Spice and Wolf

Rating: 3.5

What happen to deities when people stop believing in them? Even worse, what happens when people stop needing them?

Holo is a wolf goddess who used to encourage and protect the harvest in a generic-European-looking valley (think southern Germany). With the advent of modern (the setting looks like the early 16th century) agricultural techniques, and of a monotheistic religion and associated church, the people who used to worship and thank Holo have decided that they don't need her anymore. She seem to think the same of them: when travelling merchant Kraft Lawrence comes again to the main village, she stows away in his waggon, and asks for help to leave the place and go back to her place of origin in the North. Lawrence is pretty surprised when he finds a naked young girl in his waggon, but he's too good at heart not to help her; Holo, on the other hand, doesn't have many problems proving that she's a god (just in case the furry ears and tail were not enough of a giveaway) and that she can be useful, having a few centuries of experience in dealing with humans.

They set off for a series of "adventures", although probably not the kind you'd expect: no big fights, no big evil, no world-changing events; mostly buying, selling, bartering, debts, loans, repayments… Lawrence is a business man, and there's commerce everywhere they go. The biggest obstacles in their travels are provided by the church, which, as any other expanding, exclusivist religious organisation, has declared any other divine or supernatural manifestation to be evil witchcraft, to be hunted down and burned. It's not obvious if Holo could, in fact, be captured, but I'm pretty sure it would be a blood bath (very little of it hers); she and Lawrence try to avoid direct confrontations by keeping a low profile and hiding her non-human appearance.

Their closeness and complicity soon grows into affection and love, and here again you may not get what you expect: their feelings are clearly present, but very understated, and they both avoid making a big show of it. I'm not completely clear on how a god-human relationship could work out; I mean, she's essentially immortal, six centuries old, and he's going to live maybe forty more years. I'm pretty sure she knows that she's setting herself up for much pain in the future…

Anyway, this is a character-driven story, set in a complex and realistic environment; credit to the authors for not letting the fantastical / supernatural elements take over the plot. You'll like it if you like well-paced storytelling, and think that "action packed" should be considered a pejorative :)

DatesCreated: 2012-09-23 19:40:21 Last modification: 2023-02-10 12:45:24