The Guardian – Dark-Hunter Series #20 – Sherrilyn Kenyon

How hot is a man who has known very little comfort or kindness yet still knows right from wrong and has the capacity to love deeply? Or am I just a sicko for thinking that? I’m a sucker for a tortured hero and Sherrilyn Kenyon is the queen of the tortured hero.

Seth is the son of the Egyptian god Set and a human woman. When he was six years old, his mother took him to pay homage to his father at his temple but instead of accepting Seth, his father berated him and his mother because Seth was scrawny. His mother, who had never been the most loving of mothers, took him out to the desert that day, smashed his kneecaps and legs to pieces with a hammer and left him to die. A month later, after he had wandered the desert and learned he was immortal and couldn’t die of thirst and hunger, a clan of jackal Were-Hunters found him and took him in as part of their family…or at least, that is what he thought until they sold him to Noir, one of the most evil beings ever, when he was thirteen. His adoptive father told him that he was so pathetic that his own parents hadn’t wanted him so why should anyone else? That was over 4,000 years ago.

Since then, Noir has drained him of his powers and tortured him. He now serves Noir without question. No, that isn’t true. He can never keep his mouth shut and always taunts Noir which earned him a bolt through his jaw and tongue to keep him from speaking. He rarely gets unchained but Noir comes to him and tells him he has a job to do for him.

Lydia Tsakali is half jackal and half dream god or Dream-Hunter. Her birth was somewhat of an enigma since the only way a Were-Hunter can have children is if they have been mated. But apparently, there is a loophole in the curse that the Fates put on the Were-Hunters that they hadn’t counted on. Everyone thinks that the Fates cursed the Were-Hunters by not allowing them to pick their own mates because it was part of the original curse where the Greek gods were offended that Lycaon dared to get around the Apollite curse of dying at age 27 by doing magickal experiments between Apollites and animals which resulted in Were-Hunters. But the truth is…that when the Greek gods refused to hand over Apollo and Artemis to the goddess Apollymi after Apollo killed her son, she promised them a day of retribution. She vowed, “A combination of all you have sought so desperately to destroy, it will survive against all odds. And its blood mixture will be your poison. And on that day when it comes for you, my laughter will ring in the Hall of Zeus, and every Greek god will feel my wrath as the die in utter agony. All hail the queen’s justice!”

Yeah, I couldn’t figure out what the heck that meant either but the author was kind enough to explain. The Fates always choose mates for the Were-Hunters because they want to make sure that this prophesy never came true. I am not sure which bloodlines they were preventing from mixing but they missed something because a god can impregnate a Were-Hunter without being mated. Lydia’s mother was a Katagaria jackal and her father was or is a Dream-Hunter…only nobody but Lydia and her father, Solin, know that. Except her mom who died a long time ago.

Lydia doesn’t know it but she is Apollymi’s curse against the gods. She is what they call “The Key of Olympus.” She has the ability to drain all of the powers from the Greek gods and give it to someone else. Solin knows this and has been hiding her from everyone who would either want to use her against the Greek gods and from the Greek gods who would kill her.

Seth’s job for Noir was to pull Solin from his world into Azmodea where Noir and Azura live. Seth can pull people in and out of Azmodea but he cannot leave. Noir took that power away from him. His job is to torture Solin to find the Key of Olympus. When he catches Lydia sneaking in to save Solin and notices how Solin obviously cares for her, he assumes she is Solin’s lover and decides to use her against Solin. He grabs Lydia and flashes her to his room that has no door to escape. He tells Solin that he has three days to find the key or he will send Lydia back to him in pieces. He releases Solin from his chains and sends him home.

Seth doesn’t what the Key of Olympus is. He is just following Noir’s orders. But he doesn’t tell Noir about Lydia for some reason. Each day, Noir asks Seth if he has broken Solin and where the Key of Olympus is and each day, he beats Seth for not succeeding. He returns to his room where Lydia is and passes out on the floor from the injuries caused by Noir and Azura. Lydia uses the sheets from the bed to bandage him while he is unconscious, not only because she is kind but because she fears that if he dies, she will die because there is no way out of the room. Seth is shocked when he wakes up that she helped him because nobody has ever helped him before.

She also helps him with his laptop. He’s been chained for centuries and was unaware of modern technology but a demon told him about computers so he conjured one. Lydia helps him with it and asks what he wants to know. He tells her he wants to learn about the Key of Olympus. She Googles it but has no luck. He asks her if the computer has pictures of sunlight so she pulls up images of sunlight scenes and she sees a look of utter amazement and longing on his face. She falls asleep while he is looking at the images.

They start to care about one another. She sees the good in him and Seth has never had anyone be kind to him without stabbing him in the back later. He’s still leery of her but he can’t help liking her.

Meanwhile, Solin sucks his hatred of the Greek Oneroi and goes to Madoc, one of their leaders, for help. He asks Madoc if he remembers the Key of Olympus. Madoc asks, “Do you mean the one you were supposed to have destroyed a long time ago?” Solin tells him he didn’t destroy it and why. They decide to ask Thorn for help. We met Thorn in a previous book #17, he also lives in Azmodea, a hell realm. He and Noir have a shaky agreement to share the realm but Thorn and Noir are far from friends so Thorn may or may not help them.

