|“||I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.||”|
–Rowan to Aelin in Empire of Storms
Rowan first meets Aelin, as Celaena, when he corners her in Varese under the orders of Queen Maeve of the Fae. When they reach Mistward, Aelin discovers that Rowan is responsible for training her magical abilities; under the promise that Maeve will tell her about the three Wyrdkeys. They both agree to the condition, to their chagrin, and head to Mistward.
During the first training sessions, Rowan and Aelin often clash due to her inability to shift into her Fae form, leading to Rowan saying hurtful things.
After one of their arguments, Aelin leaves, saying that she came to fulfil a promise to her friend (meaning her promise to Nehemia Ytger about freeing her kingdom) and training with Rowan is getting her nowhere. When he asks why her friend can’t save her own kingdom, Aelin screams, “Because she is dead!” and after that Rowan lets her leave. Her first night out of Mistward, Aelin is attacked by Skinwalkers, and only survives because Rowan comes to save her. When she thanks him for saving her life, he replies that he only did it because he was bound to a blood oath by Maeve to keep her alive.
One day, Gavriel, a member of the Cadre, comes to Mistward to meet with Rowan. Unsure, Aelin spies on them, and as a result, she and Rowan fight. Unknowingly, they each say something that really strikes at the heart of the other, Aelin saying, “You left me,” and Rowan saying, “You are nothing to me, and I do not care.”
Hurt, Aelin then storms down to the kitchen, where she encounters the kind old man Emrys, who tries to show her a gift Malakai bought him. The designs on the blade remind her of Nehemia and due to her prior fight with Rowan, she snarls about how she doesn’t care about them and she just wants them to leave her alone. She storms out of the fortress, leaving them shocked and confused.
When Rowan realizes she is gone and goes to follow her, he is stopped by Emrys, who admonishes him for his treatment of Aelin, which hurts her rather than helping her. Emrys reveals he knew Evalin, Aelin's mother, when she was at Mistward years ago. Here is when Rowan first realizes that Aelin is not the child he thought she was.
Rowan finds her afterwards, where she is weeping by the lake. He asks her whether she wants to talk, and proceeds after she refuses, saying to her: “I think I’ve started to figure you out, Aelin Galathynius.” After yet another brawl, Aelin goes to Rowan’s room with salve to treat the burns she unintentionally gave him, surprised to realize that she feels guilty. This leads to a heart-to-heart discussion with Rowan, where he talks about his deceased mate, Lyria. Aelin asks him how he recovered from the loss, and he says he hasn't and may never will, but that maybe they could recover together.
From that point on, there is no more animosity between them, and they gain a sort of frenemy status. They start trading more and more intimate secrets, telling each other things about themselves and their pasts that they have never told anyone else. During this process, they start to understand more and more that their initial impressions of each other were wrong and that they are more kindred spirits than anything else.
After Aelin “burns out”—using up all of her magic—she is in bad condition, but is amused to find Rowan fussing over her. She is moved to his room, a much more comfortable one, permanently, and ends up sharing a bed with Rowan from then on, even though he claims he was intending to get her a cot.
While she is recovering, Aelin asks if there is any way to increase your magic, and Rowan replies that there is none. However, he mentions the “carranam”— a bond that allows compatible Fae to share magic.
They become close friends, although Rowan denies it. Soon, they start to be able to convey their thoughts to each other with just their facial expressions, often having both playful and complex conversations. They begin to work flawlessly as a team. Meanwhile, Aelin starts to realize just how trapped Rowan is by his blood oath to Maeve, which leads to her beginning to truly hate her aunt, and she realizes that she does not want to return to Adarlan without Rowan.
When Mistward is attacked by Valg from another dimension and Adarlanian soldiers, Aelin insists on protecting the border from the Valg princes by herself, saying that Rowan is needed to defend against the Adarlanian soldiers. Reluctantly, Rowan agrees, but orders her not to engage them.
Aelin goes against his orders, fighting the Valg princes, but quickly burns out, only lasting until Rowan’s “cadre” arrive. As soon as they jump into the battle, Rowan realizes that he is free to help Aelin, but when he sees her fire magic dying and her shrouded by the Valg’s dark magic, he despairs. He tries to run out into the dark magic, despite the fact that his ice and wind magic does nothing against the demons—only Aelin's affects them. However, Lorcan and Gavriel, members of Rowan’s cadre, tackle him to the ground and pin him, knowing he will not stand a chance. He thrashes and shouts for Aelin, knowing that she’s still alive but that the Valg are draining her life—feeding on her worst memories—but can’t move.
