on October 31, 2005
An amazing transformation came over me while reading this book. No, I did not turn into a lizard or a bird. Never before have I experienced such an enormous swing in my state of mind while reading a book. No classic has moved me so much. No works of Hume, nor Kant, nor even Harry Potter's chambermaid have driven in me such a force of wild-eyed realization as compared with this amazing collection of words. I will do my best to describe the story, without boxing your ears or tugging my braid.
The story starts like all of Jordan's stories do, which is to say that an avalanche of words were used to describe such mundane things as grass and horse eye lashes. Nevertheless, Jordan's indispensable and uncanny knack for stringing words together kept me in the game. I had read the first seven books in the series and knew what I was up against. This was nothing. A hundred, two hundred, or even fifty thousand words to describe yet another immature dialog between a pair of immature people wedged in an altogether immature scenario would never get me down.
But as time wore on, it started to wear on me. Like water over a rock, my meddle started to wan, slowly washing away with the sands of the wheel of time. I began zoning out, unable to focus on the words on the page before me, finding myself having read an entire paragraph with no recollection of having done so. I wondered, am I really taking an SAT test? All my previous training seemed to have left me. My eyes were failing me, my brain quitting. I was aghast. This series of books that had heretofore been as straight in it's narrative as a pentangle was bogging down more than I thought even possible. I was losing interest. The flame was going out.
But I dug deep. I concentrated on the void, the endless void, the taint of Boredom making the void sickly sweet and palpable in my veins. I could taste it, it's sickening blackened bleary broken bleakness trying to take over my mind, my body, my soul. I controlled it. And with that control, Jordan's world of Boredom coursed through my veins like a pat of hot butter on a toasted English muffin on a hot summer day in Florida when the air conditioner is broken.
Shortly I had discovered the long lost Talent of Skimming. What had previously taken hours to read now took minutes! Pages down in seconds, chapters in no time at all. Boredom? Shredded to bits. Single words picked here and there, dialog grasped in an instant when the words "boxed" or "grasped" sprung from the page. I was alive, I was being tainted by Boredom! The lost Talent of Skimming, an astoundingly rare yet miraculously rediscovered Talent much like others I came across while reading this book, made me feel more alive than ever. Not to be outdone, Skimming was joined by Sleeping, Ignoring, Laughing, Putting Down, and Reading Something Else. All amazing powers in their own right, but nothing to hold a candle to Skimming.
In no time, Jordan's 8th book came to a close, and the narrative was no closer to being resolved than if all the characters had jumped into a blender and pressed the puree button, using the One Power of course. I mean, how else would they press the puree button if they were *in* the blender? I dare say that it would be improbable.
In any event, this book was so bad that the time invested in all 8 can't keep me coming back for a 9th. Fool me 8 times, shame on you. Fool me 9, shame on me.
on July 19, 2002
There has been a fair bit of controversy surrounding The Path of Daggers, mostly centering on how many readers (including myself) felt that the book was incomplete and the ending rushed. Indeed, if you look at the typeface (hardcover), it's quite a bit larger than the previous books, indicating that POD has far less words than they do despite a similar number of printed pages. Also, between books 7 and POD, RJ wrote a novella 'New Spring'(which is quite good, and takes place before book 1) for an anthology (Legends)and contributed a great deal to 'The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time' (a enciclopedia-like book on the series up thru book 7, and also quite good, except for the art work; and a questionable move in itself since the series isn't even done yet.) So RJ had a lot on his plate while attempting to complete POD, and my feeling has always been that the felt a lot of pressure to put out a new book, and so he cut short the manuscript to relieve some of that pressure. Not a lot happens in POD; most of the book sets up events to come in the next volume. That doesnt' mean there weren't some interesting developments, but most readers' disappointment with the book can be summed up in 2 words: Where's Mat?
PLOTTING: There are 4 main plot threads. Perrin's thread gets the least amount of play, which is dissappointing, especially with what the jacket blurb hints at. After about 10 or so pages of the Sea Folk women arguing at the Aes Sedai and Vice Versa, I got seriously bored, although the unravelling Traveling thread was quite exciting. There was a lot of build-up for Egwene's 'coup', but the payoff seemed pretty weak. I mean, all she had to do was declare war? Finally, battle scenes tend to confure me after a while, and I think RJ should have glossed over some of that stuff to concentrate on Perrin's problems.
