Robert Jordan's mind-bogglingly long "Wheel of Time" series does a little running in place with its eighth volume, The Path of Daggers. While reading Jordan is always enjoyable, even his most devoted readers might find room for disappointment in this installment. Even less actually happens in this novel than in the others, and followers of the "Wheel of Time" already know that it can turn slowly, indeed.
Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, continues his struggle with the tainted Source that is at the heart of his power. He is also fighting for his sanity against the madness of the long-dead Lews Therin, a man who lives now only in Rand's mind. His human enemies grow in number as fast as do his followers. The leaders of four nations have secretly vowed to destroy him, and half of the Aes Sedai's divided Tower stand against him. He can trust only a few in his stand against the Dark One, and not count himself among them. Men have been prohibited from tapping the One Power for a reason, and he discovers why painfully, with the death of some of his own men at his hands.
Egwene struggles to unite her ragged band of Aes Sedai behind her and against the Aes Sedai who hold the Tar Valon and oppose Rand. Elayne journeys to make her claim for the throne that is legitimately hers, fleeing Seanchan and worse along the way. As if flying dragons, tainted Power and chained Aes Sedai used as weapons aren't enough, every single main character has to fight an endlessly fruitless battle to understand and mollify the opposite sex. There's more enough gender-misunderstanding in "The Wheel of Time" to go around.
The Path of Daggers ends not far from where it began. It's hard to know at the end of page 591 that you've actually gotten somewhere farther around the Wheel of Time. Still, this installment of the series is a good setup for the next one -- let's just hope a little more happens in Number Nine. And, oh yeah, Mr. Jordan: can we see a little more of Mat next time around? He's missed here.