Robert Jordan became involved in writing in 1977 and was published for the first time in 1980 when, under the pen name Reagan O'Neal, he began work on the Michael Fallon trilogy. This trilogy, which was a historical romance series, was concluded in 1982. That same year he began working on Conan novels, all of them released under the pen name Robert Jordan. He released two each in 1982 and 1983, and three in 1984, the last year that he wrote for Conan. In 1987 he composed a Conan chronology. He began his work on his best known series, The Wheel of Time, in 1984. The first book, The Eye of the World, was released in January of 1990. This was followed rapidly by the release of the next five books in the series, with a total of six being published by late 1994. After this, however, the narrative began to expand rapidly, and Jordan's production of novels slowed as the length and density increased. A further five books, bringing the total to eleven, were released by 2005. Several companion pieces were also released over the years, including a prequel in 2004. Following Jordan's death in 2007, authorship of the series was handed over to Brandon Sanderson. Jordan had left behind copious notes and explained important plot details to his wife before his passing. The intended final book in the series was split into three parts by Sanderson, with the first book coauthored by him released in 2009 and the second in 2010. The final book in the series is slated to be released in January of 2013.
Born as James Oliver Rigney, Jr., Jordan was raised in Charleston, South Carolina. He served in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970, receiving several medals. He attended college at The Citadel, a military college, and received a degree in physics. He then found employment as a nuclear engineer for the US Navy. He married Harriet McDougal, who acted as editor for his books and to whom he revealed many plot details of the Wheel of Time series. He was an Episcopalian, and Freemason, and an avid amateur historian; he also cultivated numerous hobbies and interests, such as fishing and pipe collecting. In 2006 he was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, with a median life expectancy of four years with treatment. He underwent treatment, but passed away on September 16th, 2007. He was 58.