‘Valentine looked downward. Everything was black, a pool of night rising from the floor. That blackness seemed to be beckoning to him. Come, a quiet voice was saying, here is your path, here is your destiny: night, darkness, doom. Yield. Yield, Lord Valentine, Coronal that was, Pontifex that will never be. Yield . . .’
Valentine is now established as Coronal of Majipoor, about to undertake the grand processional, but filled with inexplicable despond, still shadowed by the dark cloud that had passed across his soul in Labyrinth.
His foreboding proves to be not without foundation as soon he faces a planetary crisis – the shapeshifting Metamorphs are sabotaging the crops upon which Majipoor’s billions depend – and a conflict, about how the suddenly turbulent planet should be ruled, with his protégé and heir-apparent, Hissune.
Only after this crisis has been overcome and the conflict with Hissune resolved can Valentine fulfil his proper destiny and succeed to the title of Pontifex.