RogerBW's Blog

Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree 17 July 2022

2022 fantasy. Viv the orc settles down after a life of adventuring… to open a coffee shop.

The subtitle is "A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes", and that's part right. For me high fantasy implies big important matters, not street-level shenanigans (say, Tolkien rather than Howard), and this certainly isn't that; but it is small, slice-of-life stuff, and while what happens matters hugely to the people involved nobody's out to save the world.

It's a fantasy about people being nice to each other, even if they are Those People they've been told are the Enemy. And, obviously, about found-family, as Viv does the thing (apparently revolutionary) of just treating people as potential friends until they give her reason to act otherwise. (Done less well, this could fall into the trap found in some Victorian stories of doing well because others will then be good to you, but Baldree avoids that problem by giving us a lot of Viv's thoughts.)

There are plot threads of a sort, about a magical stone and its purported effects, about the local criminals wanting their cut of the new business, about an old adventuring rival; but while these spur some action they're mostly there to give those people an opportunity to be the people they are, like a gentler version of the constant stream of stressors in a soap opera.

There's not much worldbuilding here (this is a post-Dragonlance fantasy in which gnomes have technology, including ceiling fans and espresso machines), and there are no significant surprises. It's a comfort read, it doesn't pretend to be anything else, and as that it works very well.

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