Jordan, Robert 1948–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Jordan, Robert 1948–

[A Pseudonym]

(Chang Lung, Reagan O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly, James Oliver Rigney, Jr.)

PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1948, in Charleston, SC; son of James Oliver and Eva May Rigney; married Harriet Stoney Popham McDougal, March 28, 1981; children: William Popham McDougal. Education: The Citadel, B.S., 1974. Hobbies and other interests: Hunting, fishing, sailing, poker, chess, pool, pipe collecting.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Tor Books, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: U.S. Civil Service, nuclear engineer, 1974–78; writer, 1978–. Military service: U.S. Army, served two tours in Vietnam; earned a Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster and a Bronze Star with "V" and bronze oak leaf cluster; U.S. Navy, served as a nuclear engineer.

MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America.

WRITINGS:

"CONAN" SERIES

Conan the Invincible, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Conan the Defender, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Conan the Unconquered, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Conan the Triumphant, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Conan the Magnificent, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Conan the Destroyer, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Conan the Victorious, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1984.

The Conan Chronicles (contains Conan the Invincible, Conan the Defender, and Conan the Unconquered), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Further Chronicles of Conan, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1999.

"WHEEL OF TIME" SERIES

The Eye of the World, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1990.

The Great Hunt, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1990.

The Dragon Reborn, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1992.

The Shadow Rising, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1992.

The Fires of Heaven, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Lord of Chaos, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1994.

A Crown of Swords, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Teresa Patterson) The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, illustrated by Todd Cameron Hamilton, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1997.

The Path of Daggers, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Winter's Heart, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2000.

To the Blight, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Crossroads of Twilight, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2003.

New Spring, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Knife of Dreams, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2005.

OTHER

(Under pseudonym Reagan O'Neal) The Fallon Blood, 1980.

(Under pseudonym Reagan O'Neal) The Fallon Pride, 1981, reprinted under pseudonym Robert Jordan, 1996.

(Under pseudonym Reagan O'Neal) The Fallon Legacy, 1982.

(Under pseudonym Jackson O'Reilly) Cheyenne Raiders (Western novel), 1982.

Contributor, sometimes under pseudonym Chang Lung, to periodicals, including Library Journal.

ADAPTATIONS: Conan the Destroyer was adapted as a feature film with Arnold Schwartzenegger in the title role. Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Great Hunt, The Fires of Heaven, The Dragon Reborn, The Path of Daggers, and The Shadow Rising have been adapted for audio cassette. A game based on the "Wheel of Time" series is being produced by Legend Entertainment. An audio cassette featuring Jordan's work was released as Stories by the Masters of Fantasies; New Spring was adapted as an audio cassette by Audio Renaissance.

SIDELIGHTS: Robert Jordan has enjoyed success in two areas of fantasy writing: as a writer of novels in the continuing saga of the popular sword-and-sorcery character Conan the Barbarian and as the creator of the "Wheel of Time" series, set in an elaborate fantasy world. Speaking of Jordan's work on the Conan books, Wendy Bradley wrote in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers that "his additions to the best-known of all sword-and-sorcery sagas are vigorous, lusty, and full of excellent scene setting." Of the "Wheel of Time" series, Bradley reported that "this saga is turning into a really impressive piece of work." Roland Green, writing in Booklist, called the series a "major fantasy epic."

Conan, a wandering warrior of the ancient land of Hyperborea whose adventures lead him into battle with monsters, magicians, and underworld demons, is the invention of Robert E. Howard, a pulp writer of the 1930s. Following Howard's death in 1936, the Conan character faded from view until revived in paperback reprints during the 1960s. The character's renewed popularity spawned an entire fantasy subgenre known as sword-and-sorcery, stories in which barbarian warriors armed with swords, courage, and strength do battle with otherworldly opponents in exotic settings.

The "Conan" saga has been continued over the past thirty years by a number of different writers. Jordan tried his hand at the series in the early 1980s, adding a total of seven novels to the ongoing adventure saga. Among them are Conan the Invincible, Conan the Triumphant, and Conan the Unconquered, all of which feature the elements—beautiful maids, wicked foes, dangerous crusades—that have kept the series popular for so many years. In Conan the Destroyer, which was selected as a feature-film adaptation to follow the original Conan the Barbarian movie, the warrior hero teams up with princess Jehnna to search for treasure.

