Dream-Hunter Lydia has been charged with the most sacred and dangerous of missions: To descend into the Nether Realm and find the missing god of dreams before he betrays the secrets that could kill her and her kind. What she never expects is to be taken prisoner by the Realm's most vicious guardian…
Seth's time is running out. If he can't hand over the entrance to Olympus, his own life and those of his people will be forfeit. No matter the torture, Seth hasn't been able to break the god in his custody. Then there's the beautiful Dream-Hunter Lydia: She isn't just guarding the gates of Olympusshe's holding back one of the world's darkest powers. If she fails, an ancient curse will haunt the earth once more and no one will be safe. But evil is always seductive...
About the Author
In the past two years, New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon has claimed the #1 spot twelve times. With more than 23 million copies of her books in print in over 30 countries, her current series include: The Dark-Hunters, The League, Lords of Avalon, BAD Agency, Chronicles of Nick, and the forthcoming Nevermore.
Read an Excerpt
THE GUARDIAN (CHAPTER 1)
Hell had many connotations, each one as unique as the individual who defined it. To one person, the idea of being trapped for eternity in a Michael Bolton video was the epitome of horror. To another, it was being stuck in an elevator with someone talking too loud on a cell phone, and not being able to gut that person for their rudeness.
To Lydia Tsakali, hell was the darkness surrounding her that echoed with the screams of the damned being tortured. It wasn’t just their loud misery or their pleas for mercy to the ones who didn’t care that made it so bad, it was the memories those screams evoked. The haunting terror of something she never wanted to think about again. Long buried, those flashbacks of that one night in her life, and the raw emotions they exposed, still had the ability to bring her to her knees.
Don’t think about it.
How could she not? That night had been the last time she’d had a family who loved her. Then, like now, she’d only been able to see the oppressive black that had made her eyes ache. The darkness had pressed so hard against her that she’d feared herself blind as well as mute. And when she’d finally breached the dark to see light, all she’d found was blood and terror …
You’re not a pup anymore.
No, she was a jackal full grown. More than that, she was a well-trained warrior with over a thousand years of hard combat training behind her. There wasn’t a single soul in Azmodea who could harm her.
You forgot about Noir.
All right. There was one.
What about Azura?
Okay, two … But that was all right. She’d had much worse odds more times than she could count. Yeah, but they didn’t have the powers of a primary god.
Mind? Are you trying to turn me coward?
I’m trying to talk sense into you before it’s too late. We haven’t lived this long by being eat up with stupid—not with all the people out to kill us. And for what? Solin? He’ll slaughter you when he finds out you did this.
What kind of idiot are you?
Apparently one with a limitless supply of stupid. If it’d been anyone other than Solin trapped here, she’d have never done this.
But she loved him too much to leave him to this end. He’d taken her in when no one else would. Had trained her and stood by her. Taught her how to survive and how to fight. Without him, she’d be dead.
Even he would call you stupid for this.
And he would, too.
Kindness is a rotten fruit that poisons anyone who partakes of it. Throw it in the face of your enemies and let it ruin them instead.
How many times had he said that to her?
Yet, in spite of the hatred he’d carried in his heart and had voiced repeatedly, he’d raised her like a beloved daughter. Never once had he been stingy with his love, patience, or kindness.
Not with her.
Others … they saw a side of him that he very rarely turned in her direction. Thank the gods.
The personality is defined by its inconsistencies, not its consistencies. Another favorite Solin quote. It’s what makes us unique and who we are. The sound of his voice in her head was enough to make her smile in spite of the danger she faced.
I’ve got to find him.
He would come for her if she needed it.
But she knew the truth in her heart that denied what her head tried to tell her. Solin would be there for her always. To her, he was a hero.
Something moved to her left. Lydia froze as her hyper hearing picked up on the slight sound. The surge of adrenaline kicked her other senses into high gear. Her nostrils widened as a new scent hit her. Male. Demon.
Don’t breathe … Don’t breathe …
Not because she didn’t want it to detect her. But because the stench would be sickening for a human. To a half-breed Were-Hunter it was beyond painful. She clamped her fingers down on her nose to block the odor from getting in.
