence’s assistance and dangles the strip mining book as bait. Unfortunately, siding with her would put him at odds with his guild, a position no sane merchant would dare take. All in all, it’s a tricky situation for Kerube and Lawrence.
Fortunately, the waif Col offers some simplicity amid all the machinations and back room talk. He has yet to discover Holo’s wisewolf secret, and dialogues involving him are refreshingly straightforward. We even get the secret behind the copper coin manifests introduced in Volume 8, and Koume-sensei’s illustrations of Col’s explanation are a hundred times clearer than the all-text version in the light novel.
Extras include a world map, story thus far summary, and creators’ closing remarks.
The search for the strip mining text embroils Lawrence in a citywide property financing dispute and a vixenish merchant’s scheme. Eve is an intriguing new addition to the cast, but it is difficult to discern the role she is playing in the Kerube marketplace conflict, which is less about economics and more about machinations driven by greed and power. Holo seems to tease Lawrence excessively regarding his interactions with the female merchant, but that aside, it is interesting to watch the maneuvers of a human woman who appears a match for even Holo’s wits.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014