The Book of the Week is the hardcover first edition (but unfortunately not first printing) of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, cover art by Darryl Sweet. This is to honor Robert Jordan, the pen name of James Rigney, Jr., who passed away last week at the age of 58. In the 1980's, Jim Rigney wrote historical romances under the pseudonym Reagan O'Neal, a western under the name Jackson O'Reilly, and new adventures of Conan the Barbarian as by Robert Jordan. But it was The Eye of the World, first published in 1990, that rocketed him to prominence.
The Eye of the World is the first book in the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series, a fantasy epic in the Tolkienesque mode, but even more densely detailed and intricately plotted than The Lord of the Rings. The series has been an immense commercial success -- the last five Wheel of Time books published have all reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It is a testament to Jim Rigney's skills as a storyteller that the series has only gained in popularity, even as it climbed toward 8,000 pages in total length (10,000 in the paperback editions).
The Wheel of Time series was projected to cover twelve volumes (not counting the stand-alone prequel New Spring, the first appearance of which we will see next week), but only eleven have appeared to date. Knowing that his health was deteriorating from the rare blood disease amyloidosis, Rigney prepared detailed outlines of the final book in the series and had lengthy discussions with his wife, son, and other writers regarding its completion. It seems the Wheel of Time series will be finished, a fitting testimony that fantasy fans' devotion to Robert Jordan was mutual.