The second book in the Tiger and Del fantasy series.
Publication year: 1988
Page count: 382
Sandtiger, Tiger, is a Southron sword-dancer and one of the best in his business. Delilah, Del, is Northern sword-dancer, just as good but a woman. After the end of the previous book, Del has some very important unfinished business in the North: she must answer for her actions in front of the men who trained her. She has one year to come before hem. She and Tiger are making their way to the North but they have a lot of obstacles. If she doesn’t get there in time, she will be declared an outlaw and hunted by everyone.
Now, they’re nearing the border between North and South but have only two months left of the deadline. But they keep stumbling into strange things. First are the loki: demonic spirits which can affect people and even take them over. Then they meet a mother with two kids whom raiders have robbed, leaving destitute. Del decides to help them and Tiger can’t really leave them behind either. Also, strange, unearthly hounds attack them again and again.
In the first book, Del was out of her element in the South. This time Tiger is out of his element in the North and he hates it. Worse, he doesn’t believe in what Del tell him about the local magical stuff. Or rather he doesn’t want to believe such things exist at all. Pretty much the only thing he does believe in is the wet and cold weather, and that’s because he doesn’t have a choice. Unfortunately, his attitude was frustrating to me to read about. Also, as soon as he crossed the border to North, he felt strange and is uneasy all the time.
As in the first book, Del and Tiger bicker and argue all the time. Again, Tiger makes assumptions about Del which he shouldn’t. For example, Tiger just wants to deal with Del’s problem and then blithely assumes that they both will return to his home, to South. But North is Del’s home. I can only think of one reason why Del would want to return to the misogynistic South: Tiger. And is he really enough? I don’t think Del much enjoyed her time in the South: Tiger just didn’t notice.
In addition to finding out a lot of things about the North and its environment, we also find out about the sword-dance traditions in the North which have a lot more rules than the Southron traditions. Tiger is often baffled by them. Del also does some soul-searching: she’s been so focused on her mission that she hasn’t thought about what she would do afterwards.
The plot is again fast-paced and we meet lots of new characters on the way. However, the ending is a cliff-hanger.
Oh and the cover is whitewashed: Tiger isn’t white.