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Tiger and Del #6

Sword-Sworn

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The sixth book in the Sword-Dancer saga continues the legendary adventures of Tiger and Del, magic wielders and skilled warriors

The South had always been Tiger’s home. Left as an infant to die in the desert, his real origins were unknown. When he won his freedom from the tribe who enslaved him by slaying a deadly sandtiger, he joined the elite brotherhood of Southron sword-dancers, swearing a lifelong oath to abide by their code of honor.

Del was a woman of the North. She had seen her family brutally murdered and her brother carried away to the South to be sold into slavery. Motivated by revenge, she studied with the greatest of Northern sword-masters and became the deadliest sword-singer in the North.

Together these two legendary fighters had forged an unlikely partnership of equals, sharing adventures, danger, and eventually love. But when Tiger forfeited an important sword dance to rescue Del, he broke his sworn code of honor—and his sentence was death.

Fugitives from both the North and the South, Tiger and Del flee to the distant island of Skandi. Tiger has been told he resembles the people who comes from this remote land, and now, Tiger seeks his true identity. But Skandi proves no safe haven.

Abducted by priest-mages, altered in mind and body, Tiger is forced to acknowledge that he possesses his own special brand of magic. A personal magic that carries its own price: Tiger will only have ten or twelve more years to live.

But as Tiger and Del struggle to escape, Tiger’s long-dormant power begins to manifest. He falls victim to visions he cannot dismiss, dreams of a dead woman luring him into the crystal sands of the Punja, the South’s deadliest desert. “Find me,” she bids him, “and take up the sword.”

Initially, Tiger rebels, refusing the siren song of his dreams. But at last, helpless to deny the compulsion in his own blood, Tiger must accept his magic and his fate. Yet can he avoid paying the terrible price that they threaten to extract?

432 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

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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
984 (37%)
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524 (19%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
576 reviews777 followers
March 9, 2018
“There are times when certain oaths must be broken, if to keep them breaks oaths you have made to others.”

I know what you think: Only the most dedicated fans make it that far. It is true, especially that initially Sword-Sworn was meant to be the final instalment in the tales of Tiger and Del. And the book has a definite ambiance of things coming to an end. At least at the beginning.

Tiger returns to the South where he carries a death sentence on his head. He is forsworn. He also comes back because he had failed (you can give the trip to Skandi many names but success will not be one of them). Homecoming after failure is no the easiest of things. It is also not Tiger’s first return to the South. Yet, this time Tiger doesn’t feel like he’s outgrown his homeland. He’s matured, he’s survived the breakthrough point in the journey of self-discovery: He is now versatile not only in sword-dancing but also magic. And he decided it is time to give back to the community. This, I guess, is the main reason why Tiger wants to (re)start a sword-dancing school in Alimat.

The whole school business, the master-apprentice arc starts only towards the end of the novel so if you are interested in this part, feel free to skip the first thirty chapters (or actually jump straight to the final one). It is a shame, I am a great fan of the “from-zero-to-hero-successful-educational-establishment” trope. In fact, no is the biggest sore spot of the whole book. Surely, it is there, like a carrot dangling in front of reader’s nose, encouraging us to plod on, but we never actually get to munch it.

This is what I mean by “things coming to an end at least at the beginning”. As soon as the duo hits the shore, it feels like another pointless tour around the desert. The sense of finality evaporates in the blaring sun and we are left with a stream of ad hoc adventures. Our protagonists are retracing their steps - yet again - doing the things that had been done before and renewing old acquaintances albeit with a new twist. But you might try to read the book in the traditional way (i.e. chapter by chapter, not just jumping straight to the end), especially that there are some things worth your while: you will have the chance to meet equine cuteness named Snowball (forget the stud), discover what could inspire Del to contemplate the life of a wine-girl, bear witness to Tiger getting hit with a cantina stool couple of times and suffering some kicks in the gut which make him smile even as he weeps.

