Brandon Sanderson on Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time

With the tragic passing of Robert Jordan last year, the world lost a writer who had become an iconic figure to his millions of fans. In the weeks following Jordan's death, many of those same fans understandably wondered how or if the fantasist's bestselling The Wheel of Time series would be completed. Then news came from Tor that Brandon Sanderson, a fantasy and children's book author, had accepted an offer to write a final volume called A Memory of Light, using Jordan's dictated notes about the plot. Sanderson had been working on his own Mistborn series and a follow-up to Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians. I recently talked to Sanderson via email about Jordan's legacy and about how he became involved with A Memory of Light, which is scheduled for release in 2009.

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(Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson) How well did you know Robert Jordan?

Brandon Sanderson: I didn't know him at all. I saw him once at a convention--once--and didn't even realize who it was until someone told me. To me, Mr. Jordan still is--and will probably always be--something of a mythical figure. What about his fiction do you particularly enjoy?

Brandon Sanderson: Robert Jordan's genius, in my opinion, was in his ability to blend the familiar with the original. When I read his books, particularly during my younger years, they felt like fantasy to me without reading like the same fantasy books I'd read so many times before. By now, he has become his own archetype, but at that point he was just so much more fresh than anything I'd read before. To this day, I love his world-building and his ability to get deep inside a character's mind and show you who they are and how they feel. As I've grown older, I have come to appreciate his ability to work lavish description and extensive world building into his stories without breaking the narrative. Reading his books is a treat for both the senses and the mind. What are your impressions of Jordan as a person and a working professional?

Brandon Sanderson: One thing stands out to me. During those last weeks before his passing, Mr. Jordan spent a great deal of time dictating the plot of this book to those around him. He felt that he had promised an ending to his fans, and was dedicated to making certain this book got finished for them. This coincides with everything else I know of the man. He was always kind and generous during signings and tours. He always spoke highly of his readers and the people around him. He was selfless. His mind was focused on his family first, his readers second, and himself as a distant third.

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