Spice and Wolf is a great anime series, that I give one of my strongest general recommendations. Sadly, it did not get the third season promised some time ago, but the two existing seasons are very good. It comes from a light novel series, that I avoided for some time purely because I couldn’t justify the shelf space of all those oversized books. Thankfully, the books finally became available in electronic format a while back, and here I am.

This book is the initial storyline, which took six episodes in the series (maintaining the usual rate of two light novels per season/cour rate that I’ve noticed elsewhere), and the two are very close. The main part of the book deals with a money-changing scheme that means a lot of money for someone. It also means delving into the technical details of metal-based currency and devaluation. In this, the book is a bit better because its easier to re-read anything that goes by a bit fast. Also, there are little touches of background information that can easily be given in the narration, so the book is better there too. There’s a bit more world-building going on than is evident from the anime series, though it manages to hint at pieces of it.

And of course, the central pillar is the same in both mediums: the relationship between Lawrence and Horo. Both are engaging characters, both are lonely, and are well aware of it, even if it is often buried under the day-to-day events. Lawrence being the sole viewpoint here lets the wolf sage Horo be properly unpredictable and mysterious, partially because she can also be human and vulnerable when least expected. Some of this is undoubtedly an act, and some is the fact she hasn’t had much real interaction with anyone for quite a while.

At any rate, this is a case where an original novel and its adaptation live up to each other. If you liked the series and want to see more without going through the same again, if my prediction holds up, book 5 should be the start of new material. Otherwise, start with whichever you like, you won’t miss anything from the other version