|As a child, Robert Jordan (born James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) was exposed to writing by his older brother, who read Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Mark Twain to him while babysitting. At the age of 20, Jordan went to Vietnam, eventually serving two tours of duty and receiving several decorations. After the war, he earned a degree in physics at the Citadel, a military college, and became a nuclear engineer for the Navy. Starting in 1984, Jordan wrote a series of eight well-received books based on the Conan the Barbarian character created by Robert E. Howard in 1932. Toward the end of this series, Jordan began work on the books upon which his name will ultimately be remembered. THE EYE OF THE WORLD, published in 1990, is the first book in his massive Wheel of Time series. Averaging between 700 and 1,000 pages, each new volume in this series seems to outsell its predecessor. Projected to span a total of 10 volumes, the Wheel of Time is often cited as the closest an American has come to writing a fantasy epic as well-rounded as Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS. In the meantime, Jordan has written westerns, historical novels, dance criticism, and other non-fiction work under several different pseudonyms.