Dear Robert Jordan,
Today I read your final book. The end of The Wheel of Time came to my hands nearly twenty years after I first picked up its beginning. It was a story well told, a story whose ending lived up to the promises made so very long ago. I’m writing in order to tell you a little about it.
What I’ve loved most about your grand story throughout the years is how true it is. Those who cherish the fantasy genre understand this. Within a story about fictitious people, in fictitious worlds, with conflicts that never actually happened, we have the opportunity to explore what makes us real. The Wheel of Time has, for me, and I suspect for thousands of others, done that better than any of its peers. One of its most fundamental lessons is that time is a wheel, and that endings are simply new beginnings if you have the courage to turn and look the other way.
When you died, I had the privilege to visit your home—your Charleston, your Two Rivers. I sat in your chair and looked at your beloved books. I breathed the air you breathed, and I understood a part of you. I met your friends and family, and saw how they defined yet another part. And so today, as I read the ending of your magnum opus, I yet again found a piece of you. In those final, beautiful moments, with tears in my eyes, I understood. I saw why you wanted to write the story. I see the point you were trying to make. And I laughed. It may not have been what people expected, but, to quote Stephen King, it was the right ending.
And a glorious one.
The Wheel of Time books have ended for me. I cannot deny the bittersweet emotions that brings. But a strong ending gives more meaning to the journey that came before it. Sure, I can pick apart small nuances of this final book that weren’t perfect. Some little parts may not have rung as true as they could have. But by and large, it delivered in a big way.
If only you could have seen the specific way in which it turned out. I loved each character’s ending, even if it made me cry. I celebrated victories and gasped at the raw, visceral failures. Rand and Egwene shined the brightest, as I could have only hoped and expected. And there’s that one chapter. Holy smokes, RJ. 50,000 words? Really? Wow.
You never met Brandon Sanderson; most likely never heard his name in your lifetime. But I can tell you, RJ, he did an amazing job. He was your steward, and carried your banner proudly into the maw of Shayol Ghul in order to ensure oblivion did not consume the series’ ending. You would’ve been so proud of him. I sure am. A lot of fans are. If you ever meet him, in an unknown place, time, or life, give him a hearty handshake of thanks, and buy him
a beer some Magic cards.
You should also know that Maria and Alan, your assistants, remained faithful every step of the way. For five years they’ve painstakingly studied, analyzed, corrected, and loved this final book. As I read it, I could clearly see their influence, and I’m so thankful we had them. It wouldn’t have been this good without them. If it would have even been at all.
The fans, too, did their part. A small few helped with continuity, and a larger group honors your work every day through their service to the community and franchise. And yet another group, the largest, which spans the whole world, are fans who live and breathe your work. They share it with their friends. They strive to live up to the positive ideals you wrote about. They toast to your memory, and read your books to their children. They prove that a work of fantasy literature can inspire people of any nationality, religion, or political leaning to agree upon something they hold dear to their hearts.
Your various publishers have honored your memory by printing your books, and continually putting fresh paint (literally, in the case of the covers) on this series. They’ve sometimes faced criticism, but in the end did you proud. Tom Doherty and his team have led that charge. I spoke to Tom recently and he reminded me that he does it because he’s a fan and a friend of yours.
Finally, and most significantly of all, I want you to know that Harriet has been nothing short of amazing. You already know this in a way that I don’t need to describe, but her love for you is inspiring. She’s worked tirelessly since your passing to finish this book. She’s been your captain, and sailed the ship home. Next time I see her, I’ll give her a hug for you. I think a lot of other fans will, too.
The most extraordinary thing about all these people, from Harriet to the worldwide fans, is that collectively they underscore the very heart of this book. They prove that life truly imitates art, and vice versa. The Wheel of Time began with you. Its pages began with a single man walking down a ruined hallway. But in the end, the series proved bigger than you, and bigger than that man and his successor.
Yours is a story for the Ages. Some may criticize or belittle it, but its sheer scope and influence can’t be argued. The final pages may have been written, but it will live on in memory, community, and (let’s face it) franchise tie-ins. There are neither beginnings nor endings, right?
So, RJ, as I finish this letter that you’ll never read, I’m left only with final thanks. Thank you for sharing your vision with me. With all of us. For all the worldwide success and attention this book will bring, it still spoke to me on an intimate, personal level. Thank you for expressing the beauty of your life in these pages. Thank you for giving us what is quite simply the most epic ending to the grandest saga of our time.
Thank you for taking us upon a ride on the winds of time.
With sincerity, I remain,