SWORD-SWORN: A Novel of Tiger and Del
In her surprise-filled sixth novel featuring the sword-dancers Tiger and Del (Sword-Dancer, etc.), Roberson packs enough into the finale to more than make up for a tediously talky first half, which is short on both sword and sorcery. Established fans may enjoy the banal and idle chatter between Southron-born Tiger and his beloved "bascha," the ironic term of endearment he constantly uses for the glamorous Northerner Del, but others may wish for more action. On the isle of Skandi, where the pair has taken sanctuary, things do eventually pick up. The two fight a few human enemies, some skilled in magic, as well as the fierce and poison-clawed Sandtiger, which gave Tiger his name and threatens Del. Most exciting is the epic battle between Tiger and the man who has pursued him for years, Abbu Bensir, also a top-flight sword-dancer. But none of this prepares the reader for the warm personal revelations that follow, making this such a satisfyingly human series. In an author's note at the end, Roberson charmingly explains why she chose to use first-person point of view, and a male POV at that, when third-person is the norm for fantasy novels ("Tiger was very insistent on telling his own story"). In addition, she stresses the primacy of storytelling over feminist message, though she's "particularly proud of the male readers who've written to say that the books have altered their views of women." Sensitive readers of both sexes should appreciate how Roberson rises above the usual genre clichés. (Feb. 5)
FYI:Roberson is also the author of the Chronicles of the Cheysuli series ( Spacehangers Song, etc.).