Having said this, the last chapter is the best by far. The ending was so good, it basically saved the whole novel. I really wish this could be the end of the series! And I hope the final, final instalment will not be like a belated hiccup.

___
Also in the series:

1. Sword-Dancer
2. Sword-Singer
3. Sword-Maker
4. Sword-Breaker
5. Sword-Born
7. Sword-Bound
Profile Image for Michelle.
393 reviews15 followers
April 6, 2022
This book had a distinct lack of the author-preaching that the others in the series were plagued with. I think that's why it was more likeable in my mind.

This review will be short and sweet, as my twelfth grandchild was born this morning- an emergency and one month early- so a review is not very important to me at the moment. So in the interest of brevity:

*This takes place several weeks after the last book
*Tiger & Del are back in the Punja
*Every sword dancer in the South is out for Tiger's blood after he repudiated his vows in the last installment
*The magical abilities he gained in Scandi are manifesting in strange new ways
*Tiger's early expiration date due to said magical abilities weighs on his mind

An aspect of his character that was really amusing in this one was the onset of emotional insecurity. His character has always exuded confidence and arrogance, but in a very likeable way. To see him wrestling with insecurities was astonishing. Some of his uncertainty was written at times in a comical way, while at other times not so much.

And I'm afraid that this is all that I've retained since my mind has been preoccupied.
1 review2 followers
June 28, 2010

Because there's no place to review a series, I will use this space to do so. It's the last book, I figure if you're reading this, you've read the first 5, and I won't spoil anything. If you're reading this without having read the first 5, hopefully this convinces you!


For a relatively unknown fantasy author, Jennifer Roberson really has a beautiful series here. She writes first person from a male's perspective, which might leave one dubious (I certainly was) when you first begin reading, but even I had to admit how believably she portrayed not only Sandtiger, but all of her characters. None of her characters are ridiculous or improbable. They all have their flaws (Tiger is stubborn, obstinate, believes he is always right, and often times inflexible in thinking; Del is obsessive, ruthless, manipulative, and equally obstinate as Tiger), which is what makes us love them as people.


In all of my fantasy reading, Tiger and Del are by far my favorite fantasy pairing. Richard and Kahlan have an unrealistic relationship, Rand and Min/Avhienda/Elayne have an impossible 3-way marriage, Nynaeve and Lan have an awkward relationship, and he really doesn't have much personality (though, arguments could be made that his stoicism says a lot about it, but that's for another review). Tiger and Del, to me, truly represent precisely what relationships in the real world should be like (minus the whole magic/messiah/almost-murder parts). Tiger helps her "finish her song" with little provocation, forgives her for selling a year of his life (only after demanding she admit she was wrong), amongst other things. Del encourages him to find his roots, grounds his thinking, and even trains him to be a better man (yes, women do this). Disregarding the obviously impossible magic, everything about these two characters is utterly believable and lovable.


Though I absolutely love this series, it does have its issues. There are a number of continuity problems (or maybe I just misunderstood?) that are rather glaring after a 4th read (I've never read a series besides this one more than twice), like how Abbu was a 6th degree sword dancer when Tiger almost killed him and had already left his shodo at Alimat to earn a living, but was a 7th degree sword dancer when he's first introduced. Little instances like that can be ignored, however, if one is not too picky (I didn't notice that little bit until my 4th read), and the continuity of the general storyline is very good.


Ultimately, this book is a novel on character development, and Jennifer Roberson is among the best. The evolution undergone by both characters is impressive in scope and expertly written. Even as a first-person work, the reader can see the changes in each character as they happen, though she does occasionally simplify things for herself by saying "Once, I would have ______, but that was before I'd met Del. She'd changed me in many ways..." It's the easy way out, but I'm not complaining.


