RIP, Robert Jordan

RIP, Robert Jordan, author of the monster bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Jordan had been suffering from a chronic illness for some years now, making it hard for him to finish new installments in the series -- he died with the books unfinished. Some of his friends and colleagues are discussing his life and death on Making Light. He was 58. Link

(Photo credit: Jor dcon2005.jpg, by Wikipedia user Valorian, released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike image.)


  1. I loved his books, it’s a shame that he never finished the Wheel of Time. I was looking forward to it. May he rest in peace.

  2. I selfishly hope he at least told someone how he planned to end the Wheel of Time. It will drive me crazy never knowing how he was going to wrap it all up.

  3. I think I got addicted to reading the WoT series over a decade ago when the first book came out, not so much it that it was good but I wanted to know where the characters were going and how they were dealing with the future events… it’s a shame he didn’t finish it, however as it was noted he knew that this might happen, as his illness was that problematic, and he did what he could to fill his wife in on everything he could to continue it on… obviously it won’t be the same but at least it will be finished in some form or another.

  4. It’s bad manners to sully the name of the recently deceased, but mst sy RJ dd hs fns grt dssrvc by cntnng t blt th Whl f Tm srs wth tlnvl flff. Dd h d t fr mny? Th ttntn? chrnc vrsn t clsr? rd th frst fv bks vrcsly, th nxt tw r thr rlctntly, nd fnlly rslvd t skmmng thrgh th rmnng fr. Whn th twlfth bk fnlly cms t, ‘ll wt th rqst 24h nd rd splrs nln.

    ‘ll nd, à l Jrdn, wth prphcy: sspct th dms f Rbrt Jrdn th mn shrs n th r f Rbrt Jrdn th frnchs, whs psthms prlxty wll vrtk th Dn nvrs, fnlly cnstttng ts wn dprtmnt n mjr bkstrs.

  5. Absolutely bizarre. I dreamed about the WOT books last night. It’s been years since I read them. I was dreaming about how they would end.

  6. Man, I had no idea he was even ill (and with such a rare disease at that); what a true shame he had to die so young, and not just because I rather liked the first book in his WoT series. Having said that, I saw someone on another site commenting that they’ll now be drinking to George R. R. Martin’s health far more frequently, and in a ghoulishly selfish way I must admit I’m tempted to do the same (if I don’t find out what happens to Tyrion I’ll plotz!)

    Nevertheless, RIP Robert Jordan.

  7. I have no reason to believe that Robert Jordan, the man, was anything but a kind-hearted man deserving of praise. What I don’t understand is Robert Jordan, the author. Knowing that millions of readers worldwide were waiting for the conclusion of the Wheel of Time Saga and knowing that he was ill, he chose to lengthen the series through prequels rather than complete it.

    I long ago gave up on reading the bloated monstrosity that started so strong and then stalled so horribly. I just don’t understand what he was thinking. Srly h ddn’t vw hs rdrs s jst csh cw t b mlkd, bt t crtnly lkd tht wy.

  8. Ceronomus:

    The disease that killed Robert Jordan was only detected last year. When he began writing the prequel in 2003 or so he had no reason to believe that he wouldn’t have another 15 productive years of writing. In fact, prior to the detection of the disease he was planning on starting a new series after concluding The Wheel of Time.

    I think the reason the series stalled out in the middle is because with such an expansive series with interconnecting plotlines and characters, you almost suffer from geometric growth. If your goal is for all of the plotlines to converge at or near the end, you have to deal with the incredible volume of plotlines in the middle without losing focus. For a trilogy, this is fairly easy because the number of plotlines is limited. For something that was originally intended to be 9 books, it is almost impossible. Books 9-11 were basically just one book plus the added management of these open plotlines. It is easy to criticize this decision, but if you decide to kill plotlines as fast as you create them you risk losing a lot of depth. I don’t know of any author who has managed to keep the depth while not lagging in the middle for anything larger than a 3 part series.

    Most authors that write a long series tend to only keep open a couple of central plotlines in each book and close all newly opened plotlines in the individual book or in the subsequent book in the series. This makes it easy to bring readers in mid-series but as I mentioned before, it greatly limits the depth of your world. I think The Wheel of Time should be a lesson to writers on the dangers associated with maintaining depth and trying to document it all in a long series. The ending may be fantastic, but you risk losing a lot of your readers in the middle when you are performing your bookkeeping.

  9. I’m not a WOT reader. I don’t I’ve read anything by Jordan.

    But I’m interested in how the series will be completed. I’ve read that Jordan left behind notes and outlines. Will a single writer do the job? Chosen by the family or the publisher?

    I can imagine megabytes of fanfic coming out of this. Alternate last novels, altered final scenes.

    Should be interesting to watch.

  10. Yeah, I gave up on WoT in the mid-90s. I think of all the time, money and psychic energy I saved not waiting for the next installment to appear at the bookstore, the buying and reading the monsters. And I’ve got no small amount of guilty schadenfreude for the people who have been and will be waiting for them… Forever!

    In any case, thanks for a few good ones, Mr. Jordan!

  11. What a shame. I’ve got a hoard of his books sitting around after a couple of abortive attempts to finish them; without the ending I could never get all the way through. The first couple were fantastic, and even though he stumbled a little towards the end, I always hoped there would be one. Hopefully someone takes up the torch and finishes it someday; it won’t be the same, but there has to be some kind of ending.

