Two snakes on the Tree.
The Gold says "taste of Knowledge!"
The Black, "eternal Life!"
This is the most recent of kingtycoon's multi-part series on the War of Kliali Succession, his masterpiece ouvre on politics & human nature. While fantasy, he takes more from William T. Vollman & Lafcadio Hearn than from the pulps. I had told Kingtycoon prior to reading that he was going to have a hard time topping Windheart, since I quite enjoyed that & really ended up admiring the protagonist. His reply was that he planned on alternating themes in the series-- every other book would be interesting things happening to decent people, like in Windheart, but other-every book would be bad things happening to terrible people, like Raindrinker, & well, Solemnwell. He promised & delivered; really terrible things happen to the people of this book, that is true. Kingtycoon doesn't flinch away from rape & rapine-- but at the same time he acknowledges the implicit rape that traditional fantasy glosses over. The seduction of the succubus, the hypnotic domination of the vampire; that is here, but stripped bare of romance, laid out as the rape it really is. I know, I keep talking about rape, but really that is the jarring moment, the tipping point, on which the book hinges. The murders, the witchcraft-- sure, they aren't pleasant, but there you have it. I think having written this book actually, Windheart bears revising-- the appearance of the spirit in Windheart should be quickly rewritten while the spectre of Solemnwell hangs in the air. In Solemnwell I think the most memorable bit for me ends up being the Weirding's first approach to the Yellow House. Solemnwell is steeped in font changes & secondary texts; the book dances between viewpoints & has some of the same (& purposefully included) problems as the Gospels of the Bible-- scraped pages & all that. I will also say, for all that Kingtycoon may tease me about the Science Fantasy elements of Oubliette, he certainly ends this book with a very Science Fantasy twist. If you haven't read any of Kingycoon's books, I definitely think you should pick one up. They are episodic, not serial, & you can start at any point in the spectrum.