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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
For volume eight of his enduring Wheel of Time saga, Robert Jordan brings us The Path of Daggers, a distinguished new addition in what is certainly one of the most involving, complicated, and adored series in the annals of high fantasy fiction. Jordan is highly proficient at weaving an elaborate plot full of convoluted affairs and escapades, with underpinnings of conspiracies and political or magical machinations. Also involved, as always, are the Aes Sedai, women capable of using the One Power, which spins the Wheel of Time and propels the universe.
For those new to the series, a bit of background: Originally sealed away at the creation of the world, the Dark One has once again begun to touch the lives of humanity. The Aes Sedai, divided into seven houses of color, rule Tar Valon from their White Tower and live in fear of men who can channel the Power. These men, who are doomed to madness, are hunted down by the Aes Sedai and "gentled," which cuts them off from the Power so that they soon die. But prophecies of the Dragon Reborn — the one male capable of channeling the Power in order to face the Dark One — have begun to be fulfilled. At once hated and feared, and yet needed in the battle between good and evil, the Dragon Reborn is an outcast among mankind.
This tremendous tale follows the same five people who — in the series' first installment, THE EYE OF THE WORLD — left their village as teenagers to find their purpose in life and take their positions in the epic struggles. Throughout these grand adventures, allthemany characters and threads of history have become even more intertwined. When the leaders of four nations join together in a secret blood oath to hunt down and destroy Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, they know the consequences of their actions — whether they succeed or fail — will be severe. Friction is built on even the most trivial of circumstances. Elayne, Nynaeve, and Aviendha journey to retake Elayne's legitimate throne, but soon find other enemies even worse than the elite Seanchan force with whom they're still at war. A band of rogue Aes Sedai, led by Egwene al'Vere, who needs to reacquire her captured power, must somehow get to the White Tower past an army of vicious foes. Rand al'Thor, the reluctant bearer of the Dragon Reborn heritage, swears to destroy the Seanchan once and for all. But when a plague of insanity begins to threaten his people, he must confront numerous evils perpetuated against him, as his fate once again takes a decidedly influential twist.
Vast intricacies and developments, which only a series of novels this large could ever fully produce, continue to solidify with each new volume. Numerous vivid protagonists and secondary characters are illustrated with a precision of detail as they move through a wonderfully complex world. Trials and changes in fortune aren't always easily solved, as the author shows the spectrum of events playing out — events that affect not only our heroes, but also nations. Characters and situations intervene in an absorbing manner, and Jordan is remarkably capable at dropping subtle hints and foreshadowing things, which adds yet another layer of suspense to the many stories being told.
The series puts into focus just how chaotic a fully explored world can be, filled with awful predicaments, wars, suspicions, and fears in a realm where everything is suspect and nothing can be taken for granted. There are always highly stoked passions and rages about to blaze between men and women, cities are in constant conflict, and the characters' fears that the Dragon Reborn and the One Power have gone awry are deeply felt by the reader. Robert Jordan creates an intoxicating milieu constructed by the sheer grandeur of the Wheel of Time series, and fan appreciation will continue to be stirred to a near-scream of delighted expectation as readers traverse The Path of Daggers.
— Tom Piccirilli, barnesandnoble.com
— Tom Piccirilli,is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including Hot Blood: Fear the Fever.