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A Path of Daggers
Robert Jordan
Tor Books, 608 pages

A Path of Daggers
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan is the pseudonym of American writer James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who has also written as Regan O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly, and Chang Lung. A lifelong resident of Charleston, SC, Robert Jordan was born in 1948. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam (from 1968-70), earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze star. Following that, he entered the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, where he received a degree in physics and went on to be employed by the Navy as a nuclear engineer. While hospitalized with an injury, he thought he could probably write as well as the authors he had been reading during his recovery. He has been writing ever since.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A Crown of Swords
SF Site Review: The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time
The Complete Wheel of Time Index
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Book Summaries
Wheel of Time Fan Art

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A review by James Seidman

A Path of Daggers is the eighth book in Robert Jordan's epic series, The Wheel of Time. In the book, Jordan succeeds in carrying forward his stunning world building in this detailed story of a struggle between good and evil. The story continues with its myriad threads and subplots, carrying the reader inexorably toward an unpredictable conclusion.

Yet, after reading A Path of Daggers, I found myself wishing that Jordan had succeeded in his original goal of completing the story in eight books, rather than the current estimate of twelve. While the novel certainly advances the plot of the series, it fails to really introduce many new themes to keep the story fresh.

For example, in previous books, one of the most enjoyable aspects was watching the characters deal with entering new phases of their lives. Reading about Rand's first encounters with court politics, or Egwene adapting to life as a Wise One apprentice, kept the story engaging. In A Path of Daggers, however, Perrin continues to struggle with being a lord. Egwene continues to try to consolidate her power as Amyrlin. Rand continues to harden himself while avoiding insanity. Elayne continues her trek home to Caemlyn.

Nor are there any introductions of major new plot elements as was found in previous books. There are no new enemies on the scale of the Seanchan, no new cultures like the Sea Folk, no ter'angreal that can change the balance of power. This lack was disappointing when such introductions usually keep the story fresh.

I don't want to leave the impression that A Path of Daggers is a bad book or boring. It's a piece of excellent writing that is part of an excellent series. However, this particular piece of The Wheel of Time, taken by itself, seems to drag on. It seems like Jordan could have focused on progressing certain plot lines faster to give more of a sense of progress. Fortunately, several things happen at the very end of the book that suggest that the ninth book will again be refreshing and different.

I would suggest that readers with enough patience wait for the ninth book to come out, then read it back-to-back with A Path of Daggers. This will probably hide any of the book's shortcomings and lead to a more pleasurable reading experience.

Copyright © 1998 James Seidman

James Seidman is a busy technology manager at a Fortune 100 company, who needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and twenty-seven fish in Naperville, Illinois.

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