While in many ways this story is not a wonderfully written series, that is not why I read it, and have read it over and over. I read it for the story, the wonderfully realized characters, and their fascinating interaction. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

Profile Image for Welwyn Wilton Katz.
Author 11 books49 followers
October 24, 2010
This is a fine ending (so far?) to a fine series. I do remember this plot much better than the earlier ones, and so I think, given the continuing quality coming to this good ending, I am pleased to give this book a full five stars. I will miss the two characters. They are still in my mind as I think back a couple of years. Jennifer Roberson's talent keeps on growing and I can only hope that it continues to manifest itself so positively.
Profile Image for Camille Siddartha.
295 reviews30 followers
October 29, 2015
I cried at the end of the book, because the ending was so powerful. His wife just had a baby and the best swordsman came to kill him and he nearly lost. In the end he won. Great read
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shannon.
744 reviews88 followers
April 30, 2022
I have been working towards catching up/finishing this series for a long time, and I started by re-reading the whole thing a few years ago as I consider it one of my favourite series ... yet I've not finished it. Can I say that if I haven't finished it? One more book to go until I will know for sure.

This was a first time read of the book, and although I am very familiar with the characters so far I had no idea where the story would lead. As it started to unfold, I was captivated by some things and a little not so happy about other things ().

As the story went on, there were some really great moments, and a fair few memorable scenes (). But as it kept going, I was wondering where we were heading. Again, where it went had some good moments, but some that I wasn't thrilled about and that is where this becomes the first 3-star for the series for me. Out of all the series I have read, I felt like this was the one series were we wouldn't end up with . I found this disappointing, and I am a bit heartbroken if this is . I know that's harsh to say, and I don't even necessarily think it will go that way because I have read the series long enough and often enough to know anything is possible.

I will keep reading the series, after a bit of a break. I love these characters and want to hear the rest of their song. I just hope I am wrong about where that might be. Which is totally possible, it's definitely happened before and in this case I hope it happens again! I love this authors work and hope they bring an amazing story in book 7.
Profile Image for Jon.
981 reviews12 followers
Read
February 3, 2021
I waited for the final book in the saga of Tiger and Del for ages. I'm glad that Roberson finally had a chance to write the "final" tale in their story. There's only a couple of problems with the tale, from my point of view.

The first, of course, is that it took so stinkin' long to reach me that I'd nearly totally forgotten "all that has gone before," and Roberson only provides that recap in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the book. Without going back and re-reading Sword Born (not exactly an onerous task, anyway), and some of the other books in the series, I was temporarily disoriented, much as the SandTiger after a bota of aqivi.

Anyway, we pick up the tale of Tiger and Del as they're returning once more to the Southland from Skandic, where Del has found out who his mother was, learned some things about his heritage, and lost his pinkie fingers on both hands. The last time Tiger was in the South, however, he renounced his sword dancer's oaths, and is not only persona non grata, but fair game for any sword dancer who feels like killing him. Thereby, as they say, dangles the tail.

One of the side effects of what has happened to Del in Skandic is that he has begun to dream of a dead woman, who tells him to find her and "pick up the sword." The sword in question, of course, is his jivatma, Boreal, which he left buried in a cave after wrestling with a couple of sorcers, back in a previous installment.
So Del and Tiger travel about the South, encountering old friends and old enemies, making new friends and new enemies, and generally having a heck of a good, sword-dancing time. Some of the plot devices are fairly predictable early in the game, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The second problem I had with the book was how it all wrapped up far too neatly in about the last twenty pages. All problems solved, and they look like they're going to live happily ever after in near paradise. I know you wanted to wrap up their story and never return, Jenifer, but you really didn't HAVE to leave your devoted fans with no loose threads to worry at, did you?

All things considered, I loved it, and I highly recommend the novel and the series.
Profile Image for Shaitarn.
484 reviews33 followers
February 12, 2018
Back home in the south, Tiger and Del must keep alert to stay one step ahead of the sword-dancers who want to avenge the insult to their honour by killing Tiger. Tormented by dreams and the flowering of his long-dormant magical powers, Tiger had other problems of his own.

