I have wanted to read this book for years, and now that I have, I was disappointed that it's told from Tiger's POV, not Del's. I wasn't his biggest fan, and I thought that his thought-processes and speech patterns were too modern for the story. Tiger, a Southern, was raised in a misogynist culture where women have few freedoms. Del, a Northern, came from a culture that afforded women more freedom, leaving plenty of opportunity for conflict between Tiger and Del.
At it's core a revenge story, Del is searching for her younger brother, her last living relative. After her family was murdered by raiders, and Jamail sold into slavery in the South, Del swore revenge against the men who destroyed her family. She apprenticed to a sword-dancer, and after making very difficult and potentially soul-destroying decisions, blooded her magical sword and headed out in search of her brother. She hires Tiger, who is skeptical of this beautiful woman carrying a sword, and the two have many adventures, some of which seemed random and didn't move of the story along.
Del and Tiger had similar horrific experiences that prompted them to do anything to free themselves of the situations they were trapped in. In Tiger's case, innocent people died, and he carries the guilt and a distrust of magic. For Del, she carries a price on her head that she can't outrun forever.
Tiger annoyed me with his inability to accept Del as an equal. He scorned her sword training, and continually belittled her skills. It shouldn't have surprised me, considering that the book was written in 1986, and even now, in 2016, we still can't have kickass heroines in books or movies without pushback. I didn't feel that Del was ever allowed to save herself; she always needed Tiger's assistance to escape from perilous situations. With the cover, featuring a strong woman reaching confidently for a glowing sword, I expected Sword-Dancer to be more about Del and less about Tiger. The exact opposite was true. I don't know if I will continue the series.