Suddenly, Aelin's magic reignites, and Rowan realizes that she had suffered one of her self-imposed burnouts, but this time she was truly close to a real burnout—one that could kill her. Rowan is released from his friend’s hold and runs to Aelin, slicing open his palm at the same time. He offers her his bleeding hand and his dagger, and they both silently understand that they are carranam. He says, “I claim you too, Aelin Galathynius”, a reply to earlier when she had claimed him as her friend, but he did not respond. Using Rowan’s magic, Aelin is able to defeat the remaining Valg.
After the battle, Aelin sleeps for two days while Rowan disposes of the Wyrdstone collars that the Valg wore. His fellow cadre members depart over those days and Gavriel remains briefly where Rowan thanks him for coming. Rowan leads Aelin to a hidden hot spring and they lounge for a bit. Aelin summons a small drop of water, thanks to her water magic, and Rowan jokes with her, causing Aelin to throw the small drop at his face. He pushes her in and then jumps in himself.
Rowan and Aelin finally venture to Doranelle, where they face their distant-aunt, Queen Maeve. When Aelin refuses to tell Maeve the location of the third Wyrdkey for all of the world, Maeve uses Rowan’s blood oath to force him to kneel as his fellow cadre, also bound by a blood oath, whip him.
This angers her greatly, and her magic ignites. She threatens to burn the city. Maeve tells her the city is made of stone. Aelin smiles and tells her that her people aren't. Maeve releases Rowan immediately. Aelin wants more, and ends up using a ring, a ring that once belonged to Athril, a man who Maeve was once in love with, to get more of what she wants. Rowan knowingly gave it to Aelin, not able to tell her what it meant to Maeve because of his blood oath, but knowing that if she was smart enough, she would realize its worth and use it to negotiate with Maeve.
Aelin then demands Rowan be released from his bond and if he isn't, she'll melt the ring that Maeve wants.
Once Rowan is free, he runs to Aelin, kisses her forehead, murmurs her name, and then drops to his knees and offers to make a blood oath to her. Aelin does not want Rowan under her control, but after a silent argument with him, she reluctantly agrees, pressured by Maeve’s presence. Rowan does it in order to protect Aelin from Maeve, knowing that if the Fae Queen was aware that they are a team, she’d be less likely to attack Aelin in the future. They reluctantly part ways, with Aelin travelling back to Adarlan and Rowan remaining in Wendlyn. They agree to reunite soon.
Aelin and Rowan reunite in an alleyway in Adarlan. She recognizes him, despite him wearing a cloak. They embrace and Aelin tells him that he smells awful. Rowan laughs, but puts an arm around her shoulder, and they walk over to Aedion and Nesryn. They engage in a dominance battle and Aelin gets annoyed. The group travels back to the apartment and Rowan reveals he has cut his hair, much to Aelin's amusement. She draws a bath for him and they talk while she washes his hair. He later reveals he is in town because he is tracking Lorcan Salvaterre, a member of the cadre. Rowan continues to avoid his growing feelings for Aelin.
After attending a dinner Arrobynn Hammel hosts, Aelin is on the roof of the building. At one point, when Aelin touches his face, he seems to reciprocate her feelings for him for the first time, but he snaps at her, telling her not to touch him like that, despite his feelings towards her. She begins to consider that while he may long for her, he may hate himself for it and not choose to pursue it.
After Aelin is attacked by Lorcan, they argue in Aelin's room. Rowan finally allows her in and allows her to touch his cheek. They share an intimate moment when she throws her head back so her neck is exposed, and allows him to close his mouth over her 'life blood', as the only way his primal Fae side could comprehend her trust in him. She tells him, "No one else, I would allow no one else at my throat."
The night before they leave to bring down the clock tower, they kiss for the first time. Aelin tells him that he made her want "...to live, not survive or exist, live."
Their feelings for each other become stronger as they explore the more physical aspects of their relationship. Individually they both theorize that they may be mates, but due to the fact that Rowan previously had a mate and it is extremely rare to have two in one lifetime, neither voice their idea. After the fight in Skull's Bay, they make love several times on the beach as well as their room, and the others pretend not to notice the 'claiming' that transpired.
