Retro Friday Review: Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson

Retro Friday Review: Sword-Dancer by Jennifer RobersonSword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson
Series: Tiger And Del #1
Published by Penguin on September 2nd 1986
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, General
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
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He was Tige, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior's skill. Now he was an almost legendary sword-dancer, ready to take on any challenge—if the price was right...or if the woman pretty enough.
She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Now, her ritual training completed and steeped in the special magic of her own runesword, she had come South in search of the young brother stolen five years before.
But even Del could not master all the dangers of the deadly Punja alone. And meeting Del, Tiger could not turn back from the most intriguing challenge he'd ever faced—the challenge of a magical, mysterious sword-dancer of the North...

Relatively few reviewers hold such sway that their recommendations cause me to drop my current book commitments in lieu of reading their latest reviewed book. Ya’ll Angie has that power. Combine this with a glowing review from See Michelle Read and I am done for – hook, line, and sinker.

The book in question is Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson is currently out of print I think. However, lucky me, I date someone who comes from a literate family. You see, my boyfriend’s grandmother left behind a treasure trove of fantasy novels, and with some digging, I found among her shelves a faded copy of Sword-Dancer, complete with a receipt inside from the 1980s. Finding this book does make me sad that I will never get to meet my boyfriend’s grandmother, because with her fierce taste in books, I think we would have gotten along very well.

Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson, despite it’s awful cover is a wonderful fantasy read with sexytimes and kissing. The story opens with Tiger chilling out in a southern tavern. He’s a macho womanizing mercenary. Enter Del, a strong gorgeous beauty from the North who needs a guide through the southern desert. Of course, she continually butts heads with Tiger. He believes Del can’t handle a sword, although he would be totally down for it if Del touched his sword. Anyways, this is a journey rife with discovery, adventure, and most important SWORD FIGHTS oh oh and cannibals. Ya’ll I love a good cannibal cameo.

Tiger is a chauv at first, but obviously we see him change. The entire book is told from his perspective, so you would have to be pretty dense if you didn’t notice a change. We see him go from think all females are weak and need protecting, to acknowledging what I like to call girl power.

“Be serious bascha– you know as well as I do that very few women can handle a knife well, let alone a sword.”

“Perhaps because too often the men won’t let us.” She shook her head. “You judge too quickly. You deny me my skill, but expect me to honor yours.”

-pg. 66

I felt the desert setting really comes to life in Sword-Dancer. One can feel the desperation of a sand storm, and just how scary the situation is. We see the cruelty of different groups of people. My heart leaped with joy at the vision of an oasis. You know, I think I’d be down for reading more desert-type setting books after finishing this one.

Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson is a quick fantasy read, topping out at under 300 pages, which in this genre is a lightweight. I thought it was super easy to sink into and was hooked by Tiger’s voice. I hope the rest of the series holds up to this gripping book.

Retro Friday Reviews is a weekly meme hosted by Angieville where you give an older title some love on Fridays.

Disclosure: Borrowed copy.

Other Reviews of Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson:


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Okay. Positive reviews from you and Angie? I’m sold. I’ll have to hunt this one down one of these days!
    Great review!

  2. Retro Friday is a great idea! And I remember that series so fondly- the mythology and the descriptions of the fantasy world were so real. I remember how they got under my skin when I was in college.
    Out of print??? YIKES. Glad I kept my copies!

  3. I loved this book! The dynamic between Tiger and Del is fantastic and I love how it has a feminist message without hitting you over the head with it. In fact I named one of the characters in my book, Del after her.

  4. Too bad this book is out of print, I really want to read it. 🙁 I think it’s great that you got books from your boyfriend’s grandma but sad that you didn’t get to meet her.

  5. Oh yes!! These were some of my favorite books when I was a teen. Tiger and Del are fantastic characters, and their growth in subsequent books are really really interesting.

  6. Oooo this sounds good. I wonder if my library would have a copy floating around…

  7. Great post! I remember this series! Really enjoyed them all, and I loved how Tiger and Del both changed as they got to know one another and survived multiple adventures together. Hope you can find the rest, as they’re worth reading!

  8. Tommy Luna says

    Ah Sword-Dancer… its one of the first books i read when i got hooked in pocketbook reading. Great story! Loads of adventure, honor, life lessons, drama,. Tiger is a real bad-ass! I couldnt put the book down.. I had all four volumes. But i made the mistake of giving it to my ex-girlfriend (who also loved it!). Now shes gone. All i have left here is the fourth volume. Sword-Breaker.