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Left as an infant to die in the desert, and enslaved by the Southron tribe who found him, he had won his freedom and his name by slaying a deadly sandtiger. Now he was a legendary sword-dancer--possibly the best in the South. But his true origins were still unknown.


Born in the frozen North, she had seen her family brutally murdered and her youngest brother carried away to be sold into slavery. Compelled by her rage for vengeance, she had become the most deadly sword-singer in the North.

In the three years since Tiger and Del's fateful meeting, these mismatched companions have become true partners, their alliance forged by blood, magic, danger, adventure...and something more.

Exiled from both the North and the South, the two have now set sail to search for Tiger's homeland--but no journey is ever without complications for Tiger and Del. Shipwrecked, nearly drowned, abducted by pirates, bedeviled by magic, the Southron sword-dancer and the Northern sword-singer finally do arrive at their destination.

But before the mystery of his origins can be solved, Tiger must face another truth about himself which may prove more dangerous than any sword-dance. His own personal brand of magic, long denied by Tiger, is finally manifesting. And because of its very uniqueness, Tiger's awakening power may prove his undoing.

414 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published April 1, 1998

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About the author

Jennifer Roberson

96 books711 followers
Over a 40-year career (so far), Jennifer Roberson has published four fantasy series, including the Sword-Dancer Saga, Chronicles of the Cheysuli, the Karavans universe, and urban fantasy series Blood & Bone. Other novels include historicals LADY OF THE GLEN, plus two Robin Hood novels, LADY OF THE FOREST, and LADY OF SHERWOOD.

New novels are percolating in her always-active imagination.

Hobbies include showing dogs, and creating mosaic and resin artwork and jewelry.  She lives in Arizona with a collection of cats and Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

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5 stars
1,014 (34%)
4 stars
1,148 (39%)
3 stars
642 (22%)
2 stars
93 (3%)
1 star
16 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Choko.
1,166 reviews2,568 followers
January 10, 2018
*** 3.75 ***

A buddy read with the fabulous folks at FBR!

This was a very different book in the series and I didn't mind, really. It feels like the main arc has been completed, Del and Tiger achieved all the goals they had set up for themselves and more, and now both find themselves on the run from murderous mobs, broken all oaths of honor, banished from the South and the North, swordless sword-dancers without a song... For the type of people they are this is almost worse than death. So, what are they to do, where should they go? Why not board a ship and go West, to an island nation called Skandi, where they might look for the unknown origins of Tiger and he might find the ever elusive "home"...

Well, it all sounds good and fun until you remember that this is Tiger and Del we are talking about and nothing ever goes smoothly when they are concerned. First, their ship is accosted by pirates and the pair, together with the Stud and captain are the only survivers and become guests of a very flamboyant pirate female Captain, a tattooed and bold Magic first mate, and somewhat accommodating crew of ex-slaves. They concoct a convoluted plan of taking Tiger to his original destination and presenting him as the long lost grandson of a rich and powerful Matriarch of a family who is dying and looking for an appropriate hair to take over the Family 's business. Of course, for this good dead they hope for a substantial recompense. Despite the vigorous protestations, Tiger becomes involved in a succession intrigue he wants no part of.

I love the relationship between Tiger and Del! I love the way they communicate and show each other their feelings without having to speak about them. I love their stubborn streaks, their combativeness, the way the balance each other if one or the other goes a bit out of control, the way they center the other when everything else has gone to pits. I love them and I love reading about them. However, the last 25% of this book went a bit weird, and although I am well aware of this being a Fantasy, the weird parts felt foreign to the tradition of the series and reminded me of a bad acid trip ... I have heard friends tell about 😈... On top of that, I felt that Tiger and Del needed vengeance, some real head-rolling needed to happen in order to appease me, I was so angry for what happened, and yet they stayed level-headed and noble, all good reasons why I love them so much, but too tame for the blood I felt needed to be shed! 👿💀👾 Those people were lucky I didn't write the ending!

So, with the slower pace, barely any sword-dancing, some hallucinations and family politics, this was a slower, less adventurously type of book, but it still had the charm of writing we have grown accustomed to up to now. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series 😀!

