Wednesday, May 18, 2016

TBR Challenge Review: Sword-Dancer

Jennifer Roberson
Tiger and Del/Book 1
DAW Books/September 1986



He was Tiger, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior's skill. Now he was an almost legendary sword-dancer, ready to take on any challenge--if the price was right...or the woman pretty enough.

She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Now, her ritual training completed, and steeped in the special magic of her own runesword, she had come south in search of the young brother stolen five years before. 

But even Del could not master all the dangers of the deadly Punja alone. And meeting Del, Tiger could not turn back from the most intriguing challenge he'd ever faced--the challenge of a magical, mysterious sword-dancer of the North.

Well would you look at that - I made the challenge! A challenge within a challenge! I wasn't sure if I would make this month's TBR challenge since I've done terribly in the past couple of years. But with Ames' 30 Day Challenge spurring me on, I decided to go for it!

This month's TBR Challenge suggested category was to read something different, out of our comfort zone or an unusual setting. Fantasy genre isn't out of my comfort zone but it is a genre I haven't been reading a lot of. I picked up Jennifer Roberson's Sword-Dancer because the blurb sounded like a magical adventure and I was right! I came by the book by an inheritance from my daughter when she moved out nearly two years ago. She enjoyed the series and since she has good taste in books, I had a feeling I would too. 

A tiger, a blond and a sword walk into a bar...

The story begins in a little cantina where Tiger is keeping himself busy between jobs. He has two of the local woman, one on each knee and a glass of the local booze. Tiger forgets all about his lady friends when Del walks in. It's obvious she doesn't belong this far south. She's too fair skinned, with hair too light. Del is like a breath of fresh, cool air in the parch desert climate of the south. And Tiger wants to breath deep of that fresh air.

Del's first impression of Tiger doesn't show Tiger at his best. He's condescending towards Del. Not believing a Northern woman can hold her own against the harsh Southron landscape let alone use the sword she carries. Tiger can and is at times a chauvinistic ass. When they later meet up, it's not a great reunion. Tiger does redeem himself somewhat when he agrees to take Del into the Punja to search for her kidnapped brother.

The developing relationship between Tiger and Del is fraught with the battling temperments of two people who are from different worlds. The one thing that does bind them is their need to rely on each other for survival. The Punja is brutal as are those who call it home. It isn't long before Tiger and Del are tested with the worst the Punja has. The tense situations, vivid landscape descriptions and beautifully broken characters all make for an exciting story.

The story is told from Tiger's point of view and I'm not sure if it made the story stronger or weaker. I would have liked to see certain events from Del's perspective but at the same time, having only Tiger's perspective streamlined the story.  They are in his land, the place he is familiar with so in the end, this was more his story than their story.

Sword-Dancer has a combination of an old western, fantasy world, and fight or die reality rolled up in enchanting words conjuring a place for a reader to fall in to and not want to leave. I'm not only thrilled I read Sword-Dancer, I'm excited to know there are six more books in the series.

Rating: A-

Tiger and Del Series ~



  1. Yay you for making the TBR challenge!!

    Okay, I would never have picked up this book based on the cover or the blurb. Is it me, or the blurb sounds a bit odd? Like the rhythm of the words...

    Hope you enjoy all the series!!

  2. Ohh, this sounds like my cupt of tea. :) I'm going to place it on my "wish list" for later. It sounds really good!

    And, I'm so glad you made the TBR Challenge too! :)