Monday, September 17, 2007

In Memoriam: Robert Jordan

Just heard that Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time mega-series of novels, has passed away at age 58 of a rare blood disease. He was working on the 12th volume of his series at the time of his death. Rumors had circulated for a long time behind the scenes that he was not well but his passing is still abrupt and unhappy.

I picked up an advance review copy (ARC for short) of Eye of the World, his first WOT novel, in 1988 at the American Booksellers Association Conference in DC. It was a promising start, a big story about an ancient hero seemingly reincarnated as a farmboy, whose two friends follow him into danger when a sorceress plucks him from obscurity.

The series moved on into byzantine political intrigue, magical machinations, betrayal, heroism, and some extremely convoluted workings aimed at preventing the destruction of the world by Rand al'Thor's ancient enemy (who was breaking the bonds that kept him imprisoned, even as Rand recovered the powers and memories of his earlier self). Rand acquired lovers and prophecies in abundance, while his friends turned out to be destiny's lodestones as well.

I hung in there for a long while but eventually dropped the series after the fourth or fifth novel. The storyline was spinning out beyond my comprehension and it seemed like a lot of effort to retain all the diverse plot threads.

Some of you reading this will remember my long-ago girlfriend Debbie. She loved the WOT series tremendously; our last afternoon was mostly a long conversation about the third or fourth book in the series and where we thought it might go (in those days, we expected it to wrap up around book 6. We were naive.) Well, Debbie passed away in 1997 or thereabouts in a traffic accident, so she never got to see even the last several of Jordan's novels. I met Jordan briefly at Worldcon in 2004 and told him about Debbie, which is my only personal connection to the gentleman; he expressed his regrets somewhat ruefully and said he wished she'd seen it through.

Unhappily, there are now legions of fans who are in the same circumstances.

My thoughts and prayers will be with his family.

News item on Yahoo!
Jordan's blog

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