Extrapolation

Queerness and Homophobia in Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogies

Extrapolation (2018), 59, (3), 281–303.

Abstract

This essay explores elements of queerness and homophobia in Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogies. The essay demonstrates how the first trilogy presents its main protagonist, FitzChivalry Farseer, as a character whose closeted experiences as a practitioner of a much-despised magic called the Wit lend themselves as a “substitute alterity” (Balay 934) for the social experience of queer-identifying readers. The essay further considers how Fitz’s status as a queer/queer-relatable character becomes even more visible over the second and third trilogies as he struggles to understand his own increasing desire for same-sex intimacy with his best friend the Fool. The series’ teasingly belated final image of same-sex union between these two characters, I argue, brings the Farseer trilogies’ accumulation of queer allusions and invocations to a tipping point of identifiable clarity, and thus offers a considerable payoff for readers who have followed this aspect of the series with great patience and care for over three decades of publication.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

A6A7. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt. 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotions. Routledge, 2004. Print. The Cultural Politics of Emotions Google Scholar

Balay, Anne. “‘Incloseto Putbacko’: Queerness in Adolescent Fantasy Fiction.” The Journal of Popular Culture 45.5 (2012): 923–942. Print. ‘Incloseto Putbacko’: Queerness in Adolescent Fantasy Fiction. The Journal of Popular Culture 45.5 923 942 Google Scholar

Battis, Jes. Queer Spellings: Magic and Melancholia in Fantasy-Fiction. PhD Thesis. Simon Fraser U, 2007. Print. Queer Spellings: Magic and Melancholia in Fantasy-Fiction Google Scholar

Betz, Phyllis. The Lesbian Fantastic: A Critical Study of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal and Gothic Writings. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2011. Print. The Lesbian Fantastic: A Critical Study of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal and Gothic Writings Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. “Imitation and Gender Insubordination.” Inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. Ed. Diana Fuss. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 13–31. Print. Imitation and Gender Insubordination. Inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 13 31 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” London and New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” Google Scholar

Crimp, Douglas. “Mario Montez, For Shame.” Gay Shame. Ed. David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. 63–75. Print. Mario Montez, For Shame. Gay Shame 63 75 Google Scholar

Doty, Alexander. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993. Print. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture Google Scholar

Fablespinner. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt. 17 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Apprentice. Bantam, 1996. Print. Assassin’s Apprentice Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Royal Assassin. New York: Bantam, 1997. Print. Royal Assassin Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Quest. New York: Bantam, 1998. Print. Assassin’s Quest Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Errand. New York: Bantam, 2002. Print. Fool’s Errand Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Golden Fool. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print. Golden Fool Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Fate. New York: Bantam, 2004. Print. Fool’s Fate Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Assassin. New York: Del Rey, 2015. Print. Fool’s Assassin Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Quest. New York: Del Rey, 2015. Print. Fool’s Quest Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Fate. New York: Del Rey, 2017. Print. Assassin’s Fate Google Scholar

Hughes, William, and Andrew Smith. “Introduction: Queering the Gothic.” Queering the Gothic. Ed. William Hughes and Andrew Smith. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. 1–10. Print. Introduction: Queering the Gothic. Queering the Gothic 1 10 Google Scholar

Judith Butler: Philosophical Encounters of the Third Kind. Directed by Paule Zadjermann. Icarus Films. 2006. Film. Google Scholar

Kenneally, Stephen. “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invisibility of Queer Fantasy.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 8–20. Print. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invisibility of Queer Fantasy. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 8 20 Google Scholar

Kenneally, Stephen. Queer Be Dragons: Mapping LGBT Fantasy Novels 1987–2000. PhD thesis. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin, 2016. Print. Queer Be Dragons: Mapping LGBT Fantasy Novels 1987–2000 Google Scholar

Mouzeh. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt, 20 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

nakedirohtime007. Comment on “Sleepers 4–Fitz and Fool.” DeviantArt. 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Prater, Lenise. “Queering Magic: Robin Hobb and Fantasy Literature’s Radical Potential.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 21–34. Print. Queering Magic: Robin Hobb and Fantasy Literature’s Radical Potential. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 21 34 Google Scholar

Pratt, Lloyd. “Close Reading the Present: Eudora Welty’s Queer Politics.” Queer Times, Queer Becomings. Ed. E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen. New York: SUNY P, 2011. 183–204. Print. Close Reading the Present: Eudora Welty’s Queer Politics. Queer Times, Queer Becomings 183 204 Google Scholar

Pugh, Tison, and David L. Wallace. “Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 31.3 (2006): 260–281. Print. Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 31.3 260 281 Google Scholar

