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Interviews: SFX Profile: Robert Jordan

Summary:

Entries

4

Date

Apr, 1997

Type

Verbatim

Location

UK

Reporter

Diane McGinn and Maxine Webber

Links

SFX Magazine

  • 1

    SFX

    There's one major problem with huge fantasy series—picking up on them halfway through. Robert Jordan has one word of advice for anyone who's considering joining his epic "Wheel Of Time" saga with volume seven, A Crown Of Swords (SFX16; B), now out in paperback at 5.99.

    Robert Jordan

    Don't! Start on the paperback of the first book The Eye Of The World. The characters are innocent at the beginning and you see the world in a certain way through their eyes. One of themes of the books is the mutability of knowledge—you cannot possibly know the truth of an event unless you were there to see it, and then you know only what you observed yourself. So the characters suspect that some of what they know is wrong, but they never know which parts are wrong. Each book changes the books before.

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  • 2

    SFX

    But despite Jordan's attempts to discourage casual readers, "The Wheel Of Time" has acquired a dedicated and enthusiastic following.

    Robert Jordan

    It's a fantasy War And Peace, a story not only of individuals but also of cultures clashing across a continent. It will take at least three more books to finish. I worry that someone will walk up to me and say, 'I want an end to it now or I'm going to bash your head in.' On the other hand, I've had people threaten to desecrate my grave if I die before I finish it!

    SFX

    But if the main thrust of the story's already mapped out, couldn't another author complete it from Jordan's notes?

    Robert Jordan

    If I die, my computer's hard drive will be reformatted four times. I defy anybody to pull anything off it after that, and I've made arrangements that anyone who tries to finish the series after my death will have their kneecaps removed.

    SFX

    That's an ironic attitude for an author who gained kudos for his additions to Robert E. Howard's Conan saga, surely?

    Robert Jordan

    If he could reach us, I'm sure Howard would strangle me, Andy Offutt and all the rest of us. But I don't want somebody messing around with my characters, putting their boots all over my world.

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  • 3

    SFX

    It's a world where the conflicts between different factions of supposed heroes often take precedence over their preparations for battle against The Dark Lord—indeed, at first glance it seems as if the main story hasn't even started yet.

    Robert Jordan

    The battle between good and evil is a big part of the story, but it's not easy to see how many of the struggles for advantage are actually motivated by the Dark One, by evil. People who've read the books a few times are beginning to spot what's happening, and that while our heroes don't realize it, the war against evil has been going on from the beginning.

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  • 4

    SFX

    That battle's inevitably violent, and Jordan's own background in the military has enabled him to bring a paradoxical perspective to the subject.

    Robert Jordan

    I know what it's like to be in the middle of a battle and I know what it's like to have somebody try and kill you... I can put that in. There's a balance between the moments when you can look back and say that was a magnificent thing and when you say, 'What the hell is going on here?' In the aftermath you're so relieved you're still alive that you can walk among the dead laughing, and people who haven't been there will say that's insanity. It's not; it's the sort of thing that happens...

    SFX

    Which presumably makes it easier to understand characters' motivations in combat?

    Robert Jordan

    I try to get into their heads. Sometimes it's difficult—it's hard for me to imagine being a five-foot three female, but I work at it and think I've done a fairly effective job. When I was touring for The Dragon Reborn a group of women told me I'd settled an argument they'd been having about whether Robert Jordan was a pen name for a woman!

    But I can get into anyone's head—I'll walk out of my study and my wife will say, 'Been into someone nasty today, haven't you?'

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