Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time - An Amazing Author - A Breathtaking Story

I have just finished book 6 of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga. To me this is somewhat of a personal accomplishment because after entering College and University, I stopped reading novels all together. It wasn't always like that of course. In my youth I was a fairly avid reader, but when the days of University life came calling (translate to lots of required reading in constant conflict with a healthy night life) the whole notion of reading novels for entertainment became quite foreign to me. This continued for many years after University as well.

Fast forward to several months ago; I was talking to a friend and told him that I used to enjoy reading novels quite a bit, but hadn't bothered for a number of years. I said I wouldn't mind getting going again, but the books I used to be interested in didn't cut it any longer. He said I should check out Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. What he didn't tell me right away, however, was that Robert Jordan not only created an amazing 11 books, but had passed away before completing the 12th and final installment of the series.

Even after finding this out, knowing relatively nothing about the author or his story, I decided to pick up the first book, knowing full well that I would never get to read the "end" - even after 11 books. And so began my journey into the Wheel of Time.

After book 3, I began to have a sense of stupidity. Don't get me wrong, the story was amazing, and very engaging. Robert Jordan is the type of author that makes you experience important events and intense moments of the book in such a way that has you chomping at the bit to read more just to find out how it all goes down, even if it means staying up well past bed time knowing that the alarm clock will be ringing shortly for work. Considering that his books are quite large, some in excess of 400k words, this is a testament to the man's story-telling ability. My sense of stupidity came from knowing that I was getting thoroughly engaged in a story that quite literally had no end!

Was this a delayed reaction 3 novels long? Perhaps. I have been told I can be stubborn before. However, I think a better explanation would be that I was becoming quite engaged in the variety of characters and plot lines, so much so that to not have it come to some kind of conclusion would be tragic. There was a delay of around a month in between reading book 3 and 4.

At this point I wanted to continue, but at the same time I didn't. I had heard that another author was planning to complete the series, but I didn't know how this was all going to take place, and the entire notion of it sounded silly to me to begin with. But, caught between a rock and a hard place, I decided to go and do some research and find out what was really in the works. Enter the breathtaking part of this article's title.

Robert Jordan was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis in 2006. He was given approximately 4 years to live. Sadly, he passed away on September 16, 2007. However, his work did not stop on his final book, even though he knew his time was coming to an end. While he could not work as he had before, he was able to write the last 50,000 words (the actual end of the book) and he left audio and a great deal of notes on important plot lines and character development. He also vocally shared the story with his family shortly before passing away. He very much wanted his life's work to be concluded in some fashion.

In December 2007, Robert Jordan's widow Harriet McDougal approached Brandon Sanderson
after reading one of his series to complete her Husband's work. Tor Books, the publisher of the Wheel of Time, announced that Sanderson had agreed to the project. All three parties have since worked very closely together.

From what I was able to glean from Mr. Sanderson's Blog a substantial amount of tender love and care is being taken with the project. Armed with Jordan's notes, various writings, and audio along with frequent visits with Jordan's widow, progress on the final installment of the Wheel of Time was taking shape in an amazing way under extraordinary circumstances.

On Sanderson's site it lists "A Memory of Light" to be at 105% completion, meaning that he has surpassed his original goal of 400,000 words. Current estimates on his site have the final length coming in at around 600k-750k.

Personally I find the entire story of Robert Jordan's life (both the amazing achievements, tragic end, and awe-inspiring manner in which his work will be completed) breathtaking. There is a sense of wonder, sadness, amazement, and a variety of other feelings all wrapped up in one. I don't claim to have any understanding of who Robert Jordan was as a person, but I know something unique and special when I come across it, and his story not only meets that criteria but goes so much more beyond that!

Needless to say, after finding these things out I picked up the series where I left off with a renewed sense of excitement. I could let myself become deeply engaged again with the plot and characters knowing full well that an ending was going to happen, a conclusion that Robert Jordan himself would have been very proud to see.

Links of Interest

Robert Jordan
Brandon Sanderson
The Wheel of Time Series
Robert Jordan's Official Blog


David Seruyange said...

Whenever you finish with Jordan's work (2010?) you'll have to give George R.R. Martin a shot. I'll admit to liking Jordan and loving Martin.

But all of that aside, I am enjoying going through your chess information and screencasts. This Thursday evening will be my first night at the local chess club and I hope my study (I decided to start playing seriously this year) will leave me a bit better than humiliated.

jrobi said...

"Whenever you finish with Jordan's work (2010?)" hehe no doubt - though hopefully before the last one comes out! =)

I will definitely check out R.R. Martin when I am done the WoT - thanks for the heads up. Best of luck in your first chess night - I have no doubt you will be pleasantly surprised at how your various study efforts have paid off. Keep me posted on how it went!

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