The fantasy genre is stuffed full of multi-part, grand epics that feature universe shattering politics, action and complex plots – with scores of characters in each saga to get to know. Though I enjoy fantasy fiction, I’m often put off by the huge scale of most sagas in the genre, especially as I often have trouble keeping track of so many names and plot developments – over the course of what is usually thousands of pages – in any given series.

What first attracted me to Legends & Lattes was its seemingly small scale setting and self-contained nature; the post-quest story seemed absolutely perfect for my tastes. Yet nothing could prepare me for just how much I enjoyed Travis Baldree’s debut novel, which hopefully is the first of a series – despite my issues with fantasy epics that go beyond one-and-done stories.

When Orc Barbarian Viv finds a valuable, potentially enchanted stone at the end of a dangerous and bloody quest, she decides to leave the warrior’s life behind and cash in, using her stockpiled loot to settle down and open a coffee shop. Coffee is little-known in her world, existing as a Gnomish delicacy that few of the other races in the world are aware of. So she looks to set up her establishment in the city of Thune, enlisting help to renovate an old, disused building and seeking further assistance in running the first coffee shop that the city has ever seen.

Baldree’s debut is an unqualified success; it’s utterly engaging and absorbing from beginning to end, with a cast of truly likeable characters whose warmth and affection – for their jobs as well as for each other – comes across brilliantly. Just as an example, even descriptions of the food created by the endearingly enthusiastic Rattkin chef, Thimble, are enough to make your mouth water and your stomach rumble (repeatedly, I may add), but the true magic of the book comes with the friendships that develop between each of the characters; in one case, this blossoms believably and sweetly into something more. It is wonderfully handled, but I’d rather not go into details; the joy of going along with these characters on their intimate, heartwarming and gently affecting journey is one which should be done with as few spoilers as possible.

Just prepare to fall in love with this endearing, charming little band of outsiders who find that they’re truly there for each other, no matter the odds they find stacked against them.

Truth be told, it’s a gently cosy journey for much of the book; it’s a marvellously chilled out, but involving read – so when danger and tragedy does strike, despite the low stakes promised by the book’s subtitle, it genuinely feels like a devastating blow.

Though the tale does reach a conclusion of sorts, it’d be a real shame if this was the last we saw of Viv, Tandri, Cal, Thimble and Amity. They’re a group of friends who I really do want to spend a lot more time with – and hopefully the success of Legends & Lattes, which seems to be garnering deservedly universal acclaim from a growing fanbase of readers, means that a series is definitely on the cards.

One thing’s for sure: I can’t recommend Legends & Lattes enough – it’s a wonderfully charming read even for those readers normally put off by the fantasy genre.

You can purchase Legends & Lattes from Amazon here.

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