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I am no murderer."

Cardan Greenbriar, The Cruel Prince

Cardan is the High King of Elfhame. He is also the sixth and youngest child of the late King Eldred.

Physical Description

Cardan has curly iridescent midnight hair and sharp cheekbones. His eyes are described as black with a golden circle around the pupils. Cardan is said to be lean and tall, with very pale skin. He has a number of scars on his back from his abusive eldest brother, Balekin. Cardan possesses a slim, nearly hairless tail with a tuft of black fur at the tip which is often kept tucked away in the back of his shirt. He is described as more beautiful than the rest according to Jude.


Prince Cardan is cruel, sarcastic, prideful and manipulative. He is described as not being any good with a sword and doesn't show any interest in the crown. According to him, his redeeming quality is that he is no murderer. Often, he struggles to understand his emotions and tries to keep up a mask by displaying sneers and sarcastic remarks. Even with his 'masks', he occasionally shows a softer side along with fear, shame, desire, and even caring. When he's nervous he often smiles. Cardan is remarked for his charming and witty abilities which allow him to slyly escape danger and trouble. However later in the series, during 'the wicked king' Cardan had shown that he does love, he had just never truly learned how to love.


Early Life

Cardan was deemed to be a misfortune after his birth.

Baphen, the Royal Astrologer, saw misfortune in the stars, which lead Cardan‘s mother, Asha, to neglect Cardan when he was an infant. Alone, Cardan was suckled by a little black cat whose kittens were stillborn. later on, Asha continued to ignore Cardan when he was a little boy and only paid him attention when he got into fights, but only if he fought and won. Asha was later sent to the tower of forgetting, leaving Cardan on his own.

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Cardan never felt any love from his many brothers and sisters. His father, the late High King, has not shown much interest in his youngest child, disregarding Cardan for very little, mainly due to his birth prophecy.

later on in his life, King Eldred does not stop Cardan’s older brother, Prince Dain, from kicking him out of the palace. He then resides with his eldest brother, Prince Balekin, in Hollow Hall while enduring Balekin’s harsh punishments and cruelty.

The Cruel Prince

At the start of The Cruel Prince Jude and Taryn witness Prince Cardan and his friends' cruelness in tearing the wings of a disrespectful faerie. Jude comes to a conclusion of Cardan's character and deems him 'unworthy to rule'.

The next day Valerian, with the help of his friends, including Cardan, push Jude and Taryn into a river. Valerian then empties Jude and Taryn‘s schoolbags onto the riverbank. He, Nicasia and Locke take turns hurling the contents into the water, while Cardan watches curiously.

At the Summer Tournament mock war, Jude fights mildly at first but among provocation from Cardan who is on the other team, she fights with viciousness and wins the Tournament for her side. After the Tourney, Cardan demands her submission, but Jude does not and instead threatens him. She got away unscathed.

Valerian stuffs her with faerie fruit which makes mortals become drugged and foolish. As Dain's geas does not provide her immunity from faerie fruit, Jude embarasses herself and almost got killed by Valerian if not for Cardan and Locke's intervention.

At the coronation Cardan steps between Jude and Locke, he chides Locke, but Jude does not understand his meaning. When the ceremony starts, the entire royal family stands behind the throne except for Cardan, who is nowhere to be seen. Eldred, the High King, gives up the power of the crown and prepares to crown Dain. However, Balekin stands and kills Princess Elowyn, his sister. The guards beside the royal dais turn away as Madoc rushes forth and kills Dain. Balekin then beheads Taniot, Dain's mother and runs his father Eldred through with a sword. The High King can only be crowned by someone of Greenbriar blood, so it requires two of the line of Greenbriar to make a High King. Balekin turns to his two remaining sisters and tells them to crown him, but Princess Caelia is shot by the Ghost and Princess Rhyia kills herself instead. Balekin is left with only Cardan to crown him but does not find him, and is given three days to become High King before the courts under the banner of Elfhame leave without pledging loyalty to the crown.

The revels continue as if the slaughter did not happen. To her luck, Jude encounters a drunk Cardan under the long banquet tables. She lets him lead her up to the Palace floors before threatening him with a dagger. She forces him to come along into the lair of the Court of Shadows and ties him to a chair. The Roach and the Ghost arrive and with a prompt from Cardan, the Ghost admits that he was the one who poisoned Liriope with orders from Dain, because there was a prophecy saying if the child of Liriope was born, Dain would never be king. It is known that the child Liriope was carrying had been sired by Dain. She leaves Cardan in the Ghost and the Roach's care while she returns to Madoc's estate. 

Jude returns to the Court of Shadows and interrogates Cardan. When she asks him why he hates her so much he avoids the question, until Jude threatens to shoot him with a crossbow. He then admits his attraction to Jude and his disgust at himself for wanting a mortal. Jude taunts him by kissing him. Afterwards, Cardan proposes a bargain where Jude will tell Balekin that Cardan will crown him, and in return, Balekin shall give Cardan lands and gold and to Jude whatever she wants. He does not want to be the High King. Jude ponders her options and decides on what she will do. On the third day after the royal massacre, Balekin is going to host a feast at Hollow Hall. With the gathered courts on that day, one of Greenbriar blood will have to be crowned before the courts leave without swearing fealty. She plans to steal the Crown of Faerie on that day, as the Crown is in Balekin's possession, and make a High King of her choosing.

