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The Path of Daggers was originally published in October 1998 and was released two and a half years after the previous volume (which had ended on a cliffhanger), the longest gap between books in the series at that time. As a result, expectations for this book were high. When the book finally arrived, people were taken aback by its slimness (at least compared to other books in the series) and its failure to address that cliffhanger from the prior volume. Reviews of the book were negative and even today some fans continue to cite this as the weakest book in the series (although the majority agree that that honour goes to the tenth book). For a series that had almost been immune to criticism up to this point, this book marked a serious turning point for the worse.

The book opens in the aftermath of events in A Crown of Swords. Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has been proclaimed King of Illian after killing the Forsaken Sammael. His satisfaction is short-lived, however. The Seanchan have returned in great force and in a blitzkrieg campaign lasting several weeks have swept through the south-west of the continent, conquering the kingdom of Tarabon and capturing the cities of Amador and Ebou Dar (the capitals of Amadicia and Altara, respectively) in rapid succession. Already fearing they might march on Illian next, Rand concocts a plan to bottle them up in Ebou Dar, but is unaware that there are those in his own ranks who are preparing to move against him.

Meanwhile, in Ghealdan Perrin makes contact with Queen Alliandre as part of his mission to track down and neutralise the increasingly insane and dangerous 'Prophet of the Dragon', Masema. At the same time, the leaders of the Borderlands have led a vast host southwards for an unknown reason. Nynaeve, Elayne and their loose and fractious alliance of Sea Folk Windfinders, Aes Sedai and Kin have recovered the Bowl of Winds from Ebou Dar and now have to use it to restore normal weather to the world, unaware of the consequences of their actions. And in the White Tower Elaida walks a fine line as she is blackmailed by Alviarin into doing things that will shatter the sisterhood, whilst her secret agents continue their hunt for the Black Ajah.

A plot summary of Path of Daggers sounds exciting, and the news that the book features a significant military showdown between Rand and the Seanchan should be impressive. However, The Path of Daggers is beset by numerous problems that prevent it from being fully enjoyable. First off, the level of filler in this book is much worse than any previous volume. There are several chapters where characters are riding along arguing with one another, or discussing the plot, or making it clear how much they hate one another. These points are slammed home again and again by Robert Jordan for no clear purpose. The battles between Rand and the Seanchan are intriguing and the messy ending to the engagement is an important moment in the series, but it comes far too late in the book. Perrin's story proceeds at an absolute crawl and he barely has any screen-time in the book, whilst Mat has none. Jordan's point that Mat is recovering from his wounds and thus isn't doing anything interesting in the story at this moment is well-taken, but at the same time the ambiguity of Mat's fate in the prior volume was part of what made the book's ending powerful and interesting. It being completely ignored for four and a half years until Book 9 was annoying. However, re-reading the series now this isn't so much of a problem.

Up until The Path of Daggers, the structural and writing problems with the series could to some extent be ignored because the story was still compelling and the reader was encouraged to read on no matter what. However, at this point and through the next two books these problems start to actually interfere with the readability of the books. The pace slows to a crawl and events that would have been covered in a few chapters in previous books now span entire novels. For some reason Jordan ignored the basic writing maxim that as you build up to a series finale you have to increase the pace and intensity of events, and as a result the series becomes somewhat more difficult to read in-depth from this point on.

The Path of Daggers (**½) doesn't suffer from quite so many problems as it did on first release, but it still represents a significant failure in both writing and editing that makes it a shadow of the book it could have been. The book is available in the UK from Orbit and in the USA from Tor.
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on 17 May 2000
This book was a big disappointment. Having being introduced into the series by a friend in Febuary 2000, I proceeded to read and purchase all of the WoT books in chronological order. I finished "A Crown of Swords" and went to the bookshop a week later to buy Book 8. After plodding my way through the uninspired plot I came up with several questions. Where's Mat? Why all the political business with Egwene...? Why o why the'folding of arms below breasts'? I thoroughly enjoyed the previous books but this was slow and almost put me off the WoT. Thankfully Book 9 should be out in a little while and Robert Jordan will have taken note of the negative reviews and described the action more graphically and reverted to his original skill and flair.
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on 26 November 2012
So we have now come to a point in the Wheel of Time series where there are so many characters, so many plot lines, so many things going on that Jordan feels he has to spend literally half the book reintroducing us to everything. Aside from using the Bowl of the winds (finally!) at the beginning, nothing happens for the first half. Rand himself doesn't appear until around 48% of the way through. Then we actually get a large scale battle and it's quite good, but can't match the excitement of Dumai's Well's.

Basically, the whole book is a mess. Like the last couple, there is no clear direction, but unlike any of the others, this feels like it's missing a few pages. We seem to completely skip Rand's first encounter with the Seanchan and move on to the next. We get virtually no insight into how Rand feels about being an actual king which I would have thought would be a major thing considering how Jordan tells us every tiny thing happening inside the characters' heads. Some of the plot is told retrospectively in the thoughts of characters which is a HUGE authorial mistake and goes against the general rule of 'show, don't tell'.

