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Rowan of Rin (book) is in need of more information! Rowan of Rin (book) is lacking Some sort of mention of Rowan and Annad's deceased father Sefton, and how Rin feel about Rowan not living up to his father's strength and courage. And how he feels about it.

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Rowan of Rin
General information
Series

Rowan of Rin

Author

Emily Rodda

Publication
Publisher

Scholastic Press

Published

1993

Chronology
Followed by

Rowan and the Travellers

Rowan of Rin is a fantasy novel written by Emily Rodda. It is the first book in the Rowan of Rin series.

Book description

"Seven hearts the journey make. Seven ways the hearts will break ..." The witch Sheba's prophecy is like a riddle. A riddle Rowan must solve if he is to find out the secret of the Mountain and save his home. To the sturdy villagers of Rin, the boy Rowan is a timid weakling. The most disappointing child ever.

Yet, incredibly, it is his help they need when the stream that flows from the top of the Mountain dries up. Without its water, their precious bukshah herds will die, and Rin will be doomed.

The six strongest villagers must brave the unknown terrors of the Mountain to discover the answer to the riddle. And Rowan, the unwanted seventh member of the group, must go with them.

Plot

Rowan is considered a weakling and a coward by most in Rin, only good for tending to his beloved bukshah herd. His mother Jiller worries for him constantly, for he is very frail and so different from others in her family and even the entire village; his younger sister Annad on the other hand is bold and courageous, and everything that is expected of a child of Rin.

One day, the stream that runs from the Mountain through the village dries up. The stream is a major part of Rin's survival and growth as it provides water for the bukshah, whose hide is used for cloth, and milk for drink, butter and cheese. As the people of Rin know well, if the stream dries out their village will die with it, for they will have nothing to live on. At a meeting, after considering many options, the villagers agree that they must brave the Mountain, one way or another, to find the source of the problem and eliminate it. In an attempt to gain advice, Marlie the Weaver and Jonn of the Orchard visit the spiteful and ill-tempered witch, Sheba. Meeting them at Sheba's hut, Rowan brings the village's best cheese as a gift. Despite accepting their gift, Sheba seemingly refuses to answer any of Marlie or Jonn's questions, instead speaking a strange rhyme to them and throwing a stick at Rowan's head. Disappointed with the lack of help from Sheba, it is decided that Marlie, Jonn, Bronden the Furniture-Maker, Val and Ellis of the Mill, and Allun the Baker will venture into the Mountain.

In the middle of the night, Rowan wakes from a nightmare and is terrified of going back to sleep. Pulling on his day clothes, he finds the stick from Sheba and discovers that it is a map of the Mountain. Rowan and Jiller show it to the six heroes, but find that Sheba has bewitched the map to reveal itself only in the hands of Rowan. Despite arguments of Rowan's frailty, age and the dangers of the Mountain, he joins the Mountain party as their guide, bringing the group to seven members as Sheba’s rhyme foretold.

After leaving the village, the group walk beside the dry bed of the stream until they reach the point where the water gushes from the Mountain. At Allun's suggestion, Rowan brings the map out so they can read it. Using it they see where they must go next — up a steep track toward the Mountain and through a forest ('a flat walk, due west'). Where the forest trees end, they must walk north-west, along lower ground, until they reach the top. It seems easy, for they have three compasses, as well as landmarks to follow. However, Marlie points out that if it were so easy, they would not have needed a map to guide them.

Attached together by a rope, the group makes the steep climb to the top of the cliff. After rousing Rowan, who has fainted from exhaustion, they look at the map again, and are surprised to find a rhyme written in the space beside the beginning of the forest path:
"Let arms be still and voices low,
A million eyes watch as you go.
The silken door your pathway ends,
There fire and light will be your friends. Then see yourself as others may,
And catch noon's eye to clear your way."

They theorise that the map is telling them to be silent, and hints that noon is an important time. They set off again into the forest with Allun leading. As they go deeper into the forest, they begin to hear a 'twittering sound' which grows louder. Intrigued, Allun walks faster then halts suddenly, causing the others to cannon into him. They soon see what he has seen — that the sides of the path before them are filled with thousands of spiders, which Rowan realises are the 'million eyes' the rhyme spoke of.

To everyone's astonishment, Ellis panics upon seeing the spiders. Val reveals that he is deathly afraid of spiders, and states that he cannot go on. Despite Jonn's encouraging words, the man cannot take it and flees out of the forest. Accepting that he will not return, the group moves on until they reach the door the verse speaks of. It is a 'huge gleaming white web' surrounded by spiders. As they debate the best way to get past it, a ray of sun touches the forest floor, causing the spiders to withdraw slightly. Rowan realises that they do not like the light, and that this is the 'fire and light' the rhyme was referring to.

