The Rook (novel)

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The Rook
TheRookCover 2012.jpg
First edition hardcover
AuthorDaniel O'Malley
Audio read bySusan Duerden
CountryUnited States
GenreContemporary Fantasy
PublisherHachette Book Group USA
Publication date
11 January 2012
Media typePrint (Hardback & e-book)
Pages496 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN978-0-316-09879-3 (first edition, hardback)
Followed byStiletto 

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 mysteriously-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.

The sequel Stiletto[1][2] was simultaneously released in the United States and United Kingdom on 14 June 2016 through Little, Brown and Company. The Audible audiobook of 'The Rook' is geo blocked by Amazon or otherwise not available to Australians, however book 2 'Stiletto' is available.


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.

An organizational chart of The Rook's Checquy Group.

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 Alrich, 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.

List of Court Characters[edit]

  • LORD & LADY: Based in Apex House.
    • Lord - Sir Henry Wattleman - Wattleman was instructed under this old system. Every year he was placed with a new mentor, who would train him in a variety of disciplines. The teacher would take him into his home and instruct him in everything from diplomacy to a pointed lack thereof. There seems to be a story about him killing Nazis while naked.
      • Power - ?
    • Lady - The Right Honorable Linda Viscountess Farrier -
      • Power - can walk through and affect your dreams and talk to you in your dreams
  • BISHOPS: Supervisors of the Checquy, aides to Lord & Lady, based at Apex House.
    • Bishop Conrad Grantchester - tall, slim in 50's, handsome, wavy black hair, blue-grey eyes - Tendrils of black smoke coming off shoulders. The previous owner of bachelor furniture in residence of Rookery. Very rich financier. Womanizer. (Caroline Marsh - wife). Age 33 when power developed.
      • Manufactures chemical compounds in his body, vents them in a mist. Different kinds of gas which includes: deadly toxin, tear-gas, and a gas with no effect, all of which emerge as a dark cloud that covers the area.
    • Bishop Aldrich - tall, ivory skin dusted with light freckles, angular feature, androgynous, perfect. Blood red hair down to the small of his back, husky growly voice. Polished dress. Has been in Checquy for a long time.
      • Power - is a vampire.
  • ROOKS: Domestic Operations, based at Rookery
    • Rook Myfanwy Thomas - Has lost her memory and is now a new person trying to figure out who betrayed the original Myfanwy Thomas.
      • Power - controls bodies of others with her mind.
    • Rook Gestalt - 1 person in 4 bodies, Alex, Teddy, Robert, Eliza. "Nine years before I was born, some poor woman had to give birth to four children in one sitting. Three boys and one girl. Two of the boys were identical. That's not the weirdest thing, however. The weirdest thing was that when all four pairs of eyes opened, only one mind was looking out from behind them. This was Gestalt. Gestalt is kind of disconcerting, because it/he/she/they is/are spread over four bodies. People try to avoid calling Gestalt anything but Gestalt because they get confused about the grammar. However, it's very tiresome to constantly write 'Gestalt' instead of using a pronoun. So, when I need a pronoun in this description, I'll refer to Gestalt as 'it.'"
      • Power - 1 person in 4 bodies.
  • CHEVALIERS: Foreign Operations, based at Annexe
    • Chevalier Major Joshua Eckhart - Chain smoker, thinning blonde hair, hardened look. Tanned, does actual work. Military issue posture, alert eyes. Scars on hands. Recruited from the military. The children loved him when he went to the school as an adult. Was born to a nothing family in York with abusive parents who hated each other. Married with a child. Developed powers when on assignment in Jakarta at the age of 35.
      • Power: "Eckhart can manipulate metal. Under his touch, it becomes fluid, malleable; it assumes any shape he desires. It isn't magnetism. He can't attract or repel it. He sculpts it, gathering it up in great glistening handfuls and molding it into new shapes. With his tutors, Eckhart developed entirely new techniques of fighting. The weapons he carries change their form to suit the situation, and bullets are no longer an issue."
    • Chevalier Heretic Gubbins - Full head of thick, curly brown hair, no eyebrows, large walrus-style mustache, kind eyes.
      • Power - Very flexible contortionist.


Before it was published, Lev Grossman listed the book as one of his "Seven Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012."[3] Critical reception for The Rook has been predominantly positive,[4][5][6][7][8] with the book garnering positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly.[9][10][11] 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."[12] Winner of the 2012 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[13]

TV series[edit]

In July 2017, Starz ordered a TV series adaptation.[14] 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,[15] while Paula Patton was cast as the lead villain.[16] The series premiered on June 30, 2019.[17]


  1. ^ Speakman, Shawn (2012-12-27). "New Release Interview: The Rook by David O'Malley". Suvudu.
  2. ^ O'Malley, Daniel (2015-11-26). "All sortsa news!".
  3. ^ Grossman, Lev (2011-12-07). "Seven Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012". Time Magazine. TIME. Retrieved 2011-12-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "The Rook". Booklist.
  5. ^ Amazeen, Sandy (2012-01-17). "Book Review: The Rook". Monsters and Critics.
  6. ^ "THE ROOK". RT Book Reviews.
  7. ^ Harris, Joyce Sáenz (2012-01-27). "Book review: The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley". Dallas Morning News.
  8. ^ "Audio Book Review - The Rook by Daniel O'Malley". Booklover Book Reviews.
  9. ^ "THE ROOK by Daniel O'Malley". Kirkus Reviews. 2011-12-01.
  10. ^ Keyme, David (2011-10-01). "Fiction Reviews, October 1, 2011". Library Journal. Archived from the original on December 17, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Fiction Review: The Rook". Publishers Weekly.
  12. ^ Zalben, Alex (2012-01-10). "'The Rook' Is 'Downton Abbey' With Superpowers". MTV Geek.
  13. ^ Barnes, Chris (19 May 2013). "2012 Aurealis Awards winners announce" (PDF) (Press release). Aurealis Awards. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-24. Retrieved 26 May 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Clarke, Stewart (28 July 2017). "Starz Orders Drama 'The Rook' From Stephenie Meyer and Lionsgate". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Nellie Andreeva; Denise Petski (8 May 2018). "'The Rook': Emma Greenwell To Topline Starz Spy Series; Joely Richardson, Olivia Munn & Adrian Lester To Co-Star". Deadline. Retrieved 3 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Franklin, Gareth (23 April 2018). "Paula Patton To Play A Villain In "The Rook"". Dark Horizons. Retrieved 6 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Petski, Denise (8 May 2019). "'The Rook' Gets Season 1 Premiere Date On Starz". Deadline. Retrieved 8 May 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]