CHARACTERIZATION: At this point, we know the main characters about as well as we're ever going to know them, so we have to look at the minor characters for insights. Verin's POV at the start of the book is revealing in the sence that we realize how little we know about her and her motives, and Cadsuane is still quite the mystery, too. The Illianer/Tairen/Cairhienin nobles aren't very distinguishable - they all run toghether like chalk graffiti in the rain, and I get the sense that RJ doesen't care much about them anyway. Characters I'd like to read more about: Elyas Machera, Logain, Jahar Narishma, Mesaana, and the Daughter of the Nine Moons (who isn't in this book).
PACING: The length of time we spend with Elayne and Nynaeve's bunch is interminable; after the 20th argument about the littlest thing, you just want them to get on with it already! The Egwene thread is also quite slow; there really isn't a lot of action in POD. It's basically a bunch of people standing around talking. RJ juggles the threads with his usual skill, but he can't generate much tension when there isn't anything happening. The ending feels tacked-on, like RJ needed something to close the book with, but it comes out of thin air, has barely any foreshadowing, and is remarkably unsatisfying.
BEST SCENE: This has to be the scene when Elayne unravels her Traveling thread with nearly disastrous results. RJ has never written a more suspenseful passage, even though you know intellectually that they'll be all right.
MOST POV: Well...I don't think there's a clear winner here. Maybe Egwene. Maybe Rand. It'd be close, and I'm not going to count pages or anything. I do know who has the least amount of time...
OVERALL: There are long passages in POD that feel a great deal longer. Without Mat's presence to liven things up, POD isn't a particulary engaging book, and it's RJ weakest effort. Perhaps we are victoms of higher expectations; the previous books were outstanding, and it's asking a lot of an author to match that standard of quality. But RJ weakest effort is sill lots better than what I could write, so I should cut him some slack.
Sorry for my rambling on, and making the review so long. Hope it helps!
on September 29, 2008
I started this series before i could shave:
2 major moves,
and a bit of hair loss later, i'm still reading about Rand, Matt and Perrin (and 312,456 other characters that i've filed away under "i hate that i have to remember you and your blasted, nonsensical name. especially since you'll probably not pop up again in the story untill book 17, and by that time you will share the same syntax, syllable length and letter configuration as 457 other characters of similar importance introduced since. In addition to not remebering who you are and why you suddenly interrupted an Aes Sedai tea party complete with serenity, dignified reserve and calm surface chatter about ice peppers from Saldea, i have to read a 7 page description of your feelings about the said Aes Sedai's choice of tea." And while that appears to be a long mental file to keep characters confined in, you should actually try reading these books and keep every freaking character straight!)
I once watched a PBS special about cab drivers in London. Doctors had discovered that there is a part of our brain that stores the necessary details we need to travel about our little corner of the world. For London cabbies, who have to recall VAST amounts of detail in a city that seems to have been designed by drunken Lugarders, this part of their brain was COSIDERABLY larger than average. So much so that when compared side by side to that of a "normal" brain, i gasped at the difference. Then something occured to me that had me quickly regaining a sense of serenity; i realized that this portion of my brain must now fill up my entire skull due to the amount of detail necessary to keep up with the story. Jordan himself must have two seperate heads just to store all that detail in. Mensa here i come!
Then another thought occured to me that shattered the icy calm of the void: The doctors said that this part of the brain grew because of NECESSARY detail. That leaves me with only one conclusion: If cab drivers in London NEED all the detail that causes their brains to swell, then the inverse must also be true; filling the brain with useless detail must in turn SHRINK it. If after reading THE PATH OF DAGGERS i have even a raisen left in my skull, i'll consider it a victory. TOO MUCH DETAIL that does nothing for the story. It is NOT "rich" storytelling to embelish every single page with line upon line of fashion, food and mood descriptions while relegating important plot advancements to a paragraph or two. That is called fleecing the sheep. And like sheep, we're stupid enough to keep reading to find out, one day, what actually happens at the end.
