Week 5: 狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf 🐺

Join the Advanced Book Club here!

狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf :wolf: Home Thread

Week 5

image

Start Date: Sep 24
Previous Part: Week 4
Next Part: Week 6

Reading:

Week Start Date Chapter Start Page Page Count
Week 5 Sep 24 Chapter 3 End 139 34

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun! :durtle:

Participants

Mark your participation status by voting in this poll.
(Please feel free to update your status whenever you like!)

  • I’m reading along
  • I have finished this part
  • I’m still reading the book but I haven’t reached this part yet
  • I am no longer reading the book

0 voters

2 Likes

I got distracted by another book. It’s pretty easy, so hopefully I’ll be back to catch up in a week or so…

6 Likes

I’m still in the beginning of this week’s section, but I have a question about a vocab we are bombarded with in these first pages: 話代

The first time it appears is in:

「はい、話代としてトレニー銀貨十枚。あとは旦那の儲けに対し、その一割でお願いします」

What does this word mean exactly? I know the suffix 代 is used to mean “charge” or “fee” in contexts like 電話代 and 電気代, so is this the case here?

I’m having quite some difficulty trying to find a translation for this, and this word appears some seven more times in the conversation between ロレンス and ゼーレン. :sweat_smile:

4 Likes

Yes; in the deal the two agree on, it is the fixed fee Laurence pays for the information ゼーレン has provided. (The other part of the deal is that ゼーレン will also get a percentage of any profit Laurence makes as a result.)

NB: I didn’t know this word in advance and I can’t find it defined in any dictionaries, so I’m just making the assumption from the context of what they say in the conversation.

5 Likes

I see, it does make sense when I think about it as a “fee for information”.

Curious how this word doesn’t seem to be in any dictionary. Or at least I also haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

4 Likes

I think I get most of what’s going on with ゼーレン - the terms of the deal, that it involves some kind of currency speculation. But I’m not fully confident - is it just that he got insider info somewhere to expect thatトレニー銀貨 will grow in strength and is getting Lawrence to hold a bunch? I should go back and re-read their original conversation, I think I was thrown off by his speaking style and kind of glazed over it.

To be clear I’m about halfway through this reading. I appreciate the author providing the imagery of Holo wolfing down on some bread to help me get through a lecture on monetary policy…

2 Likes

Basically, yes. The information ゼーレン has sold to Laurence is simply that the amount of silver in aトレニー銀貨 is going to go up (i.e. the mint is going to change the ratio of metals in them). They never in dialogue explicitly talk to each other about how Laurence is going to make money off this knowledge, because both characters are merchants who are familiar with how currency speculation works, but it gets described in narration back in chapter 2: assuming the info is true, it means the currency is about to go up against other currencies, so you buy a pile and hold until that happens, then sell. ゼーレン doesn’t have any sizeable funds of his own to do this kind of thing, so he makes more by selling the info and claiming a share of the profit when Laurence does the currency speculation using his own funds.

The complication here is that Laurence doesn’t actually 100% believe ゼーレン – he’s gone into the deal betting that he’s smart enough to figure out what’s actually going on and make money somehow or another. So the naive face-value “I trust this guy and his info” play is “buy and hold トレニー銀貨” but that may not be what Laurence actually does.

4 Likes

Thank you! With that context the most recent conversation makes a lot more sense - I guess I just assumed the tip was in regards to a decrease in the amount of currency being circulated for some reason.

3 Likes

If you’ve got to the end of chapter 3 you’ll have found there is also some more complicated stuff going on…

2 Likes

I found this on the Spice and Wolf Reddit :joy:

10 Likes

I’ve reached the end of this week’s reading, but I’m not so sure I understood ゼーレン’s whole plan…

So it seems to me that the idea here is to sell this false information (that the coin value in going up) to a bunch of merchants. And use the greed of these merchants as a tool to gather all the silver coins in one place. I’m not quite sure I understand because it is mentioned that buying up a lot of a commodity is a strategy used to drive the prices up, but it is also mentioned that the fact that the merchants are doing this secretly to get individual profit shouldn’t influence the market prices?

Am I even getting some of this right? :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

Essentially, my understanding:

Zeren, presumably working with some kind of larger group (much like Lawrence intends on working with a larger group when he recgonizes the ruse) is selling this false info that coins are going to increase in silver amount (making them more valuable); since he is selling to more people than just Lawrence, he is succesfully gathering a large amount of the current coins by doing this. As you say, because the merchants who hear this info will want to be secretive about their activity to increase their own profits, this plan isn’t likely to be revealed.

Anybody who is given this information is likely going to be trying to offload their current coins by trading for as many of the new coins as possible before the value is revealed because, if the info were true, the value is set to decrease when the new coins’ value is revealed, meaning they essentially traded up for better coins; that’s the currency speculation side of it that I only partially understand (economics is not my strong suit, especially with currency valuation).

However, the ruse is that the silver in the coins is actually set to decrease; this was revealed when Holo did the little coin shake trick by her ear to judge the weight of new coins vs old. What that means is that the people who are hoarding the old currency will actually make a profit since the old coins will actually be worth more than the new coins. That’s why Zeren and whomever he is working with wants to gather as much of the old coins as possible.

I’m sure there is also something political at play that we don’t know about just yet (the kingdom that is devaluing their currency is probably hoping to keep the fiat value the same, despite the silver actually being lower), so I also don’t wonder if there isn’t some kind of blackmail intended on the part of those gathering the coins/who are aware of the silver amounts decreasing. This is just speculation though.

I also am only like 60% certain I follow this side of things myself, so if somebody corrects me, believe them. :stuck_out_tongue:

I can’t really follow currency speculation in my own language, let alone through Japanese, in a fantasy setting. :joy:

4 Likes

That doesn’t quite match what I thought was being said. I think that it’s not that people swap old coins for new (the point of a currency being that a coin X is worth the same as any other coin X, whatever the silver quantity in any specific coin is), but that by holding this currency (and not some other) when the value goes up (as it would if the ‘silver quantity going up’ info were true) they’ll make a profit. So passing out this fake info to lots of merchants means that they all quietly buy トレニー銀貨 – and because this is lots of different people doing it in smaller amounts it doesn’t move the market the way a single person buying all at once would. Now all these merchants are holding トレニー銀貨; when the real news that the silver percentage is going down comes out, the value of トレニー銀貨 against other currencies goes down. Suddenly the merchants want to get out of their loss-making position, and the mysterious mastermind behind this whole scheme is in a perfect position to buy from them: cheaply, as the value has gone down, and secretively, because the merchants aren’t going to tell anybody “I fell for some bogus info and made a big loss on currency speculation recently”. So the mastermind ends up with a big pile of トレニー銀貨 without anybody having noticed he’s doing it. The text does not (yet) say why this is a useful thing to do, but it does say it’s going to result in an astonishing amount of profit for this mysterious person.

6 Likes

I stopped reading this book a couple weeks ago, but I am still following these threads a bit, so I ended up spending 2 hours today reading about the history of coins and coin debasement. So that’s neat.

7 Likes

Yea, this is sort of more in line with what I understood too. Quite an interesting tactic.

4 Likes

Finally finished this chapter last night. Can’t say I fully get what all shenanigans are afoot but everyone’s thoughts on the matter are helping. I will say I immediately thought it was sketch that ゼーレン couldn’t lose in their deal but just assumed I was missing something. So it felt pretty good when Lawrence had that d’oh! realization later on.

5 Likes