Rohan was born in Edinburgh in 1951, apparently in the house next door to one where Robert Louis Stevenson resided. He attended Oxford University, where he started reading English but switched to Law, and got involved in an SF group. His first published work of genre interest appeared in the group's SFinx magazine. His first published story was "Fidei Defensor" (1977) in the anthology Andromeda 2 (edited by Peter Weston), which attracted praise from no less a personage than Ursula K. Le Guin ("an absolute knockout!"). A writer with widely varying interests, he co-wrote (with Allan Scott) a nonfiction study of the Viking era, The Hammer and the Cross (1980), and also wrote reviews for Opera Now. He also developed an interest in the home computing scene and wrote an introduction to the field, First Byte (1983), and sang and played guitar in a folk band.
His first novel was Run to the Stars (1983), a hard SF story, which was followed by a switch to fantasy with The Ice King (1986, with Allan Scott). The same year he published The Anvil of Ice (1986), the first in the Winter of the World series, which remains his best-known work. Five additional novels in the sequence followed.
Rohan returned to SF with The Spiral, a four-volume series set in a series of interconnecting parallel worlds, featuring such ideas as computer programs that can be used to empower magical spells.
Possibly Rohan's finest novel is The Lord of Middle Air (1994), a stand-alone which melds the history of 13th Century Borders Scotland with a fictional faerie realm.
Rohan's writing career was abruptly curtailed after the publication of the sixth Winter of the World novel in 2001, after he had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. He decided to dedicate the rest of his life to his family and to travelling, including visiting both Antarctica and the Arctic. Occasionally his publishers hinted that he was writing another fantasy novel, but alas none appeared.
This is sad news. Michael Scott Rohan wrote with skill and a poetical flourish, and showed an enviable proficiency across the fields of criticism, science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. He will be missed.
Run to the Stars (1982)
The Ice King (1986, with Allan J. Scott)
A Spell of Empire (1992, with Allan J. Scott)
The Lord of Middle Air (1994)
The Winter of the World
The Anvil of Ice (1986)
The Forge in the Forest (1987)
The Hammer of the Sun (1988)
The Castle of the Winds (1998)
The Singer and the Sea (1999)
Shadow of the Seer (2001)
Chase the Morning (1990)
The Gates of Noon (1992)
Cloud Castles (1993)
Maxie's Demon (1997)
The Hammer and the Cross (1980, with Allan J. Scott)
Fantastic People: Magical Races of Myth and Legend (1980)
First Byte (1983)