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Adin knew that he was the one who must fill the medallions in the belt.

Rowan of the Bukshah is in need of more information! Rowan of the Bukshah is lacking a very detailed plot summary divided into individual chapters. Also, mentions of where Norris and Shaaran came from and what their roles are - for instance, mention about having lived in the Rin compound in the Zebak city, how they were rescued from there by Rowan and company, and how Norris is a warrior, Shaaran is the keeper of these historically important painted silks etc.

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Rowan of the Bukshah
General information

Rowan of Rin


Emily Rodda


Scholastic Press



Preceded by

Rowan and the Zebak

Rowan of the Bukshah is a fantasy novel written by Emily Rodda. It is the fifth and last book in the Rowan of Rin series.

Book description[]

"Four must make their sacrifice.
In the realm twixt fire and ice . . .
The quest unites both life and death."

The wise woman Sheba's ominous words haunt Rowan. The bitter winter has lasted far too long and won't loosen its deadly hold on the land. As food stores dwindle, the people of Rin flee to the warmer coast.


Chapter 1: “It is a curse!”[]

When Rin is subjected to an unusual and harsh winter, the people must make a decision to leave or stay. The ten-year-old timid bukshah herder Rowan, and the rest of the people of Rin, attend a town meeting, held inside the house of books rather than the market square as usual due to the unnaturally harsh winter. At the meeting, it is finally suggested to the villagers by Rin's leader, Lann, that they should make a decision regarding the dillemma of whether to stay or leave. This is met with opposition, with Neel the potter especially arguing that the winter is caused by Rin turning its back to the Mountain to the northwest after acknowledging their past history in the painted silks. He also believes that the taking and bringing of the silks to the village is instrumental in this curse or fate. Lann cuts in to put a stop to Neel's superstitious claims and he leaves, with the crowd feeling more uneasy with his words. Lann reminds them that the food in the village's storehouse will only last twelve more days and then only if they are careful.

Chapter 2: The Decision[]

Everyone's eyes are fixed on Lann as she says that in her opinion they should all abandon Rin and travel to the coast, where the Maris people and the Travellers will shelter and feed them until they can return. However, the room then explodes in uproar, with Bronden raising her v oice above the rest and protesting the idea that the people of the village are to become "wandering beggars" and argues that if they leave now, they may not be able to save the village while gone, if, for instance, the windows of thouses are broken by the wind and not repaired, if snow bury the houses, and if roofs crack and fall in. Lann argues that it is either leave or stay and starve to death, however Bronden snaps that she would rather starve if given the choice in that case. However others do not agree, such as Marlie and Allun, who have been married since the summer. Allun the baker lightly tells Bronden that he and Marlie are more interested in living than dying, especially as their first child will be born before the month is out and they do not plan on letting it be born only to perish immediately.

After much more bickering, it is put up to a vote and it is decided that they will leave for the coast the next morning. As questions arise as to what will happen to the bukshah, domesticated cattle all-important to Rin's survival, Rowan finally reveals that he would be staying to care for them until the weather turns. Before the meeting ends, their focus shifts to what they will do with Sheba. Jonn states that he had already gone to her hut but she only wanted to see one person.

Chapter 3: Sheba[]

And so Rowan trudges to Sheba's hut, through the barren trees and whiteness. Arriving at her door, he moves to knock but is caught off guard when the door flies open and sends a wave of heat at him. Rowan quickly moves inside and closes the door when Sheba scolds him for wasting her precious heat. After being startled by Unos the grach, Rowan tries to remain resilient towards Sheba's jeers and mocking. In regards to leaving for the coast, Sheba replies that she would not leave with the others in the morning and calls for him to listen. Giving him a rhyme, Sheba gives Rowan her medallion that was with him in the Land of the Zebak. Rowan soon leaves once realising Sheba will not speak anything further despite the little information she gave.

"The beasts are wiser than we know

And where they lead, four souls must go.

One to weep and one to fight,

One to dream and one for flight.

Four must make their sacrifice.

In the realm twixt fire and ice

The hunger will not be denied,

The hunger must be satisfied.

And in that blast of fiery breath

The quest unites both life and death."

—Sheba's rhyme.

Chapter 4: One to Dream[]

Instead of returning home straight away, Rowan takes his time to collect his thoughts. He decided to not speak of Sheba's rhymes when he later arrived home and told Jiller and Jonn about Sheba's decision about leaving. In the night, Rowan dreads the future before falling into a dream. He sees three figures trudging up the snowy Mountain and is shocked when he realised they are himself, Norris, and Shaaran. Rowan awakes with a start as Shaaran in the dream screams but then he hears her scream in the waking world as well.

Chapter 5: Shocks[]

Realizing that this scream was real, Rowan immediately runs down the stairs and out the house and in the direction the sound had come from. Finding himself at the House of Books, there is a smoke and fire lit inside. Rowan soon finds that Neel attempted to burn the painted silks and Shaaran, sleepless with worry, tried to stop him. Norris, caught in the fight and injured, lay on the floor. Rowan called to the crowd of people forming when Neel leaped at him for the torch. After Neel made his escape, Rowan plunged into the smoking building to save Shaaran as she could not leave the silks to burn. As he realises Norris could not make the journey in the morning, and Shaaran would not leave him, Rowan refuses to believe his dream was a prophecy. He soon left to tend to the bellowing bukshah.

