Born in October 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, Robert Jordan’s immense talent and rigorous devotion to literature was shown at an early age. Jordan taught himself to read at the age of four, and where most children were still reading simple stories, by age six Jordan had managed to choke down the likes of literary legend Jules Verne. His passion for reading, and subsequently writing, shone throughout the early phases of his life.
Jordan served two military tours with the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner. His two tours left him with two years of wartime experience that he put to great use in his novels and a plethora of medals in honor of his bravery and initiative. After serving his time in Vietnam, Jordan went on to receive a degree in physics from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. He continued his military service as a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy.
Throughout his career as a nuclear engineer, Jordan was able to write the first few drafts of the Wheel of Time, a series that set a hallmark for modern fantasy and is renowned amongst writing circles. Jordan put a great deal of his military knowledge to full use in his novels, which are set in a high-fantasy setting of warring kingdoms and rebellions.
The Wheel of Time series wasn’t the only hallmark Jordan managed to achieve, however. Jordan preferred using pseudonyms to his own name; even Robert Jordan itself is a pseudonym for his real name, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. As Chang Lung, he wrote theater criticism, and under Reagan O’Neal, he wrote the “Fallon” series of historical romances. Jordan even wrote a series of novels based off of Conan the Barbarian in the 1980s, dedicated to the original character created in 1932.
In 2006, Jordan announced that he had been diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, and only had four years to live. Despite telling his readers he planned to live far longer, he unfortunately passed away on Sept. 16, 2007.