I really needed Legends and Lattes last night. It’s a gently domestic fantasy about an Orc who retires from the mercenary life to open a café. It asserts in the very best way that the true treasure is the friends we make along the way. It’s a hug. It’s a cuddle. It’s the smell of coffee and cinnamon, and the rumbling purr of a cat.
Viv is ready to hang up her sword. She wants to spend the rest of her life serving coffee, a drink few people have heard of. She has a secret ingredient, a magical McGuffin that she thinks will bring her luck.
Viv is kind and patient. She draws to her people who value her kindness and patience. She offers people opportunities and let’s them know they are valued. There is a very sweet Sapphic romance, but the book itself isn’t a romance (the romantic relationship is not central).
Years ago when I was doing research for the Master’s thesis I never finished, I interviewed an American living in Ethiopia about how to do business ethically in a country where bribes were considered a normal part of business and life (there’s a whole conversation to be had about corruption and colonialism, so no judgement on the Ethiopians). He said the key to getting by without paying bribes was to be consistent about not paying bribes. You could not pay one bribe to expedite some thing you needed, and then go back to not paying bribes. If you were known to not ever pay bribes, you would get what you wanted eventually.
One of Viv’s challenges is to keep her sword on the wall. As she is challenged by the local crime syndicate and a mercenary she used to work with, she can solve her problems with her familiar tool – violence, or she can try a new and unfamiliar approach that involves talking. She has mixed success, but in the end, she comes out better off.
The love for coffee, pastries, and kindness came shining through. I could smell the café as Baldree described it’s wares and feel the warmth between characters. I hope we get more stories from this world.
Review update: Legends & Lattes made such a delightful splash that it was picked up by McMillan-Tor/Forge for rerealease in November. I am delighted that the wonderful story has been left untouched, but a short story from Viv’s mercenary days has been added. In the short story, “Bodkin,” Viv is working with a team, including Roon, Gallina, and Fennus, who we met in Legends & Lattes. Viv has already started thinking about life beyond being a mercenary, but hasn’t met coffee yet. The group is chasing down a shape-shifter who stole something of value. The group is tasked with bringing back both the thief and the stolen item. They can bring back just the stolen item, but that’s of less value financially and for their reputation. Through the short story the pieces of Viv’s retirement and next life start to come together.
I hope the acquisition and release by Tor.com means we will get more from the Legends & Lattes world.
I received this as an advance reader copy from the publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own and freely given.