The bukshah were crowded tightly in their fields as Rowan realised something was amiss when he tried crooning to them. Rowan fought despair when he called out each of their names, noticing that the eldest, Twilight, was missing. Assuming misfortune, Jonn soon called him to Sheba's hut. There, Rowan sees a scorched path leading from Sheba's hut to the coast, created by Sheba through a magical spell to clear a way through the snow. As per Sheba's words of not leaving in the morning with the others, she was indeed showing them all by leading the way through the snow.

Chapter 6: Grim Discoveries[]

At dawn, the crowd leaves with their heads high as Rowan and Shaaran saw them off. As only Allun looked back at them, Rowan clarified to Shaaran the people of Rin do care but did not show it. He tried to cheer her up but misspoke and brought up Neel, who had not been found the night before. Rowan instead suggested Shaaran join him to feed the bukshah but understood her refusal by her fear of them. Rowan commented that the gentle bukshah would not harm her but still could not find an answer to her question as to why they have horns at all.

The two went back to join the remaining people at the bakery: Norris, Bronden, and Lann. With work needing to be done before night fell, Rowan informed Lann that he needed to see to Twilight's death. Going on his way, Rowan could only feed the bukshah small rations. He also asked the leader of the herd, Star, about Twilight's whereabouts. Although reluctant, Star led Rowan through the snow by the stream as he fought back tears thinking of Twilight collapsed in the snow. Reaching a snow heap, Rowan began shovelling, only for his spade to plunge through to empty space. Putting the snow aside, Rowan could see a long, narrow space in the snow with Twilight's body at the very end. Unable to bring himself to break into that icy tomb, Rowan sealed the opening with snow. The remaining day passed like a dream but Rowan spoke nothing about his discoveries in the bukshah field. He returned to the bakery as Lann tasked Shaaran to continue painting the silks while the others murmured around a fire as Rowan fell asleep.

Chapter 7: Night Terrors[]

Instead of a sleepless night, Rowan opened his eyes to another dream. Surrounding a tiny fire in a cave were the same three figures as before. To take their minds away from their situation, Rowan's figure suggested looking at the silks and think of old times. She opened one of the silks but they were dismayed to find the image of a slithering mass of white creatures from the Mountain. It was not long before Bronden roused him since he was thrashing about in his sleep. But now knowing the dangers, Rowan frantically pulled his boots on and lit a torch. He urged the others to bring torches and hurry to the bukshah field before darting into the freezing cold. Reaching the silent bukshah field, a familiar scream alerted him as he found Neel through the mist. Meanwhile writhing shapes swirled above him as he swung his lantern at the beasts in terror. With the light from the lantern, Rowan could see the three, white, snakelike creatures with eyeless heads and gaping jaws. Rowan quickly leaped forward and seized the man by the arm when Neel fell. However, Neel, terrified and babbling, only brought Rowan down with him. In panic, Neel scrambled over Rowan but was plucked into the air when he tried to go.

With the creepers' attention back on him, Rowan used his torch to keep them at bay. Hearing Bronden and Shaaran as they reached the fence, they soon arrived by Rowan's side with their own torches raised.

Chapter 8: Facing the Truth[]

Bronden's focus faltered when Norris and Lann arrived at the fields, giving the opportunity for a creeper to strike her side. While Shaaran kept the other two at bay, Rowan and Norris managed to free Bronden from the ice creeper's jaws. However, when it seemed hopeless, the feed shed exploded in flames as Lann's shout echoed through the mist. The ice creepers reared back and they fled. Lann waited for them by the fence, rasping in triumph before muttering there was no other option. Rowan replied strangely that it did not matter before they made their way back to the bakery. When Shaaran brought up the bukshah's safety, Lann snapped at her to notice they had long gone. Rowan explained the same, also bringing up Neel's fate to Norris and Lann who did not see. Lann's following mutterings about Neel brought vivid memories to Rowan.

When Shaaran confronted Rowan of knowing more than he had said at the bakery, he finally revealed Sheba's rhyme to them. Knowing they must follow the bukshah, Norris and Shaaran stepped forward to join Rowan. Although Rowan tried to disagree, he could not change their mind. And when Lann brought up that they were only three, Rowan said it was enough but hesitated to explain further. The idea of being seen similar to Sheba making his stomach churn and decide to keep the dreams a scecret.

