In this entry, I officially finish The Path of Daggers, and quite a bit happens, actually, from betrayals to kidnappings to murders.
Chapter 25: An Unwelcome Return
Elaida meets with various Sitters, discussing the Seanchan, the rebels, and Rand. Some disregard the stories about a’dam. Elaida is searching for Darlin, Caraline, and Toram Riatin, who are in hiding. She has been forced to chastise and even expel Sitters far too much recently. Alviarin, having vanished inexplicably for two weeks, reappears just as the Sitters start to leave.
Elaida desperately hopes that Seaine implicates Alviarin soon. She also hopes that Toveine successfully seizes the Black Tower. Alviarin forces Elaida to sign a decree declaring Rand the Dragon Reborn, ordering all intending to approach him to go through the White Tower. Rand receives the ‘protection’ of the Tower. Alviarin leaves, but Silviana is sent in not long after to punish Elaida.
Alviarin kneels before the disguised Mesaana. She has Alviarin investigate why most of the Ajahs’ heads have been collaborating. Mesaana believes that Galina is dead. Alviarin notes that Mesaana wears a dress of bronze silk.
This wasn’t the most eventful chapter in the world, but I still enjoy these White Tower interludes. While rebel Aes Sedai politics and manipulations confuse and often irritate me, I definitely like the politics in the White Tower. Elaida’s storyline has been very interesting so far, as has her little war with Alviarin.
I’m not exactly sympathizing with Elaida, although the bit about Seaine was a little sad. She’s essentially relying on somebody who has completely misconstrued her vague instructions. On the other hand, considering Alviarin is the head of the Black Ajah, Seaine’s little purge might end up incriminating Alviarin regardless, and that’ll be awesome indeed.
I wonder what Alviarin’s plan is. She’s obviously following orders from Mesaana, but we know she’s displaying some independence as well, considering she’s not your normal Black sister. Elaida making a mess of everything is hardly a surprise, but Alviarin is much too smart to fall to Elaida’s own pitfalls.
I don’t have too much to say on this chapter, as I really have no idea where this subplot is going, and I’m excited to find out. Most importantly, who is Mesaana? I’m going to start paying attention to dress color now…
Chapter 26: The Extra Bit
Seaine searches for Zerah Dacan in the White Tower. The Ajahs continue to distance themselves from one another. She finds Zerah, and brings her to the deepest depths of the Tower, to Pevara, who has the Oath Road. Seaine and Pevara reswear the oaths, and force Zerah to reswear hers as well, and swear to obey them. Zerah admits that she is a spy from Salidar, spreading rumors about the Reds setting up Logain. Zerah reveals the names of the other spies.
Four Sitters (Saerin, Talene, Yukiri, and Doesine) enter the room, having followed them with suspicion. Saerin, seeing the Oath Rod, deduces what the two were doing. Saerin reswears her own oaths on the Rod, and pledges that she is not a Darkfriend. The others follow, except for Talene, who refuses, immediately arousing suspicion.
Toveine Gazal, alongside four other Red sisters and fifty soldiers, proceed through Andor. Nine other parties are converging on the Black Tower with hers. Toveine loathes Elaida because she escaped punishment for taking part in illicit Red activity that Toveine was cruelly punished for. They are suddenly surrounded by Asha’man. Toveine attempts to escape, but is bonded and captured by Logain. It is mentioned that Taim doesn’t approve of this bonding, but Logain thinks Taim would see him dead.
Well, this was one of the better chapters in the book, that’s for sure. It’s awesome that we switch perspective to the two Aes Sedai Elaida was thinking about from the last chapter, and find out things aren’t exactly going as planned.
That’s not entirely accurate, as the whole Black Ajah purge seems to be going pretty well for Seaine and Pevara. But they’re definitely not succeeding where Elaida’s concerned. I totally forgot about the spies Salidar sent to spread the word about Logain. Nice to follow up on them, but it sucks the whole mission has now essentially failed.
It’s a bit of a predicament, because Seaine and Pevara are likeable characters, who I definitely want to win over the Black Ajah. Yet, here we’re reminded they’re most definitely loyal to the White Tower and opposing the rebel sisters and their moles in the Tower. This stresses that the whole conflict isn’t exactly black and white. Obviously, Egwene would be a preferable Amyrlin over Elaida, and the majority of the Red sisters supporting the Tower are hardly good guys, but the majority of the Tower seems to consist of loyalists not wishing to see their establishment divided and are just unwittingly supporting a usurper. So I’m hoping this final siege, when it finally happens, doesn’t claim the lives of too many innocent Aes Sedai, because we really do need a unified Tower.
