Robert Jordan (17 October 1948- 16 September 2007), born James Oliver Rigney, Jr., was an American author most famous for his Wheel of Time series. He was stricken and killed by an extremely rare blood disorder known as cardiac amyloidosis.
The Wheel of Time
Mr. Jordan's most famous work is The Wheel of Time, a high fantasy, good-versus-evil themed series. The series is published by Tor Books and consists of fourteen books in the main series, 1 prequel book (part of what would have been a series) and 1 encyclopedia of the Wheel of Time world. The last book of the main series was incomplete at the time of Mr. Jordan's death. The books are:
The Eye of the World (1990)
The Great Hunt (1990)
The Dragon Reborn (1991)
The Shadow Rising (1992)
The Fires of Heaven (1993)
Lord of Chaos (1994)
A Crown of Swords (1996)
The Path of Daggers (1998)
Winter's Heart (2000)
Crossroads of Twilight (2002)
Knife of Dreams (2005)
The Gathering Storm (2009)
Towers of Midnight (2010)
Memory of Light (anticipated 2012)
American author Brandon Sanderson has agreed to complete the final novel of the series. Speculation that Jordan intended the work as an anti-Christian attack is likely unfounded as Jordan was a high-church Episcopalian who attended church weekly and professed a deep and abiding faith in God.
The main thread of the Wheel of Time story, as taken from the books, is that:
- The Creator created the World, the Source, the Wheel of Time and imprisoned his antithesis, Shai'tan, more commonly known as the Dark One, in a metaphysical prison.
- The Source is the point of origin for the metaphysical stream of energy known as the One Power. The One Power is comprised of male and female halves, which work together and in opposition to drive the Wheel.
- The Wheel of Time spins the story of the world by taking the lives of individuals as threads and spinning those lives together into a metaphysical tapestry. The way the tapestry is spun is determined by the Wheel which is guided by the Creator. The Wheel allows free will in an individual's life, but always spins the consequences of the decision made by that individual, thus evil exists in the world as well as good.
- The only legally recognized faith in the world is faith in the Light. All people, apart from Darkfriends, worship the Light, although there are few organized religions based around faith in the light (the most well-known organisation that has a religion based around faith in the Light is known as Children of the Light). Faith in the Light involves belief and faith in the Creator (often referred to as the Light), some prayers to the Light (how many and how well organised often depends on the individual and situation), and an avoidance of evil acts.
- There are those who worship the Dark, as represented by the Dark One. These followers are known as Darkfriends by the populous at large (they know themselves as Friends of the Dark, although quite willingly call themselves Darkfriends). Darkfriends that are discovered are always executed, although it is considered acceptable to kill Darkfriends without trial the moment they are discovered.
- The Wheel also creates life in the world as well as spin out the path that life will follow, based, in part, on the decisions that the individual in question makes. The Wheel also creates some individuals who have the ability to channel the One Power and manifest that power in the world. How that power is used (for good or evil) is up to the choice of that individual, although serving the Dark always has consequences (always the chance of discovery, cast out from the Light's grace, unless they recant their ways they can never earn the chance of being selected by the Creator as his agent in the world).
- Every so often, somebody's life and service to the Light is so remarkable that, upon their death, the Creator takes their soul and stores it in a metaphysical realm known as Tel'aran'rhiod. When the Light requires that person to take a role in the world then that person is spun out by the Wheel as an agent of the Light. Unlike other lives, that person's role in the world is fixed by the service he or she previously offered the Light.
- After living for an indeterminate length of time upon the world, humans capable of channeling the One Power, known as Aes Sedai, discover what they believe to be another source of power similar to that of the One Power, but separate to it. This power is in the metaphysical realm and is not directly accessible by the Aes Sedai. As a result of this the Aes Sedai start "drilling" between the walls that separate the two realities. Unknown to most of the Aes Sedai, but known to those who are supervising the project, the area they are attempting to access is the Dark One's prison. The Creator does not interfere as those supervising the project know that what they are attempting is evil and it is greed driving their actions. Those in charge of the project are acting of free will and therefore must face the consequences of their actions. Others must suffer because they should have been supervising the supervisors of the project much more closely.
- The Dark One is freed from his prison. Those responsible for freeing him immediately swear obedience and servitude to him. In secret they create an army using their abilities as Aes Sedai to corrupt and mutate humanity, creating monsters servile to the Dark. Those Aes Sedai not corrupted by the Dark rally the nations of the world to fight back against the Dark One's forces and attempt to re-imprison the Dark One.
