The Rook is the 2012 debut novel of Australian author Daniel O'Malley. It follows protagonist Myfanwy Thomas as she attempts to re-integrate into her life of administrating a clandestine government organization responsible for protecting the U.K. from supernatural threats. Following a magically-induced bout of amnesia, she works to uncover the identity of a traitor inside the organization while simultaneously keeping her amnesia a secret. The title of the book is a reference to Thomas' rank in her organization, the Checquy.
First edition hardcover
|Audio read by||Susan Duerden|
|Publisher||Hachette Book Group USA|
|11 January 2012|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & e-book)|
|Pages||496 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||978-0-316-09879-3 (first edition, hardback)|
The book follows a young woman in her thirties who wakes up in a park surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves. She's unable to remember anything about herself or how she or the bodies got there, and her only clue is a letter in her coat pocket that says, "To You". Inside is a letter that tells her the body previously belonged to Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas, who worked in a secret government organization and was targeted by an unknown assassin. The letter offers the young woman (who is thereafter identified in the book as Myfanwy, although she sees herself as a separate person, considering her 'original' self as Thomas) a choice of taking up the life of the woman before her and discovering the identity of the would-be killer, or setting out with a new identity.
Although she initially chooses to take up a new identity, Myfanwy eventually chooses to take up the first Myfanwy's life and discover who wants her dead. She is left with a binder that outlines the organization known as the Checquy ("sheck-ay") which combats the supernatural and unnatural forces that threaten Great Britain. Many of the members possess supernatural powers; only the ones with such powers are allowed to hold any true positions of power. Myfanwy finds that her specific power is control over other people's bodies through touch, which her predecessor never truly fully explored. The first Myfanwy was a Rook, a lower member of the inner court of the Checquy, which allowed her to do a lot of research into the workings of the organization. Myfanwy uses the binder heavily throughout the book, especially when it comes to trying to figure out which people she can or cannot trust. She quickly discovers that while the first Myfanwy was exceedingly skilled at organization and management, she was very timid and shy when it came to interpersonal relationships. This is partially a result of how she was inducted into the Checquy as a nine-year-old girl, as she was interrogated quite thoroughly in a manner that was not shown to the reader.
The new Myfanwy does show skill at her job and finds she's able to do far more with her powers than her predecessor was, implied to be the result of Thomas' developing psychological blocks on her powers based on the traumatic experiences that activated them and her treatment in the aftermath which Myfanwy has not 'inherited'. This makes her stand out more with the other members of the Checquy, especially when Myfanwy uses them to dispatch a large patch of semi-sentient mold and a large cube of carnivorous flesh. She also discovers that many recent troubles are due to a group known as the Grafters, a group of Belgians who were seemingly destroyed in the 1600s after failing to conquer the Isle of Wight. The group was seen as monstrous due to its deep and thorough knowledge of genetic and surgical modification. They were considered a dire threat by the Checquy.
Myfanwy soon finds that her fellow Rook, Rook Gestalt (one mind with four bodies, one of which is female), is working for the Grafters. While Gestalt isn't the one who had tried to kill her, it (as the first Myfanwy refers to Gestalt) views her with great disdain. She publicly accuses it of treason at a Checquy event, which ends in many of the Retainers, the non-supernatural members of the Checquy, turning on the powered members. Two of the Gestalt bodies are captured, with two escaping. This exacerbates Myfanwy's fears for herself, as well as for her sister Bronwyn, who managed to track Myfanwy down with the intent to rediscover her lost sibling, unaware of Myfanwy's true identity as a supernatural operative. Myfanwy initially suspects Bishop Aldrich, a vampire, is the culprit, but eventually discovers that it is actually Bishop Grantchester, the man whom the first Myfanwy had replaced as Rook after he was promoted. Grantchester attempts to have Myfanwy's mind wiped again, but she fights back and successfully kills two of Gestalt's bodies in the process. Grantchester gets away, however the remaining Grafter threats are killed, and the remaining Gestalt bodies are either taken captive or killed.
The book ends with Myfanwy's discovering one of the founders of the Grafter group in her office, wanting to discuss a potential merger of his group with the Checquy. Despite her fears over what potential threats this may bring and belief that the Grafters are still a potential threat, Myfanwy agrees to create a meeting with the remaining members of the inner court. She has decided to remain with the court but decides against telling anyone else about her memory loss.
Before it was published, Lev Grossman listed the book as one of his "Seven Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012." Critical reception for The Rook has been predominantly positive, with the book garnering positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. MTV's Alex Zalben stated that the book was "a wholly refreshing, original piece of work that recalls many, many other previous fantasy universes while creating one of its own that will be worth revisiting again and again." Winner of the 2012 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
In July 2017, Starz ordered a TV series adaptation. In 2018, Emma Greenwell, Joely Richardson, Olivia Munn, Adrian Lester, Ronan Raftery, Catherine Steadman, and Jon Fletcher were cast as Myfanwy Thomas, Lady Farrier, Monica Reed, Conrad Grantchester, and the Gestalt siblings, respectively, while Paula Patton was cast as the lead villain. The series premiered on June 30, 2019.
Daniel O'Malley is an Australian science fiction writer.Group mind (science fiction)
A group mind, hive mind, group ego, mind coalescence, or gestalt intelligence in science fiction is a plot device in which multiple minds, or consciousnesses, are linked into a single, collective consciousness or intelligence. Its use in literature goes back at least as far as Olaf Stapledon's science fiction novel Last and First Men (1930). A group mind might be formed by any fictional plot device that facilitates brain to brain communication, such as telepathy.
This term may be used interchangeably with hive mind. A hive mind describes a group mind in which the linked individuals have no identity or free will and are possessed / mind controlled as extensions of the hive mind. It is frequently associated with the concept of an entity that spreads among individuals and suppresses or subsumes their consciousness in the process of integrating them into its own collective consciousness. The concept of the group or hive mind is an intelligent version of real-life superorganisms such as an ant colony or beehive.