by Sela Narian
Life is a dream. All dreams must end.
These are words sung by the Aiel, one of many dozens of intricate cultures found within the vivid world of the Wheel of Time, created by James Rigney, Jr. under the pen name of Robert Jordan.
After fighting the disorder amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy for over a year and a half, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. died of complications from this disorder on Sunday, September 16 at 2:45 P.M. He was one month away from his fifty-ninth birthday. He is survived by his wife, Harriet, who served as editor for his books, and his son, William.
James Rigney, Jr. was born on October 17, 1948. He decided at an early age that he wanted to write, but decided to wait until he had experienced more in life which he could bring to his fiction. Before he became a professional writer, he served two tours in Vietnam through the U.S. Army, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with Valor and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry with Palm. He attended the Citadel in South Carolina, where he earned a degree in physics. He went on to become a nuclear engineer, employed by the U.S. Navy.
The best-selling writer of twenty-five books had the distinction of spending over eighty weeks on the New York Times’ Bestsellers lists for his various releases in hardback and paperback both. His books were published in 22 countries. He was also an accomplished dance and theatre critic, contributing to Library Journal, Fantasy Review and Science Fiction Review under the name of Chang Lung. Besides Robert Jordan, he also wrote books under the pseudonyms Reagan O’Neal and Jackson O’Reilly.
He was in constant communication with his fans throughout the world, and touched millions of lives through his writing. In his series, he described the term ta’veren as one who is chosen by the Wheel of Time to bend the pattern of the web of destiny; one thread which pulls others to it and changes lives without even realizing it. Such was the life of James Rigney, Jr. Whether he met them or did not, there are thousands of stories to be found of readers who connected through his books, forged lasting relationships, improved their lives and worked to serve others through charitable acts as a result of reading the Wheel of Time series.
He will be remembered as a man of constant strength, passion and dignity, who left a lasting impact on the world of fiction and beyond. His influence will continue to touch the world long after his passing; within his books, readers old and new will discover the legends he created for many years to come. The grave is no bar to his call.