Book Review – The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

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The Path of Daggers (Wheel of Time, #8)


TITLE:  The Path of Daggers

SERIES:  The Wheel of Time Series, book 8

AUTHOR:  Robert Jordan

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  663 pages of story; 676 pages total

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  3.87 out of 5 stars; 62,489 ratings

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

For millions of fans around the globe, the wait is over. Sequel to the international blockbuster bestseller A Crown of Swords, this epic volume continues one of history’s greatest fictional journeys and the most extraordinary work of American fantasy ever published–The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and worldwide bestselling series–The Wheel of Time.

The phenomenal tale that is mesmerizing a generation of readers now continues.

The Seanchan invasion force is in possession of Ebou Dar. Nynaeve, Elayne, and Aviendha head for Caemlyn and Elayne’s rightful throne, but on the way they discover an enemy much worse than the Seanchan.

In Illian, Rand vows to throw the Seanchan back as he did once before. But signs of madness are appearing among the Asha’man.

In Ghealdan, Perrin faces the intrigues of Whitecloaks, Seanchan invaders, the scattered Shaido Aiel, and the Prophet himself. Perrin’s beloved wife, Faile, may pay with her life, and Perrin himself may have to destroy his soul to save her.

Meanwhile the rebel Aes Sedai under their young Amyrlin, Egwene al’Vere, face an army that intends to keep them away from the White Tower. But Egwene is determined to unseat the usurper Elaida and reunite the Aes Sedai. She does not yet understand the price that others–and she herself–will pay.

DATES READ:  June 4-16, 2015

MY REVIEW:

One of the first things that came to my attention about The Path of Daggers was that it is a much shorter book than some of the previous novels in the series.  While this isn’t a big deal normally, the book itself felt much longer while I was reading it.  I can’t figure out if this is due to pacing issues in the writing itself, or if I am just having difficulty with Jordan’s writing style.  This isn’t to say that I don’t like the overall story, because I very much do, but at times I feel as if the story is dragging and then there are times where I feel as if I just experienced a whirlwind of events that I find myself rereading in order to ensure that I didn’t miss anything the first time.  It is just an awkward reading situation for me – it puts me outside of my comfort zone because I don’t normally experience this or find myself rereading sections often.  I didn’t experience this with A Crown of Swords, or the earlier novels in the series, but it has been an issue in some of the other books.

Madness waits for some.  It creeps up on others.~Lews Therin Telamon

Madness is the name of the game when it comes to the events of this novel, specifically regarding Rand’s story line.  I understand that Rand is feeling a great deal of pressure attempting to hold 4 kingdoms, maintaining proper respect to Aiel custom, securing the Bargain with the Sea Folk, his mistrust of all Aes Sedai, the Forsaken on the loose, and the threat of the Seanchan – it is a lot for any single person to manage including The Dragon Reborn!  Yet, Rand decided to confront the Seanchan threat directly and attempt to push them back, but at what cost?  We know that Rand is willing to use people, to sacrifice people towards what he sees as the greater good for his cause, but has he gone too far?  One of the major themes throughout this series has been in regards to the sanity of men who can channel due to the taint placed on saidin (the male half of the One Power) and evidence of just how dangerous this is came to fruition in this novel as Rand was leading the charge against the Seanchan because the One Power (both saidar and saidin) was behaving differently near Ebou Dar.  Damane were sick after channeling with sul’dam nervous about the repercussions of doing so for the Seanchan faction and Rand was informed by one of his Asha’man and even shown how the behavior of saidin was different though it still gave the desired results.  Both sides were incredibly reckless in their choice to face each other utilizing the One Power, hell Rand was reckless in general facing a force much larger than his though he utilized Travelling well and was able to convince the Seanchan that his army was larger than it actually was which was incredibly clever albeit still reckless.  Ultimately, both sides suffer great losses and are forced to retreat which raises the question of whether or not this excursion was ultimately worth it?  I honestly don’t know.  I was very surprised by the betrayal of a few Asha’man who attempted to assassinate Rand upon their return to Cairhien, it seriously caught me off guard even though Lew Therin had been continually muttering in Rand’s head about killing them.  What I found to be interesting about this plot twist though is that while you are warned to not trust the Asha’man by Lews Therin, you ultimately end up not trusting his judgment because his mad ramblings are continuous and he wishes for the death of many – even those who have either proven or sworn themselves to Rand.  I am not surprised by the fact that Darkfriends have infiltrated the Black Tower, they seem to be quite capable enemies and are able to assimilate quite well.  I am left hoping that this betrayal won’t further harden Rand to the point where he is no longer able to see people as people, the majority of people are only a means to an end in his eyes – and that is a sad way to live.

