Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Book Recommendation: Leo Champion’s “Warlord of NYC”

with 12 comments

Folks, I’ve been meaning to write this blog for several weeks. I knew about Leo Champion’s book WARLORD OF NEW YORK CITY for quite some time, mostly because I was one of his beta-readers and proofread the final version. But the time never seemed right to talk about Leo’s book.

Now, the time is right. The word is given. (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here? /snark)

Leo's WarlordFirst, let me show you the book’s blurb:

In the twenty-second century, global civilization has moved into networks of arcology-skyscrapers that tower hundreds of stories above streets abandoned to anarchy. Inside the arkscrapers, a neo-Puritan cult of social justice rules absolutely; on the streets, feral gangs raid between feuding industrial tenements.

Diana Angela is a hereditary executive in the bureaucracy that runs the world, with a secret life as an assassin on the streets. A burned-out idealist, she’s long ago given up on trying to change the world – the best intentions of the past have only led to greater misery.

And she has no reason to think precinct boss Jeff Hammer’s intentions are even good. A former mercenary who may be a military genius, Hammer’s narrowly taken control of a small tenement. Now he’s facing vengeful exiles, aggressive neighbors, and uncertain internal politics.

Which might be the least of his problems now that he’s drawn the attention of one of the city’s most dangerous women…

And now, my comments.

Diana Angela, also known as DA, is a badass. There’s no question about it. She is tough, smart, strong, somewhat of a chameleon as her society requires it (she lives in the arkscrapers, and is a part of the Intendancy, an extremely corrupt yet also extremely politically correct society). She hates what she’s forced to do in her day job, and has worked all her life to do some good on the streets of New York City as an assassin.

(Yes, an assassin. And she’s damned good at it, too. But I’m digressing, and I shouldn’t.)

DA is a fully actualized woman. She cares about people and has compassion, but it comes out in very unusual ways. She also loves sex — why not? — and her society, with its beliefs that you have to do this (and “this” changes weekly, it seems) and you can’t do that (with “that” also changing weekly), makes it hard to enjoy it. (That you have to get permission for every sex act from the worst of the toadies she deals with — “Can I touch you here? Can I touch you here?” — drives her crazy. And it should.)

The fact that sex, itself, has become so far away from what it can be in taking you out of yourself for a moment and losing yourself in someone else is a huge symptom of what is wrong with the Intendancy.

Simply put, the Intendancy has got to go. But they have enormous power, and DA can only do so much topside in the arks.

She can do a great deal more on the streets, and she does. I do warn you, some of what she does is bloody and there’s a whole lot of violence. She kills people who “need killing,” and for the most part you’ll agree with her once you realize what these people have done — though in the moment, you may think, “Why be so happy about killing them?”

Diana is not a sociopath, though. She’s more of a frustrated idealist with a set of skills — judo, aikido, various other martial arts, swordsmanship, archery, guns — that allows her to live with the terrible things she has to put up with in the arks by balancing it with her vigilantism below.

But then, she realizes there’s a new player on the streets of NYC. A guy named Jeff Hammer (from Leo’s first book in the series, STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY) has overthrown the corrupt regime in his own tenement, and has started a new one. He’s an ex-flyboy (and flying, in his world, means using something akin to a bike with wings; I am not doing this concept any justice, and I apologize for that), he’s smart as a whip, and he knows things have been off for a very long time. And he’s going to do something about it…

DA goes to look in on Hammer, and can’t decide if he’s a criminal, a madman, or worse. That the last time someone like Hammer arose caused a bloodbath that DA, herself, was a part of, makes it even tougher for her.

So, will she decide to help Hammer? Or won’t she? And if she does, will NYC ever be the same?

Thus ends my plot summary, hoping I didn’t spoil it too much for you.