I love these books; Tiger and Del are a great couple of well-realised, thoroughly fleshed out characters and it's good to see them back in the south. Deducted one star because it wasn't perfect, but very, very good and although this was originally the last book featuring Tiger & Del, there are two more still to go (the last has yet to be released).
Profile Image for Bonnie.
14 reviews
Read
January 23, 2023
A heartwarming and satisfactory wrap to a series I have loved since my teens (in the 80s). I was eager to stay with this book and finished it quickly.

I feel like there was a style to fantasy written in the 80s and early 90s. It's more straightforward; simple, but not in a current young-adult genre-ish way. I need to consider that further and go back to some of the classics written during that time.

Anyways, Tiger and Del have been close to my heart for years, and I was glad to close up their history. I understand there may be another book releasing soon.
Profile Image for Juniper Allen.
35 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2022
In this instalment of Tiger & Del’s adventure’s, Tiger returns to his desert homeland, and faces his past. This means facing the brotherhood of swordsmen that he betrayed, his unknown mother, and his magicked sword left buried beneath a mountain. I love how these stories talk about growth and change in a person over a lifetime. Tiger and Del are starting to feel like old friends, and I’m excited to pick up the two most recent books in the saga later this month.
689 reviews3 followers
October 6, 2020
Tiger and Del return to the South and deal with all the torn up threads of stories from the first four books. I like the way the end wraps up. Didn't really need this book either though. There was more momentum in the end of the fourth book, and this just felt like wrapping up and giving the series a tidy bow.
Profile Image for Mike Isble.
66 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2020
I might have stayed up a bit late to finish this one but there was no chance of me putting it down without knowing how it ended! 🤣
Profile Image for Elisa Kay.
305 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2023
The further I get into this series of books about Tiger and Del the more invested I get in the characters, their stories, their lives past and present.
Profile Image for Scott Pare.
223 reviews3 followers
March 15, 2017
Too much repetition of things said in the past 5 books - OVER AND OVER.

Not a lot of plot development.

I would rather have had book 5 as the ending than have had book 6.
Profile Image for h.
1,105 reviews59 followers
October 25, 2013
reread Oct 2013

my original rating was 2 stars, on a re-read i'd give it 2.5 and am bumping up to three since GR doesn't allow half-stars. the huge flaw of this book is that it only exists to tie up loose ends, and that hasn't changed. but credit to roberson for finding ways to make believable characters change in interesting ways despite a somewhat soap opera-ish plot.

---
read the first few books in this series way back in, i don't know, maybe middle school. i've reread the early ones since a few times. the storyline of the series is fairly standard, with some nice twists here and there, but the characters really drive it. it's a well enough written fantasy series that, lo these many years later, i still care to find out what happens in the end. also, after reading a couple of books that dragged, i need a little adventure.

this book turned out to be disappointing. nothing really happens. i guess all the loose ends are tied up, but that's not very interesting. the last chapter has maybe the only truly engaging scene of the whole book in it - and that wasn't even a sword fight. but it was a fast read, which is part of what i wanted out of it. still, you'd think in over 400 pages something interesting could go on.
Profile Image for Sarah.
585 reviews
February 19, 2015
This was the supposed end to this epic fantasy series but I am THRILLED we have another one and I can't wait to start! This book wrapped things up nicely but definitely left some things open for the future and I can't wait to see where things go. I am SO happy with how Tiger and Del ended up, couldn't have asked for a better ending. And Tiger was hilarious as ever with his explorations of his baby! I also loved the growth of these characters throughout the series. Del especially really surprised me. She has come so far and I LOVED seeing her truly be herself and comfortable with where she ended up. There was a time I never thought that Northern girl would thaw!

All in all, this one was probably my favorite in the series. There isn't huge amounts of action but I always just enjoy watching these 2 interact and seeing where their road takes them. I hope there will be many more books to come in this series!
Profile Image for Kristy Halseth.
442 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2015
When I reread the first books, not all were out in ebook format yet. So I stopped at book 5. I discovered that 6 and 7 were out at the end of the year. So I downloaded and started reading.

