Review: Legends & Lattes

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book along with the Sword and Laser group on Goodreads as the April 2023 book pick. I’m glad this ended up being the pick. That said, this is probably going to be a very divisive book. It’s a book in which, to some degree, “nothing” happens. Our main character is an Orc member of a fantasy adventuring party (think RPGs or Lord of the Rings). She wants to retire to start a coffee shop in a fantasy world where coffee is new (and unknown in the city she chooses).

A large chunk of the book involves describing how Viv (our Orc) designs her shop, convinces patrons to try coffee, and (together with another character) invents pastries. That’s the majority of the book, if in an over-reduced description. There is some conflict and Baldree does a good job a providing a couple plot twists and red herrings. Just as you can guess the ending to a romance novel (because there are certain tropes), you can probably figure out the ending of this book before you get there. It’s really more about the journey and Viv’s internal journey. I would almost say this should be a good book to give to any fantasy fan who is entering retirement or changing careers. It almost has a parable-like quality to it.

So the reason for the high marks from me mostly come from Baldree’s prose. I like the way he writes the characters and unfolds the plot. What I REALLY like is that he makes good use of profanity. That is to say, it’s used incredibly sparingly so it hits really hard when the characters use it. It’s like a spice that way (to make a bit of food wordplay).

I think the best praise I can give this book is that I read nearly all of it non-stop on a 2ish hour flight. Usually on a flight, I read for a bit and then I tire of holding the book or my neck hurts and I stop. I just kept going and going with this book. (The reason for the big gap from date started to date finished is because I took a while to get to the bonus short story in this book)

As a little bonus: the author bio at the end mentions that Baldree worked on Torchlight. Although I wasn’t a Diablo person, I did play Torchlight and it gave me quite a few hours of joy.

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