|“||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.||”|
Little is known about Desjardins' early life, but he was born about 200 years ago, a young age by magicians' standards. His great uncle is 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; it is somewhat odd that his door is red, the color of Set. It is said that he has the same intense eyes as Moses.
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, ordering 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. 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 he 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.
Michel Desjardins is initially portrayed as an enemy to the Kanes. He sides with Vlad the Inhaler, even though Carter continuously informs him that Vlad is trying to unleash Apophis and all his chaos on the world, which Desjardins later finds accurate. In the battle against Vlad 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 it won't be for long. He does this so they have more time to train people in the path of the gods which he 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.
In the beginning, Desjardins is rendered 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. This shows he doesn't act rashly any more. In spite of appearing unpleasant, Desjardins has an honorable side to him, as he seems to have the House's best interests at hand. 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. Hence, he does not want those tensions to resurface again. Also, while Desjardins did openly despise Carter, 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. Also, Desjardins strongly disapproved of Menshikov enlisting the notorious Kwai and Sarah Jacobi, and openly considers them to be the "worst of the House". Ultimately, Desjardins fully redeems himself by dying a hero's death, as he sacrifices himself to banish Apophis and buys 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 they are right and that the Path of the Gods is the only way to stop Apophis.
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, 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. He has the ability to summon Sekhmet once in his life because he is the Chief Lector (every Chief Lector can), but squanders it while attempting to hunt down the Kane siblings.
He is 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 Vlad the Inhaler 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 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 its 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 though it cost him his life. This is quite a feat as even though he 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 started hating him. He couldn't understand how Julius got the nerve to break the rules. This made him bitter. And the fact that Julius destroyed the Rosetta Stone, did nothing more but expand Desjardins' anger. His 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 as Desjardins didn't really like him due to the actions of his family and was willing to agree to an attack on Amos' 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 when Amos' 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 they may have influenced his 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 and it is forbidden. At first he reluctantly lets them live after the gods are released as they have no proof of the possession, actually stopping Zia Rashid from killing them, but after it becomes obvious that they have Horus and Isis, Desjardins takes his chance when former Chief Lector Iskandar dies to hunt them down. Desjardins goes to extreme lengths, even summoning Sekhmet which makes him hypocritical due to his hatred of the gods. However, the Kanes evade every attempt and defeat Sekhmet. Even when what they revealed about Set's plans prove 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 they stole from Desjardins), they don't banish him and instead make a deal with him and accuses them of letting their gods control them. Even after they release the gods he 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. Desjardins continues to chase them, even teaming up with Menshikov to stop them, but takes on a less violent stance as he tries to convince Carter to surrender and 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 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 translated into 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 fact included his ambitious personality, pride, and affinity for the color red. This was later proven to be false.
- His family name might be Michel, because French people sometimes put their family name in front of their own name, but this is very uncommon in modern times but quite possible considering his age.
- After falling off the Red Pyramid, Michel's robes are singed, revealing pink undergarments.
- In The Red Pyramid, Sadie mistook him for dead, until she saw him later when Set was defeated.
- 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.