YMMV: The Water Phoenix King

  • High Octane Nightmare Fuel: Everyone's mileage will vary on this one — will it be the battle sequences full of dismemberments and brainings, the instances of raw magic being used to dismantle people Dark Phoenix style, the demonic transmogrification sequences, the incompletely-decapitated Lich or the whimsical little torture angels? There's something for everybody!
  • Unfortunate Implications: Not so much subverted as blown up with dynamite, in the way that the Yigs, who have gray or green or blue skin, pointed ears, vertical pupils, and fangs (if small ones) and thus are the most akin to conventional Orcs, also come from the most blatantly Asian-inspired society we have seen so far on Chalt, with their warriors wearing jin-haori over laminar with classic kabuto/mendo helmet combinations and wielding katana and bow from horseback (well, zebra-back) — it's not so much problematic as a "Take That" to the whole Orientalist pulp tradition and its fantastic heirs, as the Yigs aren't any worse than humans or anyone else that we've seen (even the Wyrds have genocide and conquest as well as territorial wars in their ancient past) and have a culture beyond Proud Warrior Race just like everyone else.
  • Values Dissonance: What you'd expect from a story set in an intersection of feudal societies where birth and property (with certain historically-based exceptions) determine social status — Truth in Television. We're just not used to seeing it in fantasy (or historical fiction) being depicted so bluntly, at least not when committed by our side. The past is another country, with its own customs, after all; some of them less Moral Dissonances than Social Mores and pragmatism — we are regularly reminded that everyone above a certain age has lived through a brutal ground war and everyone younger through its aftermath, when for example, the kindly innkeeper critiques an adventurer's throat-cutting skills and his wife proves more at home with boiling oil and sucking chest wounds than home-cooked meals. (Though looting the fallen may not be a Dissonance anymore, thanks to WOW...).