Having said this, however, the good bits are good. Egwene begins to assert her authority over the Hall, Perrin and Faile begin to get along better, Rand uses Callandor for the first time since Shadow Rising, to remarkable and devastating effect. But most of these things could easily have been used in either the Crown of Swords or Winter's Heart. The only reason I can think of for this book to exist would be just to have the cliff hangers and open endings Path of Daggers has. Even though they are good hooks to get you to buy the next book, doesn't mean an entire book should be written as an excuse to write them; the endings would be difficult to fit into Crown of Swords, but would work as a beginning to Winter's Heart. Rand defeating Sammael and becoming King of Illian in Crown of Swords feels like a natural ending, but Jordan could have easily have Rand go against the Seanchan in that book. The two-battle ending worked in Fires of Heaven and could do so here as well. The usage of the Bowl of the Winds could have worked in Crown of Swords too. The rest of Path of Daggers could have acted as the beginning to Winter's Heart.

So, all in all, this, along with Crossroads of Twilight, is one of two books I've read that doesn't need to exist at all. Read only as a means to progress the story and speed read most of it to get it done faster.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2012
Over the past few years I've read the complete series (well, the 13 volumes so far published) and a few months ago, to refresh my memory before volume 14 is published early next year - decided to re-read the entire saga. I'd got up to volume seven at around the time I acquired a Kindle and, somewhat naturally, decided to read the rest of the books on the Kindle. Thus this purchase.

Yes, it's an excellent fantasy although, because of the overall length of the entire story, it remains easy to get lost within the various twists and turns - to say nothing of the enormous number of characters - of the story.

Which means that, if you pick up this book without having read the several thousand preceding pages, you're likely to end up getting seriously confused.

But, in my opinion, the occasionally convoluted story line became easier to follow when, with volume 12 and after the unfortunate death of Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson took the helm. He writes with the same fluency and follows the story line brilliantly but manages to structure the books so they flow better.

How he's going to bring the saga to an end is, however, an intriguing thought...
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on 20 September 2014
dont know why i bothered , like going to the dentist without the benefit of anesthetic and without the promise of any respite,
i truly just couldnt take it any more, i think it was the 4000th time one of the women "folded her arms under her breasts" that did it .... and just the sheer bloody ennui..
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on 2 May 2014
The book continues to detail the adventures, misfortunes and doubts of the three main characters.
As usual there are twists and turns, but that is what is to be expected in a compendium of this magnitude.
Gripping in every detail!
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on 19 June 1999
Robert Jordan has yet again created a masterpiece of intrigue and magic! The 'Path of Daggers' takes us another step along in the ever growing web which is 'The Wheel of Time' series. The book (in true Jordan style) drags out each sub plot to its longest possible conclusion, whilst the much-mentioned final battle inches ever closer, with frustrating lethargy. The Path of Daggers does still, however, retain the old Jordan magic, although one hopes that the series will move away from its current 'x-files' style of unfulfilled expectation, and eventually get to the point somewhere down the line. Until this occurs, however, the series still, (remarkably), maintains its interest factor, and whilst being as frustratingly unfulfilled as the other books in the series. The 'Path of Daggers' provides us with a fascinating (and addictive) mix of political machination, mystic battle, and social interaction, creating a truly enjoyable read!
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on 31 August 2006
What has happened to this series?! The first 6 books were great, setting higher standards for the genre. So without a doubt this has to be the biggest disappointment EVER of the series. It takes 5 chapters to get to a farm and get up a hill!!! Whenever an action scene materialises (which is rare), its always about weaving the flows of the one power or something thats completely irrelevant about someones clothing or how that asha'man was looking at me funny. And what is the constant obsession with Perrin and Faile's feelings towards each other? The progress in this book is non-existent. Instead of actually interesting stuff we're given dull feelings, details about clothing and the mind numbingly boring shaido! WE GET IT ALREADY, THEY HAVE NO HONOUR! Only buy this book if you want to complete this series.
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on 9 November 1999
Robert Jordan set out to create one of the greatest fantasy Epics of all time, and up till now has been amazingly successful. However, everyone is complaining that this book is too short, or that it took to long to come out etc. This is simply not true. Since he started Robert Jordan has been giving more than should be expected of any writer. But many people have been spoilt and now expect this all the time. Give the guy a rest. And those people complaining about the plot, calm down. It may be a bit fuzzy for most of the book, but the plot was so complex at the end of the last one that he needed to slow down a bit and start trying to tie up loose ends. Dont worry. It will pick up again.
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on 8 October 1999
First off let me say that any TRUE Jordan fan will love this book. Yes Path of Daggers did take a long time to come out and yes it was short compared to the other books. But as with all WoT books you must read it more than once to truly appreciate it. Once you have done this the book as is good as any of the others.
The reason people may say say the series is to long is because they have to wait so long between books. In ten years time when people start reading it for the first time, the "Wheel of Time" will not seem to long to them.
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