Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Robert Jordan, 1948-2007

I found out this weekend that Robert Jordan died last month.
For those of you who don't know, Robert Jordan was the pen name of James Oliver Rigney, Jr., and was the genius responsible for The Wheel of Time saga.
Jordan was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis about a year and a half ago. On his blog, he and his family described the struggle that they spent over those 18 months fighting against the insidious disease.
Working in a library, I don't know how this didn't manage to make it onto any of the lists or blogs that I frequent. The Wheel of Time books are some of the most magnificent epic tales created in the 20th century (I say this taking in Tolkien's vision, August Wilson, Anton Chekov, and William Faulkner) and stands a great chance to be the most magnificent epic tale written in the 21st. It is for this reason that I am aghast that not more note was taken at his passing. Robert Jordan embodied the art, the skill, and the charisma of the Bard; Virgil would have listened.
But The Wheel of Time is unfinished. Book 12, tentatively titled The Memory of Light, is yet to be published and, it is widely thought, is not even remotely finished. Twelve was intended to be the finale that would pull the world of the Dragon together.
While I do lament that the book is not finished, and may not be finished to Jordan's standards, I lament that such a giant is gone from us and I lament that the world, seemingly, did not give proper notice to his passing.
As humans, we need our storytellers. They do more than just entertain us: they remind us of who we want to be and give us caution as to who we might be becoming. I am saddened that I live in a world--in a culture--that the storytellers are not on the front page of the paper and are only heard in the back channels, relegated to the fringe.
Tom Doherty, the president of Tor Books, eulogized Jordan, saying: "Jim (Jordan) was a man of courage and heart and vision. He was my friend of 30 years. He’s gone ahead of us now. Beyond that last horizon to a place we cannot yet see. But I think he can see us and he’s glad we’re together and he’s already thinking of stories he’s going to tell Harriet and then the rest of us when we get there."

I fervently hope so.

May you shelter in the palm of the Creator's hand, and may the last embrace of the mother welcome you home.

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