The Path of Daggers is the eighth volume in Robert Jordans fantasy epic, the Wheel of Time series. Following the events in A Crown of Swords, Elayne, Nyneave, Aviendha and a coalition of women who can channel the one power finally manage to use the "Bowl of the Winds" to reverse the un-natural heatwave and restore the weather, after which they very narrowly escape an invasion by the Seanchan.
Perrin Goldeneyes and his wife Fail begin a mission to stop the Prophet of the Dragon Masema from causing any more damage, and bring him in person to the Dragon Reborn, Rand. Rand's battle with the taint of the male half of the source is causing him to go slowly insane and starts getting ill fighting off the taint.
In order to defeat the Seanchan, Rand uses the sword that is not a sword, Callandor which proves to be one of his biggest mistakes yet. Unable to control both the power and the river of taint, Rand goes temporarily insane and both armies suffer horrific casualties, a reminder of what happened to the last Dragon Lews Therin. Upon returning to Cairhien, he is attacked by rebellious Asha'man, hell bent on killing him.
The Path of Daggers is a bit of a mixed bag, on the one hand there is a sense that not that much is happening, and by the end of the book events don't really seem that much further along. The pace of the novel fluctuates quite a lot, with some areas really seeming to drag. On the other hand there are real gems like a massive 100 page battle that do go towards making up for the bad bits.
If this were a stand alone novel, I would say it was pretty good, Jordan is an incredibly talented writer and even the slower paced parts of the book are more than bearable. I think the main issue though is that after the slightly weak previous novel (A Crown of Swords) you are sort of hoping for a bit more energy and plot developments in this novel. After all this though, there is a strong sense of chess pieces being moved into position, and battle lines being drawn, and from this point on the novels do pick up the pace so it's really worth persevering.
It's still Robert Jordan, and it's still wheel of time, just not quite at the best.
Written on 1st March 2010 by Ant.
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