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
576 reviews777 followers
March 9, 2018
“The heart, in fact, is a rather perverse part of the body, when you think about it. A heart wnts to do all manner of things the head doesn’t want any part of.”

Tiger and Del, both homeless and exiled, abandon their past and homelands in the search for new adventures. They set out for Skandi, an entirely new land where, as they believe, Tiger comes from. An encounter with pirates results in a plan to convince a dying old woman, who happens to be very rich and powerful, that Tiger is her long lost heir.

Sword-Born promises a lot of fun. As a new place with its own unique geography, history, and culture, Skandi is a great place to get to know. It is also a land ripe with magic and (how not) and intrigues, and our pair (again) finds themselves right in the eye of the storm. Stessa metri proves to be a tough cookie (She outshines the main duo. I think elderly ladies smart in ways of power are my soft spot. I loved Dona Vorchenza in The Lies of Locke Lamora. And I always wanted to be Professor McGonagall when I grow up!) and so she strikes a bargain with Tiger. He needs to deliver if he wants to be free, and freedom is something that Tiger values above all.

“What you do not understand, you ridicule. Because you know there is something in the heart of it that may be dangerous.”

This instalment is entirely focused on Tiger. He has never belonged to anyone or anywhere, he bore no responsibilities. Sword-born is definitely a self-discovery story so be prepared for cartloads of quasi-philosophical ponderings about the nature of the world, society, men (and women) and how it all works (or not). Del is still there but all sweetness and cuddles which is a new experience. As their relationship matures they go through all the romantic shenanigans (e.g. spend a lot of time being jealous and being otherwise affectionate) and they are settling to settle.

“What are you but a man whose home is what he builds of a circle drawn in the sand? No mortar, no bricks, only air. And dreams.”

Do not expect a lot of action. But, we meet new entertaining characters including a corsair captain Prima Rhannet (a diversity element) and her mysterious fist-mate. There is also Herakleio a young, cocky wastrel forced under Tiger’s tutelage, and I loved the master-apprentice sequence in the story. (Dare I also say that I didn't miss the stud?).

Overall, not bad. I enjoyed the book, but I am not thrilled (mainly due to the pacing). I still have a feeling I'm reading a fantasy soap opera, a literary equivalent to Xena the Warrior Princess. It is clear to me that the Author decided to write on beyond the initial plotline because the series proved to be popular among the readers. I like the protagonists so I don't have issues with it. Pure leisure on my part. Having said this, Sword-Born is not something that kept me on the edge or biting my nails in anticipation. I liked the first 2/3 of the book. The final chapters were just a tad too psychedelic.

Also in the series:

1. Sword-Dancer
2. Sword-Singer
3. Sword-Maker
4. Sword-Breaker
6. Sword-Sworn
7. Sword-Bound
Profile Image for Solseit.
286 reviews72 followers
January 8, 2018
This is a story focusing mostly on Tiger and his journey to his potential homeland.
It is a good story albeit lacking the action and the suspense of the prior installments. So it is a 3.5 stars read for me.

I am already ready for book 6!
Profile Image for Michelle.
393 reviews15 followers
March 31, 2022
I'd probably give this 3.5 stars, but since half stars are nonexistent on this site I'm rounding down to 3.

The events of this story occur within weeks of the last book. Since Tiger had repudiated his sworn oaths, (for just cause), he and Del have become ostracized. They need to skedaddle since hoards of angry sword dancers are out for their blood. Since both the North and the South are now off-limits, they set sail for Scandia. Long story as to why, so we'll just leave it at that.

Along the way many things happen. Once they get to Scandia, many more things happen. Some plot twists are interesting while others are just plain silly. I think I enjoyed the gathering of all of the frenemies the most. This was a good portion of the book. There were quite a few deceitful, duplicitous, and secretive people all gathered under one roof along with our two MCs. It reminded me a little of an Agatha Christie scenario.

Since I've complained before about the author's tendency to rehash events to a ridiculous degree, I won't do it here. Even though she still did it. I promise that I won't gripe about it. As a matter of fact, I will even go so far as to resist complaining about her preaching to her reading audience about assigned gender roles. Again. It's in every book of this series. Not only is in every book, but it's spread liberally throughout every book. But I am exercising considerable restraint here. Moving on to a positive: she certainly excels at crafting well-written dialogue. I love her dialogue.

