At long last I have reached the end of the first season of the anime. This was kind of exciting as it meant the next volume would be new material. But first I have to answer the question of whether the danger and excitement of Bell and his party getting trapped in the dungeon before the over-sized boss fight was actually as interesting as it was in the anime.
Bell's ascension to level two is big news. Now the anime did touch on this, but the reactions of other characters was not as pronounced and the whole levelling up thing didn't seem quite the big deal other than just another step on the road. The book spends a lot of time on Bell meeting with people who are reacting to the news and you really see the impact the news has on the town of Orario. This helps really flesh out the world this character is in and makes things seem just a little bit more authentic.