Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sword-Dancer (Tiger and Del, #1)” as Want to Read:
Sword-Dancer (Tiger and Del, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Tiger and Del #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  7,511 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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 o
Mass Market Paperback, 286 pages
Published September 1986 by DAW Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sword-Dancer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sword-Dancer

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,511 ratings  ·  217 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sword-Dancer (Tiger and Del, #1)
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** 4 ***

Another read with the Fantasy Buddy Read Group. Because we like Sword-Dancers:)

I had no idea what to expect of this 1986 published Fantasy by J. Roberson. A bit skeptical going in, since the writing of the Ronald Reagan years was not of the height of the works I consider among my favorites. However, having no expectations, I was very pleased with this Fantasy Adventure with some romance mixed in.

The story is told from the POV of a 30-something, very macho-horn-dog sell-sword, a master
Mayim de Vries
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
There is one advantage to reading vintage books. They are usually so off stream that there are hardly any reviews and so one can read them open-minded, without any expectations or preconditions. And so I plunged into the story of Tiger and Del not knowing what to expect and not really expecting anything. It has been fun - nothing more and nothing less.

The story is narrated by Tiger aka. Sandtiger, a sword-dancer. That is to say, mercenary for hire with extreme skill and slightly mystic approach
Stopped at chapter 5

If written from Del’s point of view, I would have been done with this book years ago and probably would have finished the series by now. But no, in between Del’s chapters, you get Tiger’s chapters and he is an irritating he-man sort of character who’s also kind of an ass, and I have no patience for that kind of nonsense, not in fiction or irl. Fortunately though, I hear he and the series get better in later books, which is good to hear and the reason I’m still trying to finis
Anne Osterlund
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
He is Tiger. A sexist Southron sword-dancer. Paid to step in the ring and fight whoever he is paid to fight.

She is Del. A woman from the North. Naïve. Ferocious. Determined to save her younger brother even if it means traversing the desert and hiring Tiger as her guide.

He assumes she will fail. She assumes he cannot understand.

And neither of them will survive.

If they continue to underestimate one another.

One of my all time favorite fantasy novels! Sword-Dancer is the first of six books in the Ti
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a 3.5 stars read.
It is a fantasy classic, told in a first person point of view - Tiger - of a fantasy tale about swords (and to some extent magic).
The characters are the best aspect of the book in my opinion and the desert should be considered a character in the story. Just splendid!

I cannot wait to read the following story!
Quintin Zimmermann
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is essentially your traditional pulp fantasy. It is not going to set the literally world alight, but is was a joyous uncomplicated read.

I will definitely continue the series as I am keen to find out what is next in store for Tiger and Del.
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-uns, fantasy
I read Jennifer Roberson's historicals long before I discovered her fantasy books. But after downing her two Robin Hood retellings and one Scottish massacre novel, I discovered she was actually much better known for her earlier Sword-Dancer saga. I loved her historicals for being so character-driven. I loved them for their strong women. And I loved them for their chunkiness. So I went into SWORD-DANCER--the first book of six in the Sword-Dancer saga--with a sense of happy anticipation but with n ...more
I knew going into this that the Sword-Dancer books were light sword-and-sorcery reading. I was prepared for minimal world-building, cursory character building, and purple prose. But what totally threw me at the start of the first book (Sword Dancer) was that Roberson seems to know absolutely nothing about how to survive in the desert. The entire novel is a trek through the desert, and yet the two main characters set off with a little dried meat in their bags and a couple of waterskins on a momen ...more
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Continuing on with my project of re-reading all my Roberson, I started in on the Tiger & Del series. I really loved the series back when I first discovered it, especially since I had read several of the short stories about them in various of the Sword & Sorceress collections. This first novel stands up well upon re-reading. According to the S&S volume where they first appeared, MZB nearly threw Roberson's short story across the room at the beginning, responding to Tiger's apparent stereotypical ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
BR with the Sword-Dancer Group from FBR: Emily, Aristea, Veronica, Shaitarn and Mayim.
Just because we're women doesn't mean we don't know how to dance! :)

This was a light sword and sorcery classic from the 80s and a real entertaining read.

A search for a long lost brother, and a perilous journey through the desert serve to bring together a tough macho from the south called Tiger, deadly with both his blade and looks, and a fierce proud woman from the north Del, just about as deadly as her compani
Wow, I've been meaning to read these for at least five years. Probably longer.

I never read these as a kid, but they made me nostalgic for the kind of books I DID read as a kid. The fantasies and the . . . this might still sound terrible, but it's one of those books that you can see is trying so hard not to be sexist (view spoiler) but is still a product of the 1980's it was written in, so . . . well, is still sexist.

Was hoping t
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson

Always an enjoyable comfort read. Original review below.

