“The Rowan” by Anne McCaffrey

Grace 10 February, 2012 Book Reviews 15 comments

“The Rowan” by Anne McCaffreyThe Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
Series: The Tower and the Hive #1
Published: 1991 by Ace
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Although “The Rowan,” by Anne McCaffrey, is a science fiction novel, it reminds me a bit of a fairy tale.  It just has that “once upon a time” magical feel to it.

The story is set in a distant future where telepathy and psychokinesis have been scientifically proven to exist among a small percentage of the population.  These individual Talents are used to transport goods and shuttles from one planet to another.

A freak accident destroys a mining camp on the planet of Altair.  One child survives who happens to have more Talent than anyone else on the planet, and every remotely sensitive person on Altair hears the psychic broadcast of her shrieks of terror and unhappiness until she is found.  Known only as The Rowan, the child grows up and learns to develop her talent, eventually becoming the head of the Callisto space station.  One day, she hears a psychic call for help from a guy named Jeff whose planet happens to be under attack by aliens.  She and Jeff end up becoming involved in a cute interstellar romance while saving the world.

While the book involves a romance, it isn’t an obnoxious one.  I was a bit afraid that it would be when I picked up the book, mostly because of the terrible cover and the Harlequin-esque description on the back of the book.  It wasn’t like that at all.  The romance was secondary and was just a part of telling The Rowan’s story, and it seems to me that the publisher was trying to reach a demographic that would normally be intimidated by science fiction by playing up other elements of the novel.

The more Anne McCaffrey books I read, the more I am impressed with her writing.  She’s the kind of storyteller that makes you forget about your own surroundings and become immersed in other worlds, and at the same time her stories tend to be somewhat heartwarming and not at all depressing.  I’d recommend “The Rowan” to anyone looking for some good escapist sci-fi.


I read this book as a part of The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

15 Responses to ““The Rowan” by Anne McCaffrey”

  1. L.S. Engler

    Oh, this one does sound interesting! I haven’t read much McCaffrey, but she’s one of those authors I’m trying to read more of, because it’s such an iconic name. This one sounds like it could be a good one to look into. Thanks for sharing!

    • Grace

      You’re welcome! I read her book “Crystal Singer” several years ago, recently re-read it, and then decided that I need to read more of her writing. I’m definitely hoping to read more of her books this year!

      • L.S. Engler

        The only one of hers I’ve really read is “Black Horses for the King,” which I really enjoyed, although it didn’t leave any particularly strong, lasting impressions. Still, not a bad book, and definitely something I have on my list of re-reads if I need to do anything in my own writing regarding horses.

        • Grace

          I haven’t read that one yet; it looks interesting though, especially since I’ve got a soft spot for Arthurian legends.

  2. Caroline

    The first thing I thought was that I have never picked up one of her novels because all those covers are so awful. Too bad, if the stories are that good. This is one of the worst covers I’ve seen so far and the same time you make it sound as if it would be a good introduction to her work.

    • Grace

      The cover is absolutely terrible. There are not even words to describe how awful it is, and I was embarrassed to be carrying it around in public. At the same time, I enjoyed the story tremendously. I think the problem is that the cover was trying to make the book into something that it’s not and to try to appeal to the paranormal romance crowd.

  3. Kailana

    I have never even heard of this book by her before. It sounds interesting, though. I really need to read Anne McCaffrey more.

    • Grace

      I’m still sad that she died this past year; she made some great contributions to science fiction, and her books are a lot of fun to read.

  4. cherylmahoney

    I used to be absolutely mad about her Pern books, and somehow never read much else… This sounds like a good one though–I’ll have to add it to the list!

    • Grace

      I haven’t read any of her Pern books yet, although I would like to eventually. I’ve been trying to pick up some of her less famous novels when I see them, because the bookstores that I go to don’t tend to carry more than the Pern novels, and I know that once I start those I won’t be able to stop reading… 😛

  5. myragarcesbacsal

    Hmm… Very interesting. Truth be told, this is not a book that I would pick off the shelves. But thanks to your very thoughtful review, I’d probably give it a shot. 🙂

    • Grace

      The cover is a bit terrifying; I bought it because I had picked up the sequel at a used book sale without realizing it and wanted to read them in order. I thought it was cool to see sci-fi that read a bit like a fairy tale.

  6. spines and soles

    So glad you liked it! Read Damia next 😉 Unfortunately you’ll be hard-pressed to find a McCaffrey novel that doesn’t have a terrible cover… now you know to look past them! Well, at least for her earlier works…

    • Grace

      I’m excited to read it! I actually bought Damia a while ago without realizing that it was the sequel to The Rowan, and ended up buying The Rowan so that I could read them in order. 😀

      I do wish that the covers on these ones weren’t so terrible… the Whelan covers on the Crystal Singer trilogy were fantastic.

  7. Tahnee

    I’ve lost my copy of the last book in this series, the tower and hive but have read all the other ones in order and they don’t disappoint. I’ve also been a big reader of her Pern books as well and they are fantastic! You don’t really even have to read those in order to get totally invested in the characters and their lives. She is really my favorite author to this day and probably always will be!

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