Title: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Published: November 8, 2022 by Tor Books
Notes: sapphic rep, colonizer behaviors/ pro-colonialism attitudes
After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.
The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.
If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.
But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.
This book was almost everything everyone said it was. “High fantasy with low stakes” is how the author describes it, and it’s a type of book I wish there were more of. Minus a few things, this book would have been a five star cozy sapphic read.
It would be remiss to discuss the plot without pointing out that the plot depends on coffee and the MC’s introduction of coffee from one section of their world to the other into another for success. Coffee, if you didn’t know, is an item deeply rooted in colonization. The history of how coffee came to the Americas is bloody, sad, and traumatic, as is the case with so many household staples we use every day.
I don’t think the author had any ill intentions in using coffee as the focal point of this book in this way, but there is an immense privilege in being unaware. Some of the passages left me a bit uncomfortable because of the pro-colonialism attitude. Of course, many people didn’t read it this way. Some other BIPOC readers did. I think it’s important to be critical of books that you read, even those read for pleasure, especially if things like this pop up. It’s because of a lack of education that we encounter pro-colonizer troupes continuing to pop up.
I was still able to enjoy the majority of the book and found that even with low stakes, it was still an engaging read and I was rushing to finish. Baldree built a cozy little world that makes you want to stay and explore some more, and it was nice to slip inside for awhile.
This wasn’t a terrifically long book but a lot seemed to happen. The pacing was perfect for this type of story since there wasn’t much that was to be achieved anyway, but with plenty of twists and turns, it didn’t feel like one straight line of a plot. I’m not a huge fan of a slow burn, and this one felt a little too slow, but I’ll take it.
I think it’s just a me problem where I have trouble following building scenes and battle/action scenes, so I was a bit lost during those times. There was one inconsistency that kind of threw me off and we never found out why that one character that seemed so important in the beginning just…stopped coming around?
I liked the characters. I wish we had a bit more depth to Tandri and I suppose Viv. Viv, the main character, did seem a bit superficial at times. It would have been nice to have gotten more inner monologue or reasoning for why she did things. We just went along with her, kind of like watching a movie.
The side characters were sweet. I love a found family troupe. The side characters seemed to shine more than the main characters at times, and I’m not sure if that was the intention but I would definitely read a book about them than about Viv.
It was a cute sapphic story. Besides those few points I mentioned, I did really enjoy it. It’s a nice book for fall when the leaves are turning and you’re at the cafe with your coffee and current read. Or cozied up reading while it’s very chilly outside. Is it as cute and cozy as everyone says? No, not quite. It’s important to note its faults. But still a solid read and one you can still enjoy for what it is.
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