The Wheel of Time is one of the most epic high fantasy series out there; it is frequently compared to Lord of the Rings in scope. It inhabits an incredibly rich universe, and while the main events of the series span only a few years, it draws on a well-developed history of thousands of years. The story centers on Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and his friends from the Two Rivers, an idyllic farming community, and others that are drawn into their orbit. Eventually the story encompasses what is essentially the whole world, even drawing in characters from a long-lost colony across the sea. There are quite a few distinct cultures that have roles in the story, but one thing they all have in common is women who can draw on the One Power, a sort of particularly intricate magic that is frequently wielded throughout the work. Rand can also wield this power — but he is doomed to go mad as a result, and the repercussions of this are well explored. There is so much more to say about this monumental series, but I guess I’ll leave it there. Seriously, if you haven’t read it and have any interest in fantasy, do yourself a favor and pick up Eye of the World.
Robert Jordan was actually a pen name of James Oliver Rigney, jr. James was born and died in Charleston, South Carolina. Always an avid reader, his library held over 14,000 books when he died! He became a writer after throwing a blood clot in 1977, and published books under several different pseudonyms. Prior to that, he had served two tours of duty in Vietnam and earned a degree in physics at the Citadel. He met his wife through a bookstore owner. James had described a book he was writing to the owner, who passed the information on to Harriet McDougal, an editor — she gave the owner her business card, who gave it to Rigney. She edited his book The Fallon Blood, and the two began dating. They married in 1981. She continued serving as his editor for the remainder of his career. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of literature from the Citadel in 1999, and earned a number of other honors and awards besides. Ultimately he would be diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis; he made his diagnosis public in early 2006. He would die in the latter part of 2007, and the Wheel of Time series would be finished by Brandon Sanderson.
An epic work, and an epic life. I’m sure any of us would be thrilled to be able to leave behind such an amazing legacy. The Wheel of Time series was one of my favorites as a teenager, and I still think of it with great fondness today. I might just go pick it back up again :).
tor.com: Top Five Moments of the Wheel of Time
Dragonmount: The Wheel of Time
IGN on YouTube: The Wheel of Time in 60 Seconds
The Guardian: Robert Jordan
Macmillan Publishers: Robert Jordan
The New York Times: James Oliver Rigney, Jr.
Los Angeles Times: James Oliver Rigney, Jr.
South Carolina Encyclopedia: Rigney, James Oliver, Jr.