Book Review: THE PATH OF DAGGERS by Robert Jordan

Title in black on white on grey wheel of time symbol
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 1 stars
Series: Yes - book 8

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE EYE OF THE WORLD, THE GREAT HUNT, THE DRAGON REBORN, THE SHADOW RISING, THE FIRES OF HEAVEN, LORD OF CHAOS, and A CROWN OF SWORDS*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE PATH OF DAGGERS: title in blue on yellow

Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has conquered the city of Illian, struck down Sammael the Forsaken and shattered the armies of the invading Seanchan. Nynaeve, Aviendha and Elayne have broken the Dark One’s hold on the world’s weather and are poised to retake the throne of Andor. And Egwene al’Vere, leader of the exiled Aes Sedai, marches her army towards the White Tower.

But Rand and the Asha’man that follow him are slowly being corrupted by the madness that comes to the male wielders of the One Power. If they cannot remove the Dark One’s taint from the True Source then none will survive to fight the Last Battle against the Shadow.

And as Rand struggles to maintain his sanity the Seanchan launch their counter-strike.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

Excluding the prequel, NEW SPRING, THE PATH OF DAGGERS is the shortest book in the series. On the one hand, this was a nice surprise after trudging through the nearly 1000 page entries recently. On the other hand, the shortness just highlighted the combination of nothing really happening but there being too much to pay attention to.

It’s not as much of an oxymoron as it appears. This is a book, more than the others so far, where there’s a lot of nothingness happening because there are simply too many spurious narrators who add nothing to the book. There are over 20 narrators in this book, probably closer to 30 (I lost track around page 400), and most of them don’t have more than a scene.

Of the dozen main characters in the series, this book is mostly an Elayne, Rand, and Egwene. There’s no Matt at all, and I’d forgotten Perrin was in it until the penultimate chapter. However, these characters (the ones we know and care about) are interspersed with dozen of other characters. At this point, the series’ cast is so big I’ve completely lost all ability to tell the 30-odd Aes Sedai apart, the numerous inconsequential nobles flapping around Rand (added to every time he conquers a place), not to mention all the Aiel, Windfarers, and men-who-channel (and there’s probably a few groups I’m missing!)

It is pretty much a book that can be summed up as “meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, here are some characters scheming that have no impact on the current plot and just talk about other people.” It means the most of the book feels like vignettes that aren’t moving the story along any place, even more so than previous books.

The other issue is the apparent lack of stakes and tension, due to overpowered characters. Rand (and now Elayne and others) can open portals to any place any time and move a lot of people without apparent effort. Which means that the moving of troops about feels surplus a lot of the time – and there’s no feeling of danger about being trapped somewhere.

Then there’s the fact that Rand has, multiple times, taken on the Forsaken (aka the big baddy’s minions and the main threats at the moment as the ultimate Dark Lord baddy is still asleep) and won within 10 pages. That means that it feels absurd that there are any difficulties facing him. Frankly, it feels like he should be able to wave his hand and everything gets set to rights (yet there are 6 books to go?!)

With this excess of power, there’s no feeling of any danger at all. No reason to buy in and root for him because nothing feels like it can threaten him.


Read my reviews of other books by Robert Jordan:

The Wheel of Time (this series):

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