The three newcomers into Seaine and Pevara’s little purge aren’t exactly the most pleasant of characters, but I suppose it’s a plus that they now have collaborators. And the ending with Talene essentially getting exposed as Black herself was pretty chilling.
The Toveine section of this chapter was even more interesting, because I’ve been eager to check up on the mission against the Black Tower ever since the beginning of ACoS. I expected the assault to end in disaster, but it’s surprising how easily the Asha’man disbanded this invasion. We’ve seen little of Toveine so far, but my first impressions are rather sympathetic, even though she was sent to dismantle the Black Tower. Any enemy of Elaida’s is a friend of mine!
Better yet, Logain is back! FINALLY. I was fearful we wouldn’t have seen him for books since his disappearance. Well, it’s been about a book and a half, but whatever. Logain was always an interesting and likeable character, and he’s even cooler now that he’s an Asha’man, and one who’s not fond of Taim at that. Again, there’s a bit of a dilemma, as Toveine has essentially been captured and bonded to Logain, and I’m rooting for both of them (well, not in terms of Toveine taking down the Black Tower, of course).
Chapter 27: The Bargain
Min is reading Herid Fel’s book in the Sun Palace, hoping to learn why he was murdered. She has been harassed constantly over Rand by Sorilea. Rand walks in, and Min berates him for not sending enough letters. Rand admits to killing Adley. Dobraine enters to report that Toram Riatin vanished, and that Hanlon and Fain have abandoned him. Caraline and Darlin are ‘guests’ of Cadsuane’s at Arilyn’s palace. Min recounts viewing that the two will marry, with Darlin becoming king and then dying in bed.
Merana and Rafela enter, revealing a finalized Bargain with the Sea Folk. Harine agrees to provide ships so long as Rand changes none of their laws, grants them land in all ports, retains a Sea Folk ambassador (Harine herself), and answers all summons from the Mistress of the Ships. Rand is aggravated by these terms, but Merana suddenly retorts, and Rand rescinds on his criticism. Rand has Min send some Maidens for Cadsuane. They retire in the bedroom, but the Maidens suddenly enter and beat Rand for dishonoring them. Rand reluctantly agrees that they earned the right. Rand is told that Cadsuane is too busy to attend him.
Rand decides to visit Cadsuane himself. Lews Therin flees once more upon sight of Cadsuane. Rand asks her to become his advisor, but she refuses, and eventually agrees under the conditions that he listen, and remain honest and polite. She promises not to force him into anything, and always keep his interests at heart. Rand is irritated, but Cadsuane warns him of a fatal flaw in Callandor. The sa’angreal lacks a necessary buffer and magnifies the saidin taint so that it can only be used by a man alongside two women. Rand hopes to use Callandor again, and realizes he has only one chance.
I was right, the pace of this book has definitely increased in this last third. There’s still gratuitous description here and there, but this was another interesting chapter. Nice to check back in on Min, she’s always entertaining.
So the whole Maiden drama is only getting more annoying, though. Their constant dissent and prideful attitude was irritating in LoC, and here they just waltz in and literally beat up the Car’a’carn, and he’s totally okay with it! That’s really sort of disproportionate for leaving them behind in order to kill Sammael, isn’t it?
And speaking of annoying servants of the Dragon, my favorite people in all of Randland, the Sea Folk, are back. I must ask yet again, why keep dealing with these people? I suppose it was necessary for the Supergirls, what with the Bowl of the Winds, but does Rand really need them? They seem to offer literally nothing of value to the table, and make ludicrous and haughty demands in return, all in order to receive the protection of their prophesized savior. Rand’s going to save the world from utter annihilation, perhaps show a little gratitude instead of haggling? But Merana’s right, she really can’t be blamed for the deal.
And then there’s Cadsuane! I don’t know why I enjoyed this chapter, because it’s really full of extended misery for Rand from his supposed servitors. First the Maidens, then the Sea Folk, and now this deal with Cadsuane. I still do not comprehend Cadsuane’s approach, but I am interested in her agenda, while I would love for the Sea Folk to just vanish from Randland, so I can tolerate her for a few more books. Still, I feel Rand’s going to regret making her his advisor. But I suppose she did serve one purpose here: revealing the flaw in Callandor. That…really sucks. This super sword he spent a book obtaining is completely unusable until saidin is cleansed. I love how nonchalant Rand is about cleaning this millennia-old taint, though. Well, I suppose determined is a better word.
