Tower and The Hive

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The Tower and the Hive series (also known as the Rowan and the Talents series) is a sci-fi series by Anne McCaffrey.

The series is set against a backdrop of a technologically advanced future society in which telepathy, telekinesis and other psychic abilities have become scientifically accepted and researched. Telekinetic and telepathic powers are used to communicate and teleport spaceships through space, thus avoiding the light barrier and allowing for the colonization of other solar systems. Books in the series include

  • To Ride Pegasus: The series itself got its start with the 1973 publishing of Pegasus, in which the existence of psychic powers were scientifically proven and psychics began organizing to both take care of their own and carve out a place for themselves in society.
  • The Rowan: The series as most know it started here, with the story of The Rowan, an orphaned Prime Talent, as she deals with life, loneliness and a possible alien invasion.
  • Damia: The Rowan's sequel is part straight sequel, part-POV Sequel and part backstory for Afra Lyon, a secondary character from the previous book. The book is mostly about the relationship between Afra and the most important women in his life (his beloved older sister, The Rowan and The Rowan's middle child, Damia. And another alien invasion.
  • Damia's Children and Lyon's Pride stars Damia and Afra's kids who work with humanity's new alien allies, the Mrdini, to deal with the threat of the Hivers - the insectoid race responsible for the attacks in The Rowan.
  • The Tower and The Hive: The wrap-up to the threat of the Hivers (and probably the series, itself after McCaffery's death)
  • Pegasus In Flight and Pegasus In Space: Direct sequels to To Ride Pegasus meant to officially merge the Pegasus storyline with that of the Talents.

An earlier short story, The Lady In The Tower (from the collection '"Get Off The Unicorn) contains many elements of the what would become the Talents universe, but isn't universally considered part of it.