Cardan and Jude by Morgana0anagrom

Jude repeats the tale of how Oak came to be of Greenbriar blood to the Court of Shadows and Cardan. She tricks them into thinking that she is going to make Cardan crown Oak, then whisks the young boy to the mortal world where he'll grow up without faerie cruelties. She persuades Cardan to swear himself into her service because she tells him she cannot trust him with the crown of Faerie in his hands. Cardan pledges himself grudgingly, meaning Jude could command him to do anything she wishes, which he cannot refuse, but only for a year and a day. 

At the banquet, Jude walks in with Cardan in tow. Balekin does not immediately seize Cardan as he now knows the importance of a willing participant in a coronation. Jude lures Madoc to a secluded hallway, and they fight, Madoc to get Cardan crown Oak, and Jude to take the Crown under Madoc's watch. 

Jude joins Cardan at the dinner table and gets ready for the explosion the Bomb is about to create. When it happens, the Roach shoots bolts at Balekin to distract his guards while the Ghost steals the Crown of Faerie amidst the chaos. The Ghost mistakes Taryn for Jude and throws the Crown to her. Jude wrestles the Crown from Taryn and gives it to Oak. Jude tells Cardan to show Oak what he should do as the one being crowned, and Cardan kneels, beckoning Oak to do the same. However, Jude commands Cardan to stay still in his kneeling position. Oak performs the coronation ceremony, as he practiced with Vivi, and Cardan becomes the new High King. 

Now Jude has absolute control over the most powerful being in Faerie for a year and a day. Cardan is furious at her betrayal, as he does not want to be High King. Oak is sent to live with Vivi and her girlfriend Heather in the mortal world. At the end of the book, Cardan appoints Jude as his seneschal. 

The Wicked King 

The book starts 5 months after the events of The Cruel Prince, at one of Cardan’s revels celebrating his coronation. His subjects come up to him and ask him questions on of them being Grimsen, who is in exile. He comes to Cardan to ask to have his exile lifted. Cardan says he will but only if he swears allegiance to Cardan. Grimsen says that Cardan’s request is most reasonable, but because he has suffered for such vows, he will not take them again. He asks for Cardan to instead grant that he can show Cardan his loyalty in his deeds, rather than binding himself with to his words. Which Cardan expects.

King Cardan

Then Mother Marrow comes forward, she gifts Cardan with a piece fabric woven of spider silk and nightmares. The garment cut from it can turn a sharp blade, yet be as soft as a shadow against the skin. It turns out to be a trick. And if Cardan had accepted he would have found himself under a geas, allowing him to marry only a weaver of the cloth, which would have been Mother Marrow or her daughter. Cardan is blissfully unconcerned and asks Mother Marrow where her daughter is. Cardan tells the daughter that he would make a terrible husband, but asks her if she would like a dance. At this point, Mother Marrow drags her daughter away.

Jude is informed that Balekin wishes to speak with Cardan.

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Balekin Greenbriar
Cardan and Balekin have a tough relationship due to the fact that Balekin sees his brother as weak and beats him for it. Despite this, they still care for one another, however little they may show it. Balekin is the person who raised him when Dain plotted against him, and when his father sent him from the palace.


to be added


Jude Duarte
Main article: Cardan and Jude
In The Cruel Prince, every time Jude thinks of Cardan she feels two things: hatred and rage. She hates him for being a spoiled prince, for bothering/threatening her sister and being so self-centered. She knows Cardan's hatred for her is deep, and he shows it in each one of his actions towards her. After the coronation in which Jude gets full control of Cardan and his future, he admits that his hatred for her is caused by jealousy and envy of the way Madoc tries for her to fit in, even though she doesn’t belong there. After a little more pushing from Jude, Cardan admits he desires her, and how he loathes himself to feel that. Cardan admits that he thinks about her often and as torture/punishment Jude kisses him. After that, Jude and Cardan’s relationship becomes odd, they are obviously involved with each other, but neither of them admits to feeling anything other than a passing desire for each other.
Jude and cardan
in Queen of Nothing Cardan tells Jude that her exile was only a trick that was meant to prevent war and also to establish himself as a respectful ruler, he continues that his true intention was for her to come back and he then notes upon the fact that Jude had tricked many people in the past and was sure she would notice his careful wording. he then told Jude that he sent her multiple letters to ensure her return home. although the two don't make peace with each other immediately, they both show mutual affection and longing towards each other. Cardan admits he's been in love with her for a long time, Jude doesn't respond. by the end of the book she tells him that she is in love with him and they both end up ruling Elfhame as the high queen and king.
to be added


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  • Cardan is about a year and a half older than Jude [1]
  • The reason Cardan is embarrassed by his tail is that he can’t control it, it reacts depending on his emotions. [2]
  • Cardan Smiles alot when he's nervous. [3]


  • "I think about you. Often. It's disgusting, and I can't stop."
  • "Time to change partners. Oh, did I steal your line?"
  • "I am no murderer."
  • "How has the night been going for you? Mine has been full of dull conversations about how my head is going to find itself on a spike."
  • "Have I told you how hideous you look tonight?"
  • "Locke hasn't gotten around to seducing me yet, if that's what you're asking. I suppose I should be insulted."


  1. [1]Holly Black on Twitter
  2. Confirmed by Holly Black during The King and Queen tour
  3. The Cruel prince, Chapter 25 - "I'm nervous," he says. "I smile alot when I'm nervous. I can't help it."
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