The blurb for Sword-Bound is basically a complete synopsis of the entire series to date. I am not sure why, but I wonder if I should have taken it for a warning that this book is not much different from the rest of the series except Tiger is older now and a little more crotchety. (Don’t get me wrong, the crotchety is kind of adorable, since I’m not the one who has to deal with it, but still.) Sword-Bound is something of a mid-life crisis road trip novel.
Sandtiger is pretty well settled at his school and with helping Del raise their daughter. (She is at the toddling and screaming really loudly at the prospect of getting a bath stage of development.) Our Hero is persuaded by his son to go off on an adventure to cure his (and Del’s) domestic ennui. Unfortunately, the setting of this series does not allow for the kind of road trip vacation that would have been safer and much more family friendly for Our Heroes. Sandtiger still has a price on his head, and somewhere out there is a very, very annoyed Tanzeer who did not appreciate the clever little trick Tiger pulled with an ancient and very dangerous grimoire.
Sandtiger and Del dodge various bounty hunters, get themselves involved in various sword dances and spend a great deal of time acting like an old married couple. Sandtiger’s son Neesha is very much a fifth wheel, but is very firmly in the position of “neophyte growing up and gaining experience in the real world.” In hopes of avoiding trouble with the aforementioned Tanzeer, they head north to visit Neesha’s family only to find that bandits have destroyed the horse farm Neesha’s mother and stepfather ran. Tiger and Dell head off to rescue Neesha’s sister who has been kidnapped by the bandits, which leads them into still more trouble.
This is a book where I think you would have to be a long time fan of the series in order to get much out of it. (I am not precisely a fan of the series mostly because Del’s seventies-era feminism is kind of jarring when introduced into the setting. Also, I have some fairly serious issues with Roberson’s fake Arabian Nights world building.) The interactions between Del and Tiger are still entertaining but the actual adventures are somewhat repetitive and dull. I honestly think I would have preferred an adventure that was more school-and-local-area-centric than this retread road trip. Maybe, hopefully, we’ll get something like that with the next book.