Jordan began his own fantasy series of novels with The Eye of the World. Set in a world where two kinds of magic exist, one female and the other male, the "Wheel of Time" series features the hero Rand. Rand is on an epic quest to unite the diverse peoples of his planet against the Dark One, who threatens to destroy their world. His quest takes him through a series of complex and well-delineated alien cultures. Jo-Ann Goodwin, writing in the New Statesman and Society, called the books "high fantasy that demands to be taken seriously … [Jordan] has been rightly praised for creating an entirely convincing and compelling alternative world, complete with social systems, cultural differences, and competing motivations."

The "Wheel of Time" books have been noted for their complex plotting, vivid characters, and realistically portrayed fantasy world. But several critics have felt that, because of the saga's enormous length and huge cast of characters, new readers to the series can be easily overwhelmed. For example, book eight in the series, The Path of Daggers, is a complicated affair with Rand gathering his followers, Elayne claiming her throne, and Egwene declaring war on Elaida. In book nine, Winter's Heart, the author brings together plot elements from the past 6,700 pages of Rand novels to find characters conspiring against friend and foe alike.

As Green noted in Booklist, "no one should expect to start a work of this size except at the beginning." If followed from the beginning, the series can be rewarding, according to critics. A Library Journal reviewer called it a "richly detailed and vividly imagined series." Bradley particularly praised the author's talent with the many characters in the multi-book saga: "His strength is in how he juggles with the multiple and multiplying field of characters without losing any of the depth of characterization or pace of plotting." A Publishers Weekly critic claimed that "Jordan's talent for sustaining the difficult combination of suspense and resolution, so necessary in a multivolume series such as this one … is nothing short of remarkable."

In Winter's Heart, "intrigue, as always, runs rampant," observed reviewer Sally Estes in Booklist. Series protagonist Rand al'Thor, known as the Dragon Reborn, continues in his quest to unite the disparate and embattled races of his lands in an attempt to stand against the powerful forces of the Dark One. An unsuccessful assassination attempt has left Rand wounded and in hiding. Meanwhile, Seanchan warriors are filling the city of Ebou Dar, displacing refugees and initiating their own schemes. Perrin Aybara, who is loyal to and finishing a mission for Rand, discovers that his wife, Faile, has been kidnapped by the rebel Aile, whom he pursues in order to rescue his spouse. The magic-using sisters of the Aes Sedai continue to have divided loyalties between pretender-to-the-throne Elaida and Elayne, Queen of Andor and consort of Rand al'Thor. Estes conceded that this particular novel, and the series in general, is too complex to summarize succinctly, but she concluded that the book "certainly gives confirmed fans what they expect." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that Jordan "can always be counted to ground his dizzying intrigues in solid chunks of cultural detail."

The tenth "Wheel of Time" novel, Crossroads of Twilight, continues the slow and inexorable progress of Jordan's multitudinous cast of characters. Refugee Mat Cauthon, fleeing the warlike Seanchan in Ebou Dar and pursued by the Dark One himself, finds love with Tuon, Daughter of the Nine Moons. Perrin continues his mission to rescue his wife from Aile, the mystical Aes Sedai consider changing allegiances, and Rand weighs the consequences of a similar change with the Seanchan. As the novel progresses, Rand manages to overcome an insidious influence of the Dark One over the men in Rand's ranks who possess the ability to channel. "Jordan's canvas is vast and his plotting intricate," Estes commented in another Booklist review, concluding that Crossroads of Twilight is "must-reading for Jordan's huge and faithful following."

With New Spring Jordan inaugurated a concurrent series that serves as a prequel to the prodigious story of the "Wheel of Time." In the war-ravaged city of Tar Valon, two young Aes Sedai sisters, Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche, overhear the prophecy that will lead to the rebirth of the Dragon—the coming of Rand al'Thor, whose efforts will stand in opposition to the evil plans of the Dark One. The story relates the initial meeting of two of the series' main characters, Moiraine and Lan Mandragoran, a soldier who claims the throne of a long-dead kingdom. Moiraine's and Siuan's early days in the Aes Sedai are also chronicled. This first prequel volume is "accessible enough for new readers, while the inside information is sure to captivate longtime" fans, commented a Publishers Weekly critic. The book also contains answers to a number of mysteries extant in the other "Wheel of Time" books, and offers telling details designed to please and captivate those readers who are already deeply knowledgeable about the series. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada commented favorably on the book's "insightful and vivid storytelling."