  12. bzishi – Just detected last year? Hell, I knew his health was bad a DECADE ago. The standard excuse for why it took so long between books was that he was in very ill health. Rumor was that he’s nearly died…and this was 10 years ago.

    The man has been in bad health for as long as I can remember.

  13. I knew his health was bad a DECADE ago

    Actually, Ceronomus, you don’t know any such thing; you’re merely perpetuating a spate of internet rumors that were prevalent a decade ago, based on nothing.

    Jim’s health wasn’t perfect, but neither is most people’s. There was nothing that would justify the endless stream of claims that he was dying of heart disease, cancer, lymphoma, dust allergy, and probably Dutch Elm Disease while we’re at it. Nothing except for the desire f ldmths to pretend to insider knowledge they didn’t actually have.

    It’s a cruel irony that, years after rebutting this storm of baseless rumors, Jim really did succumb to a rare disease. But it doesn’t make you any smarter for reviving decade-old bllsht.

  14. Bzishi (10), that was an extremely astute and quite accurate summary. Epic fantasy tends to grow in the telling, no matter who’s writing it, and Jim Rigney loved the story he was telling. There was no intention to bilk his readers. The story simply got away from him, and it took him several extra books to wrestle it to a standstill.

    I’ll quibble with you on one point: it wasn’t originally intended to be nine novels. When he started, it was supposed to be six. I’m firm on this one because I was Tor’s Managing Editor at the time.

    You’re right about Robert Jordan/Jim Rigney’s health only going bad a few years ago. When the first few books of the series had come out, and his fans were so urgently awaiting the next installment, there was an inexplicable spate of rumors saying he’d died, or was seriously ill, and that the series would be finished by some other (usually inappropriate) writer. A concurrent set of rumors said that he’d finished the series, or at least had finished several more books in the series, but Tor was holding them back from publication in order to increase sales and fan anticipation. (An insane notion, if you know anything about selling books.)

    Around that time I was the person who answered Tor’s e-mail, back when it was still possible for one person to do that. I answered endless anxious queries about Robert Jordan’s health and mortal status. It wasn’t fun. His fans were painfully distressed by all those rumors.

    I eventually put a stop to most of them by visiting his Usenet newsgroup, rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan, which was then the big clearinghouse for information about the series and its author. I explained that Jordan was in good health, was writing as fast as he could, and that Tor wasn’t holding out on them. I also promised them that any time there was news on the Robert Jordan front, we’d let them know.

    Which was why, the day he died, I posted a message to the old Usenet newsgroup. They already knew, of course; these days they get their fast-breaking news from his own weblog. I did it in part because I’d promised, but mostly I did it in memory of an extraordinary writer, and his quite extraordinary fans.

  15. Condolences to his family. Goodbye fellow VV.
    I hopea suitable author will be able to finish the tail. I favor Terry Goodkinds style or Terry Brooks myself, but they have a full slate also.

  16. I have just recently found out about Robert Jordan and I am heartbroken. To have such a wonderfully, talented author die at such a young age is not just a loss for those who have followed him for years but also for those who are not yet old enough to read his books yet.
    Yes I will wonder about his last book but mostly I will be praying for his family and close friends so they find peace and be able to move on. I will certainly not forget him and will continue to re-read his books till I can not read anymore. Thank you Robert Jordan for such a wonderful ride.

  17. @5 & 9:
    “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
    To have a thankless child! Away, away!”

    Rest in peace, Mr.Jordan

  18. Your books gave me life, brought me out of the stagnant, gave me adventure when there was nothing but 9-5. Thank you for the books… I’ve never smiled when a character smiled, cried when a character cried, cheered when good triumphed over evil – until I read your books. Thank you, and may you meet God in the clearing at the end of the path.

  19. Firstly, my condolences to his family. However much we may love him for his works…they’re still his family.

    While i think it is unfortunate that he wont be able to see his work with WoT finished, i think that he would be happy to know that the WoT series will be around for decades and more.

    I picked up Eye of the World on a whim, because i was looking for a new fantasy fix after i finished the final Harry Potter. Needless to say i was delightedly surprised and rushed out to get the rest of the series. From there i got my brother and my mother, and several friends that read fantasy novels into the series as well.

    I wish that he could finish the series, and work on whatever his brilliant imagination would have produced afterwards, but thats just me being greedy.

    Thanks for the 2 months of escaping into a brilliantly devised world Jim! Perhaps the Wheel will spin you out again as a director and you can make your saga into a blockbuster.

  20. Thank you Robert Jordan for the happy moments I spent reading your books. I haven’t finished all of them yet and I find myself a fortunate person for I’ll be living and enjoying in your fanatasy world in the rainy days to come.
    Rest in peace Mr Jordan!

  21. First off i am very sad to hear that such a great and well loved author has left us.

    I know i may be only 12 years of age but i read the WOT series and i loved them the fantastic storylines and characters were just so enjoyable to read. Ime sure like others i cheered when the light prevailed. I thank you Robert Jordan to bringing to so many of us a fantastic and thrilling fantasy ride.

    May you rest in peace. We shall never forget you.

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