Shrewd Farseer is the King of the Six Duchies. He is the father of Chivalry and Verity by his first wife Constance, the father of Regal by his second wife Desire, the half-brother of Chade Fallstar, and the grandfather of FitzChivalry Farseer.
Shrewd has shown himself to be pragmatic and even ruthless in navigating the politics of the Six Duchies. He views his first grandson FitzChivalry as a tool of the Farseers first and as a relative second. Chade comments that Shrewd would enjoy having his men believe that he had the power to read their minds, even if he were actually incapable, simply as a manipulation tactic.
Shrewd is trained in the Skill and appears to possess a moderate talent for it.
Shrewd is initially content to allow Fitz to remain in Burrich's care as little more than a stableboy. However, after Fitz draws his attention in the mess hall, Shrewd lectures Regal on the values and dangers of an illegitimate royal child. He promises to care for Fitz in exchange for Fitz's loyalty. Shrewd then gives orders that Fitz is to be raised as befits a noble son, housed in the castle and instructed in lessons. He also apprentices Fitz to Chade Fallstar, recognizing the unique capability of a royal bastard for the role of a Farseer assassin.
Shrewd orders Chade to test Fitz by having the boy steal something from Shrewd's own table. The request sends Fitz into a bout of ill health as he despairs over being asked to betray his agreement with the king. Shrewd summons Fitz, reveals that the assignment was his idea, and apologizes, promising to never test Fitz in that way again.
As the threat of the Red Ship Raiders blooms, Shrewd's inaction earns him much criticism from his subjects. Chade also criticizes Shrewd's reaction, suggesting that a decisive action would garner more respect, whether it was aggressive or defensive.
After Patience returns to Buckkeep from Withywoods, she goes to Shrewd and demands that Fitz be recognized as a Farseer prince and given an education appropriate to his heritage. Shrewd denies most of these requests, acquiescing only to Fitz's instruction in the Skill. Galen, the Skillmaster, refuses to teach Fitz, but Shrewd orders it done.
After Fitz fails to become a full member of Galen's coterie, he is assigned to wait on Verity, who spends his time almost exclusively Skilling to prevent the attacks of Red Ship Raiders. One day, Fitz comments to the effect that he wishes to lend Verity his own strength, which Verity interprets as Fitz volunteering to act as a King's Man. After Fitz awakens disoriented and weak from Verity taking his strength, he reflects that it is likely Shrewd had given him this assignment in the hope that Verity would tap him and regain some of his old vigor.
Shrewd orders Verity to travel to the Mountain Kingdom for his marriage to the princess Kettricken, an alliance that will greatly bolster the Six Duchies against further raids. Verity suggests holding the marriage in the winter, when Buckkeep will be in less danger from coastal attacks, but Shrewd informs him that the Mountain Kingdom's traditions dictate that a marriage must be performed in the spring or fall. Verity insists that he cannot leave the castle during those times and storms out. Shrewd then confides in Fitz that Fitz will be accompanying Verity whenever the marriage does occur in order to assassinate Kettricken's unhealthy elder brother Rurisk. As Rurisk is next in line for the Mountain Kingdom's throne, his death will promote Kettricken to that position, conferring even more power to the Six Duchies.
Shrewd is unaware of Regal's plans for Rurisk's death, which include exposing Fitz's responsibility for the hale man's death. When Fitz discovers that Regal has forewarned Kettricken and Rurisk, he Skills to Shrewd through August. Shrewd fails to grasp the meaning of Fitz's coded message, and he instructs Fitz to listen to Regal.
Shrewd's health, which has been declining over time, is exposed to Fitz when he Skill-dreams himself in Shrewd's aged and weakened body. Along with Fitz, Shrewd witnesses the raid on Siltbay, and he orders men be sent to identify both survivors and the dead. Shrewd locates Fitz's presence and attempts to Skill-touch him, but their connection is broken.
King Shrewd's health has failed while Fitz was in the Mountain Kingdom and Verity has taken over much of the ruling. Fitz discovers that Regal has set his own healer to try and help Shrewd regain his health. This is through controversial methods: the use of smoke and drugged wine. King Shrewd once again asks Fitz to swear fealty. Eventually Fitz discovers that the king's poor health is because his Skill strength is being sapped by Justin and Serene under Regal's orders. In one last attempt to skill to Verity, he taps Fitz's strength and reaches Verity, but he is killed shortly after by Justin and Serene.