Still, she could smell it. Don’t gag …
What? Did demons bathe in shit? She hated to be so obscene, but really … What was it about demons that made so many of them nauseating?
Out of nowhere, he appeared directly in front of her. A smile curved his bulbous lips. “My, my … what have we here? Didn’t realize I’d ordered delivery. How nice of you—”
To die for me. She finished his sentence in her head as she grabbed him by the throat, and cut his words off.
But when she moved to stab him, he evaporated from her grasp into a smelly purple fog.
Lydia turned a small circle in the blackness, trying to get her bearings and locate him before he told anyone she was here. She could no longer smell or hear him.
Definitely not good. At least not for her.
A piercing shriek drowned out the cries of the others. She clamped her hands over her ears. Just what I need. Bleeding eardrums.
The shriek grew louder.
It was getting closer.
Something hard struck her back, knocking her down.
Even though the mere thought of it killed her, she dropped her hands from her ears and pulled her other dagger out. Here, demon, demon … come get some.
The sound of slithering moved to her right. She ran for it, lashing out in a hope of striking whatever foe was there.
Instead of drawing their blood, she drew her own the minute she slammed into a closed iron door that had blended in perfectly with the darkness.
Sonofa … She hissed at the pain exploding through her skull. Blood poured from her nose.
She kicked at the offending door.
To her surprise, it slammed open, rattling on its hinges. Light flooded into her tiny space, temporarily blinding her. She blinked until her eyes adjusted, then frowned at the sight of some luminescent tubing that provided the light from the slick ceiling above her. How weird. It vaguely reminded her of a glowstick, but this fluid was thicker and a vivid and eerie blue.
Now she could see the dank walls that appeared to bleed and breathe. She curled her lip in distaste. What was that?
Bet it’s what smells.
Nah, only demon toe funk could be this abhorrent. And speaking of demons, hers seemed to have vanished completely.
Where are you, you bastard?
Her luck, going for friends.
But that wasn’t her main concern. Where was Solin? She’d tried repeatedly to use her telepathy to contact him, but whatever was holding him had somehow blocked that ability. She couldn’t even reach him through a dream state. Which, given both of their powers, shouldn’t have been a problem.
She hated this feeling of being completely alone. It reminded her of those weeks in her childhood when she’d had no one. The time she’d staggered through the blistering desert looking for water …
We’re always alone. You can be in a crowded room and still feel the bite of loneliness. Personally, I find that it bites deepest whenever others are around. Another thing Solin forever harped on.
He was ever the pessimist.
She turned a corner and froze.
The smelly demon was back.
And as she’d feared, it’d gone for friends …
A lot of friends. Maybe two or three dozen. And the moment they saw her, their demonic eyes lit up and radiated color even brighter than the glowing tubes. They might as well have drool dripping from their chins.
She wasn’t a coward, but only a fool would face that number without backup. And she wasn’t a fool. After throwing her right dagger at the tallest one, she turned and ran in the opposite direction as fast as she could. She hoped that dagger had made contact and brought down at least one of them. But she wasn’t going to wait around and find out.
Rule one in pursuit: Never look back.
Instead, she put her head down and kept going as fast as she could. She would have turned into her jackal form, but was afraid she might need her opposable thumbs for another invisible door.
She skidded around a corner, into a new hallway. Here the light wasn’t quite as bright, but it was enough to let her see where the walls and doors were.
Unfortunately, it didn’t let her see the floor. Or the thing that tripped her.
For a moment, she flew through the air until she landed face down on the ground. Putrid water splashed against her skin as pain throbbed in her knee, stomach, and cheek.
She pushed herself up and wiped away at the foul water and blood. Even though it hurt, she forced herself to start running again.
She could flee this realm for the time being, and then return again to search later. At least that was the thought until she heard something familiar from behind the door to her left.
“Fuck you and your little dog, too.”
She’d know that acerbic tone and deep Greek accent anywhere. Smiling in spite of her pain, she opened the door, ready for battle.
What she wasn’t ready for was the giant … whatever it was that was trying to eat him. A mass of dark green skin with red markings, the demon turned toward her.
