Legends & Lattes Would Be the Warmest, Coziest Fantasy Adaptation Imaginable

Welcome to another installment of Please Adapt! I hope you’re ready to snuggle up and enjoy a warm cuppa, because we’re putting our feet up after last month’s massive Cosmere discussion.

Today, we turn our sights to Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes, a fascinating viral indie success that bypasses the “epic” lane of fantasy and sets off on its own road, leaving readers with warm and fuzzy feelings from dawn to dusk.

Of course, Legends & Lattes isn’t the first cozy fantasy to carve out a niche in the SFF scene. Still, the novel certainly took book Twitter and other bookish spaces by storm, scratching our collective itch to enjoy a satisfying story without dire drama or world-ending stakes.

Indeed, it often feels as if we’re swimming in grim, dangerous tales. House of the Dragon treats lives—particularly the lives of those outside of the ruling class—as disposable inconveniences. Rings of Power requires the world to be saved from an evil force of evil that is evil because it’s evil. (I’m being glib, of course, but there’s an inkling of truth to it.) At the same time, world-shaking stakes can brew intense personal stories, and I flock to them just as much as the next SFF fan.

And yet, sometimes SFF fans want to kick back and breeze through a delightful tale without worrying about what dark power lurks in the shadows waiting to destroy everything we love. Travis Baldree has treated us to such a story in Legends & Lattes, which makes the book a unique and potentially enchanting candidate for adaptation.

 

The Story So Far

Travis Baldree, audiobook narrator and erstwhile game developer, first published Legends & Lattes as an independent release. He completed the draft during National Novel Writing Month (lovingly abbreviated NaNoWriMo by those who follow and participate), and the final product would eventually become his debut novel.

Legends & Lattes soon garnered the attention of reviewers, creators, and other SFF authors. Seanan McGuire praised the book on Twitter, giving it a nice boost in readership. Legends & Lattes became the proverbial talk of the town in some circles, and Baldree’s success careened into an eventual publishing deal from Tor. A new edition of Legends & Lattes publishes this November, and includes a never-before-published additional in-universe story.

Baldree is already hard at work on a second book. Same universe, different characters, though he promises a few cameos. Thus far, there’s no evidence pointing to a Legends & Lattes adaptation, but Baldree’s cozy fantasy deserves the on-screen treatment. I’ll tell you why in just moment, but if you need if you need a quick primer on the book itself, check out my Legends & Lattes review at The Quill To Live.

 

Cozy Coffee Shop Vibes

The story begins when Viv, an Orc Barbarian, hangs up her axe and opens a coffee shop. Armed with a Scalvert’s Stone (a mystical object removed from the head of a monstrous, spider-like Scalvert Queen), Viv travels to Thune and buries the Stone underneath her newly purchased lot. Placing a Scalvert’s Stone near intersecting ley lines is said to bring luck and fortune, and Viv hopes it will translate to success for her new cafe endeavor.

Viv’s business venture introduces her to helpful comrades. Tandri, a succubus, and Thimble, a rattkin baker, are among the charming cast.

Baldree’s novel follows Viv and her pals as they deal with the day-to-day operations required of a local coffee shop. There’s an overtone of humor to the proceedings because the fantasy village of Thune hasn’t ever seen, smelled, or heard of coffee… Marketing, therefore, becomes quite a challenge. A local protection racket provides a looming conflict, but Legends & Lattes smartly avoids getting bogged down in the local politics of Thune. Instead, Baldree weaves an elegant yarn about a protagonist seeking to redefine herself and reframe her ideas of success.

Legends & Lattes strikes just the right tone with the story it’s choosing to tell. It’s “a novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes,” as the original tagline states. As a limited animated series, I think it would make for perfect lazy Sunday viewing, watching episode after episode (maybe with a warm mug of coffee and some pastries to set the mood).

TV viewers are fickle, though, and the story might require minor tweaks to make it more viable for a streaming platform. Not to worry: I have a few ideas that wouldn’t compromise the narrative’s cozy integrity…

 

Expanding On Excellence

For Legends & Lattes to become a screen project and succeed, Baldree must be deeply involved in the adaptation. A few expansions to the source material would make sense to bring the story to a TV audience.

First, I’d recommend juxtaposing Viv’s former life with her entrepreneurial coffee-shop journey. We get tidbits of her former life in the book, mainly in the prologue and via run-ins with former battle companions. To understand Viv’s ambitions in opening the cafe, we’d need a more extended look at her adventures in walloping and slicing up monsters.

Now, I’m not suggesting we split the show between a hyper-violent depiction of Viv’s former life and the present in which she pursues her heartwarming second career. Instead, I think the story would benefit from the occasional scene that shows us—with careful restraint—the moments that motivated the change and drove Viv to pursue her passion. We don’t even need to see the aforementioned walloping and slicing. Perhaps flashbacks to quiet conversations huddled around the campfire would do, or to a tense interaction with a rival raiding party. Baldree drops plenty of glimpses into Viv’s past in the novel. An adaptation could widen our perspective and better understand her as a character.

Beyond Viv as the central protagonist, an adaptation could further explore the Legends & Lattes cast and their relationships. (Super minor spoiler, but there’s a subtle romance brewing alongside the coffee, and the show could delve into that element of the story to a greater extent…)

More Pendry the shy bard? Cal the hob carpenter? Sign me up. A Legends & Lattes adaptation would be a wonderful opportunity to expand on everything that’s great about Baldree’s already-impeccable narrative.

 

Vibrant, Colorful, Animated

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I hope any eventual adaptation of Legend & Lattes will be animated. Baldree’s novel bursts with color and impressive diversity, and a strong team of animators could breathe magical life into the world it creates. Top off the brew with some top-notch voice actors, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

On the other hand, imagine the budget that would be required for Viv and Tandri costumes. Thimble would need to be animated anyway, so a live-action version seems like a non-starter. Legends & Lattes deserves an all-star animation team behind the wheel.

 

Outlook: It’s A Longshot

I earned my writing chops in the gambling industry, so I know when a bet is spicy. I’d say this one’s pretty dang spicy, in my opinion—but an adaptation sometime in the near future is not a complete impossibility.

At this point, I think Legends & Lattes needs some time to steep. After the new edition hits shelves, I imagine it’ll find new readers and there will be a resurgence of buzz. Perhaps the expanded fanbase will pine for an adaptation, and studios will take notice… But whether or not Legends & Lattes eventually makes it to our screens, I can assure you of one thing: the book itself is absolutely worth a read. Let me know your thoughts on a potential animated or live-action version, who you’d cast, and which elements and arcs you’d most like to see expanded!

Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. For the most part, you can find those words at The Quill To Live or on Twitter @ColeRush1. He voraciously reads epic fantasy and science-fiction, seeking out stories of gargantuan proportions and devouring them with a bookwormish fervor. His favorite books are: The Divine Cities Series by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.

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