Tiger and Del are still a very congenial pair to tag along with despite the above-referenced flaws to the writing style. I can and have forgiven some serious nonsense for the trade-off of good characterization, so I'll be continuing my series re-read.
Profile Image for Shaitarn.
484 reviews33 followers
January 10, 2018
Tiger and Del, now exiled from both the north and the south flee to the island of Skandi, seeking the truth of Tiger’s parentage. However they are captured by pirates and before long are involved (against their will) in a plot to pass Tiger off as a rich old lady’s long lost grandson.

3.75 stars rounded up.

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I have. This is because the elements that I enjoyed the most in the previous books (the action and the sword-fighting) takes a back seat to the family intrigue and Tiger’s search for who he is. As a result Del is somewhat sidelined, which is a shame, as I like the way the characters bounce off each other. And the last few chapters were both quite weird and infuriating! No spoilers, but man, I wanted someone to pay!

I will be continuing with the series, hoping for more of the same old same old!
Profile Image for Ties.
471 reviews25 followers
October 2, 2020
Too much talking for my liking. It's the last book I'll read of this series even though I enjoyed the ending and the idea of the next book. But theyll just end of talking it to death probably. No thanks.
Profile Image for Kara.
Author 24 books69 followers
November 14, 2014

Its best described as Anastasia meets Black Sails.

So, Tiger and Del have completed all their quests, vanquished Evil, defeated Big Bads, etc – they just maybe slightly bent all their rules and honor codes so far along the way that they’ve gotten themselves banished from both North and South.

What now? Why, go West, young man, go West!

Based on a theory that Tiger might be related to the people from a western island nation, Tiger and Del, lacking anything better to do, and needing a break from all the people howling for their blood, they head out there - and promptly get captured by pirates. Well done.

The pirates decided to use Tiger in the old pass-the-orphan-off-as-the-missing-rich-kid scheme, and, of course, its implied he very likely is the missing noble.

Tiger, used to be the lone orphan, gets plopped into the middle of a Family Drama worthy of any soap opera, and is mighty confused by all the shouting at the dinner table.

It’s a highly entertaining read – up until the last 20% or so when the plot gets … weird, getting into the nature of insanity. It all ends well and I’ll keep going to the next book – but wow that was some disturbing crazy time!
Profile Image for Cathy .
1,944 reviews52 followers
May 5, 2013
Continuing my re-reading of the series in 2013 to get to the new novel, I found this one still fun, but quite wordy. It just needed to be edited down a bit, many sections were very repetitive, especially the debates about gender equality although I'm all for the spirit of them, and there wasn't much action. I don't want to change my initial rating to a three star, but if I were to rate it now I might, it's on the cusp.
Profile Image for Christina Sullivan.
72 reviews2 followers
September 26, 2019
This wasn't the best book in the series but it was entertaining. I like the couple bickering between Tiger and Del throughout the book. I didn't really care for the plot and toward the end it seemed like the plot didn't accomplish much really. The minor characters were forgettable unfortunately however some of them were entertaining. I still enjoyed listening to the book (I was listening to it at work).
Profile Image for Laura.
1,666 reviews
October 5, 2019
Interesting historically-based setting, great secondary characters, a chance for Tiger to see what a good teacher he would make, the writing quite improved. I just wish there was a Del book in there somewhere. Five books from his perspective ... is a lot of books. He does grow as a character and add to his talents, and there is a lot of discussion in this book about what he used to be vs what he is now (partly, I believe, because of the 8 years between books. Lots of explication).
689 reviews3 followers
October 6, 2020
This was written after the first 4 and starts a new part of the saga.

The backstory of Tiger is teased through much of the other books, and this takes you to find out what the deal is. Of course nothing goes right, and everyone sucks, and Tiger and Del make it through, but it's mostly a Tiger story.

Didn't enjoy it so much. Wish that at least some of the island had some redeeming something to it.