Bronden suggests throwing a torch at the web, but they realise that all the torches were carried by Ellis. Allun then comes up with an alternative, and uses his tinderbox and Marlie's handkerchief to create a flame, which he throws at the web. However, this only temporarily drives away the spiders, and they quickly return to mend the hole after the flames die down. After recalling the final lines of the verse, they realise what they must do next and use Marlie's mirror to catch the sun's rays to repel the spiders while they hurry through the hole in the web.

They continue due west, along the path, before resting and consulting the map. They find another riddle:
"Nothing here is as it seems;
Dreams are truths and truths are dreams.
Close your ears to loved ones' cries,
Die if you believe your eyes.
Bind with ropes your flesh and blood,
And let your guide be made of wood."

Allun remarks that this verse is more confusing than the last, but as Marlie says, it must be as important. They quickly decide that it means they are going into danger, and must be led by one of their party who is 'like wood' — hard, unfeeling, strong, incapable of pain. The least emotional of their party.

Bronden offers to lead them, stating that she has no family or loved ones, and believes only in what she sees with her own eyes. The others agree, and they walk again. Soon they come to a swamp filled with mist. As they continue on Rowan sees a panicking Star trapped in the mud, being sucked down. Without thinking he runs into the mud himself in an attempt to rescue her, and is almost killed if not for Jonn, Bronden and Val, who pull him out. An angry Bronden snaps at him for his behaviour, while Jonn tries to convince him that the Star he saw was not real. Marlie realises that the map warned them of this, and says that there are spirits in the swamp that do not wish them well. Though the others listen to her, Bronden is skeptical, and claims that Marlie has been spending too much time with Allun and should not believe his tales.

As the group moves on, Marlie begins to complain of someone touching her. While Allun claims that it is only the mist, he sees an illusion of his mother, and quickly runs to save her. Jonn stops Allun from running into the mud and holds him back despite Allun’s punches. Somewhere ahead, Bronden sees something which makes her cry out. Struggling to pull Bronden from the mud, Val cries out for help. Marlie and Rowan come to her aid, and see Bronden fighting to get to something in the mist. With Rowan holding her ankles, Marlie crawls into the mud beside Val and loops rope around Bronden's waist to help pull her in. However, Rowan cannot hold Marlie's heavy weight for long and begins to lose his grip. He calls for help from Jonn, but it is Allun who comes to their aid, pulling Marlie and Bronden safely onto the path again.

Rowan discovers the reason for Bronden’s breakdown, and her animosity towards him, is because of Bronden’s childhood friend, Minna. Bronden had seen her friend in the mist, a sweet and quiet keeper of the bukshah who was like Rowan himself. Minna had been killed in a storm as a child while searching for a missing bukshah calf. Terrified and broken by what she has seen, Bronden refuses to go on, and runs back the way they came. Val goes with her, for she cannot stand being away from her brother. The remaining four go on, tying themselves together with rope as the rhyme advises. When firm ground becomes difficult to find, the group realise the last line of the rhyme is literal, and use cut branches to guide their way through the deep mud.

After leaving the swamp they sleep for a time, and later consult the map again:
"Look for the hand that points the way,
And take the path where children play.
Then, where the face with breath that sighs,
Bends to admire its gleaming eyes,
Your way is marked by lines of light,
That mean escape from endless night."

It seems like the second line suggests that there will be people somewhere ahead, but Marlie warns that the people would just as likely be antagonistic as friendly. They decide to rest for the night before continuing on.

The group eventually come to a cave where they find the children and the hand the rhyme spoke of. They walk deeper into the cave, until they reach a stretch of water that blocks the pathway ahead of them, so deep that they will have to swim across. On the opposite shore they see the face the rhyme mentions in a wall of rock, seemingly breathing as air moves through its openings. It is here that Allun reveals he cannot swim, and thus cannot continue on their quest any longer. Rowan and Jonn are shocked, Marlie especially so, as all Rin children must learn to swim at a young age. Allun reveals that because he spent his early childhood with the Travellers, he did not learn to swim since it was not necessary. Mercilessly bullied because of his Traveller heritage, he could not bear to reveal this 'weakness' to the Rin children, and avoided swimming lessons. Allun apologises for not being able to go with them any longer, and the group say their farewells.

