Cardan was always a terrible villain

In my previous reviews of The Folk of the Air novels, I roasted Cardan and Jude. And today is no different!

How the King of Elfhame learned to Hate Stories is another novella in the Folk of the Air series. This novella takes place after Queen of Nothing, the last novel, and it features some gorgeous art.


Cardan and Jude head to the mortal world because they need to meet with Jude’s old boss. On the trip over, Cardan is reminded that his wife loves to live life on the edge, hence why she married him.

Cardan then recalls Aslog, a troll who used to work for his father. One day, Aslog tells a young Cardan a tale about a cursed boy with a heart of Stone who fell in love with a cursed monstrous girl. In this tale, Aslog tells Cardan that the monstrous girl broke the boy’s curse but then accidentally killed him.

Cardan remarks that the tale is silly, and Aslog laughs at him.

Cardan’s memories explain his hatred for Botkin, the time he freed a human servant, meeting Nicasia, dating Nicasia’s while hating the sea, discovering Nicasia and Locke together, and tormenting Jude. 

Through all these flashbacks, Cardan recalls his strange fascination with Jude and her strange ears. Cardan envy’s Jude relationship with her adopted father (as it’s less toxic than his own familial ties).

Cardan meets Aslog while he’s reading Alice in Wonderland, and she tells him another variation of the story from the beginning. In this version the boy with the stone heart chose his curse. He falls in love with the monstrous girl who has a monstrous son, the girl breaks his curse, and the boy is ready to love them both, but the girl and her son flee. 

Cardan still thinks the story is stupid.

In the mortal realm Vivi and Heather take the royals for boba tea and dumplings. Cardan samples all the teas, much to Oak’s displeasure, and takes a bite out of all the dumplings. 

He cuddles with Jude on the rug while watching Knive’s Out and the next day, in hoodies and boots, meet a contact in the human realm, who explains that Aslog’s bitter because of a land dispute. They recieve a map which Jude promises to show Cardan after.

Back at Viv’s apartment Cardan can’t sleep, so he leaves Jude in bed and takes the map and Jude’s bag. Cardan knows Jude well enough to predict she’ll fight Aslog on her own. So he takes her sword and heads out. 

Cardan meets Aslog and offers to personally solve her dispute. Aslog scoffs at Cardan’s good will and traps him in a pit. Cardan acts like everything is all and well but decides to stall for sunrise by telling Aslog his version of the stone heart boy.

In Cardan’s version of the story the girl was cursed because of her father’s misdeeds. The girl breaks the boy’s curse, and the boy decides to love the monstrous girl as she is. A story not that different from Cardan’s and Jude’s own romance. Aslog says Cardan’s story is boring, and Cardan admits he stalled so Jude could come and save him.

“He cuts his gaze toward his unpredictable, mortal High Queen, whose wild brown hair is blowing around her face, whose amber eyes are alight when she looks at him.
They are two people who ought to have, by all rights, remained enemies forever.
He can’t believe his good fortune, can’t trace the path that got him here.”

Holly Black

While Aslog is distracted, Cardan calls the tree branches to him and hauls himself out of the pit. He then kicks Aslog into the pit and watches as her body turns to stone in the morning light. Jude arrives just in time to call Cardan an idiot and fuss over him.


How the King of Elfhame Learned to hate stories was super cute! If you’re a fan of the original Elfhame series and you’ll love this one. It’s equal part’s Cardan’s origin story and an epilogue to Queen of Nothing.

In the original series, Jude fights for her life, and her story emphasizes how dangerous and manipulative the fae are. And readers will see this theme through Cardan’s storytelling and when he encounters Aslog.

I forgot that Cardan started crushing on Jude first, and I gasped when he couldn’t stop thinking about her ears and her inability to walk soundlessly through the forest. Simply adorable. Cardan is the youngest of his siblings and is closer in age to Jude, which is rare for fantasy couples. Many fantasy novels emphasize the age gap between lovers, and in my opinion, it emphasizes the wisdom of the older one. But because Cardan’s so young, his love for Jude is youthful and pure. Despite Cardan’s rough childhood and his promise to Jude that he’s not a good person, it’s interesting to see him evolve in the original trilogy and to visit Cardan after. In my opinion he’s become even softer than he was in the last novel.

“You don’t think monster girls and wicked boys deserve love?”

Holly Black

Cardan’s memories further confirm Cardan was always a soft prince. When Cardan recalls catching Nicasia and Locke together, he is so hurt he fights Locke. Although Cardan portrays himself as a heartless villain, his memories and his relationship with Nicasia hint that he simply craved love.

Which explains why he married Jude so quickly in Wicked King. In short, Cardan was a terrible villain, and this novella just proved it.

Oak’s story will continue this January in Stolen Heir and I promise you I will be reading and reviewing it!

until next time I’ll be living in libros,


Check out more heartless villains

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