And then they left for 'home'.
73 reviews
December 14, 2019
Not the best of the series, but does a lot of interesting stuff with gender/sexuality dynamics/identity, so I enjoyed that. It's also really nice to see a stable, committed, happy couple without much interpersonal drama.
Profile Image for Data.
1,078 reviews
January 7, 2023
The test of time: Actually, this book read better than I remembered. Roberson has developed her characters into real people, and given them some real and some magical problems to solve that keep the action going, even if it is not all sword fighting (thank the gods for that). Meets the challenge!
Profile Image for Mike Isble.
66 reviews1 follower
January 9, 2020
This one had a nice little twist. I’m ready for Tiger and Del to get back home and see exactly what the aftermath consists of though!!! 🤩
Profile Image for Elisa Kay.
305 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2023
Tiger searches for his ancestry. He finds a new beginning but not the one he'd imagined.
Profile Image for Ashley.
67 reviews
February 26, 2017
When I was in the middle of this book, I would've given it three stars. The bantering dialogue is witty and thought-provoking, yet never seems unnatural, which is a huge plus for me; but the plot often seemed to lose itself, and the author has a frustrating habit of revealing important information to the characters but leaving the reader to infer what that information was. However, the climax upped this book to four stars for me, because the choice to use poetic language to convey the intensity of the conflict at that point was unique and engrossing. A series (and author) I will definitely pursue further.
Profile Image for Arminion.
233 reviews11 followers
December 28, 2014
Everything comes to an end. So does my reading of Tiger and Del's adventures. That is a shame, as I really enjoyed this saga, but as I said, everything comes to an end.
I don't know if it's because of the story, or if I'm just bored of these characters but I couldn't finish this book, and I really wanted to. I read about 50% of it and I just couldn't keep going.
The previous book was a little lackluster (I gave it 3 stars), but it was still enjoyable, so I expected that Roberson will at least pick up the pace with this one, but alas, she didn't. I found this one worst than the last.
There are many things that greatly annoyed me with this book. First of all, the plot is super boring. There is no action, no sword dancing, no demons, no magic, only talking. Boring talking with a boring family and some boring pirates. And when they do talk is almost always about some kind of battle of the sexes which gets annoying REALLY fast. Also, Del is pretty much reduced to a comic relief character. Whenever they are in some kind of danger, she just shoots this short and witty remarks, which again, I found annoying.
Also, the way the characters talk also irked me to no end. The dialog goes something like this:

Tiger: I will go to the island.
Del: You will?
Tiger: I will.
Del: Alone?
Tiger: Alone.
Del: Without a sword?
Tiger: Without a sword.

Aaarrgh!! What happened Roberson? I understand that not every book can be about swords and honor, magic and danger, but come on! Nothing happens in this one. Just constant talking of the same topic with repetitive dialog.
I regret picking this book up. I should have stopped with the last one, as it has such a nice closure. This is nothing but filler.
221 reviews17 followers
October 6, 2021
So, I've been re-reading this series, that I read the first 5-6 books of some 20+ years ago both because I had forgotten the stories (with the exception of the first) and to see if they had improved with age (or if as I age (and presumably mature) my views have changed).

The first book was when I first read it was a fun sword and sorcery novel with a fairly blunt feminist angle. I enjoyed it for what it was then and I enjoyed it just as much now... although a little subtlety would have been nice.

The subsequent books declined in enjoyment when I first read them, as the author attempted to transform a fun sword and sorcery series into a more serious high fantasy series (still with a baseball bat across the skull feminist commentary), with mixed success. In this more recent reading, I would say that I liked books 2-4 better now than I did then... although I'm still ambivalent about the transformation from sword and sorcery to high fantasy.

High fantasy requires far more world building then sword and sorcery. It needs the author to have built the world and then the story rather than building the world around the story. The author here whether by intent or not, hasn't done so... so when in book 5 she tries to introduce new concepts to the world that we've been involved with for 4 books already, it just doesn't have the emotional resonance to the reader.

If anything, my opinion of this book has decreased with age. I'm keeping it at 2 stars but just.
Profile Image for Shannon.
744 reviews88 followers
December 18, 2021
On re-read I am updating star rating from 3 to 4 stars here, and make that 4 1/2 stars.

When I originally read this, I had no idea the series was going to be continued so returning to the world was something unexpected an I think that skewed my expectations.

