It is with sadness that I post this. A gifted author and an all-round nice guy has succumbed to his illness. He faced his condition with aggressive optimism, maintained his goodwill and good humour despite the obvious physical punishment, determined to triumph against the odds.
I remember the first time I read about his affliction. I remember how I felt as he announced on his blog that he has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, and his declaration that he will fight it.
Let me go back a bit before I continue. During a period of idle pursuits many many years ago, I picked up Eye of the World despite the horrendous cover art, and I was struck by its brilliance. I didn’t have any expectations, and it blew me away. This, I thought with pleasure, is how the purest high fantasy should be.
I consumed the series. I literally devoured each subsequent book. I can’t remember how long it lasted. There was a point where I picked up a recently released Path of Daggers hardcover while I was training in the States! Hardcover! The bloody book was so heavy my luggage almost grounded the plane, and it was so expensive (the ringgit is weak against the dollar after all), I starved myself at night.
However, even the most fervent of fans would admit to the declining quality later in the series. And I, a fervent fan, called it quits halfway into Path of Daggers.
By the time I read his announcement on his blog, I had stopped reading the Wheel of Time for some time. Telling people in book forums that his best had come and gone. Woe that such a great piece of work degenerated into its current state, a symbol of crass commercialism (deservedly or not). While I never told anyone to *not* read Wheel of Time, I gave warning of the impending lull, just as you would tell someone if a particular restaurant was worth repeat visits. You know, that sort of thing.
But I remembered as I read his announcement and his resolve, that despite it all, Wheel of Time is only a story, is only a form of entertainment, and here is this man finding out that he has been struck by a disease that’s almost certainly terminal. I find myself thinking how life can really put things into perspective.
So what if the series isn’t finished? So what if the latter books suck? So what if people accuse him of selling out to publishers as he stretched the series as taut as he could to the point of breaking? So what?
I followed his progress with regular visits to his blog. Despite his condition, he updated his fans with news of his treatment, and always he never failed to come across as generous, cheerful, hopeful, encouraging to others who shared his predicament. He talked of completing Wheel of Time for his fans, and of starting another series set in the same world. He set goals for himself. The support he got were not only from fans, but from other human beings who connected and felt touched.
There was this time during his treatment where his progress marker, called the Lambda light chains were well within the normal range, and it was great news. I had thought he’d beat it for sure. His last update was just over a week ago.
But alas. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.
He has taught me indirectly to cherish life, and I thank him for that, and I thank him for the period of pure pleasure whilst I indulged in his imagined world.
Thank you, Robert Jordan, and may you rest in peace.