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Amazon Studios picks up best-selling books from Charleston writer for series

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A world-renowned Charleston novelist and Citadel graduate just had a series of books picked up by Amazon to be made into a TV series.

We know who you’re thinking: Pat Conroy, right? Of course; who wouldn’t think it’s him? But this is a different Citadel graduate.

James Oliver Rigney, pen name Robert Jordan, that other Citadel grad best-selling author. (Photo/Jeanne Collins)Jim Rigney, better known by his nom de plume Robert Jordan, lived in Charleston until his death in 2007 from a rare blood disorder. He was 58 years old.

The Vietnam veteran, who received the Bronze Star in two tours of duty, published the first book in The Wheel of Time series, in 1990. Tens of millions of copies of the books have been sold, and they continue to be in print nearly 30 years later. (For the record, George R.R. Martin would publish the first Game of Thrones book six years later.)

Jordan wrote 11 of the epic fantasy novels until Brandon Sanderson took over authorship for the last three books. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had died before finishing the Harry Potter books? That’s kind of what happened when Jordan died. His wife and editor, Harriet McDougal, helped guide Sanderson through the process of completing the series — though Jordan did already have the ending laid out.

Jordan was writing the series’ 12th book when he died, but many in the Charleston region and the fantasy fan world knew he had been ill for quite some time. Like many well-known Charlestonians, he pretty much kept to himself and did his thing. People like Charleston because they can mostly be left alone.

If you haven’t heard of this Charleston author, or if you haven’t taken the plunge, grab your e-reader or audiobook player, or head to Blue Bicycle Books or Itinerant Literate (or your favorite bookshop) and get a copy of The Eye of the World, the first in The Wheel of Time series.

These books are frequently on lists with the most well-regarded fantasy books, along with authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling — must be something going on with that first initial, we’re not sure.

For years, fans of the books and movie producers have been salivating over Jordan’s Wheel of Time, hoping the series would be turned into a film version. But it never got off the ground, even though rights were secured and options were optioned.

Variety, among other entertainment and publishing news outlets, followed the Amazon announcement. The die-hard Robert Jordan fans detail the twists and turns of the history of the rights to Rigney’s work. Even if Amazon hasn’t found the next Game of Thrones, most commenters on Dragonmount, Jordan’s main fan site, greeted the news with cautious optimism.

And as each book in the series begins, so it is perhaps appropriate now:

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, called the Third Age by some, an age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose. ... The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Indeed.

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