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Rowan and the Travellers
General information
Series

Rowan of Rin

Author

Emily Rodda

Publication
Publisher

Scholastic Press

Published

1994

Chronology
Preceded by

Rowan of Rin

Followed by

Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal

Rowan and the Travellers is a fantasy novel written by Emily Rodda. It is the second book in the Rowan of Rin series. The book takes place six months after the events of Rowan of Rin.[1][2]

Book description

A mysterious danger threatens Rowan's village, Rin. But who is the enemy? And what is the strange spell that is putting all the townspeople to sleep?

The Travellers, a roaming people who are friends of Rin, might be able to help, but Rowan isn't sure he can trust them. Especially since they tell him that to find the answers to Rin's problems, Rowan must go to the legendary, noxious Pit of Unrin, from which no living thing has ever returned.[1]

Plot

It is Springtime, and the Travellers are on their way to Rin. Seeing the Forerunners' kites in the sky, the children of Rin excitedly spread the news of their arrival. This is good news to some because the Travellers bring with them games, stories, music, dancing, and trade. For others, the arrival of the “Slips” is bad news because they will disrupt the settled life of Rin, as they do not care for rules and hard work. By the bukshah pool, Rowan is unsurprised as the restless bukshah had raised their heads towards the hills, having heard the Travellers' pipes. Among the happy are Strong Jonn of the orchard and Timon the teacher, as well as Allun the Baker and his mother Sara who have a close relationship with the Travellers. Allun is excited to share the tale of the journey up the Mountain. However, Sara feels a flicker of fear as she wonders why the Travellers have returned a second year in a row – an unusual action for the nomadic people.

Unlike Sara and Allun, Bree and Hanna of the gardens despise the Travellers’ arrival. Food from the gardens always have a habit of disappearing in the night when Travellers are present. This year in particular warrants stronger protection of the gardens because of the new plant brought down from the Mountain by Allun. The Mountain berries are delicious – sweeter than the hoopberries in the orchard – and guarantee wealth. Not wanting the Travellers to find out about this new crop, Bree and Hanna call for a meeting. As the meeting bell rings, Sheba the Wise Woman jerks awake, plagued by words and images – three kites, Rowan’s face, and a golden owl with emerald eyes. Sheba stands up and realises she must go about her work, and makes her way to the hills to collect slip-daisy roots.

Jonn, Allun, Marlie and Rowan stand on the hills for the Welcoming, ready to meet the approaching Forerunners. The middle Forerunner blows a pipe, signalling to the Travellers waiting safely in the distance. As they descend, Allun tells of his regrets, of leaving before he could train as a Forerunner – a dream of all Traveller children. The Forerunners land, approach the welcoming party, and accept the slip-daisy leaf held out by Jonn. The middle Forerunner introduces herself as Zeel, adopted daughter of Ogden the storyteller. She explains the Travellers have no news to share, and there is no special reason for their visit. Unconvinced, Jonn tells Rowan to notify the village of the Travellers’ explanation. As Rowan runs towards the village, his eyes begin to water and his nose becomes blocked, brought on by the slip-daisy’s pollen. Rowan thinks of the strength he lacks as he is the only one in the village who is affected by the slip-daisy’s pollen, and the only one who drinks the 'vile concoction' made by Sheba. As he enters the shade of the orchard, his eyes adjust too slowly to notice Sheba and is stopped by her grip on his shoulder.

Sheba's grip tightens as she begins telling Rowan of the slip-daisy roots she picked for her concoction – enough to fill a cauldron. She asks why the Travellers have come, and knows the Travellers have lied. Rowan tries to find out what Sheba knows, but is met with anger and insults of his fearful nature. Shocked at first, Rowan looks to the Mountain and remembers the lesson it taught – "only fools do not fear". He stands his ground, and when Sheba's jeering expression drops, he notices her fear. Sheba tells Rowan of the words and images that plagues her, when suddenly she begins to quiver, her eyes roll back in her head, and she begins to chant:

Beneath soft looks the evil burns,
And slowly round the old wheel turns.
The same mistakes, the same old pride,
The priceless armour cast aside.
The secret enemy is here.
It hides in darkness, fools beware!
For day by day its power grows,
And when at last its face it shows,
Then past and present tales will meet—
The evil circle is complete ..."

The words run round in Rowan's head, and his breath catches in his chest when he becomes aware of one line – "The secret enemy is here".

When Rowan finally reaches the village square, he is met with an impatient crowd. He takes in the different emotions of the villagers as he deliberates over telling everyone about Sheba's rhyme and his thoughts that the Travellers were lying. Wanting to seek Jiller's and Jon's advice first, Rowan simply repeats the Travellers words. Some of the villagers are suspicious of the Travellers' reason for visiting and worry about their secret mountain berries being discovered. Lann decides to prohibit the Travellers from entering the village, despite the mistrust such a choice may cause. As Rowan leaves the meeting feeling uncomfortable with the decision, he is stopped by Annad who asks where he is going. Rowan explains he needs to return the bukshah to their fields because they strayed and is met with a "why?". Rowan jokingly answers the question and assures Annad that he will meet Jiller, Jon and her at the Travellers' camp if he misses dinner. Thinking about Annad's curious mind and her constant questions of "why", Rowan makes his way to the bukshah pool. Seeing the beasts have strayed again, Rowan asks the same question. He wonders why, in an unchanging village, have the bukshah strayed, the Travellers returned, and Sheba become afraid at the same time. Wondering if its bad luck or all connected, Sheba's rhyme rings in his mind.

Themes and inspiration

Reception and awards

Characters

Chapter Names

  1. Good News, Bad News
  2. Darkness Gathers
  3. The Forerunners
  4. The Rhyme
  5. Disagreement
  6. The Valley of Gold
  7. Allun Tells a Tale
  8. The Storyteller
  9. Trouble
  10. The Secret Enemy
  11. Betrayal
  12. The Wheel Turns
  13. The Call
  14. Shocks
  15. Darkness and Light
  16. The Nightmare
  17. Escape
  18. "And when at last its face it shows ..."
  19. Hurry!
  20. An End, and a Beginning

Gallery

Trivia

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rodda, Emily. Rowan and the Travellers. Scholastic Australia. 1994.
  2. Rodda, Emily. Rowan of Rin. Scholastic Australia. 1993.

See also

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