My advice to anyone who loves fantasy:
If you must read this series, become a cabbie in London to fight off the effects of the brain shrinkage. It's what i've chosen to do.
on November 25, 1999
I'm really tired of reading reviews about this book that are so negative. Granted, it was slow, and really did not push the plot forward. I wish I had waited until it was in paperback to spend money on it. However, no matter how boring it might be, it is extremely well written. R.J. has an incredible talent with words and imagery. Until the critics who complain of his "taking his time writing," and his "writers block," and his choosing to leave a character out, (Mat)have experienced how hard it is to write a book and have it published, I think they should temper their harsh judgements. I may not have thought that this was Jordan's best work, but his writing is flawless and can be read for that reason only. These days, when most books are written at a sixth grade level to match America's reading skills, Robert Jordan's accomplishments are nothing short of amazing. The fact that he has been able to keep the complicated plot and characters straight through 8 novels is a feat that only a handful of authors could manage. So if you've read the rest of the series, this book is worth it--but buy the paperback, and don't expect the racing pace of the previous novels.
on October 29, 2002
why is so much time, even at the tail end, of this series spent on insignificant subplots at the expense of the main characters? when was the last time we had a decent chapter on Rand, Mat, or Perrin? What ever happened to Perrin's Axe/Hammer thing or Mat's scamp nature conflicting with the general's instincts in his hand? Why have the stupid broken White tower plots taken 4 books, why have they been marching for so very long with no other change? Why are have the forsaken become so far removed from the plot that Jordan had to just disjointedly throw them all in durring the last chapters to abruptly reveal to the reader exactly who they have been hiding as? What happened to The White Lions or Gawain? Everything from 6 on has been drivel that ruined the character focused plot developed in the first 6 books. I just hope there is a swift end to these painful sagas, that way my time in the library reading them will be satisfying at least.
on October 15, 2002
I really just shake my head when reading this book. Like so many of the rest of us avid Wheel of Timers who were captivated by Eye of the World and the rest until about book 3, 4, or 5 (depending on who you talk to), I am so frustrated to see the road this series has fallen, tripped, and stumbled down. And although I am distraught over the setbacks that plague the last few books of this series, I am not going to waste my time in this review proclaiming that Robert Jordan is dead, crying about the fact that 'Path of Daggers' contains grammatical errors, or cursing Jordan with the idea that he has sabotaged his own series, a series that he spent over a decade writing, just to make more money. Nor will I sit around and praise this book as a 5-star best-of-the-genre story, which it clearly isn�t. Thinking about it, I have come to realize why this story has gone so far down hill and I will try to clarify why it has.
Remember when things were simpler? Moiraine had a nice, straightforward idea of what she planned to do with the Emond�s Fielders. The characters seemed like interesting, well-drawn out individuals. And the story moved along quickly, with a clear vision and purpose.
Then, the world exploded.
I always admired Jordan for the way he could create a story with so many different plot threads running at the same time. There was obviously a centralized story, but my interest was always peaked by all the subplots and machinations that went on in the background. They were all right under the surface of things, and you would occasionally catch a glimpse of them while concentrating on the �main storyline�. Then, around Book 4, or 5, or 6 (again, depending on who you talk to) it seemed as if an invisible pair of scissors came out of nowhere and cut through every single plot thread and left them to dangle in the wind and be blown in a thousand different directions. And suddenly, our happy, clearly-realized storyline was suddenly kicked like an anthill and went flying. Our main characters suddenly lose their train of thought, acting in such out-of-character ways, and doing things that make the readers continuously ask themselves �why did they do that�. Aes Sedai start popping out of the woodwork at the turn of every corner, where they are faced off by armies of Sea Folk, Ash�aman, and Wise ones; all of whom are the most uninteresting, annoying characters you�ve ever seen, and their names all happen to seem similar in too many ways. Forsaken are running rampant and barefoot across the continent, getting blasted by balefire and then rebirthing themselves into new names, faces, and identities. Kings, Queens, Lords, and Ladies all seem to jump in their seats in wanting to become part of the story and soon plague the series with more unnecessary faces. The Black Ajah are abound, the Seanchan are making noise, the Aiel are playing their �ji�e�toh�, and the Bowl of the Winds subplot comes out of absolutely nowhere. Everything good and true and sturdy in this series has flown out of the window. There is just too much happening in this series and its seems Jordan has totally lost the reins. What this series needs is someone to come back in and fix the shreds of all those plot threads. Some need to be cut, some need to be lengthened, and most just need to be carefully put back together. For until this happens, this story will continue to fly wildly in the breeze.
