Decoding the Moral Ambiguity in Robin Hobb’s Farseer Series

Explore the moral ambiguity and complex relationships in Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. Delve into themes of loyalty, power, and personal morality in a world of political intrigue and dangerous power dynamics.

Robin Hobb’s Farseer series has captured the hearts and minds of avid fantasy readers for years and inspired me to become a fantasy writer.

At the centre of the series is FitzChivalry Farseer, a complex and morally ambiguous character who navigates a world of political intrigue, magical powers, and deep emotional bonds.

In this blog post, you’ll discover some of the key themes, events, and relationships that form the core of FitzChivalry’s story, with a particular focus on Molly, Chade, Nighteyes, The Fool, and Burrich.

The Assassin’s Burden: Moral Implications of Serving the Royal Family

One of the central aspects of FitzChivalry’s life is his role as an assassin in service to the Farseer family.

This duty, which he takes on at a young age, brings with it a heavy burden of moral implications that impact his relationships and personal growth throughout the series.

As an assassin, FitzChivalry is often called upon to carry out orders that require him to take the lives of others.

This raises the question of whether assassination can ever be morally justified.

FitzChivalry struggles with this dilemma, as he is forced to weigh the potential benefits of his actions against the inherent immorality of taking a life.

One argument in favour of assassination in this context is that it serves the greater good.

By eliminating threats to the Farseer family and the stability of the Six Duchies, FitzChivalry’s actions can be seen as a necessary evil to maintain peace and order.

However, this utilitarian perspective is complicated by the fact that FitzChivalry is often asked to kill individuals whose guilt or danger may not be entirely clear.

The Impact on Personal Morality

The act of taking a life can have profound effects on an individual’s sense of self and moral compass.

FitzChivalry’s role as an assassin often leads him to question his own morality and the person he is becoming as a result of his actions.

FitzChivalry’s struggle is further compounded by the fact that he is not only an assassin but also a member of the royal family (albeit as a royal bastard)..

This dual identity forces him to navigate the complicated dynamics of power, loyalty, and responsibility, as he is both a protector and an enforcer of the Farseer family’s interests.

The Role of Deception and Secrecy

Of course, the role of an assassin also involves deception and secrecy.

FitzChivalry must maintain a hidden aspect of his identity, even from those closest to him, which can create emotional distance and strain his relationships.

This secrecy also leads to a larger question of trust and the ethics of deception. As an assassin,

FitzChivalry must often deceive others—even his loved ones—to fulfill his duties.

This deception raises questions about the moral implications of lying to protect oneself or one’s family, and the toll it can take on personal relationships.

The Virtue of Loyalty

Loyalty is a central theme in the Farseer series, and FitzChivalry’s unwavering devotion to the royal family is one of his defining characteristics.

However, this loyalty also brings with it a moral dilemma: at what point does loyalty to one’s family or ruler supersede one’s own sense of right and wrong?

FitzChivalry’s role as an assassin forces him to confront this question repeatedly, as he must choose between his duty to the Farseer family and his personal moral convictions.

This struggle highlights the complexity of loyalty as a virtue and the potential moral pitfalls of blind devotion.

A Labyrinth of Loyalties: FitzChivalry’s Relationships

Molly

Molly is FitzChivalry’s first love, and their relationship is a central theme throughout the series.

She represents a sense of normalcy and stability that FitzChivalry yearns for, but their love is ultimately a tragic one.

The demands of FitzChivalry’s loyalty to the Farseer throne and his dangerous missions often put his relationship with Molly at risk.

This tension forces FitzChivalry to confront the question of whether he can have both a life of duty and a fulfilling personal life.

Chade

Chade, FitzChivalry’s mentor and fellow assassin, represents the darker side of FitzChivalry’s life. Their relationship is built on trust and loyalty, but also secrecy and deception.

Chade’s influence on FitzChivalry often pushes him to make morally ambiguous decisions, even when it comes at a great personal cost.

The bond between Chade and FitzChivalry highlights the struggle between duty and morality that lies at the core of the series.

Nighteyes

Nighteyes, FitzChivalry’s wolf companion, is arguably one of the most important relationships in the series (and, it must be said, a personal favourite)..

Their bond, formed through the magical Wit, transcends the human-animal divide and allows them to share thoughts and emotions.

 Nighteyes provides FitzChivalry with a sense of belonging and companionship that he often lacks in his human relationships.

Moreover, Nighteyes’ animal nature forces FitzChivalry to confront his own instincts and desires, blurring the line between human and animal, and raising questions about the nature of morality and identity.

The Fool

The Fool is an enigmatic figure who accompanies FitzChivalry throughout the series, acting as a friend, advisor, and at times, a catalyst for change.

The Fool’s prophetic abilities and connection to a larger cosmic narrative force FitzChivalry to question the significance of his actions and the impact they may have on the world.

Their relationship is marked by affection and trust, but also a sense of uncertainty and mystery.

The Fool’s presence in FitzChivalry’s life serves as a constant reminder of the complexity and ambiguity of the world he inhabits.

Burrich

Burrich is FitzChivalry’s father figure and early mentor, who provides him with a strict moral compass.

The relationship between FitzChivalry and Burrich is fraught with tension and mutual respect.

Burrich’s unwavering loyalty to the Farseer family and his disapproval of FitzChivalry’s use of the Wit create a rift between them that deepens over time.

This conflict forces FitzChivalry to confront the difficult question of whether his loyalty to his family should supersede his own moral beliefs.

The Moral Maze: Themes and Dilemmas

FitzChivalry’s relationships and the events that unfold throughout the series force him to grapple with several key moral dilemmas.

These include:

  • The tension between loyalty to family and duty versus personal desires and morality.
  • The nature of identity and the extent to which one’s actions define who they are.
  • The consequences of power and the moral responsibility that comes with wielding it.

Through these dilemmas, Robin Hobb’s Farseer series presents a rich tapestry of moral ambiguity that challenges both FitzChivalry and the reader to navigate a complex world of love, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Robin Hobb’s Farseer series presents a compelling exploration of the moral implications of serving as an assassin for the royal family.

Through FitzChivalry Farseer’s experiences and relationships, the series delves into the complex moral dilemmas faced by an individual tasked with balancing duty, loyalty, and personal morality in a world of political intrigue, deception, and dangerous power dynamics.

By doing so, the series challenges readers to consider the moral boundaries of loyalty and the true cost of serving a higher power.

Author: joncronshawauthor

Best-selling author of fantasy and speculative fiction brimming with adventure, escapism, and an exploration of life's big questions.

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