|“||Don't like you much. But you were right. The old ways...our only choice. Tell Amos...Tell Amos what happened. Show this to...the others...Tell them what happened.||”|
Michel Desjardins was a magician of French descent and the former Chief Lector of the House of Life. He was killed due to the execration spell that he performed on Vladimir Menshikov in The Throne of Fire.
Little is known about Desjardins' early life, but he was born about 200 years before the events of The Kane Chronicles, and was considered to still be at a young age by magicians' standards. His great uncle was Jean-François Champollion, the man who deciphered the Rosetta Stone. Because Jean-François was the first man outside of the House of Life to unleash magic, Desjardins was invited to join the House and receive training. Although Desjardins is proud of his family, he is also sensitive about being a newcomer to the House of Life. He lives in a house on Rue des Pyramides (Pyramids Road) with a large magical library; his door is red, which is said to be odd, since red is the color of Set.
Michel Desjardins, along with Zia Rashid, was assigned to watch Julius Kane for any signs that he may attempt to release a god. When Julius uses the Rosetta Stone to release Osiris (as well as four other gods), the Stone is destroyed, infuriating Desjardins, as he is a descendant of the man who deciphered it. However, the Stone was later repaired by magic.
After Zia retrieves the Kane siblings and brings them to the First Nome, Desjardins immediately wishes to have them executed in the fear that they are hosting gods. Chief Lector Iskandar refuses and decides instead to test them as magicians. The next evening, Iskandar dies and Desjardins becomes the new Chief Lector, and orders the execution of Carter and Sadie Kane. They escape, but Desjardins, Zia, Mel, and an unnamed magician take on the mission of killing the siblings. Meanwhile, Sadie and Carter begin to suspect that Desjardins is the host of Set, but later abandon this theory when their uncle, Amos Kane, is later revealed to be the unwilling host for Set. Desjardins attacks the Kane siblings at Las Cruces, unleashing Sekhmet upon them, but due to their cleverness and the aid of Amos and Zia, they survive. Desjardins later joins the House on the assault on Set, but is ultimately unable to harm the god, and Set is only defeated once Sadie uses his Secret Name. When Desjardins accuses Sadie and Carter of being drunk on the power provided by the gods they are hosting, they prove him wrong by willingly asking the gods to leave them, much to Desjardins' shock. Although still reluctant to give up his belief that the way of the gods will doom them, Desjardins lets the siblings go unharmed - for now.
Desjardins is initially portrayed as an enemy to the Kanes. He sides with Vladimir Menshikov, even though Carter continuously informs him that Menshikov is trying to unleash Apophis and all his chaos on the world, which Desjardins later finds to be accurate. In the battle against Menshikov in the Duat, near where Apophis is chained, Desjardins sides with the Kanes and casts an execration spell to banish Apophis for a little longer, though he knows the execration won't stop Apophis for long. He does this so that the Kanes will have more time to train people in the Path of the Gods, which he has come to realizes they are right about. However, in order to banish Apophis, he uses up all of his life force, and disintegrates into a series of hieroglyphs after making peace with Carter and Sadie. He is succeeded as Chief Lector by Amos Kane.
While contemplating their desperate Plan B to stop Apophis, an execration spell, Carter Kane remembers how Desjardins had tried the same thing but had only succeeded in pushing the Chaos serpent a little deeper into the Duat at the cost of his own life. However, Desjardins had used a makeshift shabti of Apophis and Carter and Sadie hope that a better crafted figurine created with the help of Walt Stone will be more effective.
When the Kanes tell their trainees about their execration plan, Julian objects that Desjardins had tried the same thing and he had died doing it.
As Carter casts the execration on Apophis, he tries not to think about how the last time he'd heard the spell, Desjardins had died casting it and he'd only faced a partial manifestation of the serpent, not Apophis at his full power after consuming Ra.
In the beginning, Desjardins is portrayed as angry, arrogant, and narrow-minded. He strongly believes in the way of the House of Life and refuses to even consider the Kane siblings' predicament, instead viewing them only as a threat. He is also quite rash and hypocritical when he summons Sekhmet, since he openly despised the gods himself.
