The world is a darker place today, for a great light has been extinguished.  James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (better known as Robert Jordan, author of many works including the Wheel of Time series) has passed on, to dwell with his Creator in the Light.

May the Light shine on him and the Creator shelter him, and the last embrace of the Mother welcome him home.

If you didn’t know Mr. Rigney – well, most of us didn’t, personally – and don’t know why this is a tragedy, let me explain.  And if you did, and do, then just bear with me as I maunder on in stunned grief.

Mr. Rigney was among many, many other things the author of a seemingly endless fantasy series collectively known as the Wheel of Time.  I can hear you saying, “Oh, one of those fantasy nuts…” and mentally tuning out.  Give me a chance before you do, please.

I read the books.  I enjoyed the books.  I adored the books and, as a writer myself, despaired of ever achieving the intricacy of plot and elegance of prose which elevate these novels from the ranks of the obscure fantasy novel (of which there are millions, it seems!) to the level of, I will insist, masterpiece material. 

The characters are beautifully drawn, engaging and captivating.  The plot is delightfully devious and intricate.  The settings are wide and varied and uniformly fascinating.  The history and mythology of the world are fabulously imagined and meticulously drawn.  The series as a whole is, in a word, addictive.  I could never say enough about it.

The passing of Mr. Rigney, however, is a tragedy for far more reasons than the loss of a literary giant.  Through interviews, question-and-answer sessions, personal meetings, and an Internet blog, Mr. Rigney has become known to his many fans as far more than a mere name on a frontispiece.  He has interacted with them – us – on a personal level, as a human being, and we have come to know his enormous courage, wit, and generosity of spirit in a way that has left an indelible impression upon our lives.  He is a warrior and a gentleman, a man whose life was noticeably devoted to his God and his wife, Harriet, and made glorious by his overwhelming love for both.

I cannot imagine the void left in the lives of his family and close friends at his passing; it is enough for me to try to comprehend the void in my own.  I did not know him, truly, though I felt that I did in some measure, and yet I find myself overwhelmed with sorrow today.   I know that my grief is as a candle to the sun that is theirs, yet I do grieve with them, and for them, and for us all.

When a truly great and beautiful mind and soul leave this world, it cannot help but be the poorer for the loss.  Today, the world is indeed poorer.