Another chapter in the story of Aviendha, Elayne, Lan, and Nynaeve came to a close in this book when they used the Bowl of the Winds ter’angreal outside of Ebou Dar to fix the weather (this is likely what led to the change in the behavior of the One Power around the area) and traveled from there to Camelyn with a large number of women who can channel (the Kinswomen found in Ebou Dar) and Sea Folk Windfinders all looking to be taught and possibly become Aes Sedai.  The next great challenge awaiting Elayne will be taking the throne which is rightfully hers, the Lion Throne of Andor.  Another point of interest is going to be her relationship with Rand.  At the end of the novel, we witness Rand waffling about whether or not he should Travel to the palace to see Elayne and tell her how he feels about her (something Min thought he should do).  I have previously stated that I am looking forward to witnessing how this relationship is going to develop and work between Rand, Aviendha, Elayne, and Min because it feels as if it is such a rare dynamic.  I love how the relationship between Aviendha and Elayne has developed over the course of their time together though they both are still very true to their own cultures – Aviendha as Aiel and Elayne as a Lady of Andor, yet they are forming a sister-like bond which is beautiful and an excellent foundation for whatever the future holds for them.  Nynaeve has been acting the part of a silly newlywed, I understand the sentiment, but I am hoping that she will snap out of it and return to the sensible no-nonsense character that I miss.  Now that they have arrived in Camelyn, I am curious what this is going to mean for the group as a whole – I mean, we know that Elayne is going to look to regain her throne and Birgitte will do what is needed to best serve Elayne but what does the future hold for Aviendha, Nynaeve, Lan, and those who traveled with them?

One thing I don’t like that this novel did was how Egwene’s story feels a bit glossed over.  During her march towards Tar’Valon her group comes upon a group of nobles who aren’t so keen about having such a large army march through their lands.  After a meeting with them, Egwene immediately calls a meeting of the Hall where she calls a vote for the immediate declaration of war against Elaida as an usurper of The White Tower and false Amyrlin – the first time a war has been called against a specific person in the history of the Tower.  This is actually incredibly clever on Egwene’s part because having declared war, any war-related decisions put forth to the Hall of Sitters by the Amyrlin must be passed according to Tower law.  At the suggestion of Gareth Bryne, Egwene orders for the Aes Sedai and their army to spend one month resting in preparation for the upcoming attack on Tar Valon.  Her final scene is the opening of a large Travel gateway wherein they begin their march to war.  What bothers me so much about this is I am somewhat curious as to what exactly Egwene has done to prepare for this war especially when you consider that she has no experience or knowledge of warfare in addition to knowing that there are not just those who openly oppose her, but as the reader knowing that one of the Forsaken is in her camp and very close to her.  There are so many possible outcomes as to what can happen to Egwene and her Aes Sedai, I can only hope that they are ultimately able to secure the White Tower and restore order.

When it comes to the story line of Perrin and Faile, I really like them as a couple though they are kind of quirky.  I very much dislike that Faile is very stuck in her Saldean ways and can’t accept that there are other ways of doing things and she expects for Saldean ways to be followed even by those who don’t know the customs or expectations – like Perrin.  A lot of the dissent that happens between Perrin and Faile can be attributed specifically to this issue!  Ultimately though, Perrin and Faile do love each other very deeply and I can only imagine what Perrin’s reaction is going to be when he finds out that Faile has been taken by the Shaido.  On top of that, having found out that Masema, self-proclaimed prophet of The Dragon Reborn, has been supposedly meeting with the Seanchan is very odd.  I honestly wasn’t expecting that of Masema and I am unsure what exactly he has to gain by meeting with them.  I am curious as to what is going to happen not only with Masema, but also Faile and the others who were captured with her (which includes Morgase, former Queen of Andor and mother to Elayne).

TL;DR REVIEW:  4.25 out of 5 stars.  Again, story line is the continuing saving grace of this series for me because if it wasn’t for it I think that I would be scoring this book much lower.  I keep refocusing myself, reminding myself that there is a much larger picture in play than the going-ons of a single novel.  So even though I seem to have continued difficulty with the pacing of some of the novels, I am still enjoying the series as a whole.  I liked the story that this novel told, I felt that it followed A Crown of Swords well and felt that it did a good job setting up Winter’s Heart which is ultimately what is important in a series of this magnitude.

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