Nothing hurts more in a series when the POV characters go sour. And the problem is not that Jordan has created horrible, worthless, good-for-nothing POV characters, it is that he has just made too many POV characters in general. I have tried counting the number of people who have stuck their head into this series to contribute their POVs. Over 50! It is in this way of writing that Jordan has caused his characters so much trouble because they spend their time on a roller coaster of POVs in that you lose sight of a character�s true identity. There is no consistency. While Rand is a prominent POV in both of Books 1 and 2, he doesn�t even get a full chapter to himself in the third book of the series. Perrin�s POV are only seen vaguely in the first two books and then in the next two he is heading the stories with 18+ chapters, followed by his total absence in Book 5. Egwene and Mat continue to fluctuate up and down, and for what? Jordan�s insistence in introducing new POV characters constantly seriously takes away from his original, most fully-realized characters. We miss out on the development of these characters while we are stuck with a POV of Cadsuane, or Sammael, or Galina, or Bayle Domon. So when we finally get back to our �main� characters we cannot understand why they act the way they do, why they make the choices they make, and why the are just so different. Rand�s POV is gone throughout book 3 and suddenly, in book 4, he seems like a different person. Or Nynaeve, who was actually a respectable character in my eyes in the early books, is seen so infrequently in her POVs that when you do actually see her through someone else eyes (mainly Elayne) she comes off in a very negative, screeching-and-crazy-lunatic way. Jordan needs to weed out, kill off, or move away from this army of useless characters. They do nothing by cause damage to the development and understanding of the main characters
I wish I could go into detail on how pacing has become seriously affected in this series, but I have run out of room. In conclusion, it is not until Jordan tightens his hold on this story will it ever regain the prominence with which it once had.
on September 6, 2000
I have finally figured it out.
Jordan died after Fires of Heaven. Yep. That has to be it. He died and Tor got Goodkind, Rawn or some other plodding fantasy writer to finish up the series. Only it was such a cash cow that they won't finish it. It will just go on and on and on until there are no more trees left on the planet.
Or maybe a computer is writing it. You know, one programmed to write sentences like "Rand would know what to do, he understands women." or "Egwene smoothed her skirt." or "Elayne hugged Avendha and realized that she loved her like a sister." Or endless descriptions of the weather and where the characters slept and what they ate and Nynaeve's PMS.
But Jordan is dead. Has to be.
Hey -- the best thing about the last couple of books are the reviews on Amazon. They are GREAT. Witty, fun, succinct, clever. Everything the series is not. Worth reading. 5 stars for the reviews.
on May 4, 2002
Well, i've wasted several more nights trying to get through another waste of paper, ink, and glue. I see most people recommend reading the first five books and stopping there. I am going to recommend stopping after three. Unless you are like me and think that there really might be an end to this series... somewhere, sometime.
My biggest complaint with this series is that the main characters (whoever they are) are developed VERY nicely. However, I DON'T need to know EVERY STINKING detail of the military scout that appears for a short period of time. I don't want to know what he is wearing (Jordan likes to describe attire WAY too much) or his mannerisms.
My second biggest complaint is that some of the main characters (whoever they are) don't even get a cameo appearance in entire 700 page volumes of this series.
My third biggest complaint is the character names. Because Jordan has so many characters that he attempts to develop, names start to overlap. I'm having trouble keeping track of just who Adeleas, Aemlyn, Aeron, Aglemar, Ailil, Alarys, Aledrin, Alesune, Alise, Allanna, Alliandre, Amondrid, Amys, Anaiyella, Andaya, Annoura, Aracome, Aram, Arathelle, Arella, and Aviendha are without throwing in some other "A" words for towns, countries, etc. like Amadicia, Andor, Altara, Amador, Aiel, Aes Sedai, Asha'man, Amyrlin, Atha'an Miere, Amayar, Ajah, angreal, a'dam, Abila, Arad Doman, and Arran Head.
