Orphaned at a young age, he and his older sister Rhine Renard were raised by their grandparents on a farm a few miles south of the city of Bodai. In his youth Rowan became doubtful and uncertain of his religious beliefs. He sought out Vormund for guidance and ultimately became one of his followers, despite his sister's attempts to deter him.
Rowan was born in Alucarsia in the year 143, during the reign of Enid Stirling. Orphaned at a young age, he and his older sister Rhine were taken in by his paternal grandparents, Milo and Hester Renard. Milo was a harsh disciplinarian, and while Hester could be loving, she was often inconsistent in her affections. Rhine was highly protective of her brother, and the siblings were close throughout their childhood. While Rhine held atheistic beliefs, Rowan was always a faithful theist, and the two would occasionally have friendly debates on the subject.As he began to mature, Rowan realized that, unlike other boys his age, he was not attracted to women, but to men. Initially, he reluctantly accepted his sexuality, having been encouraged by his sister. When he was sixteen he was "seduced" by Ethan, who worked as a stable hand on his grandfather's farm, and the two became lovers. While the vast majority of people around him appeared to be tolerant of his sexuality, Rowan became concerned that his behavior was in conflict with the "old laws", or the ancient texts believed by the Akhenists to be divinely inspired.As soon as he reached adulthood, Rowan was sent to Bodai to learn a trade. He became the apprentice of Meier, a master sculptor who was a follower of the prophet Xavier Vormund. He introduced Rowan to some of Vormund's teachings, prompting Rowan to attend his sermons himself.
When Rhine learned of her brother's interest in the prophet, she began an aggressive campaign to refute Vormund, attempting to publicly expose him as a charlatan and to discredit his work. Her attempts largely failed, and with Meier's blessing, Rowan left to become a disciple.