Thoughts on the Path of Daggers

This was written shortly after reading The Path Of Daggers. Obviously.

It’s here. It’s arrived. Finally. The long-awaited eighth book of the Wheel of Time. So what do all of Robert Jordan’s readers think of it?

Well - disappointment seems to be a major reaction. Too short. Not enough action. No mention of Mat. Characters acting unrealistically. But there are a number of positive responses, too. More information about characters and events. Wonderful scenes between Egwene and the Hall. More important points of view.

As for me, I share in both opinions. I was expecting this to be the ‘Seanchan book’ and while the Seanchan certainly made an appearance, they haven’t invaded any of the landbound countries, the Return proper seems not to have reached Randland yet, there’s been no conflict between Seanchan and Aes Sedai, and the Daughter of the Nine Moons remains a mystery. And Mat remained stuck under a wall in Ebou Dar for the entire book!

My other major complaint is the number of plotlines that begin and don’t go anywhere for the rest of the book. For example, in the prologue the four Borderland rulers meet and swear an oath to do - something. What? This is certainly a major event, but nothing more is mentioned about it. Katerine Alruddin escapes from the Aiel camp, leaving behind four dead Aiel and no clue as to how she managed to escape, shielded and guarded, or how a rescuer managed to get through to her without raising an alarm. This fact is not referred to anywhere after the prologue. Cliffhangers are one thing, and the book is indeed full of them, but cliffhangers even before the first chapter are something else altogether. And extremely irritating.

And the jacket text was, to put it mildly, idiotic. Nynaeve, Elayne and Aviendha have headed for Caemlyn and, indeed, reached it. Will someone please introduce to me the ‘worse enemy than the Seanchan’ they discovered? While Faile is currently a prisoner, her life does not appear to be endangered, and Perrin has to find out about it before he can ‘destroy his soul to save her.’ Egwene does not understand the price that others - and she herself - will pay. Nor do I. Nor, so far as I can see, does anyone else. What was the point of putting that in?

On the other hand, the ‘Law of War’ scene between Egwene and the Hall is, and will remain, one of my favourites. Seeing the puffed-up egos of Romanda and Lelaine abruptly deflated more than made up for the rest. The large number of Seanchan points of view was also interesting. As was the scheme Seaine and Pevara came up with for hunting down the Black Ajah. Even if this was left as a cliffhanger.

We meet up with a new character, Cyndane - ‘Last Chance’ - whose identity is rapidly becoming the most-discussed and most-repeated subject after ‘Who killed Asmodean?’ I agree with the majority on this one. Cyndane - at least her soul - is Lanfear. And about time she was back. Aran’gar is still meddling in Salidar, Moridin up to no good in Ebou Dar, and Osan’gar has still failed to identify himself. Dashiva is one guess. I’m reserving judgement.

Then again, to counter these ‘new’ Forsaken, we’ve also discovered two more Forsaken-strength channelers, presumably on the side of the Light. Talaan, a young apprentice Windfinder, and Sharina, a new novice of grandmotherly age. A curious point, too. Why do all the very powerful channelers seem to be women who have either recently started channeling, or who have been doing so for centuries? Nicola, Elayne, Egwene, Aviendha, Metarra, Talaan, Nynaeve, Sharina. And Romanda, Lelaine, Cadsuane. Coincidence or something more?

Interesting things happening at the Black Tower. Most of them annoyingly left as cliffhangers. But Logain, if it was his idea, certainly came up with an entertaining way of keeping their captives under control. On the other hand again, it looks like it’s going to go both ways, since Beldeine, according to Min, is destined to bond an Asha’man as a Warder. I think the two Towers won’t stay separate for very much longer.

My favourite Path of Daggers one-liners:

I would not mind having you in my head, Lews Therin said, sounding almost sane, if you were not so clearly mad.

“Under the Light, I will speak no word that is not true. I am not a Darkfriend.”

I killed the world, and you can, too, if you try hard.

“Down, Liandrin!”

My favourite characters, introduced in this book, would have to be Toveine and Chulein. My favourite scenes, besides the ones featuring these two, the ‘Law of War’, the Oath Rod scene with the Sitters, and the scene from Graendal’s point of view. And the most exasperating cliffhanger: What happened to Mat? And when in the Light is the Daughter of the Nine Moons going to put in an appearance?

I don’t regret buying the book. But if I have to wait two years for the next one, I may go insane from waiting.

Raina's Hold / Raina's Library / Raina's Library - Essays