Spoilers for books 1-7 and The Path of Daggers to ch.31| More info and previous posts |Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 8, The Path of Daggers. This post covers chapter 28-31.
Elayne and co. are still making their way to Caemlyn through the snows. Adeleas recognises one of the Kin women as a runaway novice, and wants to take her back to the Tower to be punished and put in white again. And then another woman surrenders willingly, saying she was a novice once too but ran away three hundred years ago. My goodness.
But the rest of the women are not so easily cowed. They don’t want to let Adeleas take one of them. Things get heated and tense for a while, especially because the Kin outnumber the Aes Sedai by a huge margin, but Alise manages to defuse the situation.
More tramping through the snow, and they’re almost to Caemlyn when disaster strikes. Adeleas and Ispan have been murdered in the night. They’ve been poisoned and then killed, Ispan with torture it seems. They conclude that Adeleas would not have accepted a drink from a stranger, so one of them is a Darkfriend and killed the two. But there is one other possibility – Compulsion. I think whoever it was came to kill Ispan, probably to ensure she doesn’t reveal anything, and Adeleas was just in the wrong place at the right time. Or maybe her death had something to do with the altercation earlier. If the Darkfriend was one of the Kin, she might well have killed Adeleas out of some sort of desire for revenge. But it’s a very remote possibility. Poor Vandene, it must be such a blow. The two sisters were so close, and for so long too.
So this was the “explosion”? I was imagining something more literal. Anyway, the party reaches Caemlyn without further incidents. Elayne goes to the palace, and meets Dyelin. Dyelin seems to support Elayne’s claim, but there are a bunch of other claimants as well. I just find it rather weird that people are claiming the throne despite Elayne clearly being the heir. I think it’s partly because she’s been missing for so long. She ideally should have claimed the throne right after Rahvin was offed. But she was busy with plot stuff so can’t blame her that much. I just hope this matter of succession is resolved speedily without another big political subplot.
A Darkfriend, Daved Hanlon, enters Caemlyn, and goes to Shiaine, who’s apparently moved from Ebou Dar, and seems to have become Carridin’s superior thanks to Moridin. She has Carridin killed in front of Daved. Falion is bound there too, though she’s spared. They seem to be planning something against Elayne. Why her? Moridin must know that the Bowl has already been used. Just out of spite? Or to regain control of Andor?
A Cup of Sleep
Rand is in a bad mood. It seems Elayne has torn down his banners and generally distanced herself from him. I think he’s unduly worried – it’s probably just posturing so she can show the Andorans that she’s her own woman and not Rand’s puppet. Min’s busy trying to reason with him, but love knows no reason. Sorilea walks in with the captive Aes Sedai. The Aes Sedai claim to be repenting what they did to Rand, and want to serve him however they can. Rand asks them why they want to serve him, and each woman gives a somewhat reasonable answer. But I’m not at all sure this isn’t an attempt to just improve their conditions and maybe make the Wise Ones less angry at them. Rand is probably thinking the same thing, but then Min has a vision that they will all serve him, Sorilea included. That settles it. The women swear to Rand like the other Aes Sedai did. Rand’s developing quite the collection of Aes Sedai.
Rand leaves to go meet Cadsuane, and Min with him. And then kaboom! There’s a huge explosion in Rand’s apartments. Holy shit that was close. If he’d been in there, Rand was toast, especially with this dizziness when reaching for the Power. Which one of the Forsaken is this? And why would they attack Rand anyway – hadn’t the Dark One said he wants Rand to live for now? Unless he’s changed his mind…
Rand has one of the Asha’man protect Min, and himself stalks about looking for the attacker. A few tense paragraphs with Rand just roaming the palace, seeking his enemies amidst the chaotic aftermath of the explosion, and he overhears Dashiva talking with a couple other Asha’man. They seem to think he’s dead, but then Dashiva spots him and they attack. Rand manages to block it, and counter attacks himself, but it seems they’ve given him the slip for now. He searches more, finds a couple of Asha’man who aren’t trying to kill him, and searches some more, but all in vain. I knew something like this was coming. Taim has been behaving so suspiciously for so long now. The whole Black Tower thing might have been necessary, but I wish Rand hadn’t focused so hard on making them weapons. Because a blade can kills it’s maker as easily as someone else. Weapons don’t have loyalties or ethics.