And this one did salivate as its yellow eyes pinned her with a salacious stare that gave her dancing heebie-jeebies. Not on your best day, buster!
“Lydia?” Solin asked incredulously. He was beaten so badly that but for his voice, she’d have never been able to identify him. “Child, what are you doing? Get the hell out of here while you can.”
“Not without you.” Since she couldn’t speak with a voice, she sent her thoughts to him.
“I taught you better than that. Survival Rule Number One.”
Save your own ass above all others. She knew it well. But someone following that rule wouldn’t tell a rescuer to flee before freeing them.
Raising her dagger, she rushed at the demon. He moved a lot faster than something his size should be able to. With an impressive twist, he dodged her attack completely and caught her from behind.
She tried to break out of his hold. It was like being drowned in sticky Jell-o. Smelly three-month-old Jell-o.
He laughed at her useless attempts. If that wasn’t bad enough, he licked her cheek. “What a tasty little morsel you are.”
She cringed. For the sake of the gods, haven’t any of you heard of breath mints? Pardon the pun, but Altoids could make a mint down here.
She jerked her head back, slamming it into his nose, and at least this time he satisfied her with a deep groan.
“You’ll be sorry for that.” He lifted her off her feet and threw her down on the floor.
Ignoring the pain that said she’d probably broken something, Lydia flipped herself back to her feet.
“Don’t do this, Dee. Don’t.”
She ignored Solin as she and the demon circled each other slowly.
Right when she went in for another attack, the demon vaporized, just like the other one had done. All he left was his stench. That she’d have gladly done without.
She turned to look for him, but before she could do more than draw breath, he appeared behind her and kicked her into the wall.
More agony tore through her body, dulling her sight.
The demon seized her. “It’s over for you, kitten.” He tightened his grip, squeezing the last of the breath from her lungs.
Her ears started buzzing.
Just as she was sure he’d kill her, she heard a loud shout resonate off the walls. “Release her, demon. Now!”
Definitely not Solin. That deep, gravelly male voice was unique and filled with an unfathomable rage that came from someplace dark inside him. His accent was unlike anything she’d heard before. Lyrically sweet and beautiful, yet at the same time harsh and commanding.
The demon let go and shrank back in terror. That reaction only made her panic more. If something as scary as he was afraid of the newcomer, what chance did she have?
But she wasn’t a coward. If she was going to die, it would be fighting to the last breath.
And she’d take as much of him with her as she could.
Coughing, she turned around, putting her back to the wall to confront this new creature. She wiped the sweat from her eyes and focused them on the door where the stranger stood.
Her jaw went slack as her gaze focused on the massive form that was bathed in that eerie blue light.
Holy mother of all electronics …
I’m so dead.
THE GUARDIAN Copyright © 2011 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great book. Breathtaking. Beautiful. Recommend it!
Sherrilyn Kenyon is one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait to read her next book. However, I do need to point out that B&N has it incorrectly stated as Dark-Hunter Series #22 when in fact it is from the Dream-Hunter Series #5. Even though the two series are kind of interwoven, they are not the same. With that being said, I still cannot wait to read it and look forward to her next in the Dark-Hunter series.
With some Egyptian God in his blood, Seth the Guardian has never lived the life of a deity as he has spent millennia being betrayed as an exile. Over the past several thousand years he has been a tortured slave to the god Noir who assigns him to use any means necessary to obtain from the incarcerated Dream Hunter Solin where the key to Mt Olympus is hidden. To ensure a successful expedited mission is accomplished, Noir the impatient god threatens Seth and others. Hybrid Dream-Hunter Kattagarian Lydia enters the Nether Realm to rescue her father Solin. Instead the Nether Realm's most terrifying Guardian Seth captures her. Expecting nightmarish torture from this vicious miscreant, she is stunned to find instead a tortured soul who has never been loved and expects Lydia to betray him if he displays his attraction to her. The Guardian is a strong Dream-Hunter romantic fantasy that has ties to the rest of the vast Kenyon mythos. Filled with action and pathos, readers will root for Lydia as she falls in love with her worst nightmare (Stockholm syndrome comes to mind), but wonders how to teach a person to accept love when they never received anything positives from relationships. Although the confrontational climax feels abrupt, fans of the saga will relish the love story between a Guardian allegedly with no heart and a Hunter giving him her heart. Harriet Klausner
I have read all the books, loved them and can't wait to read the next
I just finished this book and am left with my feelings all in a knot. Seth is fabulous! Hot, loyal and childlike at times, I wanted to reach in and save him myself. Lydia was the perfect partner for him, funny, loyal, and loving. I love her books and this one rates right up there with my favorites.
