by Robert Jordan
I’m thinking back to the days when I could completely truthfully write this line:
Now, it did take me two weeks to read, which is a long time, especially when you remember that the series is fourteen books long.
Cue uproarious laughter, followed by a single tear, shed for my youth.
Things are different now, and Wheel of Time books take me pretty much a semester to read, and then another two months to even start reviewing on my blog. I know I’m nearing the final stretch in this series, but everything is such a slog these days.
As for the book itself, I recall enjoying it, though it’s always hard to say what exactly happened in each episode. The pattern seems to be that the books usually begin and end on a big event, with the stuff in the middle being a lot of plot and not a lot of action. Such seemed to be the case for The Path of Daggers. The weather plot line is somewhat resolved by the girls’ new Bowl, which they use to bring an end to the unnatural summer and unleash the long-awaited winter. From there, several plots unfold simultaneously; Rand and the Seanchan march towards each other, finally coming to blows; Elaida, finding herself powerless in the White Tower, starts scheming her way out; Perrin moves against the Prophet at Rand’s request; and Egwene continues, inexplicably, to be a character.
Ugh, Egwene. Here’s the thing: I don’t mind complex plots and machinations. I don’t. When done well, this can be unbelievably exciting and satisfying; go watch any non-Interstellar Christopher Nolan movie. Done right, these types of plots can keep the audience engaged, tense, and invested in the story.
Which is why it’s so infuriating when good writers create really crappy manipulations and make them a centerpiece of the plot. It’s like every House of Cards episode. We have a supposed Machiavellian genius whose schemes, for the most part, all come down to,”I will solve this problem by doing the least logical thing possible, most likely while talking to the camera and doing a crappy southern accent. Oh look, my plan worked! This show definitely isn’t overrated.”
Jordan does this with Egwene as the Amyrlin Seat. She’s put in that position by Aes Sedai who plan on being able to manipulate her, given her age and inexperience. She turns the tables on them by, what, knowing a pretty important rule that everyone should have known? Being competent enough to know the limits of her authority? Seriously, it’s like beginning a game of Monopoly, starting to amass property, and having your opponent turn pale as they realize your ploy. “You can buy houses? That’s in the rules? You are indeed a worthy opponent. I can’t believe I ever thought I could beat you.” Seriously, it’s that dumb. Nobody can defend this.
Other than that, though, which makes me mad just thinking about it, book eight was pretty good. I hope to start Winter’s Heart soon, so expect a review in 2027.