Things I Like: Legends & Lattes

By TB February 23, 2022


I’m going to kick off this series with Travis Baldree’s charming, cozy little fantasy about an orc with a love of caffeine, Legends & Lattes. I devoured this book in a single sitting and am about to sing its praises for a few paragraphs. So buckle up.

The story follows Viv, an orc barbarian in need of a change. With a bad back and more than a few scars, she retires from the adventuring life to set up…a cafe. In a city that has never heard of coffee before.

If you aren’t already charmed, you’re dead inside.

Throughout her journey, Viv draws a group of castaways to her new business: Cal, the surly hob with a penchant for woodwork; Thimble, the genius rattfolk baker; Pendry, a stonemason-turned-bard; and Tandri, the succubus who just wants to be left alone…or does she? Each is likable and lovable and gotdamn do I want more of them.

Everything about this book is charming. The characters, the setting, the cover. Even the antagonists are (for the most part) charming. Long descriptions of pastries and breads and caffeinated drinks fill out every chapter and it’s a delight.

Also, Viv and Tandri are adorable. And the tropes! You want some tropes? We got your only-one-bed, your mixed-signals, your tending-to-wounds. I love it.

I wish I would have gotten more of Tandri. More of her backstory, her motivation to seek employment at the cafe, her past in the city. But I think that would defeat the purpose of the novel. Viv’s (and Tandri’s) arc is moving forward and not being shackled by the past. Making a new life apart from the old. Tandri’s backstory doesn’t matter as much as her present-day, and that’s pretty neat.

The tagline is: High Fantasy, Low Stakes. And that’s absolutely true. Lots of fantasy races, magic, monsters, and the stakes are so small and intimate to this little cast of characters. No evil overlord in sight, just a woman and her caffeine addiction.

And that’s why I like it.

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