SPOILER WARNING: Plot details for Chain of Gold follow. Caution is advised!

Cordelia Carstairs is the daughter of Elias and Sona Carstairs, and the sister of Alastair Carstairs.


Early life

At one point, Lucie Herondale and her mother traveled to France and met Cordelia. After spending two weeks together, she and Lucie became very close. Even when they parted ways, the two remained in contact, sending letters to each other every week.[5] In 1897, the pair decided to become parabatai.[6] However their ceremony was put off for a few years as the Clave wanted to make sure they were grown enough to know their own minds.[7]

Cordelia also befriended James Herondale through Lucie, and though her brother disliked him, Cordelia developed a crush on the boy.[8]

Physical description

Cordelia has light brown skin, dark red hair, and black eyes.[9]


Having never settled down in one place for long due to her father's health, Cordelia never made any real friends before she met Lucie and James, as such she sometimes has trouble at social events.

Despite the sheltered life, Cordelia is an adventurous individual and is open to new experiences. She hopes to someday rise as a hero of her own merit.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Cordelia possesses a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to her by the angel blood of Raziel in her veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improved over time and practice.
  • Use of heavenly weapons: As a Nephilim, Cordelia is also able to handle heavenly weapons with effect, since this would normally not work for other species. In particular, these are weapons made of adamas and forged by Iron Sisters, such as seraph blades.
  • Runic magic: Due to the Angel Raziel's blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are all able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.


  • Basic Shadowhunter gear, including: a stele and seraph blades.
  • Cortana: a sword that has been passed down through the Carstairs family, both Cordelia and Alastair have been given opportunities to use the sword, which is in the possession of their father. It is her favorite weapon.
  • Witchlight: Alastair gave her the witchlight as a present on her 13th birthday.



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In-universe notes:

  • In her childhood, she loved scaring her brother Alastair Carstairs. Her favorite method was hiding under his bed and grabbing his ankle when he gets close enough to reach. They also shared a common interest in architecture and together built castles out of wood blocks, inspired by their last name.[10]
  • Cordelia's favorite book is Layla and Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi.[1] It is also one of her mother's favorites and is where her nickname "Layla" comes from.[11]
  • Cordelia's favorite treat is the ghotab (or qottab) — a deep-fried Iranian pastry filled with almonds.[12]
  • Her favorite animal is the Persian cat.[1]
  • Cordelia speaks Farsi.
  • Cordelia loves reading, specifically Persian literature and mythology.
  • According to the "found" family tree, Cordelia will apparently go on to marry James, have a son named Owen, and die in 1962 at the age of 76 or 77.[4]

Upcoming content:

  • She, like her cousin Jem, is parabatai with a Herondale. (She is set to become Lucie's parabatai in The Last Hours.[13])
  • "She's fascinated with plants, perfumes and fragrances. A bit of that is about her mother, who loves perfume, and some is about an interest in aspects of her heritage as "Iranians are regarded as the first manufacturers of perfume… The equipment and installations for obtaining rosewater and perfumes were abundant in many towns and villages, and their sweet smelling products were exported to remote corners of the world." Cordelia is fascinated not just with creating delicious smells that she can wear and give as gifts, but also with the meaning of plants and with their uses in healing."[14][15]


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