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- SPOTLIGHT: Books of September
- ▼ September (24)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
New York, NY: September 17, 2007: Tor novelist Robert Jordan (whose given name was James Oliver Rigney Jr.), the beloved author of the bestselling Wheel of Time® fantasy series, died yesterday after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.
In an entry posted yesterday on Jordan's blog at www.dragonmount.com, Jordan's cousin Wilson Grooms wrote that he passed away Sunday, September 16th at 2:45 pm and noted that: "He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain," and that "his beloved wife, Harriet, was at this side through the entire fight and to the end."
Tor publisher Tom Doherty said of Jordan: "He was one of the great storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries; Jim's Wheel of Time is a towering epic of power and scope, he was a man of courage and heart and vision but for me, first of all, he was my friend of 30 years."
Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina; he taught himself to read by the time he was four, and was tackling Mark Twain and Jules Verne by the age of five. He began writing in 1977 and went on to write one of the most important and best-selling series in the history of fantasy publishing with over 14 million copies of The Wheel of Time series sold in North America (and over 30 million copies sold worldwide). The last three books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.
Jordan has often been referred to as Tolkien's heir and in an article about The Wheel of Time series, The New York Times lauded Jordan for his extraordinary story-telling ability: "the books' battle scenes have the breathless urgency of firsthand experience, and the ambiguities in these novels--the evil laced into the forces of good, the dangers latent in any promised salvation, the sense of the unavoidable onslaught of unpredictable events--bear the marks of American national experience during the last three decades, just as the experience of the First World War and its aftermath gave its imprint to Tolkien's work."
Jordan was a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in physics. He served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Army; among his decorations were the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with "V" and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses with palm. A history buff, he also wrote dance and theater criticism and enjoyed the outdoor sports of hunting, fishing, and sailing, and the indoor sports of poker, chess, pool, and pipe collecting. Jordan also authored the Michael Fallon historical romance trilogy under the nom de plume Reagan O'Neal and seven Conan novels, from Conan the Invincible (1982) through Conan the Victorious (1984).
Jordan had a close relationship with his numerous fan websites, including www.dragonmount.com, on which he hosted his blog, and other sites including: http://www.encyclopaedia-wot.org/, http://www.tarvalon.net/news.asp, http://www.theoryland.com/, http://www.ageoflegends.net/WoTtrack/, and http://www.wotmania.com/.
The sites participated in a massive Internet hunt in 2005 to promote the publication of Jordan's last hardcover novel, Knife of Dreams, and again recently in a calendar art competition, for which Jordan had just chosen the winners last week. There were also numerous fan stories about relationships that had bloomed because of a common love of The Wheel of Time series. Tor's website has a snapshot of these from a few years ago at http://www.tor.com/jordan/romances.html
News of Jordan's death quickly spread across the fan sites yesterday and today with fans writing in from around the world to express their grief and best wishes for his family. Jordan had an incredibly close knit group of fans; an article published on Forbes.com summed it up best in describing fans' support of Jordan during his illness: "There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow."
With the popular refrain from The Wheel of Time series, where Jordan himself was often affectionately known as the Dragon, Tor says goodbye to a giant in the field of writing: "The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time?"
Robert Jordan is survived by his wife, Harriet Popham Rigney; one son: William Popham McDougal of Houstonic, Massachusetts; one brother: Reynolds W. Rigney of New Orleans, LA; his first cousin: Wilson Watson Grooms, Jr. of Charlotte, NC and numerous nieces and nephews, including James Oliver Rigney III of New Orleans, LA. He is predeceased by his brother Theodore Smith Rigney.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of James Rigney to:
Mayo Clinic Department of Hematology
c/o Amyloidosis Research
200 First Street SW
Rochester, MN 55905
10:52 AM | Posted by Robert | | Edit Post