Sword-Bound Author: Jennifer Roberson Series: Tiger and Del 7 Publisher: Daw, February 4, 2014 Format: Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages List Price: $7.99 (print) ISBN: 9780756408527 (print) Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher
After years of deadly quests and dangerous enemies,Tiger and Del have finally found relative saftey in a secluded desert canyon. They enjoy a settled, if somewhay less exciting, life raising their daughter, Sula, and training Tiger's son, Neesha. They also train all those who manage to find them, thus forming their own school of sword-dancing.
But the manhunt for Tiger has not ended, for he is still an outcast from the brotherhood of sword-dancers for breaking the oaths of honor codes of Alimat, and his deadly brethren seek to kill him. To add to the threats, an old enemy, Umir the Ruthless, has offered substantial bounty for anyone bringing Tiger to him alive. Umir possesses a powerful grimoire--a book of spells that Tiger had locked by magic--and he is determined to use any means at his disposal to force Tiger to unlock this deadly book.
Years ago, I loved the Sword-Dancer series by Jennifer Roberson and I mourned when Sword-Sworn was published in 2003 with the subtitle, “The Final Novel of Tiger and Del.” So imagine my surprise and joy when I found out that a new novel had been published and another one is planned for the series. Sword-Bound starts a few years after the “final” novel – with Tiger and Del teaching at a small school, raising their daughter, and dealing with Tiger’s grown son, Neesha. Neesha cajoles the pair into leaving their home to have adventures.
The first few adventures include interruptions for sword-dance challenges against Tiger since he broke the oaths of his school and is declared an oathbreaker. While most would be satisfied simply to beat Tiger for the notoriety, apparently one of his enemies from an earlier book, Umir the Ruthless, has placed a bounty on his head. The last time they met, Tiger placed a locking spell on a book of magic, and Umir wants Tiger to remove the spell. Unfortunately, Tiger gave up his magic when he stopped traveling.
Along the way, the three protect a caravan bound for market from raiders before a tragedy strikes Neesha. The remainder of the novel mostly deals with Neesha’s crisis, and Roberson does a good job with the story, finding a chord to strike with Del. The last of the story addresses both the problem presented by Umir and Tiger seeking out his magic once again.
The Del and Tiger novels offer some interesting perspective on feminism in a feudal, land-centered culture where only the strong survive. Sword-singers such as Del are few and far between, but Tiger has become much more understanding and accepting of Del being both a woman and a swordswoman. It is interesting to see Neesha change his opinion of woman as he comes to know Del as well. I also love the interplay and conversations between Del and Tiger, especially when Tiger has no way to respond.
Sword-Bound is a great addition to the Sword-Dancer series, and I can’t wait to see Roberson’s next novel!