Yet another novel that hooked me from Page one. I instantly disliked Tiger's attitude, but his internal monologue had me laughing out loud. I actually made some of my friends sit so I could read them the first couple pages. Being a woman I don't know how well Ms. Roberson captured the essence of a man, but if I guessed I would say brilliantly. Tiger is at once chauvanistic and yet caring. He th
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I must be suffering from a heavy case of nostalgia as this is yet another favorite from my youth reread. I haven't read this one as an adult, so I really didn't remember any of the plot or characters very well—just that I loved it. Unfortunately, those memories are now replaced by knowing that it is pretty much a waste of paper.

I'm not sure if it's an artifact of the 80s or just the desert culture Roberson described, but the unrelenting sexism really grated on me. Both culturally and individuall
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance
Relatively few reviewers hold such sway that their recommendations cause me to drop my current book commitments in lieu of reading their latest reviewed book. Ya’ll Angie has that power. Combine this with a glowing review from See Michelle Read and I am done for – hook, line, and sinker.

The book in question is Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson is currently out of print I think. However, lucky me, I date someone who comes from a literate family. You see, my boyfriend’s grandmother left behind a t
I grabbed this book because everywhere I go, there is book two, three, and four of this series, but never book one. I take that as a personal insult. When I am queen of the world, libraries will be required to have the first book in every series the stock; in fact, twice as many of the first as of the rest.

I'm glancingly familiar with Roberson from her Cheysuli books, but they're not my sort of thing; any series where I have to consult the genealogical graph in the frontmatter is operating at a
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! In a lot of ways it felt like a classic sword and sorcery novel and yet it also turned a lot of those tropes around. I think it was brilliant to have the pov character as Sand Tiger--it was the best way to make his character likable, if the story had been from Del's pov he would have come off as a chauvinistic jerk through more than half of the book. I also loved the character growth of both Tiger and Del throughout the story.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2011, fantasy
Known throughout the Southron for his courage and deadly skill with a sword, the Sandtiger has survived his fair share of dangerous and unusual scrapes as a sword-dancer. But from the minute the strange woman with the pale hair and a sword strapped to her back stepped into the cantina, Tiger knows he's out of his league with Del. Tiger is even more stunned to discover that Del wants hire him to lead her through the Punja desert in search of her brother who was stolen by slavers years before. Kno ...more
Meet Tiger:

Now meet Del:

Together they embark on a journey across the deadly Punja desert to find Jamail - Del's long lost brother.

This is an 80s pulp sword and sorcery novel. It's not a well written book by any means. The plot is furthered by characters making stupid decisions and as a result constantly getting captured, which made me wonder how they managed to survive into adulthood. There's some questionable handling of race. Also, the protagonist is a sexist jerk, and his companion a special
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to V by: Dad
Shelves: read-2009-2013
I've seen this novel criticized for several things - and the critics have good points, sometimes - but this is a very entertaining series. While true that it's not Shakespearean prose, something about the way Roberson tells the story is captivating. I read this first book many times as a child, but re-reading it as an adult hasn't changed my opinion much.

It's a very fast-paced and action-driven novel, but I could argue that it is character-driven as well; the characters are interesting, well tol
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tiger is one of the mightiest sword-dancer's in the south, a renowned warrior, a legendary sword for hire.
Del is a woman from the frozen north, a woman with a magical sword of her own who is seeking her young brother, kidnapped by southern slavers five years previously. Unfamiliar with the southern desert (and it's chauvinistic culture), she hires Tiger as her guide.

This is a lightweight sword-and-sorcery novel from the 80s. It isn't an epic fantasy about saving the world or a grimdark heavy nov
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The first sentence on the first page hooked me instantly. The story is told from the point of view of Sandtiger, a sword-dancer. The first sentence describes his thoughts and feelings as Del, also a sword-dancer, enters the cantina where he’s playing with a barmaid and getting drunk. Immediately I liked him. Yes, he was an arrogant, condescending, womanizing drunk, but he was proud to be male and a skilled warrior to boot. Most of all, he said it the way he saw it, and I knew this was a man wort ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy

Big Sister has to rescue Baby Brother after he’s been kidnapped by the Goblin King.

It’s an oft-repeated plot line. Examples: Labyrinth, The Wee Free Men, Outside Over There, and any version of the Snow Queen.