Much later on, much of the truth behind their history and relationship is revealed by Maeve, including the fact that Lyria was never actually Rowan's mate, as she herself had faked the bond. Maeve had then had Lyria and her unborn baby killed while he was away in an effort to 'break' him, and mold him into a member of her cadre. Maeve had always known that Aelin and Rowan were mates, and part of the reason she had pushed so much for Aelin and her family to visit when she was young was so they could meet, and she would have more power over them.
When Aelin came to Wendlyn to train, it was again Maeve who ensured Rowan would be the one to train her, but she did not realize that she had broken him so much, that he did not even recognize his own mate. Following this huge revelation, Aelin is whipped by Carin and forced into an iron coffin. Rowan is distraught and reveals that they had married the night before. He leaves to hunt down Maeve and free his mate and wife.
Rowan is first seen looking for Aelin. He is seen with his companions interrogating Fae guards, and torturing them for information. His cold-blooded warrior personality is dominant during his search for Aelin. When he finds Aelin, he immediately softens. He wants to help Aelin, but she doesn't let him. Slowly, he sees Aelin wanting to be close to him again. They have a talk about their relationship after Aelin finds two wedding rings for them to wear. The conversation ends in them having sex and giving new claiming marks to each other - due to Aelin's being removed.
After this Rowan and Aelin keep growing closer, and she begins to tell him about the illusions Maeve showed her. Rowan also talks with Fenrys, who tells Rowan not to push too much about what happened to her and him. Rowan reacts with annoyance, but knows he is right.
When Rowan finds out Maeve is Valg, he is deeply shocked and confused and consumed with anger. Aelin tells him she can't do this, that she can't fight and that she is so tired of everything. He tells her to hold on, and that she has to fight, and that they'll do it together.
Rowan fights with Gavriel, Fenrys and Lorcan at Anielle against Morath. He is worried when he doesn't see Aelin on the battlefield. When Aelin does appear, he finds it strange that she refrains from using her powers. He is amazed when Aelin finally unleashes her power against a giant tidal wave heading for Anielle.
They travel throught the Ferian Gap, passing Endovier. He makes sure Aelin is comfortable with it. He offers her if he should destroy it, she says not to. He also inks a new tattoo on Aelin's back, a tattoo that tells the story of Aelin and Rowan.
When Aelin decides to forge the Lock, he is against it. Aelin ignores him and forges the Lock anyway. During the forging Rowan feels the mating bond in agony, and he is deeply scared. But Aelin comes back to him, alive and as a Fae. He is extremely happy that she survived, even though she doesn't have her fire gifts anymore.
During the battle at Orynth, Rowan is greatly saddened when he sees that Gavriel is dead. He brings Gavriel's body to a safe space and keeps fighting Valg soldiers.
When he, Lorcan, Fenrys and Aelin are captured by Maeve, he sees an illusion of a dead Aelin. Rowan begins to panic until the real Aelin blasts him with her magic, waking him up out of the illusion. He and Aelin join together and fight Maeve, Lorcan joining them. Fenrys plunges Goldryn in Maeve's heart before Aelin slips Athril's ring on Maeve's finger, burning her to ash.
The book ends with Aelin and Rowan staring out of a window.
Rowan is first seen as cold and uncaring, mostly reacting with anger and annoyance at Aelin during the first stages of their training. Later on, Rowan warms up to Aelin and is kinder and more caring, showing worry when she is hurt or weak.
Rowan is devoted by a blood oath to Aelin, and will defend her at any cost. He is incredibly loyal and supportive of her choices.
Rowan is tall (6'4) and broad-shouldered with every inch of him seemingly corded with muscle. Like all Fae, he has delicately pointed ears and slightly elongated canines. He is described as having an accent, almost like a purr. He has tan skin and a wicked-looking tattoo etched down the left side of his harsh face that starts at the temple and flows over his jaw and down his throat where it disappears beneath his clothes. Rowan and Aelin share a tattoo on their backs. He also has Gavriel's name tattooed on his arm.
He is handsome and has pine-green eyes and long gleaming silver hair. He later cuts his hair to a shorter length, claiming that shorter hair is more useful for fighting.
Like other Fae, he has an animal form, which is a white tailed hawk.
- Wind magic: As a member of the Whitethorn House, Rowan possesses the ability to control and manipulate wind however he pleases. He can make cold breezes and warm breezes and can put out Aelin's fire with a thought. His magic also goes as far as to let him steal all of the oxygen out of the air for however long he needs to.
