Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wheel of Time Stops Turning

Fantasy novelist James Oliver Rigney Jr. (aka Robert Jordan), author of the massively popular "Wheel of Time" series, died today in Charleston, South Carolina, of complications from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, according to

Having read most of his fantasy series and a number of personal posts Mr. Jordan has made available online, he seemed to be a good man and certainly his writing brought joy to millions around the world. I think it's fair to say that he was a major figure in the genre and that his death will have a serious impact on the sci-fi/fantasy publishing industry.

My feelings about the books themselves are more mixed. I enjoyed the series at first, but after the first three books it seemed to grow heavy under the burden of its own seriousness. Events that could have taken place in a chapter were stretched out over several thousand pages. Too many characters plagued the plot, without seeming to advance the story at all. The same plot points kept coming up over and over to the same characters, and for a while there it seemed like literally nothing had happened over the course of three books.

Ultimately, I'd have to say the series was a victim of its own success. When an author (or musician or athlete or director or what have you) gets too big, everyone starts being afraid to tell them "no". They're given license to do whatever they like and no one has the courage to actually edit them, to say "Gosh, Bob, this sucks."

And I think that's too bad. Because clearly these guys have some talent, or they wouldn't have been successful in the first place.

In a way, we betray people like Mr. Jordan when we become too intimidated to express our opinions honestly, when no one will tell them what's good and what's bad become overshadowed by expectation and hubris.

I do feel saddened by the loss of Robert Jordan, even if my opinion of "The Wheel of Time" have become negative over the years. He worked hard, he treated the genre with respect, and he inspired thousands of people with his words. That's an impressive legacy for anyone to claim.


Anonymous said...

Thus the reason I have avoided popularity and success. There seems to be no shortage of people telling me how wrong I am in my universe. It remains my joy to be the recipient of ridicule and verbal bile upon my head by those I know and love. My employees seem to have perfected the craft, although I do not recall seeing the topic "How to roll your eyes at the boss and then ask for a raise" in any seminar. Indeed, I have even expanded my largess to allow casual strangers to practice their criticism in all that I do and say. Yes, it seems that merely having a tooth qualifies someone to diagnose their oral health and be able to determine how much their treatment should cost. Obviously those years of training were for naught. It may be a pitiful meaning of life, but it seems to be my calling. I seem to be faithfully pursuing a vocation in mediocrity to supply my detractors with ammunition.
Humbly yours,
Jimmy Hebert, DDS

Anonymous said...

Okay, it sounded funnier in my head than in paper. Please don't critique it. Please. whimper.

Jeff Hebert said...

I thought it was very funny! I actually laughed out loud at the first line. No apologies necessary, Dr. Hebert!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Jeff -- great posting, Jimmy! In fact, I've been quoting you quite a bit the past week, so I'd consider you quite philosophical! Love, Your Big Sister!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Jeff -- great posting, Jimmy! In fact, I've been quoting you quite a bit the past week, so I'd consider you quite philosophical! Love, Your Big Sister!