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The Path of Daggers: The Wheel of Time    by Robert Jordan order for
Path of Daggers
by Robert Jordan
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan, 2008 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Path of Daggers is the eighth book in Robert Jordan's long-running - and hugely popular - Wheel of Time series. Having first read it some years ago, I recently had the opportunity to listen to the unabridged (19 CDs) audiobook, expertly narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer.

Although Mat Cauthon (injured in A Crown of Swords) is only mentioned with concern by his friends this time, the other leads' stories all evolve in The Path of Daggers. The first part focuses mainly on Elayne Trakand, Aviendha, Nynaeve al'Meara and the women of power they have gathered around them (including Aes Sedai, Sea Folk and the Kin). They flee Ebou Dar - which falls to the Seanchan behind them - pursued by a Gholam. The audiobook really comes to life in scenes filled with magic or action, such as the dramatic invocation of the Bowl of the Winds to bring rain, or the trio of Elayne, Aviendha and Birgitte fighting off an attack by Seanchen sul'dam and damane as a gateway explodes behind them.

Elayne continuies to Caemlyn, to make her claim to the Lion Throne. Yellow-eyed Perrin, fiery Faile and a small army journey in Ghealdan, seeking Masema Dagar. Queen Morgase joins their party in disguise and is accepted as Faile's servant. Perrin, still coming to terms with his rise to the nobility, is shocked by Queen Aliandra's swearing fealty to him as Rand's representative. The conniving Sevanna continues to lead the Shaido Aiel and they eventually strike against Perrin's party. Rand struggles with the One Power, hears Lews Therin's voice, goes into battle against the Seanchen, and draws Callandor with devastating results. And Egwene leads the rebel Aes Sedai against Tar Valon.

Individual characters seem even more real with their words spoken aloud. Though the complexity of Jordan's fantasy - that regularly switches between a myriad of sub-plots, with a vast cast of characters - is a challenge to the audiobook format, it really helps to have separate male and female narrators, especially these very talented ones who can speak such a range of parts - and ages - so distinctively. Listening to the story is a whole new way to experience the Wheel of Time, one that I highly recommend to Robert Jordan fans.

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