Rowan, Jonn and Marlie swim to the other shore, leaving Allun behind them. After resting, they look at the map again:
"Left or right, which will you take?
For both of them your heart will break.
One is cruel, one is fair,
One a passage, one a snare.
Choose the one that hides the light,
And you will know your path is right."
They see two entrances in the stone face before them — one must be cruel and the other fair. They cannot tell which is which. First they try the right-hand passage, which they find turns into a low tunnel, barely large enough to crawl through. At Marlie's insistence, they try the left-hand passage, but they find that it ends in a terrible drop which could have killed them all if they had not noticed it in time. All of them shaken, they take the right-hand passage again. Marlie is visibly affected by it, though when pointed out by Jonn she says she can go on. However, she is forced to admit that she cannot, for it is true what Jonn guessed – she is terrified of small spaces. Jonn tries to have Rowan return with Marlie, to keep him safe as he promised Jiller, but Rowan refuses to go, knowing that he is still needed to hold the map and guide Jonn. Unable to argue with him, Jonn agrees to let Rowan continue with him.

The two of them crawl in the tunnel for a night and a day, and emerge at the top of the Mountain, above the cloud. The air is freezing cold. Rowan and Jonn read together the next rhyme on the map:
"Fire, water, earth and air
All meet in the Dragon's lair.
Six brave hearts have failed the test,
One continues in the quest.
Remember well the words you know,
When on to find your fate you go."

Rowan is confused at the mention of one continuing in the quest, for both he and Strong Jonn are still present. However, he sees Jonn is weakened and giving up hope, and realises that the Mountain has defeated him like it did the rest of the adults. Rowan begs Jonn not to sleep, for if he does he will freeze to death, but Jonn cannot stop himself. Refusing to give up hope as Jonn has done, Rowan tries to save the sleeping Jonn by shielding him from the wind, lighting a small fire and warming him with his body. Later, Jonn wakes up feeling stronger, and Rowan insists that they go into the Dragon's cave together.

Rowan and Jonn come face to face with the Dragon in its lair. The Dragon is in a frenzy, and Rowan soon realises that it is injured — a bone is stuck in its throat, causing a lot of pain. Using his skills as a bukshah herder Rowan calms the Dragon and gently pulls the bone out. However, free of its pain and able to hunt, it is so hungry that it attacks Jonn and breaks his leg. Desperate to save Jonn, Rowan shields him from the worst of the attack, and consults Sheba's map for the last time:
"Seven hearts the journey make.
Seven ways the hearts will break. Bravest heart will carry on
When sleep is death, and hope is gone.
Look in the fiery jaws of fear
And see the answer white and clear,
Then throw away all thoughts of home
For only then your quest is done."

Doing as the rhyme implies, Rowan throws Jonn's compass at the Dragon's exposed neck, causing it to let go of Jonn. As they run away, he also throws the rolled map at it. The Dragon roars fire, melting the ice beneath their feet. An underground channel is revealed through which the melted ice runs down, sweeping Rowan and Jonn along. It is the source of the stream, no longer trapped with the Dragon’s fire to melt it.

Back in Rin, Marlie and Allun have joined Val and Ellis in their house after returning from the Mountain. After hearing that Jonn and Rowan are up there alone, Val and Ellis consider the quest lost, but Marlie and Allun refuse to think so. The four adults go to the dried bukshah pool where Jiller and Annad tend to the bukshah, and that is when the roaring from the Mountain starts.

Star suddenly moves away from the bukshah pool, and upstream along the dried stream bed, to where a torrent of water gushes, and along with it Rowan and Jonn. Rowan has a happy reunion with Star, and his mother, whose love for him he finally understands. The entire village arrives after hearing the Dragon’s roar. The injured Jonn tells the villagers of Rowan’s courage on the Mountain, stating that Rin owes him a great debt. The villagers start cheering for Rowan who laughs with happiness.

Characters

Chapter Names

  1. The Meeting
  2. Sheba
  3. The Heroes
  4. Seeing is Believing
  5. The Mountain
  6. The Forest
  7. Dreams
  8. Flesh and Blood
  9. Moving On
  10. Endless Night
  11. The Snare
  12. Bravest Heart
  13. The Answer

Trivia

  • On page 105, at the beginning of chapter 11 "The Snare", Jonn's name is written as John. This is an error.
  • Rowan of Rin takes place six months before Rowan and the Travellers which puts Rowan of Rin in fall or early winter. Seeing as there are plenty of references to the forthcoming winter, this makes sense.[1]

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found

Start a Discussion Discussions about Rowan of Rin (book)

  • what is the dragon of Maris?

    3 messages
    • I am not really sure, seeing how Rodda wrote the first ''Rowan of Rin'' book before she wrote the first ''Delt...
    • Now that I've thought about it, I doubt she had thought of the dragons in Deltora at this point. In fact, I doubt she was even thinking...