Valentine's Trump Throughout his life, Valentine has been concerned with pushing the envelopes of power, of getting to the gears that make the universe tick. That meant playing with the Pattern, in the beginning, and now it means toying with the Jewel and the new abilities it has unlocked. He's done these things, at various times, as a hobby, as an obsession, as a means, and as an end. His motives now are . . . complicated.

Valentine's other hobbies include:

  • Wearing really nice clothes.
  • Smoking expensive cigarettes.
  • Not thinking about his cousin Messalina, when he can help it.

There was a moment, not too long ago, when Valentine was on the cusp of megalomania. Attuning himself to the Jewel opened up wide new vistas of power, and the newly-discovered Pentaverse was that much more wonderful new territory to explore. He was privy to heady secrets. He even got to be an avatar for a while. Every thing that has happened since then, however, has instead reinforced the following:

  1. He knows far less and is far less capable than he thought.
  2. The stable universe that he knows is suspended by a very thin thread over the abyss. The merest actions of otherwise insignificant individuals can wreak great chaos. Life, in otherwords, is an unsteady proposition.
These realizations left him constantly paranoid about who might steal all the jewels in the pyramids and chuckle gleefully while the universe fell apart. The ease with which Lewis nearly destroyed Paris, and the difficulty in restoring it, definitely freaked him out. And the discovery of the Chokmites -- an alien race so vast and powerful that they destroyed Amber's castle almost as an afterthought -- did little to ease his mind.

He is learning to live with this uncertainty. In a sense, his near-abduction by aliens and the destruction of the Castle has granted him a Zen-like serenity. The question of what to protect has changed -- he cannot mind the universe. He can watch his own ass and that of the handful of people he really cares about, and that will have to do.

But even that, these days, is more than enough to keep him occupied. His backlog of errands, ideas, and missions is, if anything, longer than it ever was before. At the back of it all, he knows that the known world is heading toward a new cataclysm and that a long-term solution not only for Binah but for Chokmah will have to be reached. But he'll handle that hurdle when he comes to it, and otherwise take things a day at a time.

Valentine occasionally chips away at writing his memoirs, usually in moments of respite & melancholy. Here are the chapters thus far:

What does Valentine think of the others in the game? Their players, of course, are all first-rate folk, honorable and full of joi de vivre . The characters are more of a mixed bunch. His opinions of them have, of course, fluctuated over time, but here's some current musings:

Alexander : In absentia in Ganesh for a long time now. Good riddance.

Brigit : Valentine knows her from way back, even pre-Patternfall. He once found her useful as a friend of Messalina's, and as a daughter of Bleys', and you could definitely make the case that he was using her for her contacts back then. The fact of the matter is that he does like her tremendously. Lately she hasn't been around much, though, and has been spending lots of time with Marcus. This is a concern. Nevertheless, she really, truly does have nice hair.

Kiron : Whether or not Kiron's mischief persists is an open question at the moment. Xeno imprisoned him at one point, though that is likely no longer in effect. He may or may not be responsible for the Chaos attack on Amber just before aliens blew the place to smithereens. If he is still around, it's just one more headache.

Lewis : When they first met Valentine saw Lewis as a younger version of himself -- talented, curious, eager to experiment with the workings of the universe. His knack for Pattern combined with magical training from Llewella made him very formidable. But everything changed when Lewis took it all one step too far and nearly destroyed Corwin's Paris by tampering with its Pattern. Valentine hopes that Lewis will come around, but for now, he's just another breach in the fragile skein that holds things together.

Ramon : Maybe it's because of their rivalry (motivated largely by Ramon's jealousy of Valentine's savoir faire ), maybe it's because of their penchant for long, philosophical conversations, but Valentine likes Ramon a lot more than he probably should, considering that Ramon is a manipulative son-of-a-bitch. But, despite their differences, the two of them are basically in agreement about how things should be in the world, which means that they end up working together more often than not.

Rowena : Though they haven't had a chance to interact much, Valentine likes her instinctively because of her commendable sense of fashion. He's waiting for that moment when she'll turn to have been instrumental in all the goings-on that he hasn't been privy to.

Xenophal : Valentine likes Xeno, and, more importantly, trusts him, which is more than he can say for most folks. They've worked well together on a number of occasions. Valentine has shown Xeno a few tricks of the trade when it comes to the Pattern, but he's holding back the key information that might take him to the next level. Why? Because while he trusts him, there are a few missteps that Valentine has a hard time overlooking -- befriending Kiron and giving Eve to Caine chief among them.