The Path of Daggers begins with Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha and their collection of Aes Sedai, Kin, and Windfinders using the Bowl of the Winds to correct the weather. Shortly after the Bowl is used, a Seanchan attack descends upon the Kin’s farm and they are forced to flee to Andor via gateway to escape. Not wanting to risk giving the Seanchan damane the secret of Traveling, Elayne attempts to unravel the weave of her gateway, rather than releasing it, which leaves behind a residue that some women who can channel can read. The Seanchan interrupt Elayne, while she is attempting the difficult and dangerous task and she is forced to flee, along with Birgette and Aviendha, who had remained behind with her, while the others proceeded on. All three women are exhausted and injured and one of the Seanchan damane manages to shield Elayne, which causes Elayne’s unstable gateway to collapse, killing all of the Seanchan, seriously injuring the three women and devastating the area for miles around. Nynaeve rushes back and heals them all of their injuries, but the destruction leads the Seanchan to believe the Aes Sedai have discovered a new, powerful weapon. However, Aviendha reveals to Elayne that what will happen when a weave unravels in that manner is too unpredictable and dangerous to use as a weapon. They rejoin the others and proceed on towards Camelyn, with the intent of Elyane asserting her claim on the Lion Throne.
Elayne’s journey to Camelyn is complicated by heavy snowfall, conflicts between the Kin, Aes Sedai and Windfinders and an attack by an unknown party that results in the death of the Aes Sedai Adeleas and their Black Ajah prisoner, which they conclude must have been at the hands of one of their own party. However, Elayne eventually reaches Camelyn and claims her throne, tearing down Rand’s banners in the process, which upsets him greatly.
Meanwhile, Perrin, Faile and their company of Aes Sedai, Wise Ones, Asha’man and soliders move into Ghealdan, where they intend to confront “The Prophet,” and force him to submit to Rand. Along the way, they encounter Elayne’s mother, posing as a country woman and take her and her companions into their service. Perrin meets with Masema and convinces him to ride to Cairhien to meet with Rand, but during the meeting, a band of Shaido, led by Sevanna, capture Faile, Elayne’s mother, Bain and Chiad and the queen of Ghealdan and make them gai’shain. Faile had learned that Masema had been secretly meeting with the Seanchan and before she was captured, she commanded anyone who managed to escape the Seanchan to warn Perrin about Masema. Berelain was the only one of her companions that appeared to not have been captured or killed by the Shaido.
Egwene, with the help of Siuan, manipulated the rebel Aes Sedai into giving her near complete control, by using a little known law concerning Aes Sedai at war to seize control away from the Hall. Egwene used this power to force the rebels to travel to Tar Valon and prepare to lay siege to Tar Valon.
Back in Cairhien, Rand learned of a Seanchan army approaching his location and determined to use a small force of Asha’man and soliders to drive the Seanchan back into the west. An overconfident Rand succeeded in pushing the Seanchan back, though he suffered more losses than he expected along the way, due the tactical moves of the Seanchan commanders and Rand not realizing the Seanchan were tracking his movements by using scouts on their flying animals, however his ability to move about by Traveling, fooled the Seanchan into thinking he had a much larger force than he actually did.
Against the advice of Bashere and the Asha’man who warned of a “strangeness” that made Saidin difficult to control around Ebou Dar, Rand insisted on attempting to take Ebou Dar from the Seanchan. The Seanchan vastly outnumbered Rand’s forces and had thousands of damane at their disposal, but the difficulty in controlling saidar, due to the residues left behind by the use of the Bowl of the Winds, caused the Seanchan to suffer many losses at the hands of their own Damane. Rand’s Asha’man also caused damage to their own troops, resulting in the battle grinding to a stalemate. However, rather than accept defeat, Rand insisted on pressing forward by using Callandor to attack the Seanchan. Unknown to Rand, Callandor had a flaw, that amplified the affects of the taint on saidin, unless it was used by linking with a woman and allowing the woman to control the flows. Rand’s reckless use of Callandor led to the deaths of many of his own men, including some of the Asha’man, though it also resulted in the defeat of the Seanchan who retreated back to Ebou Dar.
While in the palace in Cairhien, Rand faced an attack on his life by several rogue Asha’man, led by Dashiva. Rand survived the attack, but the Asha’man also escaped and Rand was forced to flee Cairhien in order to attempt to turn the tables on his attackers.