Saturday 31 December 2022
CBR14 Book 49: "Legends & Lattes" by Travis Baldree
Rating: 4 stars
Viv the orc barbarian has had enough of the adventuring life and leaves her band of fellow warriors after one last battle with a particularly challenging monster. Instead of fighting, she dreams of taking all her savings and putting them towards a business of her own. In the city of Thune, she plans to open a cozy little shop, selling something called coffee. Turning a worn-down livery stable into a pleasant café isn't exactly something Viv's warrior training prepared her for, but she manages to make some useful friends and allies early on and despite some colourful threats from the local enforcers, she slowly, but surely builds her new life.
Obviously, making people excited about an unknown drink made from hot bean water isn't going to be easy, but Viv hires Tandri, an enigmatic succubus to help with serving, and the woman turns out to have a flair for marketing that can definitely aid in launching a tempting new business. After a long life of killing monsters and smashing goons, Viv has a lot of interesting friends but has also amassed some enemies. A person from her adventuring past is convinced she has something very valuable hidden in her shop and keeps slinking around to cause trouble.
This was the December pick in my fantasy/sci-fi book club and it's an excellent pick for the coldest and darkest time of the year. In between stressing about end-of-term grading, figuring out and purchasing Christmas presents, worrying about my Mum (we had to put her in a care home earlier this year, and she's growing more senile by the week), and other boring life things, this book offered me an escape and a cozy respite. The tagline proclaims that this is "High fantasy with low stakes" and that is thankfully not a lie. I think this book might be the opposite of grimdark and possibly something more fantasy authors should be doing nowadays.
At a quick glance, I can see that at least seven of my fellow Cannonballers have already read and reviewed this book, and if they couldn't convince you to pick up this book, I'm unlikely to change your mind. My only (minor) complaint about this book was that there was a lot of focus on renovation and DIY, and I would have liked a bit more about Viv developing new friendships and relationships with the supporting characters. There was such a cool cast of secondary characters, I would have liked to see all of them fleshed out a bit more.
Judging a book by its cover: While I own the e-book of this, I ended up buying a physical copy, which features the UK cover. While I really like the portrait depictions of Viv and Tandri, this cover, which evokes the shop's blackboard and its delicious treats, and that lovely emotional association makes me very fond of it.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.