Chapter 9: The Carved Chest[]

After caring for Bronden, Rowan, Norris, and Shaaran prepare for the journey, packing food, fuel, torches, ropes and clothes, and then she orders them to sleep. With a sleepless night, Rowan met Lann in the morning and she asks for his help in fetching items from her house. Asking Rowan to pull out a wooden chest from under the bed whose lid has a carved pattern of birds, beasts and flowers. Lann explains to Rowan that she had once been betrothed to Rowan's grandfather, Morgan, who had been the love of her life. She told Rowan that Morgan had a younger brother named Joel who was frail, dark-haired, timid and a bukshah-herder like Rowan. She told him that she had despised Joel as she thought him weak and cowardly, and that the strengths Morgan saw in him, including his gentleness with all animals and loving nature, meant nothing to her. It even shamed her to be in his company, however Morgan would not abandon him. Years before, Morgan and Joel's parents, Rowan's paternal great-grandparents, had died, leaving Morgan as Joel's only guardian. Morgan had told Lann that Joel had to leave with the two of them until he had grown old enough to fend for himself. They had qurelled over it, bitterly, and soon the whole village had known all was not well with them and guessed the reason. She had done little to conceal it either, for she had been young and angry, jealous of Morgan's loyalty to his brother, but they all paid the price for her pride. One day, Joel, who feared heights, had climbed the great tree under which all of Rin's people marry, to hide from some children who were taunting him because he had come between Morgan and Lann. The pursuers had discovered him in the tree and thrown stones as he tried to climb higher, but the next moment he fell - either from being hit by a stone or merely from slipping, or perhaps from simplying letting go, and died killed from the fall. At that moment, Morgan's feelings towards Lann changed and Lann released him from their betrothal. Lann told Rowan that no one could compare to Morgan so she had never found anyone else to be with or marry, having lied to herself that she was happy when Morgan finally did find happiness with Rowan's grandmother, Else. As a result

The chest, which was to have been a joint wedding gift from Joel and Morgan, was not given to Lann because their betrothal was broken, but years later when Morgan died and Else finally gave it to Lann who kept it into her old age. Inside the chest, Rowan finds the four last remaining bukshah-skin warrior cloak in Rin, two of which were worn by Lann's parents, the third of which was once Lann's, and the fourth of which used to belong to Morgan. Giving the cloaks to the group for their journey, Lann remarks that she would have taken his place if she could; Rowan told her the truth that she could not do that, even if she had the strength, as it was his fate. In a moment Rowan felt a cold shudder and imagined how easy it would be to run away to the coast but soon saw a vision of the future if he did. With the clear and vivid vision, even the Keeper of the Crystal from the coast shared it. With Rowan's attention being drawn back to reality, the urge to flee vanished and left a sour shame in its place.

Chapter 10: Four Souls[]

At dawn Rowan, Shaaran and Norris leaves Rin as the Dragon of the Mountain roars, and follow the bukshah tracks in the snow wearing the bukshah-skin warrior cloaks. Norris carried Lann's sword and a long staff to lean on. Shaaran carried the box of silks as she refused to leave them behind out of duty. Leaving Rin, Rowan sees a glimpse of the three figures filling their flasks with water ahead before snapping back to reality. When they eventually stop to fill their flasks where the stream flows from the Mountain, Rowan could not resist the urge to turn and look where he was before. They soon see that the fourth member to join them would be Zeel, who flew to them from Maris where the Travellers settled for the winter. Rowan tries to dissuade her because of the danger but she, too, decides to go. As they began their journey up the Mountain, Rowan dwelled on the idea that each of them had a part to play according to Sheba's rhyme. Coming to a rocky archway, a question from Shaaran prompted Rowan's medallion to burn hot. Rowan clutched at it to pull it away but words split out of his mouths before he fainted. Sleep tempted him but he soon woke up with the thought of the bukshah. Although recounting what happened to his friends, Rowan continued to hide the full truth.

"Within this vale the blind are wise.

Horrors lurk behind your eyes.

The cure is water from a well.

Where hate and anger do not dwell."

— Rowan, a warning before entering the vale of horrors.

With caution, the group decide to stick close together and keep their heads down as they pass. When Rowan takes a moment to find the bukshah trail again he is caught off guard when Shaaran is pushed into him and a fight breaks out behind him. Hatred fuels him as he soon enters battle with a Zebak guard, an Unrin tree and an ice creeper. He soon finds himself in the tree's grip with the Zebak guard and ice creeper before him, bracing himself to let them fight over him. When Rowan turned to the ice creeper, full of loathing, the ice creeper soon vanished as something warm splashed his face. In a moment he became aware that they were only seeing illusions; to Rowan, the ice creeper was Shaaran, the Zebak guard was Zeel, and the Unrin tree was Norris. Rowan is soon understands how he was cured and calls for Shaaran to wipe her tears on Zeel and Norris' faces to do the same. When Rowan explains such to them, saying that Shaaran may have many enemies to fear but she does not bear any hate. Afterwards they return to following the bukshah tracks out of the vale of horrors.




  1. "It is a curse!"
  2. The Decision
  3. Sheba
  4. One to Dream
  5. Shocks
  6. Grim Discoveries
  7. Night Terrors
  8. Facing the Truth
  9. The Carved Chest
  10. Four Souls
  11. The Blind are Wise
  12. The Well
  13. The Climb
  14. The Cave
  15. Shadows
  16. The Grove
  17. Foul Makes a Fair
  18. Before Dawn
  19. Decisions
  20. Earthbound Thunder
  21. The Stairway
  22. The Hunger
  23. Life and Death
  24. Meetings


  • The book is titled Rowan and the Ice Creepers in some countries, including the U.S.