Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Legends and Lattes - Travis Baldree

I read a proof of Bookshops and Bonedust (excellent) which comes out in November and liked it so much that I went and bought Legends and Lattes. In a slightly confusing twist, Bookshops and Bonedust is a prequel to Legends and Lattes and both work perfectly as stand-alones so it doesn't much matter anyway. The key thing with both books is that, as the tagline says, they're high fantasy low stakes. 

In Legends and Lattes Viv, an orc who has been working as a mercenary for the last 20-odd years has decided to hang up her sword and try civilian life. She has discovered coffee on her travels and her retirement plan is to open a coffee shop. Along the way, she makes a bunch of friends, finds a girlfriend, negotiates with the local gangsters, and sees off an old adversary. It's sweet, funny, and overall comforting.

It's got a similar vibe to the recent Dungeons and Dragons film - a lot of affection for the fantasy genre, but in no way inclined to take it overly seriously. It's also been a bit of a Book-tok hit and I can absolutely see why. In a world that sometimes looks very much like it's falling apart a book that dwells at length on the glory of a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun is a welcome bit of escapism. 

From the little I've read about Travis Baldree, he has a background in games development and has narrated several audiobooks - it's been an excellent grounding for writing his own books. He reminds me of early Terry Pratchett when he was more about the jokes and less about the politics - which I think is a good thing. I'm not sure about the category of cozy fantasy, or cozy anything. It's a word I think should be kept for duvets and scarves. Possibly wooly socks. On the other hand, I am definitely in the market for low-stakes good quality fiction whatever you want to call it.

It'll be interesting to see where Baldree goes next, it feels like there's more mileage in the world he's created, the characters, especially Viv are thoroughly engaging, the jokes are gentle, the world-building is excellent, and the quest to make good coffee seems like a noble one. Good quality escapism is welcome at the moment and something as light-hearted and joyful as this even more so. 

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