Name: Marquis Halim Ondore IV
Japanese name: ハルム・オンドール4世
Seiyuu: Akio Nojima
Voice Actor: Tom Kane
Uncle to Ashe and leader of the free city Bhujerba, Marquis Halim Ondore IV serves as the game’s narrator, and helpfully provides exposition for some of the game’s key moments through his memoirs. What makes Ondore interesting is that he’s actually an unreliable narrator, as the game itself shows within the first few hours of the game. Ondore’s very first narration tells you that Ashe has commited suicide and Basch has been executed for treason, but of course neither of these things are true. He was simply guided to say them, in order to keep Ashe from connecting with Ondore and forming any kind of resistance against the Empire. (And, to Vayne’s credit, it worked for two whole years.)
Of course, this only comes out after Vaan (and, by extension, the player) has jumped through a number of hoops to get an audience with Ondore, and then thrown into Imperial custody at his word, so it’s a little hard to trust him. Sure enough, when Ondore urges Ashe to stay put and bide her time, she promptly flies the coop. Ondore is left behind to foster resistance of his own and try and stay out of the Empire’s sights, which he does for the most part. He meets up with Reddas in Balfonheim and arranges with him to try and take the Dusk Shard from Dr. Cid at Draklor Laboratory, but that plan falls through, and Ondore allies with Rozarria.
This eventually leads to the battle everyone has been dreading between Rozarria and Archadia, with Rabanastre as the battleground. Ondore manages to hold back his forces long enough to allow Ashe’s party to infiltrate Vayne’s Sky Fortress Bahamut, and when they succeed in taking out Vayne, he tells his men to stand down.
I enjoy Ondore; a game like Final Fantasy XII requires a narrator and I like that he’s one that’s actually seen, and more importantly shown to be unreliable for a good reason. I like that while he’s technically on Ashe’s side, he also has his own agenda and he actively goes out and works for it. It helps to make FFXII the political drama that it is, and it works really well.
See, here's the thing. Ondore is supposedly an ally, but in playing through the game again I couldn't help but think that he's really just out for his own agenda. He tells Ashe to stay put and that she'll be needed once the Resistance succeeds, no sooner. He tells Reddas to go get the Dusk Shard, and when he finds out that Reddas failed to get the stone but he's with Ashe's party, Ondore is more interested in the stone. When the party shows up during the fight against the Bahamut, Ondore still tries to get Ashe to stay out of it.
You could read all of these things as Ondore trying to protect Ashe and keep her out of the fight, but FFXII clearly shows that Ashe has no need of protection: she can take care of all of this herself. Instead, it comes across as Ondore wanting Ashe out of the way, so that he comes across as the victor and can more easily take power. Let's remember, also, that Bhujerba is a free city under Imperial subjugation, and Ondore is a Marquis, not royalty. I don't think he's above having ambition.
In short? Don't believe Ondore's lies.
On an unrelated note I do find it baffling that literally no one in the game can pronounce Marquis. Yes, I know that they’re saying it the British way, but that doesn’t explain the inconsistencies from everyone in the game. (The localizers actually commented on it in an AMA, with an entertaining answer.)