Chapter 28: Crimsonthorn
Adeleas confronts Elayne, dragging Garenia, having recognized her as a novice runaway. She is forced to become a novice again, and Kirstian admits to being a runaway as well. Some of the Kinswomen resent this treatment, but Reanne and Alise crush all dissent.
Lan summons Elayne, having found Adeleas and Ispan dead. They were drugged with crimsonthorn, Adeleas’ throat slit and Ispan impaled by a stake through the chest. Vandene appears, and deducts that the killer was a Darkfriend and someone Adeleas trusted. She breaks down as Elayne leaves.
They later arrive in Caemlyn, and Elayne announces her claim to the throne. She leaves her companions with Reene Harfor, and proceeds to the Grand Hall. Dyelin Taravin meets her, promising to stand with House Trakand. She imprisoned Naean and Elenia as rebels, but notes they still have supporters. Dyelin believes Elayne’s biggest opponents are Aemlyn, Arathelle, and Pelivar. Elayne mentions that she intends to bond and marry Rand, and reveals her plans about Andor. She is not sure whether she can trust Dyelin.
Daved Hanlon enters Caemlyn and enters a merchant’s house as he was ordered to. He finds Lady Shiaine in the basement, and defers to her. He notices Jaichim Carridin and Falion bound to a table. Daved is unfamiliar with them, or with Moridin, whom Shiaine follows, having received his own orders from Moghedien. Shiaine has Carridin drowned in brandy and threatens to do the same with Falion. However, Moridin set Falion’s shield to dissolve so that she could obey, and also gave her another Aes Sedai. Daved is promised to get his hands on a queen.
An Elayne chapter that was good? MADNESS! So, yeah, this was definitely an eventful chapter. It started out a little confusing, though, with more irritating Kin-Aes Sedai conflict. It baffled me how totally surprised Adeleas was by Garenia being a runaway. If Aes Sedai have been cognizant of the Kin for millennia, wouldn’t they know they consisted of runaways as much as wilders? The whole conflict there felt odd.
But then Adeleas dies! Damn, that was unexpected. Her and Ispan. So we’ll never know if Ispan knew anything important. But instead here’s another mystery to contend with. Someone in the group is a Darkfriend. I can’t recall any evidence pointing to a particular person. Sure, Elayne is surrounded by very irritating people, but nobody I could imagine a Darkfriend. And why kill Adeleas and Ispan? And in the way they did? Interesting indeed.
And in the same chapter as all this, Elayne actually reaches Caemlyn! Only two and a half books late! Awesome. And now I’ll prepare for this subplot to extend a few books too. But at least Rand won’t have to contend with Caemlyn and them nobles anymore. I can’t say I understand Dyelin’s agenda, but it’s safe to say she has an ulterior motive for following Elayne. Good thing Elayne’s three biggest political opponents are chilling in Murandy. And didn’t Egwene think Pelivar was on Elayne’s side? Politics…
To finish off the chapter, Jaichim Carridin dies! It sometimes feels villains have as hard a time dying in Randland as heroes, so when characters, even smaller supporting ones like Adeleas and Carridin, die, it makes a bigger impact. I didn’t expect Carridin to die, anyway. He seemed like an important player, and as if there was more to his arc following his little scheming in Ebou Dar. But I suppose Hanlon and Shiaine are the new Darkfriends causing trouble for the Supergirls. Hanlon seemed interesting enough in ACoS, so I’m curious to see how he fares. And now both of them are working directly for Moridin, which definitely makes them more of a threat than as Moghedien goons.
Chapter 29: A Cup of Sleep
Rand has been sulking in the throne room since Taim returned from Caemlyn with news, claiming that Elayne removed his banners. He is certain that Mat is alive. Sorilea enters with five Aes Sedai prisoners, who promise to serve him. Min views them, noting that they will indeed all serve Rand, in their own way. Rand allows them to pledge fealty, and then decides to see Cadsuane with Min. They leave the room with Fedwin Morr. An explosion suddenly demolishes Rand’s apartments and the Maidens standing guard before them. Rand has Morr bring Min to the servant’s quarters.