The Talents Series contains examples of the following tropes:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Ace: Jeff Raven.
  • Babies Ever After: Every story arc of the series has ended with the main female character pregnant (The Rowan was pregnant with her second at the end of The Rowan.)
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: How the Hiver threat is ultimately dealt with - though here, it was not so much Mind Rape as introducing them to a pheromone cocktail that turns them from The Swarm to peaceful agrarians.
  • Brown Note: Any Talent in proximity to anything Hiver-made experiences a sensation known as "sting-pzzt", which makes them edgy and irritable.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Afra, twice: once with The Rowan - though she already knew, once with Damia - who couldn't either.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Every important character must be attached by the end of The Tower And The Hive, even if the Mrdini have to rewrite someone's sexuality to make it happen. No exceptions.
    • The Pegasus trilogy has one major aversion in Amariyah Bantam, who isn't shown hooking up with anyone.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Merges (Talents combining their power to one quasi-gestalt) are standard operating procedure for pushing Tower freight. More powerful merges are used as Wave Motion Guns against alien motherships.
  • Cool Pet: the Barque Cats and the Coonies (genetically altered and domesticated raccoons).
  • Companion Cube: The Rowan and the Pukha (a stuffed toy she was given that hides a raft of monitoring devices). She knows it's "just" a toy, but she still has (one-sided) conversations with it.
  • Da Chief: Peter Reidinger.
  • Dead Guy, Junior: Laria.
  • Demoted to Extra: Damia's older siblings.
  • Death by Origin Story: The Rowan's entire family (and all records saying who she was) were wiped out by a freak mudslide.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Subverted -- No one thinks giving The Rowan to Siglen to be trained as a Prime is the best idea -- Siglen is a great Prime but horrible person. But there's no one else on the planet qualified to teach her and sending her elsewhere would do more harm than good, thanks to Travel Sickness.
  • Differently-Powered Individual: The Talents.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: invoked by the Big Bad of Pegasus In Flight. Unfortunately for him, his boss got the whole story and pulled the rug out from under him.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Stock in trade for precognitive Talents.
  • Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: Once the Talents figure out the strategy of simply teleporting warheads into the engine cores of Hiver ships, the conflict becomes mostly about finding ways to stop the Hivers without committing genocide.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Talents make this possible.
  • The Ghost: Damia's youngest sibling, Erzo.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Rowan is rather high-maintenance. Part of Peter Reidinger's job is keeping her staff somewhat together.
  • Handicapped Badass: Peter Reidinger I, who overcomes spinal damage and moves around by TK. Later repaired by Amariyah.
  • Healing Hands: Amariyah Bantam, though she doesn't know it.
  • Heroic Albino: The Rowan, though she's more very pale than a true albino.
  • High Turnover Rate: Afra is the first of Rowan's right-hand men to last more than a few months.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Not all, not even most, but a significant percentage.
  • Humanity Is Superior: The Mrdini have been fighting the Hivers for generations. Humanity swats them down within one (during which the Hivers were only briefly a real threat).
  • Hurl It Into the Sun: It's what the Talents do to the first Hiver invasion ship.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Afra's attitude towards The Rowan, whom he'd been in love with for years before Jeff Raven swooped in.
  • If I Can't Have You/Taking You with Me: Sodan, the psychic entity trying to seduce Damia[1] used the last of his strength to try and kill Damia after he'd picked up on Afra's feelings for her. It should be noted that Afra, Damia's parents and Damia's brother Larak were currently trying to destroy him at the time. He ended up killing Larak.
  • If It's You It's Okay: Gay Kinkaid sleeping with his straight best friend, Laria, because they were both lonely and hurting over bad breakups. Turns out their Mrdini companions mentally "nudged" them towards each other. They didn't really mind.
  • It's All About Me: Siglen.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Sascha and Tirla
  • Kissing Cousins: Rojer and his second cousin, Asia Eagles.
  • Known Only By Their Nickname: Even after she regains her memories and learns her real name[2], most people refer to The Rowan as "The Rowan".
  • Lovable Rogue - Jeff Raven, before he gets Kicked Upstairs in the later books.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: By the end of the series, the list of adult women who aren't mothers or expectant mothers is far far shorter than the list of those that are.
  • May-December Romance: Damia and Afra.
    • Sascha and Tirla in Pegasus in Space. Peter/Amariyah is also teased, but Peter eventually picks someone closer to his own age.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Damia is was accidentally burning out the mind of her first lover, partially from inexperience, and partially because she ignored Afra's advice to "be careful" out of spite (She assumed he meant "birth control"; he meant "keep your mental shields up or you'll fry the boy.")
  • Mind Over Manners: An essential part of the Talents' culture. The Mrdini aren't as careful about it.
  • No Conservation of Energy: Averted - the Talents explicitly tap external power sources for anything more than floating things across the room.
  • One World Order: Develops through a layer of international institutions during the Pegasus trilogy.
  • Power Levels: The Talents are ranked in power from T12 (just enough power to register) to Prime (T1). To have a T1 designation requires both telepathy and telekinesis with potentially unlimited power; a superpowerful telepath or telekinetic is rated at T2.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Larak
  • Skunk Stripe: Most of Raven and Rowan's children and grandchildren have them.
  • Spin Offspring: Damia and Afra's kids are the focus of the series's last three books.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: The previously, explicitly gay Kincaid becoming a couple with his female best friend, Laria.
  • Super Registration Act: In the Pegasus series, one of the first things the Psychics did was draft their own version, to preempt a more hostile version.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: As Talents began producing offspring together, more and more powerful Talents came forth.
    • This becomes a case of controversy in the final books, as it's pointed out that this means the Raven-Lyon clan essentially owns the FT&T organization because 90% of all Prime Talents are related to that family.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The setting of To Ride Pegasus.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: For all the power of a Prime, they're unable to travel through space without suffering Travel Sickness - vertigo so bad it requires hospitalization. Or so they thought.
  • Wife Husbandry: Afra and Damia.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Prime's travel sickness was actually Siglen mentally imprinting her own condition on every other Prime of the time (at the time four others). Because it had to be simply "the cost of power" and not something as mundane as an inner-ear condition.
  1. in order to find out about the human system's defenses and weaken their most powerful one - her
  2. Angharad Gwyn