In Autumn 1998 I attended a Robert Jordan book signing of The Path of Daggers at Pages for All Ages in Savoy, IL. He was duly impressed with my first edition oversized softcover copy of The Eye of The World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series. TPoD was book 8. I was a huge fan of the series after I finally got around to reading TEotW (then, as now, I acquire books with no timetable regarding the reading of them). I even contributed a bit of undergraduate Judaica knowledge to the offical WOT FAQ.
But I digress. The series was showing no sign of ending anytime soon, and that was fine by me, since I was thoroughly enjoying the voluminous series of 700-page tomes full of memorable characters, witty dialogue, and emotional imagery. I recall telling Mr. Jordan that he was welcome to take as long as he liked to finish the series. He cracked that other folks had wondered whether he'd live to finish spinning the tale.
Well with one book left in the 12-volume series, it seems that the "other folks" were justified in their concerns.
And as I said in the header, I know it's horrible, but only one word echoes in my mind after the loss of this hugely talented master of high fantasy.
Someone is going to get shanghaied into finishing this series, and I can only hope that it's done in capably. Clearly he was prepared for this eventuality, but asking someone else to finish this is a lose-lose proposition for the writer. Either it's great because RJ made it great, or it sucks because the new author wasn't up to snuff.