"i would have liked to let you taste the moment of victory. but i'm afraid i can't"
While volume 9 technically starts a "new" arc it is an immediate continuation of the last one and the series in general builds off all that has come before. this is not the place to start reading - go back to the beginning. the deep abyss of purgatory (complete: parts 1-4) is a direct follow up to the witch's maw. the power balance between the three creatures of the abyss has shifted and riful of the west has been torturing claymores to try to gain awakened followers. clare and galatea are desperate to survive their battle with riful's monstrous companion and prevent her captive, the organization's number 9 (jean), from awakening. the battle and it's implications are quite interesting, with some inventive use of powers and teamwork. more tidbits are revealed about clare's personal quest as well as the world in general, and although they are essentially just mysterious hints and clues they keep up the intrigue nicely. the battle of the north (parts 1-2) reveals an unexpected and unthinkable threat in the northern lands - awakened beings working together. a full half of the existing claymores are dispatched to face them, and even then their odds are not good. these chapters kick off a major series of arcs that will continue into the next couple of volumes with effects long after that. what's here is just the set up but it does a very good job establishing the situation and introducing several new characters (along with some familiar faces it's great to see back). while i did find the deep abyss of purgatory a little slow in spots there are character related reasons for its pacing and overall it's a strong introduction to the creatures of the abyss. the battle of the north situation is quite a potential shake up for the series and ratchets up anticipation for the next volume. together they make volume 9 yet another great installment of claymore.