All in all, there is a pretty decent tale to be told in this series (up to this point), but you REALLY have to be on your toes and enjoy wading through pages and pages of nothingness in order to enjoy reading these books. Personally, I can't handle any more of it. It's a shame, because I'd really like to know how it ends... if it ever does. Maybe someone will just tell me the ending later.
on April 13, 2000
The Path of Daggers is drab, boring and well below the standardof rest of the series. Let it be said now that I am and have been agreat fan since picking up the first book from a second-hand book shop on an impulse, as I had never heard of Robert Jordan before. Imagine my surprise, the book turned out to be brilliant and I couldnt wait to get the next and the next and so on.
Let's be brutally honest though, there are'nt any concepts in this story which have not been explored before by other authors , quite to the contrary, you can draw a lot of parallels between WOT world and works by many other authors preceding WOT. But Jordan displays a touch of magic in the way he tells his story and you forget about what's been done before and become wholly engrossed, although he is no Tolkien, nowhere near in my opinion. A lot of WOT fans would disagree with me and they have a right to their opinions, snigger snigger....No seriously, loyalty to an author you like and admire is one thing and knowing what you are talking about is another matter.
Besides everything I was and am still hooked on WOT and do not care if the series lasts 50 books. What I do care about is quality though and a lack of it in Path of Daggers. What was the point of this book? Nothing happens in it. The Bowl of Winds was drawn out so much that I lost interest and it was totally anti-climatic. This book goes nowhere and the meat of it could have been written in 30 pages. The rest is rubbish, gibberish, filler and an attempt to artifically prolong the series poorly executed.
You will miss virtually nothing by not reading this book. Why did it take Rand so long to take on the Seancahn army, why did he didder and dodder for all that time. Whats all that nonsense with the Kith and Seafolk disliking each other, being drawn out page after page when there are sub-plots from book two still awaiting resolution. The expansion of trivialities was taken to the limit in this book. The best bits in the book were Nyneve coming to terms with channelling at will and the ending.
The pace of the book does not match the series in any way and has perhaps done irrevocable damage to the way it was running. The humor was missing from this book totally and surly there could have a chapter at least about Mat when most of the chapters were about nothing in particular (How Perrin annoys me! ). The stubborn, independant women thing was funny and refreshing for about three books but makes me cringe now when its repeated endlessly.
I have noticed a steady decline in jordan's story telling since book four. It seems to be getting worse and worse. Sure, there is that transition period after the initial character development but it shouldnt have lasted 4 books. I hope he hasnt run of ideas and also hope that some of the sub-plots and threads are resolved soon. On the bright side Jordan has refrained from repeating himself, every time a character is revisited. We know all too well, how stony faced Lan is, how men who channel are a curse and a disease, how Aes Sedai twist things to suit themselves, how slow of thought perrin is etc.etc. It was really annoying in book 2 to book 6. The series could have been excellent if not great, but we now have to wait and see what book 9 has to say before judging. Any more comparisons with Tolkien? I think not......
I am only critical because I love this series still, even with all its faults, but will not stand for a rip-off like POD again. RJ....The true fans like myself do not care how long you take to write each book or how many books you write, we'll buy them all, please just dont publish any more rubbish like POD... Whether Jordan wrote this to keep the publishers happy or for a bit of extra pocket money, who knows. He certainly didnt do his credibility as a writer any favours and that is what is important to us, his true fans. Some of us will question, criticise and complain, as well as giving credit when it due......
on August 2, 2000
Keep in mind that the all of the negative reviews below were written by people who were open-minded enough to make it through eight books. Attacking them for being shallow or unable to "understand" Jordan makes no sense. Mr. Jordan has some great ideas in this series, and the scope of the series really is unrivaled. But that is as much a function of sheer length, which takes no talent, as it is vision, which does take talent.
Strengths are some great, fairly novel ideas and the ability _occasionally_ to write a truly superlative chapter or scene. Weaknesses are as stated below -- the creation of numerous subplots that are, at best, tangentially related to the main plot, the continued resurrection of supposedly dead characters, and a truly juvenile tone in male/female relationships. This particular installment is the worst offender.
There is another massive "epic" fantasy currently in publication that I think is far superior and aimed a bit more at adults. George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, which begins with A Game of Thrones. Check out the reviews on Amazon.