Writer. Jordan (pseudonym of James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) was born in Charleston on October 17, 1948, the son of James Oliver Rigney and Eva May Grooms. He began reading at an early age, counting Mark Twain and Jules Verne as favorites. In 1968 Jordan joined the United States Army, serving two tours in Vietnam. In 1970 he entered the Citadel, where he graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. Jordan worked as a nuclear engineer until 1978, when he began writing full-time. He wrote his first book, The Fallon Blood (1980), under the pseudonym Reagan O’Neal, as well as two sequels, The Fallon Pride (1981) and The Fallon Legacy (1982). He then produced The Cheyenne Raiders (1982), under the name Jackson O’Reilly.
In 1982, adopting the pseudonym Robert Jordan, he published Conan the Invincible, the first of seven installments he would add to the highly popular “Conan” fantasy series, based on the creation of 1930s author Robert E. Howard. Dormant for decades, “Conan” enjoyed a revival in the 1960s, long after Howard’s death, and a number of authors stepped in to continue the saga. Jordan’s additions to the series are among its most popular, with one critic describing his installments as “vigorous, lusty, and full of excellent scene setting.”
Jordan’s most famous literary accomplishment, the “Wheel of Time” series, debuted in 1990 with the publication of The Eye of the World. “Wheel of Time” features the ongoing adventures of Rand, a hero on an epic quest to unite the inhabitants of his world against the evil Dark One. A 1993 review in New Statesman and Society complimented Jordan on creating “an entirely convincing and compelling alternative world.” Installments of the “Wheel of Time” have appeared on bestsellers lists and have been published in twenty languages. The eleventh book in the series, a prequel entitled New Spring, was published in 2004.
On March 28, 1981, Jordan married Harriet McDougal, with whom he has a son. He lives in Charleston.
Thompson, Bill. “Local Author’s Fantasy Fiction as Loved as Tolkien’s.” Charleston Post and Courier, February 9, 2003, p. E1.