Melisande Shahrizai de la Courcel is the primary antagonist of the Kushiel's Legacy series. She is a member of the Unseen Guild.
Melisande Shahrizai is a breathtakingly beautiful woman and even for her crimes, is still revered as one of Terre d'Ange's greatest beauties. With deep twilight eyes that even a sapphire would envy, hair such a true black that it bore a blue tint to it and skin a wonderful shade of alabaster, she truly embodies what it means that D'Angeline beauty is unmatched. Her figure is tall and statuesque and even when she is well into her fifties, instead of "losing" her overly attractive appearance, it "changes".
In Kushiel's Dart
Melisande is a major character in the events of the novel. Please see Kushiel's Dart.
In Kushiel's Chosen
Melisande is a major character in the events of the novel. Please see Kushiel's Chosen.
In Kushiel's Avatar
During her time spent in the temple, Melisande builds correspondence with at least the Pharaoh of Menekhet. She has also used her time to research to find the name of God -- the information needed to free Hyacinthe from his curse -- and learns the location of the lost tribe of Dan, rumored to have the knowledge.
Melisande sends a message to Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève to come to La Serenissima. When Phèdre arrives, Melisande tells her that she had hidden Imriel in a Temple of Elua in Siovale but that he had gone missing from there. Melisande asks Phèdre to find Imriel, and in exchange, she will provide Phèdre with the location of the lost tribe of Dan.
When Phèdre returns with Imriel, Melisande promises to not act to threaten the rule of Queen Ysandre or her daughters in exhange for Phèdre's promise to raise Imriel.
In Kushiel's Scion
Melisande escapes from her prison/sanctuary of the Temple of Asherat-of-the-Sea. A legend grows around her that she is the Bella Donna, an avatar of Asherat, who has escaped to find her missing son, though Imriel himself had been found for some time prior to her dissapearance.
In Kushiel's Mercy
Melisande is living on Cythera as the mistress of the governor Ptolomy Solon. She learns that Ysandre has challenged Imriel to find Melisande and bring her to Terre d'Ange to receive the death sentence laid upon her in Kushiel's Dart. Through her connections in the Unseen Guild, she also learns of Carthage's plans to ensorcel the City of Elua. This places her in a dilemma--she can act to prevent the spell, but she knows that the success of the spell will cause Imriel to forget his love for Sidonie and thus forget his mission to find Melisande. She beseeches Solon's aide in casting a spell to cause Imriel to lose his wits--thinking this madness will be a shield against the madness of Carthage's spell. She sends Sunjata to stab Imriel in the kidney with a needle containing the spell.
After Imriel recovers from his madness, he comes to Cythera seeking her aid in breaking Carthage's spell. Imriel learns of how Melisande buys or otherwise receives people's loyalty, i.e., the Maignard family, Sunjata. She has pleaded with Solon to change the laws of Cythera to prohibit castration of slaves and to give slaves wages so that they might buy their freedom in seven years. She is known to purchase slaves and free them in exchange for their loyalty. As for the Maignard family, she bought them out of poverty in exchange for their loyalty. They accompanied her to Cythera.
Again, Melisande asks Solon to help cast a spell, this time to help Imriel break Carthage's spell. Melisande's sentence of execution is changed to exile due to this act.
Melisande sends Leander Maignard to Imriel and Sidonie's wedding to observe, deliver a message to Phèdre, and possibly spy on Melisande's behalf.
Memorable quotes by or about Melisande
"There is a fruit that grows south of Carthage. When it is green, it is poisonous. Only when it has fully ripened may it be safely eaten. I sampled it once in my younger days. There was a heady sense of danger in it. Once I'd eaten it, I craved more. [Melisande] is like that fruit."—Ptolomy Solon
"The Night Court taught me to serve, and Delaunay taught me to think; but from Melisande Shahrizai, I learned how to hate."—Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève
Notes and references
- Kushiel's Chosen, "Chapter 44"