The OF Blog: RIP Jim Rigney (Robert Jordan) 1948-2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

RIP Jim Rigney (Robert Jordan) 1948-2007

It has been a little over 12 hours since news started to spread, first at Dragonmount, then at wotmania, and now in various blogs and media outlets (Patrick Nielsen Hayden's entry covers a great many of the links. Edit: Here's a touching one by Neil Gaiman posted this morning). Jim Rigney, 58, known to millions under the pen name of Robert Jordan, after a near two-year struggle due to complications from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, according to the Associated Press.

It is difficult to know what to write or to share at such a time. Most people who knew him only knew him through his books. There are millions who are mourning the loss of the stories, just as there are those who are mourning the person whose personality could be gleaned from the eleven main volumes of his groundbreaking The Wheel of Time fantasy series. Even more than just the reading enjoyment that many got, for tens of thousands of his readers, his fictional creation and, in the past two years of his life, his all-too-real fight against an implacable disease have served to create quite a few bonds.

Speaking strictly for myself, this blog itself would never have come into being three years before if I and four others hadn't read at least some of the WoT series and if we hadn't joined wotmania during the 2000-2003 period. Regardless of how divergent personal tastes may have become, it cannot be denied that there was something in his fiction (and as I reflect back upon the author's blog entries both pre- and post-diagnosis, something in his personal reflections and comments) that brought people of many different languages, cultures, and from diverse parts of the world together. That is something that cannot be overlooked.

I know that if I hadn't picked up a copy of his seventh book, A Crown of Swords, in a local Krogers back in late October 1997 as a diversion while prepping for my MA exams (not knowing that it was really dependent upon the previous 6), I probably would not have come to know someone I consider to be my soulmate, or another with whom we "adopted" each other as brother and sister despite living on separate continents, or the lovely lady whom I love dearly. Not to mention the hundreds of friends and acquaintances that I made during my seven years at wotmania. All of this due in large part to a Vietnam War vet who decided to write what probably is the largest single story that exists today in the English language (or perhaps in any language).

So in closing, I'll leave comments as to the literary status of Jim Rigney's work for another time and place. I'd rather just honor the person behind those words and to note that his writings and the personality behind those words have come to affect so many of us today. Requiescat in pace.


Neth said...

I suspect that the influence RJ has had on the genre is bigger than most people out there appreciate.

His loss will be felt by many.

Larry said...

That's usually the way it is with people who think not just of themselves, but of others as well. In his case, he was blessed to be so visible as to have a positive impact on so many more than most other such generous people.

Puts other things in some perspective as well, I suppose...

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