Jennifer Roberson,
(DAW, 1988)

Will they end up falling in love, or...?

No, I'll leave that for the end.

This is the sequel to Sword-Dancer, in which we met Delilah and the Sandtiger, who are both experts with sword-fighting, ceremonial, ritual and otherwise. Tiger helps Del find her kidnapped younger brother, but the end is not as one would expect.

Now, in Sword-Singer, Del and Tiger are traveling out of the deserts of the South into the cold, mountainous North, which is Del's homeland. Del has to decide whether she is going to go to Staal-Ysta, where she was trained with the sword, to try to clear her name regarding the death of her teacher, or to go after the rogues who killed most of her family and sold her brother into slavery.

As Del and Tiger travel Northward, they argue often about gender roles, they fall in love, they argue about what Del should do, they make love, they fight off bandits, they avoid talking about their future, they teach each other their differing techniques at sword-play and they encounter black magic in several forms.

Once they reach Staal-Ysta, things get very, very complicated, and Del and Tiger ... no, not yet. I'll leave that for the end.

As we get to know these two complex characters, each with a dark history, we also get to see them face numerous challenges. However, the story is a bit slow through the first 50 pages or so. It is only once they start facing magic and non-magic opponents that things get very interesting. Jennifer Roberson writes quite well, but I think readers might be lost if they do not read Sword-Dancer before Sword-Singer, as most of the character development takes place in the first book. The biggest character changes that occur in Sword-Singer are that Tiger finds out he hates the cold, and he becomes quite curmudgeonly, somewhat reminiscent of Stephen R. Donaldson's signature character, Thomas Covenant. There is a lot of action and drama in Sword-Singer, once it gets warmed up. I definitely plan to continue reading the series, with Sword-Maker next on the list.

Oh, and what happens at the end? I won't spoil the result, but Tiger and Del end up fighting each other, with swords, possibly to the death, for complicated reasons.

by Chris McCallister
17 March 2007

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