Here’s what I think of your Queen of Nothing Theories
My biggest confession: Before I started working at LBYR…I have never read The Folk of the Air series.
I know, I know! How could I be a part of NOVL without having read this iconic series? I have no good excuse, but I just know that I had to fix my mistake. This was me reading all the tweets before I picked up the books:
November cannot come quicker!! I’m usually pretty good at predicting plot twists, but Holly Black just manages to deceive me EVERY TIME. How can it possibly end? Well, you guys have a few theories of your own and I’m ready to take a deep dive into them. (Contrary to everyone else on Team NOVL, I haven’t read The Queen of Nothing yet so I’m in the dark as much as you are.) Let’s see what ideas everyone has in store.
Theory #1: Jude is carrying a “forbidden” half mortal child, who she will make the future High King or Queen of Elfhame. But, to do so, she will kill Cardan first.
Jude being pregnant could be a possibility (given her and Cardan’s ~spicy~ moment during The Wicked King). Jude as a mother will be…interesting to say the least, given her track record of near-death experiences. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
Also, whether she admits it or not, Jude is power hungry. When she was Cardan’s seneschal (and puppet master), we’ve seen how much she thrives having control. And something that always stood out to me is Jude’s constant reiteration of how much she’s grown to be like Madoc. Madoc wants to put Oak on the throne so he can just rule through Oak. In this scenario, Jude puts her child on the throne so she can rule through her child—the idea of Jude turning more into Madoc becomes literal, as she takes the position he’s planned for himself.
Though I obviously don’t want Cardan to die, Jude killing him is not impossible either. She’s not afraid of murder and she’s determined enough to not let anyone get in her way. Plus, Jude and Cardan’s love-hate relationship is definitely on extreme hatred right now. Just look at the final pages of The Wicked King and Jude’s promise for revenge:
“Work to hurt Cardan,” Vivi says with a fierce light in her eyes. She has never been particularly forgiving.
Right now I am glad of it.
“How?” I say, but the strategic part of my brain is grinding slowly back into action. Grimsen is still in play. If he could make a crown for Balekin, what could he do for me?
Jude has a lot of anger in her, she wants to redeem and prove herself, and she won’t let anyone get in her way, especially Cardan. She’s been manipulated, let her emotions get ahead of her, and you can bet she won’t let that happen again.
And if Jude is pregnant, Cardan will find out one way or another—it’s just whether he finds out at the brink of his death or not.
Verdict: Definitely some merit to this. Jude is left angry and embarrassed at the end of The Wicked King, so there are no limits to her actions—even if that does involve killing Cardan.
Theory #2: Balekin is Jude’s father. (source)
This theory is SO INTERESTING!! I personally want it to not be true because if Jude is Balekin’s child, that means Cardan is Jude’s uncle and I do not think I can handle that revelation. My heart was played in The Mortal Instruments. I don’t want to be toiled with again.
As for the evidence behind the theory…let’s break it down:
“So in the Prologue of TCP, when Madoc walks in the very first thing he says to Eva after years of being apart is not ‘lol bish I thought you dead’, eventhough something similar, or at least some kind of surprise would be expected from him, after years of believing his wife dead. But no, he just points at the little 7-year-old Jude and asks:
‘Whose child is that? Yours? His?’
‘No one’s. She is no one’s child.’
The theory then points out that Madoc says: ‘I doubted Balekin when he told me I’d find you here.’”
This is compelling—the vagueness of Eva’s reply is certainly interesting (though it could’ve just been an attempt at protecting Justin?).
But the second aspect, of how Madoc received this information from Balekin, doesn’t do much for the theory. Balekin has spies everywhere (especially if he was planning on taking the crown), so him knowing this information cannot be strictly attributed to him being the father or having a deeper relationship with Eva. I can see him discovering her whereabouts through his spies after Eva’s supposed death, but not revealing it until it can be used as a bargaining tool, telling Madoc only in exchange for a favor. That line more so emphasizes that Madoc and Balekin have been in an alliance for a long time.
My favorite part of this theory is the end of it though, mentioning a Cardan quote from The Cruel Prince:
“’He [Balekin] can sire some brat to be his heir and pass the High Crown to it. Or perhaps it will slit his throat, a new family tradition.’
and the funny thing is that Jude and Balekin were just bargaining over the crown when she actually… did slit his throat.”
Possible foreshadowing?? HM???? It wouldn’t be the first time that a small line like this becomes insanely pivotal to the plot.
The original poster of the theory:
Verdict: Leaning towards no (mostly because I definitely don’t want that incest plot twist in my life), but who knows?
Theory #3: Jude is a faerie.
This builds off the last theory, because if Balekin is somehow Jude’s father, that means Jude, and by extension Taryn, would have to be part-faerie. The theory dissects this as well:
“So Holly has another fae book called the Darkest Part of the Forest, and there are two brothers in it, one a faerie and the other a mortal, but they look nearly identical, like they could be twins, eventhough they are not even related. The reason for that is that faerie kid is actually a changeling, so when he was adopted into the mortal family, he was kinda glamoured into looking the same as the other mortal child. So this same thing could easily apply to Jude and Taryn too, Taryn being a true mortal, and Jude being a changeling in mortal disguise without her knowing.”
But even then, who would have glamoured Jude all that time in the mortal world unless it was Vivi? Her parents couldn’t have done it, Jude wouldn’t know how to glamour herself, and sure, Balekin could’ve done it, but why would he? What’s in it for him, especially given his hatred of mortals? I can see him killing Eva and Jude before he would help them.
And I think after years in Faerie, Jude would’ve discovered her true identity, especially because it’s hard for a younger child to control their powers (remember when Oak accidentally glamoured Jude?). She’s smart enough to have discovered her real identity by now.
I would absolutely love for this theory to be true though. It’s the one thing that Jude has been hoping for all along, to be one of the Folk, to fit in and stop being undermined because she’s a mortal.
Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
So I don’t think Jude is a faerie, but it got me thinking….is it possible for her to become a faerie? (Can Grimsen play a role in this part?!?!?!?!??!)
Verdict: Doesn’t seem like it, unless some knowledge is dropped about a mortal-to-faerie transformation in Queen of Nothing. I mean, anything is possible when it comes to magic?
Theory #4: Cardan will be forced to cut off his own tail in order to save Jude.
Dang…it just be like that, huh? To be honest, out of all the theories listed here, this is probably the one that is the least wild. (Am I feeling a little betrayed and disheartened by Cardan? Yes. If this is what is coming for him, does he deserve it, even just a little bit? Maybe.)
See, I don’t have much evidence to confirm or deny that this happens. Despite the ending of The Wicked King, I think Cardan will still do a lot for Jude (see: rescue from the Undersea). He certainly doesn’t want her dead (exiled = not dead, so at least Jude has that going for her). If cutting off the tail means that Jude stays alive, well…goodbye to the tail. And who knows, maybe the tail is a sad reminder of his childhood when he was partly taken care of by cats (too far?).
Now, the reasoning behind why a person would ask Cardan to cut off his tail instead of asking for a bigger favor from the High King, well, that is unclear. But the cruelty of the Folk cannot be denied.
In summary: who knows what will happen? We can never predict what Holly will do, and we know she’s not above surprising us with a death of a character we thought was crucial (see: literally all of The Cruel Prince). November is fast-approaching—I’ve done all I can in dissecting the theories, but only time will tell.