Reading Journal 2023: Legends and Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes by Travis Baldree
Just to set up my experience with this book. I first heard about it early last year when it started to show up in seemingly every think piece, podcast and online discourse. For a book that had seemingly muscled itself into these conversations though, it proved impossible fo find. It is what you might call an unknown “discovery’. A small book by an unknown author that explodes on to the scene via word of mouth. Unlike film, when a book experiences this phenomenon it means it sells out in a very short amount of time, and to print more generally takes a good while.
So here we are over 10 months later, the book finally getting a rerelease, this time with an added prequel attached at the end. The verdict? I get why it has been such a hit with a wide cross section of readers. It is high fantasy, but with a very grounded, down to earth and real world approach. Sure, the world might be populated with unfamiliar creatures such as elfs, dwarfs, orcs, gnomes, and weird spider like monsters called a scalvert queen. It even has a dire cat. But it also tells the simple story of one such Orc named Viv who, having tired of life as a constant adventurer lived by way of muscle and sword, desires to start afresh by relocating to a quiet, unassuming village and opening a coffee shop, a new drink she happened across while on one of her adventures.
The book is an easy, undemanding read (hence the low stakes), and for high fantasy avoids the complicated world building and details you sometimes find colouring the genre. This is the sort of book you can finish in a couple sittings, a feel good story meant to endear you to its characters and leave you with a smile befitting a well made latte. And I think it succeeds on this front. I won’t be surprised to see this made into a series or a film someday.