- After a war that lasts at least three hundred years the leader for the Light, an Aes Sedai called Lews Therin Telamon, also known as The Dragon, leads a strike force against the Dark One and his immediate lieutenants (the Aes Sedai who joined him, now known by the forces of the Light as the Forsaken). The Dragon's strike force manages to catch the Dark One and the Forsaken by surprise at the entrance to where the Dark One freed himself. By channeling the One Power, and many of the strike force sacrificing themselves, the Dragon succeeds in re-imprisoning the Dark One and the Forsaken back within the prison the Creator made. However, the work of Man could not match the work of the Creator, so the patch placed over the prison could not be permanent. Furthermore, in retaliation for the Dragon's actions, the Dark One corrupts the male half of the One Power, placing a thin layer of corruption over it. From that point on, any man who channeled would start to go insane, and would eventually die of a rotting disease.
- Lews Therin Telamon, having survived the raid against the Dark One, eventually goes insane as a result of the Dark One's corruption of the male half of the source. He is granted a brief glimpse of sanity to show him the results of his insanity (which has destroyed his family, and through the actions of other male Aes Sedai is slowly destroying the world). Realizing that the sanity was only temporary and also realizing that if he continues living he will continue to destroy the world, Lews Therin Telamon sacrifices himself in the One Power. Because of his actions in re-imprisoning the Dark One and willingly sacrificing himself to stop further destruction of the world the Light takes Lews Therin Telamon's soul and places it in Tel'aran'rhiod. All other male Aes Sedai are hunted down by the female Aes Sedai and are either stripped of their ability to channel (a process that will lead to the recipient's death within a couple of years) or are killed outright as they could not be captured safely.
- Three thousand years go past. The world rebuilds itself enough to have reached a technological point equivalent to the Middle Ages. There are fewer Aes Sedai than there have ever been and all Aes Sedai are female. The taint of the Dark One is still present on the male half of the One Power and so all men that show an ability to channel must either have the ability to channel removed, or be killed, for the safety of everybody in the world. However, prophecy says that one day the Dark One will find a way to free himself again and that the Dragon, a male channeler of the One Power, will be reborn to unify the nations of the world and defeat the Dark One. However, the prophecies also say that the Dragon will die in the process of defeating the Dark One.
- The Dragon is reborn and at the same time the Dark One begins to break free from his prison. However, the Dragon is greeted with fear and loathing. Many false Dragons have declared themselves in an attempt to craft an empire, and have always left bloodshed and fear in their wake before they are dealt with. Furthermore, as a male Aes Sedai the Dragon will go insane due to the Dark One's taint. Therefore, the Dragon must wrest control of most the nations of the world so that there is an adequate force to face the Dark One, Forsaken and armies in what is known as the Last Battle, also called Tarmon Gai'don (pronounced as to sound similar to Armageddon, with the obvious analogies to be made). If the Dragon fails in his task then the Dark One will be free to try to wrest control of the Wheel from the Light, which would give the Dark One the chance to remake the world in his own image. The Dragon must stop the Dark One, knowing that doing so will cost him his sanity and his life.
Magic in the Wheel of Time
The term 'magic' is avoided in the Wheel of Time, and instead the term 'channeling' is used instead. This is to represent the fact that what the people in the book are doing is channeling the power that the Creator made and that, in the context of the books, the Creator allows to be used. It is up to the individual how that power is used (for good or ill), because the Creator allows free-will in his creation, however mis-use of the this power, or indeed mis-use of any kind of power, causes the user to be cast from the Light. The Creator does not intervene in the working of his creation unless it becomes absolutely necessary, instead preferring to work through the Wheel. However, at the end of Book 1 the Creator is seen to intervene directly:
"IT IS NOT HERE
It was not Rand's thought making his skull vibrate.
I WILL TAKE NO PART. ONLY THE CHOSEN ONE CAN DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, IF HE WILL.
"Where?" He did not want to say it, but could not stop himself. "Where?"
The haze surrounding him parted, leaving a dome of clear, clean air ten spans high, walled by billowing smoke and dust. Steps rose before him, each standing alone and unsupported, stretching up into the murk that obscured the sun.
As can be seen, the Creator's willingness to work using mortals can be seen as being analogous to the history of St. Joan of Arc.
As mentioned above, the One Power is made up of two halves, male and female. When channeling the One Power, female users channel the female half, and to use it must surrender to it and then guide it. Attempting to control it can result in either death or loss of ability to channel for the female channeler. When channeling the One Power, male users channel the male half and must fight to control it, the direct opposite of the female half. In both cases, however, the books make it clear that strong emotion is to be avoided as it could disrupt the concentration of the user, resulting in catastrophe. Both male and female channelers are clearly shown to empty their mind of emotion before attempting to channel the source.
Mr. Jordan also wrote the Fallon Blood series and a Conan the Barbarian series. Additionally, he contributed to other Conan works.
Mr. Jordan graduated from The Citadel Military School with a degree in Physics and served two tours in Vietnam where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with Valor device, and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. On his death, he left behind his wife, Harriet McDougal.