You can play with the genders and relationship and the nature of what, exactly, happened, to the one in danger, but at its core, it’s a story of someone who will go to the Ends of the Earth, to Hell and Back, for Forever and Day, to rescue the one they love – and that kind of love and dedica
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Some older fantasy books are just great. This is one. There has some very uncomfortable moments in this book but it turns out very satisfying in the end. I'll be reading this series.
Erika Williams
Life's far too short for me to spend time reading a book where I hated the main character from the opening paragraph. I made it to the second chapter, surprised I even made it that far, before I had to give up on this one and the three other books I had already bought in the series. The opening tone of the book is set with the main character musing on how he likes to have sex with women, but not the ugly ones. It made me think of Russel Dunbar from Rules of Engagement and the No Fat Chicks sign ...more
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009, fantasy
I somehow acquired this years ago and it has been taking up space in my apartment. I never got around to reading it because every time I read a mainstream heroic fantasy novel written after 1975 written by someone I don't personally know, I feel like I get burned. Robert Jordan, I'm looking at you.

I meant to sell it, but the science fiction bookstore wasn't buying it. It somehow spilled out of the bag I took to Goodwill and got stuck under the seat of my car. I had just finished Roger Zelazny's
Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe)
3 stars

I have wanted to read this book for years, and now that I have, I was disappointed that it's told from Tiger's POV, not Del's. I wasn't his biggest fan, and I thought that his thought-processes and speech patterns were too modern for the story. Tiger, a Southern, was raised in a misogynist culture where women have few freedoms. Del, a Northern, came from a culture that afforded women more freedom, leaving plenty of opportunity for conflict between Tiger and Del.

At it's core a revenge sto
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this many years ago, and just decided to re-read it. Not only was is still good, it was actually better than a remembered. Sword-Dancer is not a polished book; it's full of flaws and rough spots. But, at its foundation, it's a good story, and it remains an excellent read.

The pace is frenetic, with new obstacles thrown into Tiger and Del's path every page or two. Sometimes this reaches the point of absurdity, as when Tiger is jumped by some thieves for no apparent reason and must waste a w
Paul Williams
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 20th-century
I was very sad to be so disappointed in this book. I'd heard that this was a great work of fantasy with lots of swashbuckling and a strong female character. While those elements are there, the execution wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, and I can see why this series was out of print for so long.

Frankly, the real problem this book has run into is age. Some books endure well, even in genre fiction (Lord of the Rings, Earthsea, Foundations, etc). In contrast, this one has not. We've had so many strong
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I never heard of Jennifer Roberson before this book. All I knew about the series is that's a fantasy saga of 6 books, and since I love fantasy and long series, I decided to give it a try.
And hoolies, what a book. I was really impressed, both by the characters and the writing.
I noticed that authors often have problems writing a point of view from a character of the opposing sex, but Roberson manages it perfectly, since the story is told from the male protagonist, Tiger. I often had to check the
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This whole series is great, and the first book is a strong start. The series takes the perspective of a macho "sword-dancer" who was raised in a culture that does not respect woman as people. Unsurprisingly, his attitude is pretty sexist and he's flabbergasted when he meets a woman, Del, who can match his skill with the blade. Throughout the series, the main character, Tiger, gradually learns what is means to respect women through learning to respect and love Del.

The first person point of view
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dragon Prince (Dragon Prince, #1)
  • Stronghold (Dragon Star, #1)
  • The Wayfarer Redemption (Wayfarer Redemption, #1)
  • By the Sword (Valdemar)
  • The Lark and the Wren (Bardic Voices, #1)
  • Split Infinity  (Apprentice Adept #1)
  • Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
  • Mind Games (The Disillusionists, #1)
  • The Last of the Renshai (Renshai Trilogy, #1)
  • Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra, #1)
  • Joust (Dragon Jousters, #1)
  • Black Sun Rising (The Coldfire Trilogy, #1)
  • The Shadow & The Sun (Militess & Mage, #1)
  • The High King's Tomb (Green Rider, #3)
  • Along the Razor's Edge (The War Eternal #1)
  • The Oathbound (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #1)
  • The Elvenbane (Halfblood Chronicles, #1)
  • Frostbound Throne: Song of Night (Court of Sin #1)
See similar books…
Jennifer Roberson has a BS in journalism with extended majors in British history and anthropology.  Hobbies include showing dogs, and creating mosaic artwork and jewelry.  She lives in Arizona with a collection of cats and Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Other books in the series

Tiger and Del (7 books)
  • Sword-Singer (Tiger and Del, #2)
  • Sword-Maker (Tiger and Del, #3)
  • Sword-Breaker (Tiger and Del, #4)
  • Sword-Born (Tiger and Del, #5)
  • Sword-Sworn (Tiger & Del, #6)
  • Sword-Bound (Tiger & Del, #7)

Related Articles

Space operas, magic, destiny, dystopia, aliens: There's a bit of something for everyone in 2020's latest offerings in science fiction and fantasy...
72 likes · 16 comments
“What did he do to you?” I asked her, ignoring the darkening of the bear’s looming face. “Nothing,” she declared, enunciating distinctly. “Do you think every man wants to get me in his bed?” “Every man who’s not dead already—or gelded.” 0 likes
More quotes…