Even after being disappointed with Retribution I can honestly say that I was excited for Guardian. I thought it was going to pick up from the cliffhanger in the last dream-hunter book and just be a real page turner. Unfortunately I was sorely mistaken. We are once again presented with Kenyon's age old formula for a hero: tragic past + alpha male attitude + Adonis like body= **insert any of Kenyon's male characters here** I would liken the story and plot to Upon A Midnight Clear: complete waste of time and adds nothing to the series' overall plot, just brings everything to a halt. The ending was completely half-assed, like Kenyon was tired of writing and just wanted to wrap things up without even explaining how it happens. Additionally ever since Retribution Kenyon has been skimping out on the sex scenes. I don't know why, but it's incredibly annoying. It's a romance series for crying out loud! Though this last book was extremely mediocre, I'll probably still read her future releases since they're my guilty pleasure.
I am a huge fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon. If you are a fan you will definitely enjoy.
This had been one of my favorites thus from from the series. I love the tie in of all the other lines.
Can't stop reading SK!
I have read all of Kenyon's Dark Hunter and Dream Hunter books fromt he beginning. Love her writing and her books.
Good read & good heroine
Ms. Kenyon, I did tell you I did not like short stories, didn't I??!!! Well, you proved me to be a LIAR!!!! I LOVE SETH'S STORY!!!! Now, this is the Sherrilyn Kenyon I KNOW!!!! Although it was short, it was COMPLETE!!! Beautifully written!!!! Characters had depth!!!! I had NO QUESTIONS once I completed this book. My only regret was...it was OVER!!! I LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I hope you write a story about the twins...Jaden and Jared...I would LOVE to know more about them...they are truly a mystery...and it was nice you gave us another glimpse into their story. Can't wait until your next book!!! Thank you, Ms. Kenyon, for making me change my mind!!!
Can't believe this lady can keep writing so many books with such great style, definately hasn't lost her touch! I totally fell in love with Seth and Lydia was an entirely believeable winning charecter. Did miss some of my fav charecters though, Nick, Savitar, and Simi looking forward to seeing them again in the future books!
One of the things I always enjoyed about SK's books was that they could be read stand alone, or enrichiched by knowing the rest of the series. This wasn't one. Don't get me wrong- it was a good book, but you wouldn't know who half the characters were if you hadn't read previous books. Solin was a little out of character, though the rest seemed to fall in line with previous behaviors. All in all, a good book. Still waiting for Savitar and my darling Thorne's stories.
As always, this book was thrilling and hard to put down!
Watch out because some of the Dream Hunter books have "spoilers" in them but you find out a LOT about some of our favorite Dark Hunters.
Love Seth and Lydia. Their story is one of the feel good, smile when it is over, kind os stories. One of my favs for sure.
Great series, can't wait until the next book Styxx comes out next week.
Those who keep up with the Dark-Hunter/Dream-Hunter series, Sherrilyn Kenyon, has once more written a great storyline that fans will enjoy.
Had me on the edge of my feet. Im hanging and waiting for more
Love all the Dark Hunters, Dream Hunters. The Guardian is now a favorite. Sherrilyn keep them coming. Love, love, loved Seth!
I will remember this one for a long time! As with any series of books there are good ones and great ones and the Guardian is most assuredly one of the great ones! I will be rereading this one in the future and I rarely reread any story. S K you outdid youreself on this one sweetie!!
I really enjoyed this book, it was so good and I would and have recommended it to friends of mine for a good read. Look forward to reading other new books by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I have read all of her books and can't wait for more.