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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Jason Denzel

DM News:The Eye of the World turns 30

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January 15, 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of the publication of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.  Although there are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time, this date does mark the official beginning of the book franchise. 

 

After leaving a career as a nuclear engineer, Robert Jordan (a pen name for James Rigney Jr, who went by "Jim" to his friends and family) began a prolific writing career. He wrote in a variety of genres, using a different pen name for each one, eventually making a name for himself in the fantasy publishing industry primarily on the strength of his Conan novels. (Robert Jordan did not create the Conan character or write the original novels. He wrote later ones in the series over 50 years after the original author, Robert E. Howard died). 

 

Originally pitched to Tor Books as a 3-book series, Tor publisher Tom Doherty laughed at the sheer scope of The Wheel of Time and instead offered Jim a 6-book contract.  Tor believed in the first book so much that they did a heavy marketing push, going so far as to commission an alternative book cover and creating 5,000 advance reader copies, which was unheard of now, or then. 

 

To celebrate this 30-year anniversary occasion, we asked Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan's wife and editor, what her memories were of that time in 1990.  Here's what she sent us:

Quote

 

September 1989 brought Hurricane Hugo, which caused over $200,000 worth of damage to our house. It was awful. That December brought … snow.  A tremendous rarity in Charleston.  Now known as the Christmas Hell froze over.  It even froze  some of the city’s water mains. First, owing to the lack of water pressure, the third floor bathroom had no water. Then the second floor had no water either.  The ground floor powder room slowed to a trickle. A good friend who visited from New York for Christmas (together with two other Christmas visitors) found me in the kitchen very sadly filling my mother’s big pickling kettle with water so we’d have something to flush the downstairs toilet with. He said,

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“I’m saving some water in case the city supply fails.”

 

“What’ll we do if it does?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Oh. Well we’ll just have to drink our own urine.”

 

This tickled my funny bone. “Yeah. Go get the empty wine bottles out of the recycling. We’ll label the bottles so we’ll each have our own private vintage.”

 

Then I couldn’t help laughing. So I got Christmas back. 

 

And the water mains didn’t totally fail. So we didn’t have to establish our private labels.

 

So where was Robert Jordan? He was working flat out on The Great Hunt. Tom Doherty, the publisher, was insisting on publishing it within a year of Eye’s publication. This was really tight. So dear Jim would have Christmas Day away from the keyboard, but no other.

 

New Year’s Day came. We ate our hoppin’john, collards, and some pork, in order to conjure up prosperity in the new year. It worked!

 

And that, my friends, is about all I remember of that winter of The Eye.

 

- Harriet McDougal

 

We're also asking YOU to share your memories of how you found this special book. You can reply here to this article, or you can reply on our social media:

Be sure to check out our Eye of the World info page, as well as our Book Summary and Chapter Recaps.

 

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The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, what some might refer to as the ‘Old Age’, before the Internet, social networks, mobile phones and modern computers we had.. books.

 

And so it was that in early autumn 1991, I believe, I came across this great-looking big  fantasy novel in the fantasy-section of a major bookstore in Oslo, Norway. Having become a fantasy book-fan some years earlier, having read and been totally mesmerized by JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, and having enjoyed Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara (nearly a copycat of The Lord of the Rings but since I loved the original that was certainly fine by me) as well as Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, I was more than ready for a new exciting fantasy epic.

 

The book cover caught my eye and picking up The Eye of the World that day, finding what stood on the back cover also interesting and encouraged by The Great Hunt which stood beside it on the shelf, leading me to believe that there would at least be a trilogy (the more the better I felt, I was eager to immerse myself in a new fantasy world), little did I know that this would put me on a journey of almost 30 years of The Wheel of Time. In reading - and loving -  the complete epic saga (which came to be my 2nd favourite fantasy book saga of all time after The Lord of the Rings) chapter by chapter, book by book, and almost 20 years of fantasy-roleplaying in Robert Jordan’s wonderful world, here at DM (beginning in 1999 for a couple years, then back from 2010 until now) and at other Wheel of Time roleplay-places on the internet.

 

Thank you, Robert Jordan for introducing me to your fantastic universe of The Wheel of Time, and many congrats - also to Harriet and the whole 'The Wheel of Time family' - on this 30th Anniversary of the first publication of The Eye of the World.

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