Knife of Dreams is the eleventh, and penultimate, volume in the "Wheel of Time" series. Here, Jordan begins gathering up the multitude of plot threads in preparation for the climax of the series. Rumors of Rand al'Thor's death are spreading across the land, but he and his companions are still alive and preparing for the final apocalyptic confrontation with the Dark One to determine who controls the powerful forces of magic in the future of their world. The militaristic Seanchan continue their campaigns, and intrigues and plots continue to multiply within the ranks of the magic-wielding Aes Sedai. Jordan also follows up on existing sub-plots, such as the courtship between Mat Cauthon and his bride-to-be, Tuon. Green, writing in Booklist, wrote favorably of "Jordan's superlatively executed world and its worthy company of characters." Cassada, in another Library Journal review, called the "Wheel of Time" series "one of the major works of the fantasy genre."

When asked what he does to keep busy when away from his writing, the author once commented to CA: "I occasionally find time to go fishing. I find time to read a little bit…. And I don't really have a great deal of time for anything else. When I'm doing anything else, I feel I should be writing…. It's a sickness."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

PERIODICALS

Book, December, 1998, review of The Path of Daggers, p. 77.

Booklist, October 1, 1992, Roland Green, review of The Shadow Rising, p. 242; October 15, 1993, Roland Green, review of The Fires of Heaven, p. 195; June 1, 1996, Sally Estes, review of A Crown of Swords, p. 1630; April 1, 1998, review of The Fallon Legacy, p. 1304; November 1, 2000, Sally Estes, review of Winter's Heart, p. 493; January 1, 2003, Sally Estes, review of Crossroads of Twilight, p. 808; July, 2003, Whitney Scott, review of Crossroads of Twilight, p. 1908; December 15, 2003, review of New Spring, p. 707; September 15, 2005, Roland Green, review of Knife of Dreams, p. 6; February 15, 2006, Whitney Scott, review of Knife of Dreams, p. 115.

Library Journal, November 15, 1990, Jackie Cassada, review of The Great Hunt, p. 95; November 15, 1992, Jackie Cassada, review of The Shadow Rising, p. 104; November 15, 1993, Jackie Cassada, review of The Fires of Heaven, p. 103; November 15, 1994, Jackie Cassada, review of Lord of Chaos, p. 89; June 15, 1996, Susan Hamburger, review of A Crown of Swords, p. 96; June 15, 2003, Douglas C. Lord, review of Crossroads of Twilight, p. 115; February 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of New Spring, p. 166; November 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Knife of Dreams, p. 64.

New Statesman and Society, November 26, 1993, Jo-Ann Goodwin, review of The Fires of Heaven, p. 44.

Publishers Weekly, October 19, 1992, review of The Shadow Rising, p. 64; October 17, 1994, review of Lord of Chaos, p. 67; July 3, 1995, review of The Conan Chronicles, p. 52; August 7, 1995, review of The Fallon Blood, p. 447; June 10, 1996, review of A Crown of Swords, p. 90; September 9, 1996, review of The Fallon Pride, p. 65; October 19, 1998, review of The Path of Daggers, p. 59; September 13, 1999, review of The Further Chronicles of Conan, p. 66; October 30, 2000, review of Winter's Heart, p. 51; December 22, 2003, review of New Spring, p. 42.

Science Fiction Chronicle, February, 1998, review of The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, p. 62.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1985, Frances Friedman, review of Conan the Destroyer, p. 336; June, 1990, Laura Staley, review of The Eye of the World, p. 116; August, 1991, review of The Great Hunt, p. 181; April, 1993, review of The Shadow Rising, p. 41; June, 1995, review of Lord of Chaos, p. 106; February, 1996, review of The Conan Chronicles, p. 384; April, 1996, review of Lord of Chaos, p. 23; April, 1999, review of The Path of Daggers, p. 46.

ONLINE

NNDB Web site, http://www.nndb.com/ (May 8, 2006), biography of Robert Jordan.

Tor Books Web site, http://www.tor.com/ (May 8, 2006), biography of Robert Jordan.

More From Encyclopedia.com


You Might Also Like