He returns to Min, where the man he left with her seems to have cracked and gone mad. He poisons him – “a little something in the wine”. Taim comes to Rand, and I’m honestly surprised Rand doesn’t kill him on the spot. Taim reports deserters – just a bit late to be useful, saying they were unhappy with what happened in Ebou Dar. Screw that, I know this man is up to something, just kill him Rand! But he just tells Taim to return to the Tower, and not come back again.
Rand seems to be planning to run:
Sometimes, the hounds catch the wolf and wish they hadn’t. Sometimes, he turns on them, or waits in ambush. But first, the wolf has to run.
Impressive dialogue, but honestly I think he’s better off staying here where he has a bunch of Aiel and Maidens and Aes Sedai who he can kinda trust. I don’t see what http://wp.me/p5suVo-8ahe hopes to accomplish by running away with Min. Find and kill the deserters? How does he intend to find them, and kill them when outnumbered and unable to seize saidin without going dizzy?
Perrin is making his way to Abila, to meet up with the Prophet. The place is pretty creepy. I remember Nynaeve going to meet him a few books ago, and the man is clearly nuts. I hope things don’t get violent. The people are very obviously not friendly, but on mentioning that he’s got a message from Rand, they let him pass and go meet the Prophet.
Turns out the zealot Perrin encountered but let go at the start of the book has come to Masema and made him hostile towards Perrin. Still, when Perrin tells Masema that Rand’s summoned him, he agrees to come, though he refuses to journey by gateway.
“I can have you in Cairhien today,” Perrin said. “Once the Lord Dragon has spoken to you, you can return the same way and be back here in a few days.” If Rand let him return.
Masema actually recoiled. Baring his teeth, he glared at the Aes Sedai. “Some contrivance of the Power? I will not be touched with the Power! It is blasphemy for mortals to touch it!”
Perrin came close to gaping. “The Dragon Reborn channels, man!”
“The blessed Lord Dragon is not as other men, Aybara!” Masema snarled. “He is the Light made flesh! I will obey his summons, but I will not be touched by the filth these women do!”
Typical religious hypocrisy. Now we’ll have to endure another long journey. I though we were done with that after everyone learned Traveling.
Meanwhile, Faile is out hawking with her ladies. Three women of Cha Faile come to her, bearing news that Masema has been meeting with the Seanchan. Berelain thinks that it’s because Masema hates Aes Sedai, and Seanchan will make them damane. Still, it just feels very unlikely to me.
Suddenly, they’re ambushed by a band of Shaido. I think it’s people from Sevanna’s party. They try to run, but are caught by the Aiel. I’m a bit worried for Faile’s life, until I realise that the Aiel don’t know who they are and it’s not a deliberate attack, they just got unlucky. So Faile lives for now, but made gai’shain by the Shaido. Berelain escapes at least. Man, will these Shaido ever stop being a pain in the ass for our protagonists? I’m already dreading the moment when Perrin finds out about Faile’s kidnapping.
Egwene’s one month seems to have completed, and she finally makes a gateway to Tar Valon for the army. The siege of Tar Valon has finally begun. I’m looking forwards to it. I don’t think we’ve had a proper siege in the series yet.
A tiny final chapter, describing a bunch of conflicting and mostly inaccurate rumors spreading across the land.
And that’s it the end of book eight. You know how sometimes in WoT th book moves a bit slowly but the epic climax pays off for it? Yeah, this is not one of those. I’m not saying The Path of Daggers was bad, but it was certainly the weakest entry in the series so far. Some people might appreciate the way RJ has written Rand’s gradual decline, but I just can’t get over how sad it makes me feel. I don’t like being sad. Poor Rand. I’m kinda beginning to feel that there’s no happy ending in store for him. Though there’s six more books to go, so things may change for the better.
Winter’s Heart, here I come.