Rand, having detected saidin, believes the attack was perpetuated by Demandred or a returning Asmodean. He sights a shimmering face. Rand makes himself invisible and searches for the attackers. Cadusane passes with six unfamiliar Aes Sedai. Ailil and the Sea Folk Shalon sight him, and he is forced to bind them and stow them under a bed. Rand sees Gedwyn, Rochaid, and Dashiva from a balcony. Dashiva attacks furiously. Rand pursues, and searches the palace for hours, but cannot find them.
Rand is in the cellar with Min and Morr, the latter having gone mad, his mind deterioriating to that of a child. Taim arrives to report that Torval, Gedwyn, Rochaid, and Kisman deserted. Rand puts Morr out of his misery, and has Taim add Dashiva to the list.
So this was the big finale for TPoD, yes? Well, I won’t pretend it was one of the best climaxes in the series, but it really wasn’t too bad. Not big on the action department, but there was something poignant and heart-wrenching in the ‘conclusion’ (as, for once, Rand doesn’t get the last chapter of the book). It was something I expected, from a mixture of minor spoilers, foreshadowing, and general distrust of this particular band of Asha’man. I was surprised Taim didn’t betray Rand. After meeting him in LoC, I never expected him to stay loyal this long.
I’ve enjoyed Dashiva as a villain quite a bit, though. He’s just so completely insane, it’s entertaining. And damn, he came close to finishing Rand here. This power struggle between Rand and his subjects is definitely more interesting here than in the case of the Maidens and the Sea Folk. In the Asha’man, Rand has harnessed and fostered incredible power at a dangerous rate in people destined to eventually become madmen. It’s little wonder things aren’t exactly stable in the Black Tower. This rebellion, especially after recent events, was bound to happen, although I’m hardly justifying it.
As usual, the scene is well-written. Jordan can definitely capture the intensity and chaos of a situation like this. So even if the battle itself didn’t last very long, this chapter still had some riveting sections. I can see how after Dumai’s Wells and other such finales in the series this could be disappointing, but I’m treating this book more like an interlude into WH anyway. And that final scene…
I was at first confused with what was happening to Morr, but when I realized what was occurring, it led into one of the sadder scenes in WoT. Poor Morr, completely losing his mind. Poor Min, being in the presence of a complete madman with the capacity to destroy the entire Palace. Poor, Rand, having to put down one of his loyal soldiers after being betrayed by his untrustworthy ones. This is definitely not a happy ending, something that’s consistent with this book, but I’ll talk on that later.
Chapter 30: Beginnings
Perrin enters Abila with a small party. Elyas and Aram have been conflicting recently. Perrin approaches the house where Masema resides. They enter to find Hari, the man who attacked the goatpen, conversing with Masema. Perrin announces that he was sent by Rand to stop the killing and retrieve Masema. However, the Prophet refuses to travel through any Gateway not constructed by Rand, but agrees to ride with Perrin.
Faile and Alliandre hawk in the nearby woodland, accompanied by Maighdin, who has been sleeping with Tallanvor. It is announced that the Prophet negotiated with a Seanchan woman recently. Before Faile can deliver this news, Shaido attack from nowhere, having been sent to capture more gai’shain. Faile, Alliandre, Maighdin, Bain, Chiad, and others are captured, with only Berelain escaping to bring word to Perrin.
Egwene rides before the new recruits, the number of novices having doubled to near a thousand in the past month, amongst them a grandmother named Sharina with a potential possibly exceeding Nynaeve’s. Bryne’s army is prepared. Romanda and Lelaine have been arguing with each other instead of subverting Egwene recently. Thirteen sisters open a gateway to Dragonmount, and the army marches through.
So this is the official ending, and it had its own fair share of action too. I would’ve been very excited to see where this new subplot is going if the fanbase hadn’t convinced me it proceeded absolutely nowhere for several books. Apparently, the ensuing arc is where most develop their Perrin hate or exasperation. Never being a fan in the first place, I’m concerned, but this twist ending was exciting enough, so for now, I’ll just be tentatively enthusiastic until the tedium starts propagating.
I can assume Faile, Alliandre, and Maighdin aren’t going to be having a fun time for the next few books. Because Shaido aren’t exactly kind to their prisoners. Damn, they made me feel sorry for Galina (a little), and now they’ve kidnapped the good guys! Sure, I don’t exactly like Faile, but the torture she’s obviously gonna be subject to by Sevanna isn’t going to be pleasant. And Morgase has suffered enough, for god’s sake. I’m curious if Sevanna has an actual plan in the works here, though, other than just capturing gai’shain. I’m hoping this supposedly nightmare plotline is justified somewhat, in the grand scheme of things.
