Jack Whyte, Kelowna author behind Dream of Eagles fantasy series, dies at 80 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Jack Whyte, Kelowna author behind Dream of Eagles fantasy series, dies at 80

Jack Whyte, author of the Dream of Eagles series, passed away Feb. 22 at age 80.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Holly Martin
February 24, 2021 - 1:21 PM

There wasn’t much that best-selling author Jack Whyte hadn’t done in his career.

Whyte, who died earlier this week, explored different terrains and times through his Dream of Eagles series, was an award-winning poet, passionate mentor to many emerging writers and well-loved family man.

“He was very generous of his time and talent,” stepdaughter Holly Martin said Wednesday. “He had been sick for a while with cancer, and in this last little while his health declined quickly. He went into hospice in Feb. 15 and he passed away.”

Whyte was 80.

Martin and her mother Beverley Whyte, others who loved or learned from him, as well as his sizeable global fanbase, will have a tremendous body of work to reflect on when they want to remember his voice. In addition to the Dream of Eagles, eight Arthurian novels set in Roman Britain, he’s also the man behind the Templar Trilogy, featuring the legendary Knights Templar and The Burning Stone, which is a prequel to the latter series.

Those novels have been published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and Russia. His words, which have been translated into 20 languages, have washed over points across the globe and effectively planted a little bit of Kelowna into the imaginations of a worldwide audience.

For Martin, it's his poems a Toast to Canada and The Faceless Ones, the latter of which was an award winner. 

“Because of the many talents he had and his generosity, he spoke at many special occasions,” she said. “He spoke the lord’s prayer at my wedding and it’s such a memorable point of that day. He could make any special occasion that much more memorable because of his poems or because he sang a song."

In a 2018 interview, Whyte said that amassing a worldwide audience from a relatively small town came with perks and challenges and was generally an oddity. 

So much so, that several years ago there was talk of a television documentary exploring the life of “a guy who has written 17 novels in 20 odd languages living here in B.C. and nobody knows him.” Martin said she didn't know what became of that.

Whyte, who was from Scotland, said he had amassed a worldwide income by the time he made Kelowna home 24 years ago and bits and pieces of local scenery are woven into both his own stories and others. His latest book had a picture of Gallagher’s Canyon on it, for example.

Then he made it bigger by diving into history.

“I’m a legend wonk,” Whyte said in an interview in 2018. “I go looking for a legend and I start working. There’s a thing on PBS, shows a woman sculptress who starts out by looking at a piece of rock, and then turns it into a piece of sculpture…. She would go into the rock and find the beauty. My rock is the legend as it exists today.”

Once he chips away at those rock-like legends, new stories start to emerge.

“I try to strip away all the crap that has accumulated over the centuries to come between what happened in the past and the story we tell about it now,” he said. “People try to improve on a story and when you stretch it out by 1,500 years you get all sorts of rubbish added to it.”

An obituary for Whyte will be made available at Springfield Funeral Home later today.

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