One day back in 1995, a friend of mine handed me a thick paperback titled The Eye of the World, and told me that I had to read it. He told me that it was the first book of a trilogy, and that the story was incredible.
My friend was right about the latter - I couldn't put the book down, even though it was over 800 pages long - but he was wrong about the trilogy part. There are eleven books out now (in fact, there were five when Michael handed me the first) , with the twelfth (and final) volume partially written.
It was with great sadness that I learned about an hour ago that the author, James O. Rigney, Jr. - better known as Robert Jordan - died yesterday afternoon, after a long illness.
Those eleven massive tomes are a big part of my life. Each time a new installment came out, I would buy it, set it on the shelf and then grab book one and read all the way through. Recently, the times between publication of new books increased and I have read the series through several times - a great way to eat up a couple of weeks of reading time. And, even though I have now read the first book at least a dozen times, I still get totally engrossed in the story.
It is with shame greater than the sadness that I say to you that my first thought was, but what about the end of the story? As is pointed out in the condolences at the Dragonmount blog (Jordan's official site), now is not the time to wonder about the final book - although in a recent post, Jordan's cousin Wilson related that he and the author's wife were told the ending (as a "just in case" I'm sure), so I suppose that eventually the final book will be finished.
Selfishness aside, I am saddened that literature has lost such a wonderful storyteller. It's not hard to find those who disagree, who say that the books are plodding and long-winded, and could do with some serious editing, but I most emphatically state that I have loved every single word that Jordan put in those books.
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.