- Ice magic: As a member of the Whitethorn House, Rowan can control and manipulate ice. This is seen in Heir of Fire, where he freezes an entire lake during a training exercise.
- Lightning: It is mentioned on a few occasions that Rowan has the ability to create lightning, but it is unknown to what extent.
- Healing: Like all Fae, Rowan has advanced healing, and great control over it.
- Immortality: Rowan, like all Fae, is immortal and cannot age or die unless fatally wounded.
- Shape-shifting: Rowan has an animal form as well, which is a white-tailed hawk. Even in this form, he can still control and use his magic.
Lyria was Rowan's believed mate. She was a flower seller in the markets of Doranelle. Their relationship, however, cost his favor with Maeve. When Maeve requested his presence to fight in an unnamed battle, he jumped at the chance to redeem himself, leaving Lyria in their mountain home, who unbeknownst to Rowan, was pregnant at the time. When he had been fighting for several months he heard rumors that the enemy was trying to reach Doranelle through a mountain pass. Upon hearing this news he returned home immediately, only to find her dead, murdered by soldiers. After he killed those responsible he went mad for ten years wandering the earth in his hawk form, and then Maeve found him and offered him a position among the Cadre. She has been dead 203 years, 27 days according to Rowan.
Maeve later reveals in that she tricked Rowan into believing that Lyria was his mate and that the bond had been forced. It was Maeve who sent the troops through the mountain passage and ultimately killed Lyria and their unborn child.
Rowan and Aelin first meet in Wendlyn when he is given the orders from the immortal Queen Maeve to take Aelin to see her. Upon meeting in Mistward, Maeve gives him the order to oversee Aelin's training before she is allowed into Maeve's realm in Doranelle.
The relationship between Rowan and Aelin at the beginning of Heir of Fire is strained, to the point of getting into fistfights and beating each other to a pulp. However, after going through a lot together, such as fighting to get rid of Skinwalkers, and hunting for dead bodies which were washed up on shores, a slow understanding starts to develop between them both. They soon start building a relationship as friends and Aelin/Celaena even remarks that she 'had loathed him', because she felt that she was looking at a 'mirror image' of herself.
Rowan and Aelin's relationship grows even more, they become more than friends but less than lovers, when they become carranam, during the battle of Mistward, thus 'claiming' each other. Rowan even proves his complete loyalty to Aelin when he swears the blood oath to her, after Maeve freed him from her blood oath due to Aelin forcing her hand.
They have some parallels in their lives, such as their respective lovers being killed in gruesome manners and that 'collecting scars' was a result of self-inflicted 'punishment for (their) sins' due to their inability to protect others from themselves. They both share similar tattoos, Rowan's one stretching from the left side of his face to his torso; and Aelin's on her back, over her three main scars she received during her time as a slave in the Salt Mines of Endovier.
During his time in Rifthold, Rowan's relationship with Aelin grows very quickly. When they see each other after being months apart, Aelin embraces him and starts to cry, stating how much she had missed him. She later bathes him and contemplates about their relationship, how "the lines have always been blurred for them". And a few days after Aelin and Dorian shattered the Glass Castle Aelin and Rowan kiss for the first time.
After the battle in Eyllwe it is revealed that Maeve led Rowan to believe that Lyria was his mate, and then had her and their unborn child killed to break him. His real mate is Aelin, and they were married discreetly by the captain of the ship under the witness of Aedion and Lysandra. He now seeks to find a way to free her from Maeve.
When Aedion and Rowan first meet they are wary of each other, trading subtle comments and engaging in dominance battles. Aedion is eager to learn from Rowan and test himself against him, and is later furious when it is revealed that Rowan swore the blood oath, as he believed it was his by right. Rowan reveals that Gavriel is his father, much to the shock of Aedion.
The two eventually come to respect each other, with Aedion even referring to him as his brother. When Aelin faces the King of Adarlan, Aedion and Rowan battle the Wyrdhounds in the catacombs of the city and Aedion risks his life to protect an injured Rowan.
- In Queen of Glass, Rowan's name was originally Raonn.
- Rowan smells like snow and pine, just like Terrasen.
- His favorite food is a type of meat on a stick available from a street vendor in Doranelle
- Carranam is derived from the Irish phrase "m'anam cara", which translates to "soulmate", or literally: "name friend". Rowan's carranam is Aelin.
- His favorite color is green.
- His magic is described as old and vast.