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Sword-Sworn: The Final Novel of Tiger and Del
Jennifer Roberson
DAW, 426 pages

Jim Burns
Sword-Sworn:  The Final Novel of Tiger and Del
Jennifer Roberson
Jennifer Roberson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but has lived in Arizona since 1957. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northern Arizona University, with a major in British history. Prior to becoming a full-time writer in 1985, Jennifer was employed as an investigative reporter for a morning daily, and as an advertising copywriter for a major marketing company. She has published dozens of 19 novels, including the 8-volume Chronicles of the Cheysuli, about a race of shape-changers and the multi-volume Sword-Dancer series.

Jennifer Roberson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Sword-Born
SF Site Review: The Golden Key

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Having freed himself from the stone forests of Skandi, Tiger and Del return to the South. They originally fled the South because, to save Del's life, Tiger broke his vows as a seventh level sword-dancer, declaring himself elaii-ali-ma. Every sword-dancer in the South, even ones he once considered his friends, are now bound to kill him. They don't even have to invite him into the circle, where sword-dances are usually conducted, they can execute him any way they deem the simplest. Tiger returns to this land, originally, because the South is his home and he hopes to rebuild the shodo at Alimat, where he was trained. Soon he is haunted by dreams, dreams of a skeleton, of a woman's voice that commands him -- "Find me," she says, "And take up the sword."

This isn't so simple. Tiger, as much as he would deny it, has magic in his bones. This magic has placed a limit on his life, of ten, perhaps twelve more years before it drives him mad. This, along with the age difference between himself and Del, and the addition to their party of Nayyib, who is Del's age and incredibly handsome, is something he worries over a bit. Also, Umir, who collects unusual things, has decided that Tiger would make a wonderful prize in an contest to choose the ultimate sword dancer. With the Vashni, a cannibalistic and very sagacious warrior tribe whose holy man has taken a huge interest in Tiger's abilities, and sword-dancers appearing out of nowhere to clean the stain on their honor that Tiger represents, it will be a wonder if Tiger and Del live long enough to find out what the ghost voice of Tiger's dreams really wants.

I think in my review of Sword-Born, I spoke of how much I loved this series. I've been reading it almost as long as Ms. Roberson has been writing it. Sometimes, I feel that I grew and changed along side of Tiger and Del. Tiger, a chauvinist of the first order, pig-headed, but with a wonderful sense of humor and a voice that is both off hand and colorful as he relates his story of his adventures with his Northern Basca, and Del, who in the beginning is as cold and hard as the lands she came from, herself a carefully honed weapon of revenge. Tiger's views have since opened up, and he's matured into a person that you can admire as well as like, and Del has softened, developing a sharp sense of humor while remaining a strong and amazing role model.

Sword-Sworn is really, in many ways, a gift for those of us have read the series. The adventure is really well paced, but the limelight in this book is on the relationship between Tiger and Del, on wrapping up all the loose ends, and revisiting a few old friends, as well as enemies. It says, on the cover, that this is the last book for these two. I agree, even though I secretly wince. As a writer, I know that all stories come to an end, as someone who has considered these two favored companions, of course, I want more. But Ms. Roberson definitely wipes the Aqivi off the floor, puts the cantina stools up on the tables, and we get to see Tiger and Del wave at us over their shoulders before the door is shut. Sword-Sworn is a fitting culmination to the series, and I suggest that you sit down with all the books and start at the beginning, which will make this book an special treat when you get to the end, and see how all the pieces are finally resolved.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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