Obituary: Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan, one of the finest authors I've had the pleasure of reading, passed away yesterday afternoon. He was suffering from cardiac amyloidosis.

I've been following his series, The Wheel of Time (WoT) for exactly ten years this year. WoT was the second fantasy series I'd read, ever, right after Tolkien's LOTR which I'd read in the summer of '94. At that time, I didn't even know that a genre called fantasy existed - LOTR was my world and I used to read it once every year during my summer holidays (I was in class 6 in '94). Sometime in September or October of '97 I happened to mention that I liked Tolkien to Rishidev, a senior of mine, during a Rotary Club quiz contest of all things. He suggested I take a look at WoT and offered to lend the books to me. At that time only books one to seven were out and I worked my way through them over the next three months. I used to read in the morning before class, during the snack break, during the lunch break and into the night. I still have fond memories of those days... it was all so new and exiting and I never wanted it to end. I haven't read a single fantasy series since then - and I've read many - which raised the same level of anticipation. I used to try to read slowly to make it last, while at the same time desperately wanting to know what happens next - on the next page, the next chapter and then the next book.

Jordan's work had all the hallmarks of the finest fantasy. He crafted a complete, consistent world, with a detailed geography and history as well as equally detailed political, economic and social landscape. It was this consistency that was his hallmark, so much so you could use the information he provided as part of the story to try to theorise and extrapolate. His characters are the finest I've ever come across and his ability to give them depth is unparalleled, except (as my colleague Vishnu pointed out) perhaps for G. R. R. Martin. WoT is also famous for being a repository for a huge number of quotes.

Jordan was half-way trough writing 'A Memory of Light,' the twelfth and final book in the WoT series, when he passed on.

You can never know everything, and part of what you know is always wrong. Perhaps even the most important part. A portion of wisdom lies in knowing that. A portion of courage lies in going on anyways.
-Lan Mandragoran

I'm not Aiel, Lord Barthanes, and I'm not of the royal line, either.
-Rand al'Thor (This one's a bit of an inside joke)

Dovie'andi se tovya sagain. (It's time to toss the dice.)
-Mat Cauthon, before fighting the Shaido

Kneel and swear to the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt.
-Mazrim Taim, from the end of Book 6, one of my personal favourites.

And the most famous one:

Read and find out.
-Robert Jordan, in response to any question.

13 comments:

Wolfie said...

damn
damn
dann

SV said...

Damn!!!!

Do you have any idea what they are going to do with the book 12?

It was said that he already had a draft ready and was going in process of making the final draft....

Hope they release the drafts!

Keshav Ram Narla said...

You should try out "Song of Ice" series by George RR Martin.

And the all time best SF series is the "Foundation" series by Issac Asimov.

Google them and find out!

Sidu said...

@SV
Apparently Jordan shared all the plot details with his family shortly before he died. He's also left extensive notes.
Since Harriet Jordan was deeply involved with the writing of all the books, we can hope that they'll be able to complete the book.

@Keshav
Ley loafer, nanige helthiyeno?
I think 'Foundation' is overrated (I'd read the lot eight years ago, just so you know. Sheesh.)
Myself, I think Asimov's best work is the Robot short stories. I much prefer Clarke, though. 'Rendezvous with Rama' is superb. Heinlein is nice too. Vishnu prefers him over the other two of the great three in SF.

rams said...

Thanks for introducing Jordan. I was on the lookout for the next series to "read" having recently completed His Dark Materials

I agree with you on Foundation. I suffered thru the series. It was billed as *the greatest* work of fiction. I was lost half thru but I *had* to read it just for closure. Agree on the Robot stories too. Except for Robbie, all the shorts in the collection I Robot are fantastic and all stories are based on the 3 laws of robotics each one unique. Talk of creativity. I liked Liar the best.

Amy said...

thanks for the recommendation, can't wait to check it out.

Sci-fi and fantasy novels got me through my 2 nauseating pregnancies -- re-read my entire collection both times.

in the sci-fi TV arena, off-topic but at least related, may I recommend Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who (of course), and the fantastic, short-lived Firefly by Joss Wedon. Oh, and Buffy, on the fantasy end of fantastic amazing TV. Not that I even have TV reception. But that's what iTunes and DVDs are for.

Sidu said...

@Ramesh,
I'd read your post, and yes, I liked Dark Materials quite a lot. Just as you said, the last book was a bit of a let down. I don't remember all the details, but it's been several years.

@Amy,
I'm managed BSG seasons 1 and 2 as well as Firefly. Personally I prefer Firefly, I couldn't quite say why :). I did watch one episode of Dr. Who dating from the '70s, but will check out more of it.

If you like this, I have another recommendation - Gasaraki. It's anime and in Japanese, but is absolutely superb. Unlike traditional mecha anime, this deals with the realities of using a bipedal armoured vehicle for warfare. Blended with mysticism and politics, both zaibatsu and international, and with a significant portion narrated through news reports, it's one of the finest TV shows I've watched. You can see some of that detail in the opening sequences on YouTube

Amy said...

I will check out Gasaraki. I haven't seen any of the old Dr. Who's, just the new ones the BBC's been putting out the last few years. Which are fantastic. I think some other thoughtworks person was just extolling their virtues last week.

Anbusivam said...

Hey Sidu,

I've never read, but heard a lot about Jordan from friends. Bythe way title of this post...is it Orbituary..? I suppose it should be Obituary.

Cheers,
Siva

Sidu said...

Right you are. Fixed it. Thanks!

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