The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass leaving memories that become legends. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the age that gave it birth comes again. In one age, called the Fifth Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past a wind rose in the Smokey Mountains. The wind was not the ending. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.
Born below the ever cloud capped peaks that gave the mountains their name the wind blew east, out across the Midlands, where once great mountains had stood before eroding into dust. Down it flailed into Charleston, through the narrow streets and wrought iron gates, and rattled the windows of a house where a young man sat tapping at a keyboard.
In ten days Memory of Light comes out. In eleven or twelve days I’ll have finished the book. With it I’ll finish a part of my life that spans fifteen years. There aren’t words to describe how this makes me feel. I’m mildly shocked that a saga, which seemed as unending as the turning of the Wheel itself, will come to an end. I’m sad to say goodbye to characters that have been part of my life since I was twelve years old. I’m excited to see the story through. I’m mourning, for the second time, the death of a man I never met.
My grandparents gave me an autographed, trade paperback edition of The Eye of the World as a Christmas present when I was twelve years old. It was an intimidating book, half again as long as anything I’d ever read. It was also the first autographed book I’d ever owned and the author also lived in Charleston (it wasn’t until college that I found out he lived about four doors down from the house I lived in until I was seven) so I gave it a chance.
The moment I opened the book Robert Jordan became a defining part of my childhood. He doomed me to spend middle and high school as a hopeless geek. He inspired me to begin writing my own stories. Somehow, just by living in the same city I did, he made me believe that I could be a writer. I swore that when my first book was published I’d send him an autographed copy and a note thanking him for setting my feet on the path.
I am ashamed of how selfish my thoughts were when I heard about his death. I was terrified the series would not be finished. I was devastated that one day I’d be sending my long anticipated book to a grave. It wasn’t until they announced that Harriet had chosen another writer would be finishing the series that it occurred to me his death was more than a personal tragedy. He had a wife, and family, and friends all of whom had lost someone they loved. I realized something important that day about where I stood relative to the center of the universe. It’s a lesson for which I’m extremely grateful.
Which is how I feel as I wait for a Memory of Light; I am grateful. I’m grateful to have had these friends follow me from the pages of the Wheel of Time as I followed them. I’m grateful that Harriet chose to have the series completed and for the excellent job Brandon Sanderson has done in the completion. Sitting here with my two week old son, thinking about who else should be invited to contribute to my first anthology, I’m grateful to have been inspired.
I want to thank you Mr. Jordan. I don’t know who I would have been if I’d never read The Eye of the World but it wouldn’t be the person I am today.