Tuesday, September 18, 2007

R. I. P. James Rigney, a.k.a. Robert Jordan

When I was in junior high school and high school, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Who am I kidding? I play a lot of video games now. But not NEARLY as much as I did back then. I also really enjoyed reading comic books.

Enter: Bob Johnstone. My dad was a veritable fountain of comic books. He delivered Sears merchandise to a store on his route that doubled as a convenience store. He became friends with the owner and said owner started leaving out the "destroyed" books that hadn't sold. Books, magazines and comics. I read a lot of good comic books that way. I also read one thing that changed the course of my spare time from then on.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan was one of the books my dad received from his friend and the designs on the inside of the book were intriguing enough for me to pick the book up. It was also the biggest book I'd seen to that point.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, I devoured that book. My most vivid memory is sitting at the big green chair in the living room, my legs draped over one arm and my back propped up by the other, flipping through the pages, living the adventures of Rand al'Thor and his friends. Their terror was mine, their panic made my heart beat just a little faster. This was my first experience with a truly earth-moving book.

Another memory I have is of finishing the book and being nearly sick to my stomach, knowing that the library was closed for the next couple of days and I couldn't get my hands on The Great Hunt. When I finally was able to get it out, it fell the same way that The Eye of the World did.

Robert Jordan's writing showed me how easy it could be to get engrossed in a story, how easy it was to pass time not thinking of the angstful and depressing life of a teenaged boy. After all, who has time to think those thoughts when your new best friend is being chased by a Trolloc?

Jordan was working on the twelfth and final book of The Wheel of Time when he became sick with amyloidosis. He died on Sunday before finishing the series. If I'd had the chance, I would have thanked him for my love of reading, my love of fantasy and my love of writing.

I've heard that his wife will take up the chore and finish the last book. If she does, I will read it without reservation, without hoping that it won't suck. I think it will be good, not only because she has been his editor and his wife and shared his vision for so long but because one way or another, it will provide the closure that so many people have waited so anxiously for, over the last 18 years.

It's a shame that there will be no Infinity of Heaven, no more prequels and no outrigger novels (whatever they are).

Thank you, James Rigney for all you've given me. Best of luck, Harriet, in your efforts to close out The Wheel of Time.

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El Cliff said...

I may have tired of his endless series, but it was enjoyable...well, the first 4 books, anyway...aside from the repetition that was starting to annoy me. He certainly had the writing skills, though. Hopefully the final book is done well, and doesn't become a "The author's croaked, someone else will now ruin his legacy" moment.

Perhaps a little dose of a fellow author's mortality will spur George R. R. Martin to SIT DOWN AND FRIGGIN' WRITE!

legion said...

Well written, Liam.

I heard so many people describe the Wheel of Time in near religious awe. But always frustrated that it wasn't finished yet. I hope the continuation doesn't meet the fate that Dune's did.

Dylan said...

Your post was very nice.

Unlike Jordan's books.

El Cliff said...

For his post to be like Jordan's books, he would have had to go on for about fifteen pages in describing every single aspect of what a book is.