U is for—Underworld(s)
Given how A Rope of Thorns finished up, it's no kind of spoiler at all to say that at least one subplot of A Tree of Bones takes place almost entirely in the Underworld. Not quite Mictlan-Xibalba, so much, as a larger, linked constellation of Afterlives, a Hell-spectrum whose individual parts mirror each other. Parts seem a bit more like Limbo, while other parts seem like Purgatory, and where you end up definitely depends not only on who you are while alive but what sort of business you leave unfinished when you die. At any rate, I had fun designing and referencing the various sections Chess and his Ma have to pass through on their upwards journey. Having a fairly good grasp on both myself and my druthers, though, I guess I always knew that one of them would end up “having” to be Valhalla.;)
V is for—Victory (Ambiguous)...a nebulous concept in most modern Westerns, since we all “know” that this is an era in flux, a moment which is already being overtaken by its own entropy. Also difficult in terms of the shake-down from Pinkerton's Skirmish is the fact that no matter who wins, the world has already been irretrievably altered: Mages now can meddle, just like it's been amply demonstrated that the non-hexacious can fight against hexes, with arcanistric help. Which is probably all just a roundabout way of saying don't expect anything quite as unequivocal as the end of your basic superhero movie, because I don't have much interest in that. This is horror, after all—or at least dark fantasy, depending on where it's shelved.
Tomorrow: W and X!