My Guilt and Inspiration: The time I found Robert Jordan’s house

Me standing at the gates to Robert Jordan’s mansion with the white dragon banner flying off the porch.

I may get some flak for this article and to some degree, I think it might even be warranted. However, I feel like I need to write it and talk about it so that is what I am going to do. In March of 2022, my wife and I decided to take our first-ever cruise. We were on a pretty small ship apparently comparing our ship to the many others when we would pull into ports, but the smallness did afford us something quite nice; we were able to go ashore in Charleston SC. I am not a fan of large cities, but if I am going to go to one, Charleston SC is just about my favorite.

I enjoy walking around the city. I enjoy the food in the city. I enjoy the atmosphere of this city. I enjoy the history of this city. So many things about this place that I really love, which is odd, because basically every other city on Earth, I despise.

Well, we came into port and had several hours to kill in Charleston. I had two things on my mind, one was that I was getting a cold and needed to head to a pharmacy so that I could get some cold medication and the other, was that I wanted to find Robert Jordan’s house. Some of you might not know who Robert Jordan is, so let me just take a moment and explain who this guy was. Robert Jordan was the main author of the Wheel of Time series of books. This is a fourteen-book series that was written from 1990 to 2013. Robert Jordan died on September 16th, 2007 from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, basically it’s a blood disease that caused the walls of his heart to thicken. He wasn’t able to actually finish the series, but when he got his diagnosis and the doctors said that he would most likely only get about four more years of life, he wrote down as many notes as he could so that someone else could finish the last book for him.

RJ’s driveway with the white dragon gates open.

When he passed away, his wife and editor Harriet McDougal chose author Brandon Sanderson to finish the last novel for her late husband. When all the notes and information had been poured over, it was clear that one book was not going to be enough to actually finish the series and so Brandon actually wrote the last three books of the series and he is pretty much universally praised for his work on it. He has been widely respected and seen as a master of the craft and possibly the only person who could have written the story in how he did and given it the respect and breath it required. So, all that being said, Robert Jordan’s house was in Charleston SC and I wanted to find it. It should be noted, that his house is not a public place where you can just go tour it or anything. I mean Harriet still lives there from what I understand and it is of course private property.

However, I didn’t want to trespass or create any form of disturbance. I knew he lived in Charleston SC and I knew his front gate was white and had dragons carved into the front of it. Alicia and I had a few more clues, but nothing close to what might be considered an address. This is because of course; this is a private residence. Now, let me take a moment and talk about Charleston for a moment. It might sound bad that I am trying to find a personal residence and want to take a picture in front of it. However, that’s a fairly normal thing to do in Charleston. In fact, many houses even have plaques on the side of their gates or walls that tell you who used to live there or who the house is famous for in some way. So, people walking around looking at houses and taking pictures in front of them is fairly normal. That being said, I am not going to tell you how to find RJ’s house.

The garden of the mansion.

We walked around following the small bread crumbs I had found through google searches and it seemed hopeless. We were nearly out of time and needed to be heading back towards the boat. I was convinced that we weren’t going to find it and had come to peace about that. We decided to turn down one final street that was heading back towards our boat anyway, and there it was. Directly in front of me was a white gate, two dragons carved into the front of it. “There it is!” I yelped. I stopped on the other side of the street, feeling like I couldn’t get closer. As if crossing the street would be treading on holy ground. “Well get over there so I can take your picture,” Alicia said. I didn’t want to move. The gate was open, I could see RJ’s front porch, and the Dragon Banner was flying from his porch just like I had heard it would be.

The white gates to the mansion with carved dragons on them.

Alicia finally convinced me to stand by the gate and get my picture taken in front of the house. I did peak in the garden through the rot iron fence and if you look closely in some of the pictures, you can see the carriage house that is behind the mansion which is where The Wheel of Time books were actually written. RJ did his writing back there. Apparently, the entire building is full of books, and maps, and at the very back his computer and desk chair. I looked through that garden and for the life of me felt like I was being given a glimpse into some hidden world, like dying for only a moment and getting to see Heaven without being allowed to stay. As soon as my pictures were taken and I had taken that moment to drink in the awe, I purposefully moved on and didn’t linger. I didn’t want to disturb Harriet. I didn’t want to spoil the magic of the place with the reality of myself.

Another view of the garden and the brick building in the back of the photo with the chimney is the carriage house, where the wheel of time was written.

We walked back to the ship and I felt like I was walking through a dream. I had glimpsed magic I was never meant to see. I had dipped my toe into the world of a master of the art. I have written books. I have written stories and articles, but for all the world I feel like an ant next to a giant. There is a hope inside my heart that someday my writings will be beloved and pined over. There isn’t an understanding that I am on or will be on the same plane as a man like RJ, but I have some hope that I can stand in the shadow of that greatness and at least feel the warmth of the sun. I will never forget that day and being able to stand so close to where such beloved magic was created. Maybe some of that magic has rubbed off on me. If nothing else, I have been deeply inspired.  

D. Michl Lowe

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