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If you are the sickness, I suppose you also can't be the cure"

Cardan Greenbriar, The Wicked King

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

Physical Description

Cardan has curly iridescent midnight hair and sharp cheekbones. He has long eyelashes. His eyes are described as black with a golden ring 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 of the Folk by Jude.

He is almost always seen wearing extravagant clothes made of rich fabrics, studded with gemstones and exotic feathers, and patterns. In the official art of the characters in "How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories" Cardan is depicted as a tall figure with very pale skin, long black hair, and black eyes.


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 to his true emotions 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. He is also a sweet talker and can talk almost anyone into anything. This is seen in The Cruel Prince when he manages to get himself and Jude out of the court after Dain’s coronation. Jude also mentions that his glamour is more powerful and seductive than other Folk.


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. Because of this, Cardan grew more reckless. 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. It is revealed in the prologue of The Queen of Nothing that his brother Prince Dain got Cardan blamed for his own wrongdoing, and their father punished Cardan without listening to his side. Cardan then decided that if he can’t get Eldred’s attention by being good, he will get it by misbehaving.

Later on in his life, King Eldred does not stop Cardan’s older brother, Prince Dain, from kicking him out of the palace. He is then forced to reside with his eldest brother, Prince Balekin, in Hollow Hall while enduring Balekin’s harsh punishments and cruelty. It is revealed that Balekin whips Cardan every time he loses a duel to Balekin because of his sword fighting skills being poor.

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'.

At their lessons, Cardan kicks dirt into Jude’s food, but Jude gets back at him by salting his food. The next day Cardan, with the help of his friends, pushes 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.

He is later seen talking to a crying Taryn, and Jude slams him against a tree and warns him to stay away from Taryn. Cardan is shocked but plans to get revenge. 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 against him and wins the Tournament for her side. After the Tourney, Cardan demands her submission, but Jude does not. Instead she stands up to him and threatens him that she will not submit to his bullying ways. Cardan is left speechless and she goes away unscathed.

Later on, Valerian forcefully feeds Jude 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 gets killed by Valerian, if not for Cardan and Locke's intervention.

At the coronation Cardan steps between Jude and Locke. He chides Locke for playing around with Jude and Taryn, but at that time 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. He reveals to her that his father despised him. 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. 

Cardan note

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 tells her that he envies her because Madoc loves her despite her being his step-daughter when Cardan’s own father despised him. He also envies her because she doesn’t have an abusive older brother. Another reason for his hate is because he believed that she stole Locke from Nicasia, making her cry.

Jude asks him about the piece of paper she found on which he wrote her name over and over again but he hesitates to answer, After a little more pressing from Jude, he then admits that he is attracted to Jude and thinks about her often and hates her and himself himself for wanting a mortal. Jude then kisses him.

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. They form a sort of friendship. He tells her 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 Oak the High King.

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 on Cardan’s arm, shocking everyone present. 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 then 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 completely still in his kneeling position. Oak performs the coronation ceremony and places the crown on Cardan’s head, 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 while also telling her that he has not yet forgiven her.  

The Wicked King 

In this book, Cardan tries to embrace his new role as High King while struggling with his feelings for Jude. He is still upset with her over her betrayal but cannot deny his growing feelings toward her.

The book starts 5 months after the events of The Cruel Prince, at one of Cardan’s revels celebrating his coronation. Cardan does not take his obligations seriously, leaving Jude to do all the work as his seneschal. All he does is drink, party, and pretend to be High King. He also refuses to attend meeting with the Living Council. His subjects come up to him and ask him questions one of them being Grimsen, who is in exile. He comes to Cardan to ask to have his exile lifted. Cardan grants him that on the condition that he will show Cardan his loyalty in his deeds, rather than binding himself with to his words.

King Cardan

Then Mother Marrow comes forward, and gifts Cardan a piece fabric woven of spider silk and nightmares. She tries to trick Cardan into a geas, but is stopped by Jude. Jude is informed that Balekin wishes to speak with Cardan and goes to meet him herself. She meets Cardan’s mother Lady Asha at the Tower of Forgetting.

She comes back to find that an attempt was made on Cardan’s life while he was drunk and in bed with another Faerie. He got away safely but has a wound. Jude moves him to her bedroom while she inspects his room and in his drunken state, he tells her to kiss him over and over again until he is sick of it. He falls asleep before Jude can reply. Jude finds out that Nicasia shot at Cardan out of jealoust, but her target wasn’t Cardan, but the other girl with him.

Jude tells Cardan about Balekin’s wish to meet him but refuses his demands. They find out that Balekin is working with Orlagh of the Undersea. Jude tells Cardan to seduce Nicasia to find out more about Orlagh’s plan. Cardan uses his seductive talents on Jude instead and they end up kissing. They end up in bed together, though it is unclear what happens next. Jude later reveals they did not go all the way. Cardan finds out from Nicasia that Orlagh is planning to rebel against him and they soon receive a warning. They think that the Undersea plans to hurt Oak, who is coming to Elfhame for Taryn and Locke’s wedding and take appropriate precautions. But the Undersea abducts Jude instead.

Cardan does everything he can to get Jude back. He agrees to all of the Undersea’s terms, even letting them attack his kingdom without retaliating. After Jude returns, she finds out that Cardan and Madoc blamed each other for her abduction.

later, when she tries to go to palace, Cardan tooks her in his bed and confess some of his feelings. making Jude speechless

The Queen of Nothing

Cardan is first seen when Jude comes in the court as Taryn. Cardan asks questions and then tells her to come to his room. there, he tells that she is Jude and why not she has sent any answer to his letters, and after telling the exile was a trick, madoc attacks and takes jude with her.

when she is planning to escape, Cardan comes to save her along with the roach.....



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 a lot when he's nervous.
  • In the cruel prince, Jude receives a beautiful dress for the coronation, which she thinks is from Prince Dain, but Cardan was the one who gave it to her
  • Back in the Hollow hall, Cardan use to help mortal escape in the mortal world
  • The prophecy regarding his misfortune was, "he will be destruction of the crown and ruination of the throne" [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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