|“||Gods have great power. But only humans have creativity, the power to change history.||”|
Iskandar, was a Chief Lector, was the most powerful magician of his time, in the House of Life. He held the position since Egypt's occupation by the Romans and held for the next two thousand years until his death.
Iskandar was born right before the reign of the famous Cleopatra VII, the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. He watched as Roman soldiers stormed into Alexandria, Egypt and took control. This moment, seeing Egypt collapse to Roman control, devastated Iskandar and he blamed many different groups for the demise of Egypt. They included Cleopatra and her ancestors, the House of Life, and especially the gods of Egypt. In response, he used his powers as the Chief Lector to ban the gods from the House of Life and ordered them to be imprisoned.
Reign as Chief Lector
Iskandar was Chief Lector for thousands of years, training a dwindling and weakening number in the House of Life. One of his brightest students, Ruby Kane, was a diviner who began having visions that order would be defeated by chaos. She and her husband, Julius, attempted to convince him to reinstate the gods, as only by working together could they defeat Isfet, chaos. Iskandar refused, forcing Julius and Ruby to work independent of the House. Sometime after Ruby’s death, he began to doubt his stance on the gods, but stubborn old age kept him from truly relenting.
Sometime in or around 2005, the House of Life recovered a girl, Zia Rashid, from a village that was destroyed by a creature of chaos that was accidentally unleashed from an ancient artifact her father uncovered. She was taken in by the House and Iskandar began to develop a fatherly relationship with her. Upon discovering that she had lost her memories, Iskandar told her of what he knew and provided her with pictures of her family that were found in her village.
After the Rosetta Stone incident, Iskandar senses at once that Zia was the host of Nephthys and created a shabti of her. He then sends this shabti to New York in order to bring the Kane siblings to the First Nome. He meets Carter and Sadie Kane in the Hall of Ages, later meeting Sadie alone when she visits the Hall of Ages after curfew. It is during this encounter that he senses that she is hosting Isis and concludes her brother is hosting Horus. Shortly later, he dies at 2,000 years old and Michel Desjardins takes his place as Chief Lector. Later, his ba appears before Sadie as they journeyed into the Land of the Dead, where he apologizes to her for not seeing the growing danger before him. He judges her to be very brave, and disappears. In his first appearance, Sadie mistook his name as "Lord Salamander".
During the Battle of the Red Pyramid, Sadie experiences a vision of Iskandar after touching Osiris' coffin. Iskandar informs Sadie that "Ma'at demands a leader" and that they can't do it alone. Iskandar warns that this is their family's burden as they had started the process and that the Kanes alone will either destroy or heal the House of Life. When Sadie still fails to understand, Iskandar shows her a vision of the night that Ruby died freeing Bast.
Carter searches for Zia, attempting to figure out where Iskandar had hidden her. Carter eventually deduces from what Apophis and Set tell him that the old Chief Lector had chosen the ruins of Zia's village which had been destroyed by Apophis, not a random Chaos monster as Zia had believed.
With the help of Bes, Carter locates the ruined village and, after fighting off some water demons and parting the Nile, discovers a tomb holding Zia in an enchanted sleep. Touching Zia's magical coffin, Carter finds her trapped in a series of nightmares. Carter sees Zia's final memory before she is put to sleep: Iskandar's kindly face as he gives her Ra's Crook and Flail, telling her "keep these, my dear. You will need them. And do not fear. Dreams will not bother you." Carter awakens Zia and releases Nephthys into the Nile. Zia remembers that Iskandar is dead and is devastated by this while Carter attempts to convince Zia that Iskandar had been trying to protect her and at the end of his life, had changed his mind about the Path of the Gods.
When Carter wakes up following the fight with Michel Desjardins and Vladimir Menshikov, Zia has finally been convinced that they are on the same side. Zia reveals that Menshikov had attempted to get Iskandar to transfer Zia to his nome, but the Chief Lector had refused much to Zia's relief as she had never trusted Menshikov. Zia also believes that Iskandar was trying to protect her by putting her in the tomb and that he'd left the crook and flail with her for a reason, possibly expecting Carter to find her at some point. Zia is convinced that Iskandar let her hear the voice of Apophis in her dreams on purpose as some sort of warning - one last lesson.
Zia lists Iskandar as one of the people that she's cared about and lost along with her parents.
Iskandar appears kind, but fierce. In his time as Chief Lector, he was bitter about Egypt's fall and used his powers to punish the gods. Near his death, he began to question his decisions, but does not act due to pride until it is too late. He is also very wise since he supposedly hid the Crook and Flail of Ra which was needed after his death, possibly because he predicted that Carter Kane would eventually find Zia and need the weapons. Zia believes that he purposefully let her dreams be infiltrated by the voice of Apophis as a warning and a last lesson.
Iskandar is over 2,000 years old. His skin in wrinkled to a lunch bag, brown and crinkled. He is thin and has milky white eyes. As Chief Lector he is entitled to wear a leopard skin cloak.
Iskandar is a master magician. He specializes in statuary techniques and can create a shabti that can convincingly pass for a real person. In addition to this, he is well versed in all forms of magic. He is so powerful that hieroglyphs flow from him, a sign of the ability to create reality merely by speaking it. Iskandar is also the only living magician (known) that is from the time of Cleopatra. He has stated that the House of Life lost many of its most powerful spells and enchantments when the Romans sacked Alexandria; which would make him the only magician capable of utilizing these abilities in the current time period.
Iskandar has shown incredible powers throughout the books, most of which revolve around controlling and banishing various gods and goddesses. Before he died of natural causes, Iskandar cast a powerful sleeping illusion upon Zia Rashid that was so strong that it affected the goddess within her, Nephthys, as well. Even in death, Iskandar had a powerful enough ba to be able to perform a spell that affected time itself. Iskandar used this when he wanted to have a private conversation with Sadie at the Gates of the Valley of the Dead, and was able to subdue a major goddess such as Bast along with the other members of the ship's crew. In addition, Iskandar has shown some proficiency with Water Elemental Magic, as he was able to surround Zia's tomb with Water Demons from the Nile. Iskandar was the one magician to banish the apparition of Apophis when it was unleashed from its prison in Al-Hamrah Makam, and successfully sent the demon back into the Duat.
Zia Rashid: Zia describes Iskandar as the only family she has ever known. After her village was destroyed and her memory lost, Iskandar took her in and raised her almost as if she were his own. Iskandar seemed to love her like a father would and this affection lead him to hiding her away after discovering that she was hosting Nephthys. Zia was later greatly grieved by Iskandar's death.
Carter Kane: Carter and Iskandar had very little interactions with each other, but Iskandar appeared to recognize the young magician's importance to the future and possibly the care that Carter had for Zia. Carter in turn respected Iskandar and was upset over his death, if only because of how much it hurt Zia. Zia suggests at one point that Iskandar had left Ra's Crook and Flail with her purposefully as a way of getting them to Carter because he predicted that Carter would one day track down Zia and rescue her.
- Iskander is the Arabic version of Alexander, meaning "defender of man".
- Iskandar is the name for Alexander the Great in Persia.
- Iskandar prefers to speak his birth tongue: Alexandrian Greek.
- Iskandar, as one of the wisest characters, may have indirectly recognized Zia Rashid's destiny as Ra's host.
- At over 2,000 years, Iskander is the oldest mortal in the Riordanverse.