Shahrizad

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Shahrizad in 1996

Shahrizad is a human female and a member of the ninth rank of the Illuminati. She is also Thailog's executive assistant. In 971 AD, Alesand referred to her as the Dark Lady. By 1996, Thailog and the residents of the Labyrinth know her as Shari.

History

Shahrizad tells a story in 971.

In 971 AD, a troupe of entertainers called the Light-Bringers traveled to Wyvern Hill shortly after construction on Castle Wyvern began. Known at that time only as Shahrizad, the storyteller, gathered several of the locals – noble and peasant; human and gargoyle – around and began telling the story of the Three Brothers. ("The Promise")

In 1996 AD, now known as Shari, for reasons not yet known, infiltrated the Labyrinth on Halloween, and met Talon, Maggie and Claw, as well as Goliath and Brooklyn. Upon meeting the clones, she asked Al to tell her of their origins. ("Invitation Only")

After Thailog attacked the Labyrinth, and took back control of the clones, Shari volunteered to head to the Eyrie Building to warn Goliath. But, she was lying as she next showed up at Nightstone Unlimited and, after offering to become Thailog's new executive assistant, revealed to him that she was a high-ranking member of the Illuminati. ("Masque", "Bash")

Thailog brought Shari into his service and she began telling him a series of stories (generally shortly before Thailog turned to stone at dawn). ("Reunion", "The Rock", "Rock & Roll", "Rock of Ages")

She continues to spend time in the Labyrinth during the day, and acts as a spy for Thailog. When Maggie the Cat went into labor, Shari informed Thailog and was later surprised when she learned that Thailog had let them all go. A few nights later, she watched Goliath's Hearing on television with Thailog. ("The Lost", "A Little Crazy", "Miracle Child", "New Rules")

Shari is, according to Monsieur Le Maire, tasked with infiltrating the White Council's enemy, the Illuminati. {"Quo Vadis Cum Hoc?"}


Characteristics

Thailog carries Shari. A dark mirror image of Goliath and Elisa.
Shari's Illuminati pendant.

Shahrizad or Shari (pronounced "Share-ee") is apparently a young woman of Arab ethnicity. [1][2] She has described herself as "partial to long stories" as well as a "storyteller". She has expressed the desire to be told stories by others (for example Al in the Labyrinth) and tell stories to others (for example Thailog). Shari usually begins her stories with the phrase "The story is told – though who can say if it be true – . . ."

Shahrizad is older than she appears, and it is unknown if usage of the Illuminati's rejuvenation drugs has been the key to her longevity. She has personally described her life as dependent upon not sharing how a story ends. ("The Promise", "Revelations", "Quo Vadis Cum Hoc?")

She is Thailog's assistant even though she is much higher in Illuminati rank. Given Thailog's personality, it is unlikely he views anyone as his superior. Despite her higher rank, Thailog has threatened Shari on several occasions, despite the threats Shari never seems to be afraid of Thailog. It is most likely that they each see themselves as the other's superior and both believe that they are only humoring the other by letting them believe otherwise.


Appearances

Real World Background

La Premièr Nuit de Schéhérazade by Léon Carré
Telling a story to a would-be-king.

In the collection known as One Thousand and One Nights (with written versions of the text dating as old as the 14th Century, with the individual stories likely dating to the 8th Century or earlier), the character of Shahrizad in the overarching frame story was the elder daughter of the Vizier to the King Shehriyar (Shahriyar in other transliterations). The Vizier was tasked for three years to provide the King with a new bride to wed every night only to be that bride's executioner the following morning: the overreacting outcome of the King discovering his first wife to be unfaithful to him. When the Vizier could not find any more eligible brides for the King, his daughter Shahrizad offered herself as a bride. The Vizier promptly refused to put his daughter's life at risk, but the "wise, witty, prudent" Shahrizad had a plan and ultimately convinced him to declare her intentions to the King.

That first night, in the guise of a dying wish, Shahrizad asked the King if she could see her younger sister, Dunyazad, one last time. Shortly after her arrival, Dunyazad follows her sister's instructions from the day before and prompts her sister to share one of her "pleasant stories" to pass the time. Shahrizad then begins her tale of the "Trader and the Jinn" which itself is just the frame story for three additional tales. Dawn arrives before Shahrizad can even finish the first story-in-the-story, and the King chooses to spare her life so that she can continue the following night. Shahrizad's effort to stall her inevitable execution would proceed for nearly three years, in which time she would give birth to the King's three sons. By the time Shahrizad finished her thousand and one nights of storytelling, King Shehriyar had fallen in love with her and ended the nightly threat to her life, proclaiming her his Queen.

The more often recognized spelling of Scheherazade is, in fact, a German spelling of the Persian transliteration of Shīrazād (شهرزاد) from 1728. [3] John Payne, credited with the first English translation of stories that covered the modern association of 1,001 nights in 1882, went with the spelling of Shehrzad. The more widely published English translation from Sir Richard F. Burton went with the spelling of Shahrazad.

Alesand's description of Shari as the Dark Lady is a reference to the character associated with several of William Shakespeare's sonnets, believed to be written between 1591-1595. Described as having dark physical features, Shakespeare writes having an intimate relationship with the Dark Lady. It is uncertain whether the sonnets were autobiographical in nature or fictional, but scholars have attempted to identify who could have been the Dark Lady in Shakespeare's lifetime.

Conflating Shari as the Dark Lady suggests a connection with the William Shakespeare of the Gargoyles Universe. Given that its already been teased that the Bard of Gargoyles knew Macbeth (though unaware of the Scottish King's true nature and history), it is curious to now consider two immortals having an impact on Shakespeare's timeless works. But for the time being, until such scenes play out in a canonical story, it is best to remember Shari's own disclaimer that while the story may be told, "who could say if they be true?"


Production Background

Shari character sketch by David Hedgecock
Zehra Fazal

While Disney rarely found any issue to address in the Gargoyles comic, one critique was Shari's "The story is told . . ." introductions, which they felt was too awkward. Ultimately, the introductions were kept. [4]

While writing for the comic book, Greg Weisman mentally casts new characters so he can hear a voice. For Shari, his actor of choice is Zehra Fazal. [5] Zehra was even used as a real life model for Shari's design. Zehra played Shari in the 2009 Gathering Radio Play, "Religious Studies 101: A Handful of Thorns". She also lends her voice to the characters of Halo and Cassandra Savage in the third season of Young Justice.

Additionally Zehra voiced General Yunan in episodes of Amphibia, one of which is the Season 2 finale "True Colors", that includes a reference to Gargoyles and has Keith David as the voice of King Andrias.

Back when Marvel Comics held the license to Gargoyles, Zehra wrote a letter to the creative team stating Elisa to be a favorite character of hers. The letter saw print in Issue 4.

The Gargoyles podcast, Voices from the Eyrie, launched in 2021 and the introduction was narrated by Zehra Fazal opening with the phrase that Shari begins each of her stories with. [6]


See Also