Robert Jordan, the beloved fantasy author, was born in 1948 in the Southern US, and died in 2007, a month before his 59th birthday. His early novels, begun in the late 1970s after a career in the military and a tour in Vietnam, were works based on the popular Conan The Barbarian franchise. Under a pen name, Robert Jordan additionally wrote the books, The Fallon Blood, The Fallon Pride, and The Fallon Legacy.
To say that Robert Jordan was an intelligent man would be no exaggeration. He held an undergraduate degree in physics, and pursued a lifelong interest in history. The novels mentioned above did not garner much critical notice. His relationship with the science fiction and fantasy book publishing company Tor, had faith in Jordan’s ability giving him the go ahead to pursue one of the lengthiest fantasy series ever to have been written, The Wheel of Time series.
Between 1990 and 2005, Robert Jordan published eleven novels in this series, which were critically acclaimed. The books, beginning with the novel The Eye of the World represent some of the most complex fantasy that has been written, following the path of approximately ten main characters, and many minor ones. Fantasy fans soon hailed the series as extraordinary in its depth, excellent writing, and creativity. In reading the novels, you can see the influence of some of Jordan’s favorite writers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Frank Herbert, the architect of the Dune series.
Not only are the novels heavy with characters and insights into various ways humans can think and relate, but they also outline numerous different civilizations, political structures, and societies, as the characters travel, together in the beginning but soon separate, toward the Last Battle, a final conflict between the Dark One, and the central main character Rand Al’ Thor, know also as the Dragon Reborn.
Some of the later books, particularly books eight and nine, The Path of Daggers and Winter’s Heart, published in 1998 and 2000, began to disappoint even the most avid fans of the series. There were now so many story arcs, that many criticized the way Robert Jordan began to introduce new characters in these two novels, and hoped that he would wrap up the series eventually. Fans still persisted in reading (and rereading the series) and most agreed that the 2003 Crossroads of Twilight bounced back to the original premise of the series, and again represented the fine work Jordan exhibited in the earlier novels.
The final finished work of Robert Jordan is the novel Knife of Dreams, published in 2005. In 2006, Jordan released a statement that he was suffering from a rare blood disorder, and he began receiving chemotherapy. He maintained a blog updating fans of his progress in the illness, and seemed optimistic that he would finish the final work of the series. Unfortunately, despite treatment, he died in late 2007, sincerely mourned by not only fans but by his wife and editor, Harriet McDougal and his many friends.
Though clearly readers were most dismayed by Jordan’s illness and untimely death, they also mourned the fact that their beloved series remained unfinished, one book away from the conclusion. It is known that Jordan spent much of the last year of his life working on the final installment A Memory of Light, and that the last few months of his life were spent dictating and outlining all the chapters. A Memory of Light will be finished by a committee, including Jordan’s wife and many of his author friends. Fans still wonder if it’s possible to tie up all the loose ends in this final book, since so much action needs to occur to bring the various plots to resolution. Most concede that though the series may have a good conclusion, it won’t be quite the same as if Robert Jordan had finished it.