Roberts, Jude, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. “Introduction.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 1–7. Print. Introduction. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 1 7 Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel.” Gay Shame. Ed. David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. 49–63. Print. Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel. Gay Shame 49 63 Google Scholar

Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York: Free Press, 1999. Print. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life Google Scholar

Yerwun. Comment on “[Discussion] Assassin’s Fate.” Reddit, 2017. Web. 23 May 2018. [Discussion] Assassin’s Fate. Reddit Google Scholar

A6A7. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt. 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotions. Routledge, 2004. Print. The Cultural Politics of Emotions Google Scholar

Balay, Anne. “‘Incloseto Putbacko’: Queerness in Adolescent Fantasy Fiction.” The Journal of Popular Culture 45.5 (2012): 923–942. Print. ‘Incloseto Putbacko’: Queerness in Adolescent Fantasy Fiction. The Journal of Popular Culture 45.5 923 942 Google Scholar

Battis, Jes. Queer Spellings: Magic and Melancholia in Fantasy-Fiction. PhD Thesis. Simon Fraser U, 2007. Print. Queer Spellings: Magic and Melancholia in Fantasy-Fiction Google Scholar

Betz, Phyllis. The Lesbian Fantastic: A Critical Study of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal and Gothic Writings. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2011. Print. The Lesbian Fantastic: A Critical Study of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal and Gothic Writings Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. “Imitation and Gender Insubordination.” Inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. Ed. Diana Fuss. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. 13–31. Print. Imitation and Gender Insubordination. Inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 13 31 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” London and New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” Google Scholar

Crimp, Douglas. “Mario Montez, For Shame.” Gay Shame. Ed. David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. 63–75. Print. Mario Montez, For Shame. Gay Shame 63 75 Google Scholar

Doty, Alexander. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993. Print. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture Google Scholar

Fablespinner. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt. 17 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Apprentice. Bantam, 1996. Print. Assassin’s Apprentice Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Royal Assassin. New York: Bantam, 1997. Print. Royal Assassin Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Quest. New York: Bantam, 1998. Print. Assassin’s Quest Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Errand. New York: Bantam, 2002. Print. Fool’s Errand Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Golden Fool. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print. Golden Fool Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Fate. New York: Bantam, 2004. Print. Fool’s Fate Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Assassin. New York: Del Rey, 2015. Print. Fool’s Assassin Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Fool’s Quest. New York: Del Rey, 2015. Print. Fool’s Quest Google Scholar

Hobb, Robin. Assassin’s Fate. New York: Del Rey, 2017. Print. Assassin’s Fate Google Scholar

Hughes, William, and Andrew Smith. “Introduction: Queering the Gothic.” Queering the Gothic. Ed. William Hughes and Andrew Smith. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. 1–10. Print. Introduction: Queering the Gothic. Queering the Gothic 1 10 Google Scholar

Judith Butler: Philosophical Encounters of the Third Kind. Directed by Paule Zadjermann. Icarus Films. 2006. Film. Google Scholar

Kenneally, Stephen. “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invisibility of Queer Fantasy.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 8–20. Print. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invisibility of Queer Fantasy. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 8 20 Google Scholar

Kenneally, Stephen. Queer Be Dragons: Mapping LGBT Fantasy Novels 1987–2000. PhD thesis. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin, 2016. Print. Queer Be Dragons: Mapping LGBT Fantasy Novels 1987–2000 Google Scholar

Mouzeh. Comment on “Complete.” DeviantArt, 20 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

nakedirohtime007. Comment on “Sleepers 4–Fitz and Fool.” DeviantArt. 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Prater, Lenise. “Queering Magic: Robin Hobb and Fantasy Literature’s Radical Potential.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 21–34. Print. Queering Magic: Robin Hobb and Fantasy Literature’s Radical Potential. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 21 34 Google Scholar

Pratt, Lloyd. “Close Reading the Present: Eudora Welty’s Queer Politics.” Queer Times, Queer Becomings. Ed. E. L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen. New York: SUNY P, 2011. 183–204. Print. Close Reading the Present: Eudora Welty’s Queer Politics. Queer Times, Queer Becomings 183 204 Google Scholar

Pugh, Tison, and David L. Wallace. “Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 31.3 (2006): 260–281. Print. Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 31.3 260 281 Google Scholar

Roberts, Jude, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. “Introduction.” Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. Ed. Jude Roberts and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. 1–7. Print. Introduction. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks 1 7 Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel.” Gay Shame. Ed. David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. 49–63. Print. Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel. Gay Shame 49 63 Google Scholar

Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York: Free Press, 1999. Print. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life Google Scholar

Yerwun. Comment on “[Discussion] Assassin’s Fate.” Reddit, 2017. Web. 23 May 2018. [Discussion] Assassin’s Fate. Reddit Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Melville, Peter