Just over a month ago, on 16th September 2007, Robert Jordan finally left the world, and much to the dismay of his fans.
I was one of those grieving fans.
The news of his passing reached me through Boing Boing, and I could still remember the heartache. I remember asking Puteri what the hell primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy (cardiac amyloidosis) was, and she explained that it’s a very serious condition. I remember pouring my heart out to Sheera who, thankfully, understood. And seeing the only other people I know who loved his work–Ariff–a week ago, I was glad that we shared the same sorrow and frustration.
Why the grief?
Robert Jordan left us with just one more book to finish the Wheel of Time saga. The 12th book.
That is like J. K. Rowling dying just before The Deathly Hallows was finished. Only double the pain, since Harry Potter has only 7 books. Maybe more, since it has been 17 years since the 1st book in the saga was published.
My anguish might sound like I’ve been following his works since 1990, but shame to say, I’ve only started reading since last year. In 2000, I saw the just-published Winter’s Heart in a bookstore, and I made a vow that I want to read the whole series, without even knowing the crux of the story. But it wasn’t until early 2006 that I discovered Ariff had a bookcase of the (then) complete series. How delighted I was! Hence the beginning of my transfixion on the saga.
Just like most of his fans, I was enthralled by the vastness of the fictional world (Randland as fans call it) and the intricacies of the plot. So intricate it is, that by the 11th book, not much of the main plot has actually moved since around the 8th book. Having read Tolkien, it striked me as refreshing that he writes in humble English (I always find Tolkien too verbose for those not having a native tongue) and a total absence of stock creatures like elves and dwarves. Instead, he introduced us to Aes Sedais, Ogiers and Aiels.
I love how he made us grew up with the character, from naïve country boys and girls transformed to heroes, kings and leaders. I love how he told love stories in a corny but relatable way. How he described women spot on. I love how he mirrored contemporary politics in the Daes Dae’mar. I love how he described the discrimination (and acceptance) we extend to other races and people from other countries. I love the concepts of Ji’e’toh, the prophecies, the subtle references to religions, the Shadowspawns, the Asha’mans, the Aelfinns and the Eelfinns!
It’s a wonder how they’re going to finish and publish the last book. Granted, he could’ve written a few more spin-offs or prequels.
As for me, I think I’ll start reading again. I seem to be stuck on book 9.
Rest in peace, Robert Jordan. Know that you have been immortalised with your splendid works.