Spice and Wolf is perhaps one of the best novels I have had the pleasure of reading in the last five years. I will state right now that I have yet to read a book that is better in its plot and characters than Mr. Hasekura's masterpiece. I am found eagerly awaiting the next chapter, wondering what surprises will show up. I would recommend this series to anyone whom enjoys a certainly -unique- fantasy series
Volume I allows one to enter the initial world of Spice and Wolf. It is unique in comparison to other fantasy novels in that it doesn't revolve around fighting, or finding some magic artifact, or hunting down some evil villian and all of the stereotypical occurences that one notices in such novels. It revolves around trade, travel, and a hint of mature relationship development(LET ME STOP YOU HERE. THIS DOES NOT MEAN SEX. It simply means that relationships in this novel are handled the ways adults would handle them; not teenage angst and such), with a bit of mysticism here and there. I won't reveal too much, as you should read the novel, but the female lead character in this novel is perhaps the most indepth character I have ever read about, ever. This is coming from someone who has read LOTR, All of the Starwars Novels, World of Time, and the Saga of Recluce. She is also quite unpredictable. The male lead is more or less a foil for her, however, he has his own unique personality that I think everyone can enjoy.
Overall? I'd say definitely start your adventure into this series by purchasing this novel. You will not regret it.