I do find Nightshade fascinating, but I also find him cold, remote, arrogant, and selfish. I would hate to actually be around him. It is my opinion that he needs a lot more character growth before he actually becomes likable. But that is my opinion, I would like it o hear yours.
Yeah, the last name thing was just an interesting connection to his current name. The name thing seems to be a big deal - the Lady, in Peril, makes a particular show about acknowledging him as "Lord Nightshade....Calarnenne" in front of the gathering in the Hallionne. She calls him Calarnenne as well, sometimes - or references him as such. Cath makes a good point that in the Silence time jump, he seems to be going by Nightshade then (and was almost certainly not Outcaste as he was wearing his Arcanist tiara - or whatever that was). So there was a specific shift from Calarnenne to Nightshade that had nothing to do with being Outcaste. Very curious, as I don't think it's something Barrani do (shift names). He's never Lord Calarnenne, but always Lord Nightshade. Just super interesting, I wonder if we'll ever get anything to explain it.
As for Nightshade...I'll admit I've always been incredibly drawn to his character, from book one. For Kaylin, he is very difficult to understand and she is only now, slowly, beginning to. He is Barrani. And he is, by all accounts, "not young." - he has lived through at least two of the Draco-Barrani wars, is as old and possibly older than Teela. He was very good friends with the previous High Lord and that tells you how old he has to be right there. He's had millenia of existing in a political maelstrom where even your most trusted friends are a risk - where anything other than showing and wielding power was seen as a weakness. He mentioned at some point how he had survived a family who was 'particularly given to political machinations' which basically means backstabbing and killing people (and each other) for power. That's all he's really ever known - he cares very little for mortals in the grand scheme of things (just as we feel for insects, really - though that's not the best comparison) - everything he does is a chess match, he's constantly thinking four or five moves ahead in order to survive and get things he once.
We've seen that even for Barrani, he is unkind and arrogant and more powerful than I think any of them, but he spoke wistfully (for Nightshade) of love being part of youth - almost envying Kaylin for her ability to love so openly, because she was mortal and felt the years with urgency - and his youth was described as "impulsive and feckless" - the same words that were used to describe Kaylin merely pages after. In the past, in Sorrow, Kaylin noticed that he was different than "her Nightshade" - he seemed somehow more open, his laugh had less of an edge and he smiled more. Being Outcaste weighs heavily on the Barrani - Andellen was barred from the High Court for his loyalty to Nightshade, but you could see in Courtlight how much he still yearned for it (which is why Kaylin asks for what she does, and why he responds the way he does). I'm of the opinion that whatever Nightshade did to become Outcaste was a specific choice, for whatever reason, and his close friend the High Lord was the one who made him Outcaste - without anyone else knowing why. He's in self imposed exile, wielding power over a Castle who is not always happy about it - waiting for Kaylin.
I rant, but basically - I see his actions through everything we know - and don't know - about him. Every single small thing he does is a hint towards what he feels - remember in, I think, Chaos when Kaylin was leaving his castle she commented briefly on how the cages that had used to hold bodies and people as a warning in the fief - they were gone. The only reason they would been gone was if Nightshade willed it - why would he do that, after centuries of it? Because Kaylin didn't like them. It wasn't because he changed his feelings on the matter, but he recognized they made her uncomfortable and removed them. He also made a similar comment when he was escorting her out of the castle portal and said something, as she was clearly thinking about how much she preferred the Tower of Tiamaris to the castle, to the effect of "I know you would prefer it if I were more welcoming, but I cannot allow that vulnerability into my Castle." He was speaking about the existence of his portal in the castle...or was he? =)
He recognizes her history, he told her quietly that he would "never allow Barren to take you" when she goes to investigate - signaling he understands her fear and past. Later, he expresses that he should have killed Barren and spared her the trauma - but was terrified of changing the future.
When she asks if he knew the Regalia would be about the children - he responds with "I hoped," - this was almost immediately after both he and Teela had warned her that hope was the edge of a sword that sliced you no matter what, and caused nothing but bitterness. Kaylin represents, in my opinion, his ability to hope. He will never be human, he will never appreciate life in the way that Kaylin does - but through Kaylin, because of her heart, he acknowledges it and she acts as a sort of humanity-check for him - the "what would kaylin do" approach. Similar to how Kaylin does all the work with the foundlings/midwives because it makes her feel good, not because of any altruistic purpose - that doesn't change the good in the act, though. Same for Nightshade.
I don't know, like I said I could talk about him for a long time and I'm rereading the series with the explicit purpose of analyzing him...so all those little things you begin to notice and understand as you read with that context.
All very interesting - but for certain, Nightshade can do good things and I think he has an anti-hero presence in the series...but ultimately everything he does is for Kaylin and her story as Chosen - after all, he hears the special and unique Regalia around her - and knows that he is a key player and is being tested. Everything that he has done since he first met her, 400 years ago, has been for that - to prepare. For her.
I guess I'm thinking those years and what he did to get through them made him what he is (and it probably took longer than he hoped for or expected). He is not likely to become different. He is not likely to give up what he sees as strength. There's a scene in one of the earlier books where he is speaking with Andellon about her. It gave me chills. He said something like, "She is not wise, and someday she will come to me." It would have to be pretty amazing character development for me to believe any kind of humility or real love from Nightshade.
I ranted about it above, and yes - there is a lot of stress on the fact that Barrani don't change - the true names and the stories, once spoken, are permanent (but that brings up my whole theory about true names in relation to Nightshade - they are the essence of the Barrani, look at the High Lord - his name was twice as long because of the burden he would have to carry during this tenure. What does Nightshade's speak of? His name was chosen by the Consort for a reason - maybe it was this very Regalia of Kaylin's, and everything he's been and done has been in keeping with his true purpose...). The Hallionne seemed alarmed when Kaylin spoke of changing stories, lol. He is terribly arrogant, even for a Barrani, and that is where I think the "she is not wise" comes from - it's also an allusion to how much he knows and has learned in preparation for the Chosen. He also speaks with great confidence that she is worthy of him - and for Barrani, that basically means she's his equal if anything.
As for development, I have a very very sneaking suspicion (though I really hope not) that, in the end, he dies for her - I see something akin to how he and the Lady would sing the Hallionne awake - and how she collapsed and he carried on. For some reason, I see him doing that for Kaylin - so she can have time to complete her final task as Chosen. She bears the marks at this time for a specific reason, and it is unlikely to come without sacrifice. I don't expect that Kaylin will come to terms with her desire for Nightshade and the weird pull they have towards each other, but I do see it happening once he shows her, finally, his heart - the heart of his castle, for a good analogy (which has been alluded to in the past). I really hope that he doesn't die and I can fantasize about him and Kaylin eventually being drawn together for good, but I think something truly epic is coming in the final battle and someone will give themselves up for her success. Severn has already sacrificed so much, he's just too open for it to be any shock that he sacrifice himself for Kaylin, but with Nightshade...at least to Kaylin, it's always been very ambiguous whether his interest in her is for her power or her. I think something like that would finally answer that question definitively.
But here's hoping he doesn't actually die in the process =p