However, in The Throne of Fire, Desjardins, while being secretly corrupted by Vlad Menshikov, suspects Menshikov's disloyalty but does not act until he has evidence. He also shows hesitation in attacking the Kanes until they steal the Book of Ra and considers, for the first time, that maybe that they are right. He is said to have been shaken up by Set's actions and doesn't seem entirely sure of himself anymore, showing he doesn't act as rashly anymore. Despite appearing at first unpleasant, Desjardins has an honorable side to him, as he seems to have the House's best interests at heart. The actual reason he disapproved of following the Path of the Gods was that it brought about many bitter and backstabbing magic duels that cost the lives of many great magicians of the past, and he does not want those tensions to resurface again. He is noted to have become weary and somewhat apathetic, possibly due to the curses that Menshikov was using to drain his life force and weaken him. Also, while Desjardins did openly despise Carter Kane, when Menshikov brutally attempts to strangle and turn him into a serpent, Desjardins is horrified, and urges him to contain the boy in "more humane ways" and tries to get Carter to surrender rather than fight to the death. Carter is surprised to note that Desjardins actually seems a little sad that he's going to have to execute Carter when they meet each other again for the first time since the Battle of the Red Pyramid. Desjardins also strongly disapproved of Menshikov enlisting the notorious Kwai and Sarah Jacobi, and openly considers them to be the "worst of the House".
According to Amos Kane, despite his attitude, Desjardins is highly intelligent and knows that he could never have defeated Set without Carter and Sadie's help. He allowed Amos to seek healing at the First Nome despite their differences and even spoke with him at length about Carter and Sadie rather than dismissing Amos outright or condemning him. Carter is surprised when Desjardins appears to lack the intelligence that Amos describes when they meet again which is possibly a side effect of Menshikov's influence and draining of his life force. However, after being faced with all of the facts and how brutal Menshikov really is, Desjardins finally realizes that the Kanes are telling the truth and that they are right.
Ultimately, Desjardins fully redeems himself by dying a hero's death, as he sacrifices himself to banish Apophis and buy the Kane siblings more time. With his last words, he makes peace with them, recognizing that while he never much liked them, he has come to realize that they are right and that the Path of the Gods is the only way to stop Apophis. Despite their own troubles with Desjardins, the Kanes are left saddened by his death, recognizing that in the end, he was a good man and an ally.
Little description of Desjardins is given, but he is noted to wear cream-colored robes and sport a forked beard that went from black to white as he became weaker. In The Red Pyramid, after breaking into Desjardins' home to look for the Book of Thoth, Carter and Doughboy come across a portrait of Desjardins' great-uncle, Jean-François Champollion, and the former notes that both Desjardins and his great-uncle possessed the same, intense black eyes.
Like many House-trained magicians, Desjardins is an extremely powerful magician, and the fact that he was able to achieve the position of Chief Lector implies that his power is truly exceptional. Like every Chief Lector of the House of Life, Desjardins has the ability to summon Sekhmet once in his life due to being the Chief Lector, but squanders it while attempting to hunt down the Kane siblings.
He was an elementalist. When he hunts down the Kanes, he shows that he specializes in earth, as he controls boulders and makes an earthquake. When Zia summons the Pillar of Fire, Desjardins first attacks it with water, which evaporates, then with boulders. He can also use air as in the battle against Menshikov, he summons a whirlwind around himself.
Even after curses sapping his strength for months, he was able to hold his own against Vladimir Menshikov, and even when defeated he was able to recover quickly and fight him again, despite the opposition now being possessed by Apophis himself. The greatest ability he showed in this confrontation was the power to produce a shield that turned any attack that hit it into a divine word, such as the word "heat" for a fire attack.
Desjardins was capable of casting powerful execrations, a spell capable of utterly destroying any being except gods, who are instead banished deep into the Duat. This is shown to be a skill that only the most powerful magicians use, as it is dangerous and requires a lot of power. Even in a weakened state he was able to cast an execration capable of banishing Apophis for a time, although it cost him his life. This is shown to be quite a feat, as even though Desjardins only faced a partial manifestation of Apophis, who had just risen from his prison, Carter and Sadie believed that even their combined power (and presumably the combined power of Horus and Isis) wouldn't be enough to banish a fully-risen Apophis with an execration. At one point, Julian tells Carter and Sadie that Apophis is impossible to execrate at all due to his massive power and points out how even trying cost Desjardins his life. The execration he cast only proved capable of banishing Apophis for days to weeks, but this was likely due to Apophis' incredible power and Desjardins' own weakened state at the time.
