Sword-Bearer by Jennifer Roberson
Trade Paperback – DAW – Dec 2022 – 277 pages
Tiger and Del have settled into semi-retirement to raise their daughter, establishing a school for those who wish to become sword-dancers, part of a highly ritualized rite in which specially trained sword-fighters are hired to settle feuds among rich and powerful desert princes. Death-dances are few and far between; the goal is simply to win within the confines of “the circle.”
But Tiger is an outcast, a man who attained the highest level of achievement at the training school he attended faster than anyone before him, only to voluntarily break all oaths in order to save Del. By doing so, he made himself a target of men formerly his colleagues, now sworn enemies. He is constantly challenged to death-dances where rules, and oaths, no longer apply.
Now, with the world around them falling victim to a malignant Northern-born magic, Tiger gathers Del and his adult son, Neesha, to end the magic threatening the world—and discovers, along the journey, yet another element of magecraft within himself. Yet even as Tiger learns more about his gifts, Del comes face to face with the daughter she left behind so many years before.