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  #1  
Old Mar 1st, 2024, 10:08 AM
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Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

Book Club Pick for March
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Legends and Lattes has taken the Fantasy/RPG community by storm, a "high fantasy and low stakes" story of an orc named Viv who retires from adventuring to open a coffee shop. It was Travis Baldree's NaNoWriMo project in 2021, and was picked up by Tor for print publishing in June 2022 after becoming hugely popular on BookTok.

It's a book of the present moment that speaks to a new generation of TTRPG players. It's a D&D book where conversations matter more than constitution saves. It's a sapphic romance written by a straight guy who kinda seems like he's unlocked the zeitgeist like a safe. It comes with its own merch, recipe book, one-shot adventure module, and custom character sheets, or at least it could. So do we kind of want to hate it, and wave our tattered copies of Dragonlance? Or do we just want to fall backwards into it and embrace the heartwarming humor, buy the dice set and the mug?

Travis Baldree's web site.

Specifically Travis Baldree's detailed dissection of his own self-publishing process.

Smart B*tches, Trashy Books calls it a "cinnamon roll of a book" and "absolutely, utterly delightful."

This book may be responsible for bringing book blogs back. Everybody loves a lady orc! Let's discuss!
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Last edited by lostcheerio; Mar 1st, 2024 at 10:19 AM.
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Old Mar 1st, 2024, 02:10 PM
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I am a few hours into the audio, which makes this a mercy pick for me, but also, I really like it.

The voice is smooth and easy, I like the POV being so close in, the opening happens when the book ought ot be ending---it's refreshing, and i DO care abotu these characters so much and I love the reno parts. It's like ORC HGTV in a weird way.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2024, 12:44 AM
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I finally got to a villain. I didn’t mind the lack of one, but it is a good villain. Sinister and with murk behind it.

It’s taken so long because I’m listening to it at night and then I fall asleep and then I’m not sure where I am and I have to go back every day.
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Old Mar 4th, 2024, 10:06 AM
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I really enjoyed this book, and I enjoyed the second book even more. I find the "low stakes" marketing a bit odd, because I feel like the stakes are, in fact, pretty high. It's only when you're judging on the scale of epic fantasy that the stakes seem "low."

I also find it interesting that it's a D&D-inflected fantasy setting, but it's absolutely not someone's D&D campaign adapted to prose. I don't feel mechanics intruding into the story (mostly because D&D doesn't have mechanics to support this kind of story).
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Old Mar 5th, 2024, 09:56 AM
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L&LI enjoyed it, too.

Non spoiler thoughts:

This could be set in Seattle with human people and no magic with very few edits. But then I would love it so much less. Magic is rare and serious in this world, but present, and wondrous animals are present, and sense of place is GREAT. I like the world. It is pretty much 5e but with only 8 hells and TONS of social rolls.

It IS low stakes IMO; in fact, it is ALMOST Mitford with orcs. Problems include, literally, "The kitchen is hot." This is a chapter. A CHAPTER ABOUT THE KITCHEN IS HOT.

That said -- I loved this chapter.

I loved all the chapters.

One, the characters are so nice. They do have flaws and bruises and can be touchy, but they mean well and are loyal and kind, so you CARE that the kitchen is hot. (TBF, the stakes rise near the end, but the fact that I GOT to the point where there are high stakes is a testament to how much I enjoyed the people.)

Two, the guy can write women. The guy can write lesbian women with zero prurience, zero gaze. Viv is so believable.

Three, the characters regularly discover things that exist ALL OVER for us, things we mostly love (example: Latte) and they are new and fresh to this world and its cute as hell and mostly attributed to gnomes which was hilarious to me. Love.

Four, the optimism. What a nice world view, and yet it isn't sugary. I got a lot of stress relief from listening to it and liking orcs.

Five, the author reads it, and he is a pro, and it is GREAT.

I am going to get the second one from LIBRO FM right now.
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Old Mar 5th, 2024, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
It IS low stakes IMO; in fact, it is ALMOST Mitford with orcs. Problems include, literally, "The kitchen is hot." This is a chapter. A CHAPTER ABOUT THE KITCHEN IS HOT.
I mean, sure, but the central conflict of the book is about whether Viv can make a go at a peaceful life or end up being dragged back into a life of violence until it kills her.

 

To me, those are high stakes, but they're also personal stakes, which might be where some of the differing opinions come in. The fate of the kingdom doesn't rest on Viv's coffee shop, but her entire life and hopes for the future certainly do.

If you like the characters in Legends and Lattes, I think you'll really enjoy the second book. I feel like Baldree got even better at character development and since he's not preoccupied with inventing coffeehouse culture from first principles, he's able to give them more depth (I love Cal, but sometimes it feels like he just exists to solve Viv's architectural problems).
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Old Mar 5th, 2024, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen (I love Cal, but sometimes it feels like he just exists to solve Viv's architectural problems).
I FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT THIMBLE. He exists to be a cute rat and make pastry.

Cal, however, is a favorite character --- but this is because the READING. The voice he does for Cal, the way he does the HRMS, is SO expressive, he is much more alive than he would be on the page, I think, and his HOBness appeals to me.
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Old Mar 6th, 2024, 11:01 AM
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I'm gonna start this later this week!! So excited
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Old Mar 6th, 2024, 12:00 PM
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Welcome to bookclub, Feyra! --- and to RPGX.
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Old Mar 6th, 2024, 02:32 PM
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Mitford but with orcs is such a compelling pitch. I feel like someone is writing this right now. Mitford with orcs is the logical conclusion of making orcs a playable race, right? I'm here for it.
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Old Apr 5th, 2024, 06:50 PM
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I had already listened to, and loved, Legends & Lattes. So I planned to read/listen to Bookshops and Bonedust, and finished it yesterday... and I loved this book too.

I attended Norwescon (a local con in the Seattle area) last weekend, where Travis Baldree was an excellent panelist.
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