I still have one more comment, though: Leo’s book is damned good. Really, really good. It reminds me in some ways of Lois McMaster Bujold, even, though it’s far bloodier and DA’s overt sexuality is not something LMB would ever cotton to. I think the reason it does remind me of LMB, though, is because of the assuredness of the writing on the one hand and the capability of the female protagonist on the other. DA knows who she is, what she wants, and knows exactly how to get it…so don’t get in her way, as the only person she needs to fear is herself. (In that way, she reminds me a little of Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, or better yet of Elli Quinn or even Sergeant Taura. And if you don’t know who I’m talking about, go read every book LMB has ever put out, then come back, will you?)

In other words, you need to read this book, even if you’re normally squeamish regarding violence (as I am). It is funny. It skewers with manic glee many stereotypes regarding how “wonderful” a politically correct civilization would be if given its head. It has some interesting things to say about sex, power, and money. And the way DA is, herself, matters greatly…as does the way Jeff Hammer tries to change things for the better.

WARLORD OF NYC will make you think. And will make you root for DA, even when she’s at her most obnoxious…and wonder how on Earth she’s going to deal with Jeff Hammer when she can’t always see the forest for the trees.

It is, by far, the best thing Leo Champion has written yet. And he needs to be encouraged to write more in this vein. (Who knows what’ll happen next? I want to find out!)

Again, the Amazon link is here for WARLORD OF NEW YORK CITY. It is available on Kindle Unlimited. (Unfortunately, at this time, it’s not available at Barnes and Noble or anywhere else.) Or you can buy it outright for $3.99 (again, only at Amazon).

12 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Likamarie's Blog.


    June 8, 2019 at 9:02 pm

  2. Very comprehensive and intelligent review Barb.
    Another for my list (Once I have kicked Amazon’s cyber-butt into letting me buy stuff again…..Amazon stopping you buying stuff….oh the irony!)

    Woebegone but Hopeful

    June 9, 2019 at 8:50 am

    • Thanks, Roger. I’m glad you enjoyed what I wrote here. I was impressed with what Leo did, and I hope folks will find it. It’s rare to find excellent dystopian fiction of this particular type.

      Mind, I was hoping the Libs in this country and post-Libs would find this of interest, as it shows their worst fears coming to action. So far, that hasn’t happened. But I have hope.

      I don’t think you have to be Libertarian or post-Lib to enjoy it, mind. (I’m not, and I did.) I think you just have to have an open mind and an “if this goes on” sort of mentality. And perhaps a hate for political correctness run amuck… 😉

      Barb Caffrey

      June 9, 2019 at 10:20 am

      • If its dystopian…forget politeness and correctness….That’s why its dystopian.
        Like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four……Don’t expect a happy ending or nobility

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        June 9, 2019 at 11:54 am

      • I think Leo’s going to find a happier type of ending. But a lot of it is just dystopian and thus you want to howl at the moon to get these guys to stop it. 0:-)

        Barb Caffrey

        June 9, 2019 at 11:44 pm

      • Yep! That’s dystopian… It must have left an impression on me, because last night I have the most vivid and long dream about a dystopian future and folk with cyber and mechanical implants….. It was quite entertaining, like watching a Netflix SF series.

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        June 10, 2019 at 3:54 am

      • Write it down. And then work on it? 😉

        Barb Caffrey

        June 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      • Maybe, maybe, in time. It has to take its place in the queue.😃

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        June 11, 2019 at 3:19 am

      • Yeah. I understand that one, all right. 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        June 11, 2019 at 8:16 pm

      • That’s why I like audio books, I can wander about the place and let someone else do the reading foe me…
        On reflection not sure if that’s the right outlook🤔

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        June 12, 2019 at 3:23 am

      • Sometimes audio books are a Godsend. I remember driving cross-country once, and listening to a bunch of books, including one Star Trek book that was only available as an audiobook. (It featured George Takei talking as Captain Sulu, so it was interesting for me to hear, at least.) That one, I do remember… 😉

        Barb Caffrey

        June 13, 2019 at 9:32 pm

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