As if all this wasn’t terrible enough already, Perrin’s encounter with Masema didn’t exactly go as planned. Masema, what a delightful character. The idea of Rand’s own supporters committing some of the greatest atrocities in this war and bringing about zealotry to rival that of the Whitecloaks is very fascinating, so I hope Masema’s story goes somewhere interesting. Apparently, he’s willing to see Rand, but to complicate things, he refuses to bypass the several months’ travel with a simple gateway. I’m amazed Perrin is taking this so calmly, to be honest. Traveling across Randland with Masema Dagar for several months when, if not for inane zealotry, the trip could be shortened to a few seconds? No thanks.
And Egwene’s marching off to Tar Valon. After how concise and brief ACoS was, it’s a little jarring to find an entire month has passed since Egwene’s last chapter. But I’m all for plot acceleration, cause this series needs it! Let the siege begin.
Chapter 31: After
Rumors spread across the world about the Dragon Reborn, the Seanchan, Asha’man, and armies converging at Tar Valon.
With TPoD officially finished with this miniscule little epilogue of sorts, it’s time for my opinion on the novel. TPoD is second to CoT in the amount of hate it seems to accumulate from the fanbase, so I approached this book very tentatively. Perhaps because I kept this in mind, I actually enjoyed the book more than I expected. I’ll agree that TPoD is the weakest novel in the series so far, but not to the extent some seem to claim. The pace of the series, in my opinion, has been slowly but surely declining since TFoH. I didn’t find TPoD a steep nosedive from ACoS’ quality whatsoever. It was certainly more tedious in places (those awful initial Elayne chapters, some of the middle sections of the book) than anything in the series before it, but the claims that nothing happened in this book are unwarranted, in my opinion.
There were new developments in Egwene’s political predicament, Perrin joined forces with Elyas, Morgase, and Alliandre in Ghealdan, the Bowl of the Winds was finally used, Rand embarked on a disastrous campaign against the invading Seanchan, Elayne finally arrived in Caemlyn to claim her throne, there was more intrigue with the Aes Sedai, the Shaido, and the Forsaken, Faile was captured, Masema was confronted, and the Asha’man attempted to assassinate Rand!
Compared to previous novels, this might not have been the most action-packed novel, but stuff did happen, and some of it quite interesting, even if the writing itself was bloated in places. I think part of the reason for TPoD’s general hatedom is the fact that it’s a very depressing book. There are few big moments for the good guys, save in Egwene’s storyline. I understand that for many, Rand’s campaign against the Seanchan, his descent into hardness and paranoia, and the betrayal at the palace were difficult to read. I found these darkest hours fascinating, though, and I find the emotion in Rand’s defeat with both the Seanchan and the Asha’man very poignant. His storyline is still the strongest part of this series, in my opinion, and I can’t wait to see more.
This may be a downer book with a downer ending, but as a fan of ASOIAF, that’s something I’m used to, and often enjoy. I can also understand the complaints on the finale. I think another difference in my opinion is that I entered this book without having to wait and also prepared for the worst, compared to the eager fans having waited 2 years for a book with less action and excitement than expected. But I do think a huge event with plenty of build-up handled disappointingly makes for an inferior climax than a relatively mellow finale. For this reason, I have less of a problem with the Asha’man finale than with the Sammael battle in the previous book. I still prefer ACoS to TPoD, but not to that great of an extent.
Yet another reason I suspect contributed to the general dislike of this book was the absence of Mat. But to be honest, I didn’t even notice he was gone for the most part. Sure, I love Mat and would’ve loved to see more of him after his excellent storyline in ACoS. But I regard WoT books as episodic (another reason they don’t bore me as much as some people. These middle books are merely the slower episodes in the series) and with a cast of characters like these, I understand that sometimes, characters are gonna be absent. And here, it’s only one hero missing, compared to the later novels in ASOIAF, where the entire cast was split in two. But nonetheless, I am very excited to check up on Mat again in WH.
So in conclusion, I didn’t find TPoD to be that bad of a book. It had its problems, but I enjoyed the final third quite a bit, and whereas most people disliked the whole Seanchan portion of the novel, it was probably the highlight of the book for me, as explained earlier. With TPoD seemingly mainly build-up for WH, I’m very excited for the next novel, especially considering what I’ve heard about the climax! That one’s definitely not on anybody’s list of disappointing climaxes!