At the start of this year, Robert Jordan was merely a name to me. I was aware of his works but had yet to read any of them. Now, as we near the end of this year, I must say that I have joined millions of others who are inspired by him. Those who have lived the many lives he weaved into his stories. It is incredible how a life can change within a year as well as what can be the catalyst to that change. We all change over time of course, but this year held an unexpected change for me in the form of The Wheel of Time.
The Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan’s magnum opus. He wrote several other books, seven in the Conan series and a few other standalone novels, but he is best known for this series. I read all 4.5 million words across 15 books within 9 months and must say that I was more than impressed with his vision. I have since made many friends online because of the shared interest in this story (I love when books bring people together). However, I was hesitant to begin the series. My grandmother bought me the first book over ten years ago and it sat on my bookshelf waiting for me. I had a friend rave about the series and tell me I needed to read it since I like Lord of the Rings. And I had a second friend who had just started the series himself tell me I needed to read it. All three of them were correct. I did need to read this series because once I started it, I was enraptured and it in turn consumed a lot of my time. I could go on for ages about the series itself, and I did as I tracked my way through the series on this blog, but this post is about the man behind the writing.
Robert Jordan. I’m ashamed to say I know little about him outside of what is provided in the “about the author” section from his books. He seems to have lived an interesting life by the paragraph that is provided. I’ve learned a little here and there (such as his real name was James Oliver Rigney Jr. and Robert Jordan was a pen name), but I plan to learn more about him in the near future. However, though I know they are not the characters they create, authors do leave a bit of themselves within each book they write. I like to believe that The Wheel of Time is an accurate representation of who Robert Jordan was. Not in the grand fight of good versus evil or even in the subtleties he threaded into the story arcs but the very fabric of the story insofar as it showed his incredible understanding of the world he lived in. He created incredible characters, yes, but even more impressive were his creations of different, fully-developed societies and customs. He created a realized world that has become a home to many people.
If I knew nothing about him, knowing how he has influenced generations of fans would be enough. I can now say that I have been influenced and that I recommend his books to anyone I know who would enjoy the journey. I am greatly looking forward to the television adaptation currently in production. Many fans are excited to see this story on-screen. Perhaps there will be fun behind-the-scenes information. Perhaps some of them will include discussions of Robert himself by show-runners and script writers.
Robert Jordan passed away in 2007. I would have been 16 at that time and I can’t help but feel as though I missed an opportunity in my ignorance. I doubt I would have been able to see him in person, but I would have known he was alive when he influenced my life. Too often we don’t get a chance to appreciate that. Especially with literature, but that is the magic of books. They remain to continue their work after their creators are gone. Though I spent nine months reading the series and finished only a month ago, I cannot help but be thankful I had the opportunity to experience the world he lived in and shared with the rest of us.