Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The "Eye of the World" Closes - Farewell to Robert Jordan

I got the word the other day on SF Signal that Robert Jordan has died. Author of the hugely popular “Wheel of Time” fantasy series, Jordan also wrote several Conan novels among other works.
Robert Jordan’s real name was James Oliver Rigney, Jr., although he also wrote under Reagan O’Neill. He’d been battling cancer for a while and died on Sunday at his home in Charleston, South Carolina. He was 58.
I never read the Conan books or his other novels. I was strictly a “Wheel of Time” fan.
I remember quite clearly being introduced to the books shortly after they were released. I was a teenager, browsing the SF section of my small, independent local bookshop (remember those?), when the owner, who was used to seeing me come in every other week or so to buy something, said: “How would you like to try something new? This one, ‘The Wheel of Time’. I’m hearing a lot of good things about it.” Not one to pass up the advice of a trusted bookseller, I bought it. I still have that paperback copy, as well as the promotional bookmark for the series that she handed me.
Another fond memory is from my university years, when I was living in Winnipeg, and a bunch of us were avidly devouring each new installment. I remember long summer evenings as some of us strolled along lapping at cones and other treats from DBI Ice Cream and discussions about what this plot line was pointing to, or what the ramifications of that decision, word or action might be. Two of those friends, Jim and Selena, a married couple just back from teaching English in Japan, were so determined to read the books as soon as they were released that they couldn’t share a single copy for their household – they had to buy two copies – one for each of them.
It was a series began explosively with “The Eye of the World” and gradually started to get too slow as book after book was released and there was still seemingly no end in sight. The books started to loose their imagination and intensity and could have used a firm hand on the editor’s pen. I think it ought to have ended with “Winter’s Heart” and the cleansing of the male half of The Source. That would have been the logical finale. That being said, I did enjoy the later additions to the series and would have stuck with it until Jordan was ready to write the closing chapter.
Now, like everyone else, I wonder if the publishers will leave the series where it is, or if Jordan left behind enough in the way of notes for another author to wrap things up.
At any rate, thank you, Robert/James.

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