53 pages 1 hour read

Travis Baldree

Legends & Lattes

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2022

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Summary and Study Guide


Travis Baldree’s 2022 novel Legends & Lattes is a high fantasy novel that alludes heavily to the fantasy world established by popular tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons. The bestselling Legends & Lattes is Baldree’s first novel, as Baldree started it as a project for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), November 2021. Prior to writing, Baldree worked as a developer for video games and lent his voice to audiobooks. Legends & Lattes follows the slice-of-life story of former orc adventurer Viv as she makes a major life change to the coffee industry. The novel explores themes of choice, friendship, and misconceptions based on appearances.

This study guide references the 2022 Tor paperback edition.

Content Warning: Legends & Lattes depicts fantasy racism and violence.

Plot Summary

Orc adventurer Viv, tired of her dangerous and nomadic life, decides to turn over a new leaf and establish a sedentary life for herself. She leaves her long-time party members as she establishes a new life in Thune with a hefty purse and an artifact known as the Scalvert’s Stone. She believes this Stone will attract fortune to her, and chooses a location near the magical, thaumic ley lines that cross the city, hoping to boost the Stone’s power.

Viv purchases a dilapidated livery and begins converting it to the coffee shop of her dreams. She learned about coffee in a gnomish town while on her adventures and has been fascinated by the beverage ever since. To help with construction, she enlists the help of a woodworking hob named Cal. Together, Viv, Cal, and Viv’s purse convert the livery to a café. A stone-fey man named Lack shows up to inform Viv that, as a local business owner, she’s expected to pay monthly tribute to a mysterious figure known as the Madrigal. Viv doesn’t like these threats and intimidates Lack into leaving the first few times he shows up. Cal recommends she hang her great sword, Blackblood, on a wall to show the Madrigal’s people she means business.

Viv hires Tandri, a succubus, as her assistant. Tandri helps her decorate and provides business advice. Because no one in Thune knows of coffee, Tandri thinks they’ll have a rough opening day. She proves correct, but uses her business savvy to create an advertising campaign, giving free coffee samples to curious customers for the first two days of business. These days are busy in the morning but slow in the afternoon, as all the shop has to offer is coffee. Viv worries the Scalvert’s Stone is not working, but on the third day, customers return.

Viv’s shop begins to attract regulars, like a rattkin who shows up first thing in the morning for a latte, a chess-playing gnome, and a student at the local magic school who is studying the thaumic lines near the shop, to Viv’s concern. Viv has the Scalvert’s Stone hidden under a loose flagstone in the middle of the café, and believes it’s responsible for the anomalies that the student, Hemington, is studying. The shop also attracts a large dire-cat, Amity, who mostly minds her business. One day, Viv’s former party member, Fennus, visits. Fennus has always been contemptuous toward her, and their conversation is fraught with tension. He alludes to an old rhyme about the Scalvert’s Stone. Viv worries he has come for the Stone, and Amity chases him away.

After noticing his apron and flour-dusted fur, Viv approaches the rattkin and asks if he’d be interested in baking for the shop. The rattkin, Thimble, accepts the job offer on the condition that he receive free coffee along with his payment; Viv obliges. The next day, Thimble arrives with a large cinnamon roll. Viv fetches ingredients, and Thimble gets to work making cinnamon rolls for the shop. The smell attracts many new customers, and the rolls sell out immediately. Thimble asks for a larger oven, but Viv doesn’t have the money for it yet. Tandri recommends more stable fare, so Thimble suggests a biscotti-like confection that keeps longer than the cinnamon rolls and pairs well with coffee. The shop explodes in popularity. With the oven working full-time, the shop becomes hot, so Viv enlists Cal to install ventilation.

The threat of the Madrigal grows, with Tandri’s former classmate and obsessive admirer, Kellin, showing up to harass her on behalf of the Madrigal’s people. Viv is terrified of losing her shop, but refuses to pay the Madrigal. She enlists the help of her former party members, sans Fennus. The party doesn’t understand why she doesn’t use violence to solve her problems, but Tandri clarifies that Viv is a different person now. Viv’s former party member, Taivus, offers to arrange a meeting so she and the Madrigal can hash things out. Tandri worries, but Viv declines the aid of weaponry as the meeting approaches.

The Madrigal turns out to be an elegant elderly woman running an empire. The woman is familiar with both Taivus and Fennus, but dislikes Fennus’s condescending demeanor. Fennus told the Madrigal about Viv’s Scalvert’s Stone, hoping to cause trouble for Viv, but the Madrigal has no desire to take the Stone. She and Viv come to an agreement in which Viv pays her in cinnamon rolls instead of monthly dues. Viv continues to worry about Fennus, whom she is certain will try to take her Stone. She enlists Hemington to set a ward around the shop as an alert system. Kellin returns, but is now on his best behavior, knowing the Madrigal is on Viv’s side.

Tandri invites Viv to a picnic after work, where they discuss Tandri’s past. She went to university to escape assumptions about her succubus nature, but these assumptions followed her. It’s hinted that Kellin had a hand in her decision to leave school. Viv walks Tandri home that night. She thinks Tandri wants to say something, but the succubus remains silent. Days go by with little conflict until Viv wakes to Fennus’s presence. She finds him sneaking around the shop and confronts him. He accuses Viv of holding out on him and the rest of their party when she took the Scalvert’s Stone for herself, despite this being their agreement. Amity scares Fennus away again, but Viv worries what’ll happen if she loses the Stone. Tandri begins sleeping with her in the shop’s loft to help her stay vigilant.

Amity wakes Viv and Tandri, alerting them to a supernatural fire that is consuming the shop. The trio barely escapes, with Viv running back for her money and coffee machine. She tells Tandri that she’s happy she didn’t lose everything—by which she means Tandri herself. They hold hands and watch the shop burn. Later, Viv discovers the Scalvert’s Stone is gone and Blackblood is warped. She lashes out, believing she cannot afford to rebuild, but Cal and Tandri convince her to try. Many of the shop’s regulars pitch in to rebuild the shop, and the Madrigal sends help in the form of labor and materials. When almost everything is back in place, the chess-playing gnome returns to admire it. Viv mentions the Stone, and the gnome explains its true power is attracting similar people. She realizes this means Fennus will only attract bad people now that he has the Stone.

After a successful reopening, Viv invites Cal, Tandri, and Thimble on board as co-owners of the shop. When Cal and Thimble leave, she shows Tandri the upstairs loft, where she installed two beds. She invites Tandri to stay with her. Tandri accepts, and they kiss.