The Rowan - Anne McCaffrey

I am reviewing The Rowan as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge 2011 which I am hosting here.

If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.


Summary from Amazon:
The Talents were the elite of the Nine Star League. Their gifts were many and varied, ranging from the gently telepathic, to the rare and extremely valued Primes. On the Primes rested the entire economic wealth and communications systems of the civilised worlds. But Primes were scarce — only very rarely was a new one born. And now, on the planet Altair, in a small mining colony on the western mountain range, a new Prime existed, a three-year-old girl — trapped in a giant mud slide that had wiped out the rest of the Rowan mining community. Every Altarian who was even mildly talented could ‘hear’ the child crying for help, but no one knew where she was buried. Every resource on the planet was centred into finding ‘The Rowan’ — the new Prime, the first ever to be born on Altair, an exceptionally unique Prime, more talented, more powerful, more agoraphobic, more lonely, than any other Prime yet known in the Nine Star league.


I have to admit that when I first read the blurb I thought it would be a very complicated sci fi story and that I wouldn't love it as much as Anne McCaffrey's dragon books. Well... I was WRONG! This is one of the best book (and series) I have read in a long time. It ranks close to Harry Potter, if not higher. And I stand by what I just said.

Anne McCaffrey wrote two series in the Talents universe which involves Earth functioning thanks to the Talents of telepathic or telekinetic persons in an interstellar society. Those Talents are used to communicate and teleport spaceships through space. The Rowan is the first novel of the Tower and Hive series which counts five books in chronological order, each narrated by a different person. The novels can work as standalones but you might want to read them in the order! I have finished reading the third one and I am hooked!

This series is original, inventive, thoroughly fascinating and wonderfully written. I started reading it and thought how much it made sense that humans would have found a way to colonise other planets and that - of course - Talents exist and would take a bigger role in our society in the future. At school and University you look at history through a different timeline and try to isolate trends and maybe signs in previous generations of what would ultimately happen, and I find the Tower and Hive series to be something like a possible future for us when you think about it. (I am not making any sense, am I? Sorry!)

Aside from the fact that the plot is cleverly construed and presented in a very clear way, the story in itself is fabulous! So you enjoy a great story and at the same time it makes you think about several themes = win win :)

The Rowan is the name of the main character, a little girl on the planet Altair who loses her family in a terrible accident. Her entire village is destroyed but somehow, the child survives and is in such a panic that she broadcasts her screams both physically and mentally to a degree that everyone on the planet can hear her. She is seen as one of the most promising Talents in the Universe and is trained by Siglen, the Prime of Altair. The Rowan is also raised by Lusena who will be a mother figure for her even though The Rowan feels very much alone and not well accepted by her peers.
The book tells the story of The Rowan from infancy to her adult years so I can't delve too much into the plot without spoiling some of the story but let me tell you that there are EXCITING moments as well as some truly ROMANTIC moments (which, I have to admit, were so adorable that a lot of swoon ensued).
The Rowan is a fantastic character and it is really interesting to see her mature through the book. She is very strong but has her soft spots. I also *adore* Afra and Jeff Raven is fabulous (you'll see what I mean when you read it!).

One aspect of this book I loved was how technical the whole space transport system is. I mean, it isn't fascinating in itself but the story is so well plotted that all the technical bits and pieces are taken into account and I love how even the station assistants have an important role in the system. It also shows how dependent each planet/system is with others and how things work more smoothly with cooperation. The book really brings forward the humanity of some characters and ideas like equality and solidarity which can be applied to international relations today.

Each new Anne McCaffrey book I pick up looks weird and something I might not like at first but it takes me a few pages to immerse myself in a new adventure that is thrilling to read and fascinating to think about. The descriptions are so vivid that I can't help thinking Anne McCaffrey has the talent to see the future and she is merely reporting what will exist! I am also amazed at how contemporary some of the themes and issues presented in the book are. The stories are very visionary and I can't wait to get my hands on all the others! As per usual, I can't recommend reading Anne McCaffrey enough!

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