Julius Kane: Michel's main rival was Julius. The first time Julius broke the regulations against summoning gods, Desjardins began to hate him. He couldn't understand how Julius had the nerve to break the rules of the House of Life, and this made him bitter. When Julius destroyed the Rosetta Stone, this increased the antagonistic feelings towards Julius, as Desjardins' family had links with the Rosetta Stone, and Michel felt embarrassed at what seemed to be a blatant act against his family's honor.
Amos Kane: Amos and Desjardins seemed to have a complicated relationship. Desjardins did not really like Amos due to the actions of the Kane family and was willing to agree to an attack on Amos's home by villainous magicians, but also seemed willing to shelter and listen to him at times. When Amos was physically and mentally weak from his possession by Set, Desjardins allowed him to come to the First Nome for healing despite what Amos's niece and nephew were doing. He let him go afterwards and told Menshikov that he respected the House's policy of helping anyone who came to them for help. According to Amos, he and Desjardins had many conversations about what happened with Set and the gods, and these discussions may have influenced Desjardins' choices. When he's about to die, he passes on his title of Chief Lector to Amos through Carter and Sadie.
Carter and Sadie Kane: As godlings, Desjardins hates and fears them as they have gods within them, which is forbidden. At first he reluctantly lets them live after the gods are released as the House has no proof of the possession, actually stopping Zia Rashid from killing them, but after it becomes obvious that they are hosting Horus and Isis, Desjardins takes his chance to hunt them down when former Chief Lector Iskandar dies. Desjardins goes to extreme lengths, even summoning Sekhmet, which can be seen as hypocritical due to his hatred of the gods. However, the Kanes evade every attempt Desjardins made to kill them, even defeating Sekhmet. Even when what they revealed about Set's plans was proven to be true, Desjardins refuses to listen to reason and is angered that when they do defeat Set (using the Book of Overcoming Set, which the Kanes stole from Desjardins), Sadie and Carter don't banish Set and instead make a deal with him. Because of this, Desjardins accuses the Kanes of letting their gods control them. Even after they release the gods, Desjardins still refuses to listen to them about following the Path of the Gods, but backs down from attacking as he feels enough destruction has been wrought for one day, but warns them about following the Path of the Gods. Later, Desjardins continues to chase the the Kanes, even teaming up with Vladimir Menshikov to stop them, but takes on a less violent stance as he tries to convince Carter to surrender instead of being harmed by Menshikov and even seems reluctant and saddened that he might have to execute Carter. Once he sees the truth about Apophis, Desjardins realizes Carter and Sadie are right and sides with his former enemies, sacrificing himself to banish Apophis with an execration spell, in order to buy them more time to train people in the Path of the Gods. In his last moments, he makes peace with them, telling them he never liked them much (indicating that perhaps he at least respected them on some level) but has realized they were right.
- Desjardins' name, translated from French, his native tongue (he may also speak the Lebanese, Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian or Syrian Dialects of French or Arabic showcasing Egypt's connection to the rest of the Arab World and his native France's colonization of the above-mentioned Arab Countries), means "of the gardens."
- Michel's enmity with Julius Kane was one of the things that caused Sadie and Carter to suspect him of being Set's host. Other factors included his ambitious personality, pride, and affinity for the color red. He was later proven to not be Set's host.
- His family name might be Michel, because French people sometimes put their family name in front of their own name. This is uncommon in modern times, but possible when considering Desjardins' age.
- After falling off the Red Pyramid, Michel's robes are singed, revealing that he is wearing pink undergarments.
- Desjardins is also very similar to Luke Castellan in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: they both were initially quite cruel towards the main characters, but make peace with them shortly before they die a self-sacrificing hero's death in order to stop the main villain (Apophis and Kronos respectively). Luke, however, was much more malevolent from the beginning, since he quickly sided with Kronos, while Desjardins always fought against Apophis. Also, while Luke was able to fully defeat Kronos by his sacrifice, Desjardins' only bought some extra time for the Kane siblings by banishing Apophis temporarily.
- Michel has at least one book by Clive Cussler in his library, implying that he is a fan of his.