Way back ın 1991, when I was even skinnier and curlier than I am now, I was browsing around the Opotiki Public Library and I came across a fat paperback book called The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. It was the best kind of fantasy novel, rich in detail and imagination, packed with action, with likeable heroes and memorable villains. The kind of book that lets you into a world you spend days in.
A while later, I discovered that there was a sequel. For more than a decade, I would eagerly await the next installment of The Wheel of Time, a series that would eventually spin out for no less than 11 books, each of which was more than 600 pages long. I remember a holiday to Rotorua when I discovered Book 3 in the public library and got a special card so that I could take it back home and read it. A year later, I was tearing open a new box of books inside the Opotiki College Library, so that I could read Book 4 as soon as possible.
As the series went on it got more bloated and sluggish, though it was still a good and occasionally gripping read. I lost my burning passion for it, the kind that drives you to read huge websites dedicated to theories about what this or that prophecy contained in the books meant, who had killed a particular character and the many other mysteries of the series. The first time I ever went on the Internet was at Aaron C's house, when I spent hours reading such a site.
Despite my flagging enthusiasm, I was hopeful that things were at last set up for the series to end, with Book 11 dealing with a bunch of plotlines and clearing the decks for what Jordan promised would be the final installment.
Today I found out that Robert Jordan has died.
Though I knew he had an incurable illness, his death came as a shock. Selfishly, my first reaction was frustration that I would never get to see the series finished as it should have been (though I am sure that last book will come out based on the notes he left) and that he had taken such a long, lucrative time getting to the end.
Then I read fantasy great George RR Martin's tribute, which put things into perspective. He turned Jordan into something more than a book writing machine, and made me realise what a sad thing it is to die with your life's great work incomplete.
Rest in peace, Robert Jordan. Thank you for giving me so many, many hours of pleasure.