Another good tale by Ms. Roberson. As I mentioned before in a previous review, the Sword-Dancer books are character books, and Sword-Maker is no different and no less satisfying. In this adventure, Tiger and Del, now used to each other, are able to grow as a result of the actions and ideals of the other.
Sword-Maker picks up after the cliff hanger of Sword-Singer, and Tiger and Del finally journey back to the South so Del can find Ajani with some stop offs to meet a legendary, and dangerous, northern sorcerer. Tiger has a new sword too. One with a very bad attitude. One made only worse when Tiger ends up requenching his sword in the dangerous sorcerer. Oops.
There are a lot of great things about this book, again all going back to the fantastic connection between Tiger and Del that has been established in the first two books of the series. Because we love them, we love Tiger’s voice, and we love the love and companionship between Tiger and Del, we root for that companionship, that connection versus the plot as a whole. And it is because of that connection that, in Sword-Maker, we see a lot of character growth.
It’s a push-pull sort of relationship. Because of one of the characters, the other character grows, in contrast to character growth due to outer stimuli. For example, Tiger won’t let Del forget her actions at Staal-Ysta. Not until she realizes she was wrong or at least realize what her sacrifices have done to her humanity. As a result, Del is forced to admit and realize some painful truths about herself and finally is able to overcome some personal hurdles. And, as a result, while she is still Del, she becomes more human. Ms. Roberson, however, realizes how difficult this can be and so doesn’t write it as something easy. In fact, a lot of tension is derived from the strain on Tiger and Del’s relationship due to Del’s stubbornness and the readers desire for them to come together.
Tiger, while always confident in one way or another, brings a new kind of confidence with him. A confidence in himself as a person rather than as simply a sword dancer. This sort of confidence is derived from finally standing up to Del and having a real person to care about, along with all their struggles. Tiger also begins to think about his birth and his own kin—a minor theme running through the books—which allows the reader to get to see an even more personal side of the sand tiger.
As we learn a bit more about Tiger’s past, we can also see him as a minor foil to Del. Tiger was once driven by the desire for hate and revenge, just as Del is, but Tiger’s path was different due to the choices he made regarding revenge. As a result, we, as the readers, can see even more how not only Del handled the revenge, but how it affected her character and her life. And more importantly how she has changed since she started understanding compassion.
Although the story and focus is on Tiger and Del’s relationship, there is still a plot, although it is a bit disjointed. It feels as if there are almost two books in one, and a book should have ended after requenching the sword and heading south. In other words, the first part of the book wasn’t directly related to the second, but, since we’re following our two adventurers as they travel it can easily be overlooked. There is still plenty of action within the plot, so the reader won’t get bored, although Roberson sometimes has the tendency to over explain a plot point, or explain it more than once.
Overall, a wonderful, satisfying, fun fantasy read. It didn’t end with the cliff hanger of Sword-Singer, but I am dying to see what is next in store for Tiger and Del.
Would I recommend it? Yes! Good 80s fantasy with strong characters. A satisfying continuation to a satisfying series.