WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-09 > 1190549195
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] RIGNEY: James Oliver Rigney sep,2007 [Robert Jordan]
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2007 13:06:35 +0100
Last Updated: 3:55am BST 21/09/2007
Robert Jordan, who has died aged 58, was the best-selling author of the
Wheel of Time fantasy novels, a series which approached the success of
writers such as JRR Tolkein and Stephen Donaldson.
Though fantasy novels tend to be ignored by most critics or, on the rare
occasions they receive attention, roundly condemned, they make up a section
of the paperback market comparable to crime fiction. The WoT sequence, as
its fans called it, was possibly the most popular set of books in the field.
It was translated into more than a dozen languages and sold many millions of
copies - by 1998, more than 10 million were in circulation, and each new
book sold 200,000 more than the one before.
Usefully, from the point of view of Jordan's publishers, a series planned as
a four or five book sequence stretched to 11, the last three of which topped
the bestseller charts. Less happily for the fanatical readers who had been
following the millions of words of Jordan's tale, the planned 12th volume, A
Memory of Light, remained uncompleted at Jordan's death on Sunday. "I've
been warned that if I died before I finished the books, they were going to
desecrate my grave," he joked in an interview in 2000.
Robert Jordan was the pseudonym of James Oliver Rigney, Jr, who was born on
October 17 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina. With some help from a brother
12 years older, he learnt to read by the time he was four and soon developed
an enthusiasm for Mark Twain and Jules Verne, and a determination to write.
In 1968 he was sent to Vietnam, where he served two tours of duty as an Army
helicopter gunner, winning 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. After returning in 1970 he went to
The Citadel, South Carolina's military college, where he studied Physics,
before becoming a nuclear engineer with the US Navy.
He began writing seriously in 1977 after being housebound by an accident.
Under the name Reagan O'Neal he produced The Fallon Blood (1980) and in the
following two years, two sequels, The Fallon Pride and The Fallon Legacy.
These were historical romances featuring an Irishman who settles in
Charleston in the mid-18th century, and later becomes involved with Barbary
After the success of Jordan's books, these were repackaged and republished
in the mid-1990s. Rigney was an enthusiastic reader of history and took
great pride in living in one of Charleston's oldest houses, built in 1797.
As Jackson O'Reilly, he then published Cheyenne Raiders (1982) and as Robert
Jordan signed up as one of several writers working on a series of novels
featuring Conan the Barbarian, the character created by the Texan pulp
writer Robert E Howard and played on screen by Arnold Schwarzenegger, now
Governor of California.
Beginning with Conan the Invincible in 1982, he turned out seven of these in
a period of two years; they were later collected as The Conan Chronicles in
two volumes. Jordan also wrote a useful chronology of the period covered in
Howard's novels and those which followed them. He also turned his hand to
spells as a dance and theatre critic.
The first of the Wheel of Time sequence, The Eye of the World, appeared in
1990. From the opening paragraph of Chapter One, much quoted by fans, it was
clear that Jordan intended to take his time with the story: "The Wheel of
Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.
Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave
it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet
to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind
was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the
turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."
If the critics thought this tosh, it did nothing to deter millions of
enthusiasts, who admired the intricacy of Jordan's worldbuilding and his
attention to characterisation. They followed the adventures of the shepherd
Rand al'Thor as his quest ranged from the Mountains of Dhoom to Haddon Mirk,
the Sea of Storms and Dragonmount (which Jordan adopted as the name of his
website). The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn were followed by The Shadow
Rising; The Fires of Heaven; Lord of Chaos; A Crown of Swords; A Path of
Daggers and so on, and on. With Teresa Patterson he produced a guide to his
complex creation, entitled The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.
James Rigney's hobbies included hunting, fishing, sailing, poker, pool and
collecting pipes. A devout High Churchman, he was a stalwart of his local
Episcopal congregation. He was approachable and affable with admirers at
readings and conventions, where he was often mobbed by fans.
He is survived by his wife Harriet McDougal, an editor at the fantasy and
science fiction publisher Tor, and their son.
|[WORLD-OBITS] RIGNEY: James Oliver Rigney sep,2007 [Robert Jordan] by "Peter McCrae" <>|