Friday, March 7, 2014

Sword-Bound by Jennifer Roberson

 Eagerly anticipated, completely unexpected, so exciting to finally get a chance to read more adventures with Tiger & Del. I have often reflected on how, in order to catch and keep my interest, an author has to create characters that "hook" me right from the beginning, and it was that way for me with the SandTiger and Delilah long, long ago. I read Sword Dancer first and eagerly jumped upon subsequent books in the series as they came along, enjoying the reunion with old friends. I'm not entirely certain that someone trying to jump in on the seventh book in the series would immediately feel that sort of bond, so I'd recommend starting at the beginning, they're all in print on Amazon these days. I may have to go back and re-read and review them for the site at some point, too. One wouldn't have to twist my arm very hard to make me do so.

The Sandtiger has become "domesticated". He and Del have a permanent residence, where Tiger teaches sword dancing, without the oaths and formality which he was schooled in. He is still an outlaw, and any sword dancer can demand a dance to the death. It turns out that the tanzeer, Umit, has also placed a bounty on his head, and wants Tiger to come remove the spell he placed on the grimoire that Tiger traded for his son, Neesha. The problem is that Tiger gave up all his magic, poured it into his jivatma, and then broke and buried the sword, so he can't give Umit what he wants even should he want to - he doesn't.

When Tiger is made aware of his domesticity, he and Del and his son decide to go adventuring once more, leaving their daughter, Sula, in the loving care of their friends and neighbors, Amit and Lena.

On their journey, Tiger is constantly made to confront other sword dancers who are either lured by the possibility of defeating the legend, offended by his apostasy and willing to kill him, or hoping to capture him for Umit's bounty. He also has to confront something he hasn't had to deal with very often before, the aches and pains that come with old age, and the long recovery time for injuries, and he just can't handle the aquiva hangovers any more.

The three of them hire on as caravan guards for a while, to help pay for their journey to visit Neesha's mother and stepfather, who raise horses in the Borderlands between the deserts of the South and the Forests of the North. Neesha is a third level sword dancer, but he also struggles with a new experience, killing a man, when a battle with borjuni raiders turns deadly.

When they arrive at his family's, they find the house burned down, the horses missing, his stepfather unconscious from a head injury, his mother raped, and his sister kidnapped by the borjuni. So Tiger and Del take on a whole new mission, rescuing the damsel in distress, recovering the stolen horses, and killing the men who are responsible. Just another day in the life for these two, aside from a few odd wrinkles that keep things amusing. Tiger proves the old adage about age and treachery beating youth and skill most days.

This is a good return to the story, and best of all, Roberson says she's writing another already. I can't wait.

No comments: