Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Legends & Lattes is a quirky fantasy story involving a battle-tested orc named Viv that simply wants to open a coffee shop in the city of Thune. On a previous adventure, she had discovered the wonderful drink known as coffee and was instantly hooked. The title and blurb alone piqued my interest as I love coffee and fantasy!
Differing greatly from other fantasy stories, Legends & Lattes is narrowly set in a former livery stable that is to be converted into a coffee shop. We travel a few places in Thune, but unlike most fantasy, there are no grand quests to faraway lands. There are some mentions of past adventures, as well as visits from former comrades (and rivals).
Instead, the story is mostly character driven and Baldree nails nearly all the characters wonderfully. Besides Viv, the female Orc, who towers above everyone, there is the diminutive Tandri, the baker Thimble, and the builder and wise man, Cal. It was easy to fall in love with Cal, a Hob, from the start. He is matter of fact, hard working, and the type of person you want around when you don’t know what you’re doing.
I never fully got a feel of Thune but the coffee shop is beautifully described and there are a lot of funny callbacks to stereotypical coffee shop vibes. Mixed in is some mystery surrounding a certain stone Viv has stored away and we have an interesting, fast fantasy read.
The fact that no one in the town even knows what coffee is makes the story that much more intriguing. Overall, I was expecting a character-driven story and that’s what this is. Epic fantasy enthusiasts might not be as entertained, but I recommend this story for the uniqueness and fast pace. And for Cal.
Final note: Travis Baldree is an audiobook narrator and narrates Legends & Lattes. He does an excellent job and I recommend listening to the book.