They were wonderful. The characters have grown a bit, but the writing seems as good as the first time I picked up the first books. The early books hit you over the head with feminism but it didn't seem odd when they were first released. Some people might find it a bit heavy handed if they are starting the books now. Keep on reading them and then these newer ones. The stories are interesting and the characters go through a lot of challenges.

I am eager to see what happens to them in the future.
22 reviews
September 20, 2011
This novel concluded the Sword Dancer Saga between Tiger and Del as they deal with the final trial on a remote Island that Tiger hailed from. Since it’s the final novel, its hard to describe how masterful the blueprint for the story became, but it isn’t hard to notice that Roberson planned so much out so early. She wrote a story with a defined and complex plot, not just typing until her wrist grew tired. Additionally, the subject matter made the reader grow so much closer to Tiger as we soon grew to understand so many reasons behind his personality. It was refreshing to see a writer so clearly define a character so outside her own persona.
Profile Image for Millerbug.
82 reviews
August 27, 2008
I truely enjoyed this book and the series. Although I read the earlier books years ago and forgot some of the details, so I'm going to re-read them. This was definitely a great ending to a fun and great series. There were parts that made me cry, especially reading the forward, talking about how the author's mother had passed away, and this book had a lot to do with family, and family bonds. There are a few surprises, but some are easy to figure out. Others keep you guessing. I laughed a lot and cried a few times as well. A great read!
Profile Image for Richard.
92 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2022
This was an excellent ending to the series. The saga of Tiger and Del wrapped up in a most satisfying way. The various plot threads all come together for a great series.

But… This was not the end after all. When this book was published it was to be the final book but Roberson revisited Tiger and Del about 10 years later. Then after that another book is coming out about on what will be about 9 years later next month. Tiger and Del's adventures continue!
Profile Image for Michelle.
42 reviews
August 10, 2014
Read this series many, many years ago and just re-read the series to get to the newest of the novels. Over all I love this series because it has two strong female/male leads that you both want to love and shake throughout the series. Both of them make stupid mistakes, but then that is human. They love each other but are not willing to give up their sense of self to be a couple which is all too rare in love stories. Roberson built an interesting world here.
Profile Image for Kara.
Author 24 books69 followers
December 6, 2014

I accidentally read book 7 before book 6, so I knew what was going to happen, but it was still fun to see how the plot spun out.

The best part was, Tiger, world’s best swordfighter, gets himself kidnapped (again!) and is put into a forced cage match situation. The fight was, hands down, the best part of the book as he proves to everyone, including himself, that he may have been a bit battered and knocked about by the fates or what have you, but he can still bring it in the circle.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
250 reviews
July 10, 2011
I thought this series died down towards the end and became a bit bland and unexciting. The ending although nice, was also predictable. I also thought poor Del lost some of her strength in her character towards the end of this series as well which disappointed me. I still loved both Del and Tiger though throughout the whole series which is why I kept reading.
Profile Image for Robyn S..
84 reviews7 followers
July 12, 2011
This is possibly one of the best books in the Sword-Dancer series. It kept me on my toes and wanting more. I could hardly put it down to get sleep at night. I absolutely loved everything about it and I loved comparing how Tiger and Del's characters have grown and changed since the first in Jennifer Roberson's amazing series.
June 23, 2014
My rating is for the series as a whole. The series is more than the sum of the books. Over the course of the books, you see Tiger and Del both grow so much as characters. I especially appreciated Tiger's sense of humor and charm. The first person perspective from Tiger added so much to the storytelling.
Profile Image for Mandy.
72 reviews
February 7, 2009
Jennifer Roberson is one of my favorite unknown authors. I have read many of her books and enjoyed reading the entire Sword Dancer series this time. If you like Robin hood and Maid Marian stories read "lady of the forest".
Profile Image for Arlene.
128 reviews11 followers
May 9, 2009
It has the best sword fight scenes I've ever read. Tiger has this dry sense of humor and is very much the opposite of Del, who is very serious and reserve but what they have in common is the magic and talent they share in a sword-dance.
I read the whole 6 books in a row! A really great read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews

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