Now, it's been over 10 years since that first read and it was an absolute delight to return to the world and have more time with Tiger & Del. I know the first four books in the series very well, so this was almost like a first time read. I vaguely remembered the setting, but not the story nor the resolve. I will admit the story is a more of Tiger's journey than Del's, but I don't begrudge that because they books tend to alternate (and they are from his perspective). He is a surly person, and we don't always know what he is thinking but there is lots of wisdom and strength when it's revealed, be it physical or mental.

I also really enjoyed the authors afterward, which I don't think was in my original edition. It also highlighted two themes that remind me of why I love the series: and , both of which I feel very strongly about.

I went straight from reading this into starting the sixth book, and I am super excited to now be into new reads over re-reads. Looking forward to seeing where the adventure will go.
Profile Image for Cait.
380 reviews11 followers
August 10, 2022
I remember this one being my favorite of series; but this book was SO REPETITIVE. If you took out the six times that Tiger's side wound was explained, and the twelve times his history as an abandoned child in the desert came up, and if you limited Del's tragic back story to one or two mentions, this book would have been a hundred pages shorter.
Also there was a LOT of "Then he told us what happened" followed by pages or a chapter break in which we, the read, do not understand what happened. and it is annoying. It's withholding information for no purpose and I disprove. Also dumb: Tiger being more weirded out by the concept of lesbians than he was by women who use swords.
I don't feel like the whole ioSkandic thing was actually explained very well, what with all the cuts away.
Overall, I'm finding this reread very frustrating.
Profile Image for Sarah.
585 reviews
February 9, 2015
I loooved how far these two have come together and was thrilled to see more emotion from Del. It definitely made sense for her to be cold in the first few books, but to see how far she's come now all because of Tiger's love is truly amazing.

The story however was a bit repetitive in parts and I certainly didn't like seeing Tiger down..although you can never count him out. Things have a way of coming together nicely though and working out, but I don't like this business about him having 10 more years left... so I'm hoping that changes in the future!

All in all, a great addition and I just love escaping in these books and this world. Very easy to read and follow, but it is a MUST that you start with book 1 before attempting any others in the series.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
207 reviews27 followers
January 31, 2020
Tiger and Del have gotten rid of the sorcerer, by breaking Del's Jivatma, and Tiger's is under a huge pile of rocks. But at least they are alive. What can they do now that they have no swords, and where exactly should they go now that both have been banned from their homelands? Del reminds Tiger of the Skandic man who looked very like him, so they take a ship to find the place. But trouble and Magic seem to find them like they are both lodestones. Without any swords how can a sword singer and sword dancer survive?
Profile Image for Rachael.
174 reviews5 followers
May 6, 2014
I thought maybe rereading this book with a close attention to detail would help me like it more. It didn't. I love her other books and the first half of this one is pretty good. But the second half is so confusing and odd that I just don't get it. It just isn't very well written.

I think the problem with this series is that she never define what her magic can and cannot do. This is a common problem for a lot of fantasy books though.
Profile Image for veloci.reader.
507 reviews14 followers
February 3, 2011
This is my least favorite book in the Tiger and Del series. I liked the beginning with the pirates and that Tiger and Del didn’t spend the whole book bickering for a change. However, the middle of the book dragged and the end had too much nonsensical mystical BS for me. I am so ready for this series to end.
12 reviews
February 24, 2008
great book to read for fun, I love how strong the woman character in this book is and how well the male character balances her out, great perspective on a cool relationship wrapped in a really great series
Profile Image for Richard Houchin.
400 reviews27 followers
June 8, 2008
The Sword-Dancer series never impressed me as much as the Chronicles of the Cheysuli. It just doesn't seem to have the same depth or social relevance. But the Sword-Dancer books are solid fantasy with talking, uppity swords, so it's all good!
Profile Image for Susan.
1,573 reviews89 followers
April 30, 2010
The book was as good as the rest of the Tiger & Del books, but the fact that the publisher actually EDITED the cover art because Del was showing too much cleavage... stupid people.

Profile Image for Jeanne.
250 reviews
July 10, 2011
I do enjoy reading about Del and Tiger. I think though this series lost its excitement and adventure towards these last two books. What did keep me interested was the conversations between Del and Tiger, that kept me entertained and kept me laughing.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews

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