In a later scene, Solin, Madoc, Delphine and a few other dream gods are imprisoned in a glass-like enclosure. There is a traitor amongst the dream gods. We knew that from a previous book but nobody knows who it is. The traitor must have told Zeus about Lydia so he or locked up the few Dream-Hunters and Dolophoni who he knew would go against him and he has probably sent out the Greek Phonoi after her. They are three blood-thirsty granddaughters of Ares who Zeus calls upon when he wants someone killed pronto.

An alarm sounds and demons make a doorway to Seth’s room. They are under attack. He takes Lydia to Jaden and asks him to keep her safe. Jaden agrees because he owes Seth for something that happened when Seth first arrived in Azmodea. Jaden is another mystery man. We know he is Noir and Azura’s slave and that he is super powerful but we don’t know much more about him. He tells Lydia that he can never leave, that he agreed to serve them to protect someone he cares about but he didn’t go into detail. Jaden also tells her he knows everything about everything and that she shouldn’t tell Seth that she is a jackal. He then touches her head and shows her images from Seth’s past of how his parents and the jackals betrayed him. Jaden is afraid that Seth will kill her if he finds out.

Now, the Greek pantheon wants her dead, Noir wants to use her against the Greeks and she has to find a way to free Seth from Noir and Azura…that is if he doesn’t find out she is a jackal and kills her first.

This is one of those books that I couldn’t get enough of so I read until my eyes were blurry. I would have finished it in less than a day but alas, there is life outside of the book world and I had to attend to it. There was just so much I liked about this book. I loved Seth. He was big and scary to everyone except Lydia. I like characters who aren’t just black and white and who have shades of good and bad in them and Seth had lots of shades of grey in him. I liked Lydia because she was just so positive and just assumed people were good or have goodness in them. She wasn’t naïve by any means but she saw the good in Seth and Jaden. I see the good in Jaden because he is my book boyfriend. When or if Sherrilyn Kenyon writes a book dedicated to him, I will be the heroine of the story. Sherrilyn will make me younger and give me a killer body but it will still be me. Nope, I’m not delusional…not at all!

I have already started the next book.

Terms and Definitions that may help with this summary

Apollites – A race of people made by Apollo with the intention that he would one day replace Zeus. He thought that he could create a race superior to humans. Apollites are stronger and taller than humans with psychic powers. Angered by this, Zeus made declared war on them and exiled them to Atlantis.

When the Apollite queen became jealous of Apollo’s beloved mistress, Ryssa, she ordered Ryssa and her newborn’s son to be killed and ripped apart. In sorrow and rage over this, Apollo cursed all Apollites to die painfully on their 27th birthday because that was how old Ryssa was. They also could no longer live in the daylight and had to live only off of Apollite blood. In doing this, he also cursed his son, Stryker.

Were-Hunter – A long time ago, a king, Lycaon, with the help of a god did magickal experiments on animals of prey and Apollites to save his sons from the Apollite curse of dying when they reach the age of 27 which resulted in humans and animals to shift into each form. There are two kinds of Were-Hunters, Arcadian and Katagaria. The gods cursed them to hate each other so they always fight between the two races.

Arcadian – Were-Hunters who are born human but can shift into animal form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers. Arcadians believe they are superior to Katagaria because they are more human. When they sleep, they retain the natural form of a human.

Katagaria – are animal hearted Were-Hunters who are born in animal form and able to transform into human form when they reach puberty and unlock their magickal powers. When they sleep, they retain their natural form of an animal.

Dream-Hunter – children of the Greek gods of sleep Morpheus and Phobetor. The goddess Mist or Myst is the mother of most of them but some Dream-Hunters have human mothers. Dream-Hunters visit the dreams of humans, gods and Apollites. There are two kinds of Dream-Hunters, Oneroi and Skoti.

Oneroi – Oneroi are dream gods who visit the dreams of humans, immortals and gods. The Oneroi are in charge of policing dreams and keeping track of the activities of the Skoti to make sure they don’t harm any human.

Zeus cursed the Oneroi because one played a trick on him while in his dream. Zeus cursed them to not have any kind of emotion and the only way they can have emotions are by going into people’s dreams. They are only allowed to visit a person’s dreams once and move on to the next person. There are different classes or types of Oneroi and their roles or assignations can usually be recognized by the first letter of their names.

Dolophoni – children of the Furies who are the assassins for the gods. The gods call on them to take care of anyone they consider a threat. They use weapons forged by Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, and can only be called off by the Erinyes and that never happens.

Phonoi – the granddaughters of Ares, the Phonoi are the embodiment of Killing, Murder and Slaughter. They are the ones Zeus calls out when he needs someone removed from the earth, pronto.

Apollymi – also known as the Destroyer, a powerful Atlantean goddess who destroyed everyone else in her pantheon over an event that nearly tore out her heart. After sinking Atlantis into the ocean and practically annihilating the world, the Greek gods imprisoned her in the nether world called Kalosis. She may be contained but she is far from helpless. Nobody wants to piss her off because she will crush them. If she ever gets free again, not only will she kill the Greek gods but she will obliterate the world.

Azura and Noir – two of the three evil primal gods. They have a sister named Braith but they don’t know where she is or if she is still alive. Noir and Azura live in Azmodea, a hell realm and want to take over the world.

Jaden – a powerful being but nobody knows exactly what he is. He is enslaved to Noir and Azura over a bargain to protect someone he cares about but no one knows the details except Jaden and maybe Noir and Azura. He’s more powerful than Noir and Azura and could kill them at any time but he stays and they torture him horribly. He has one green eye and one brown eye and claw marks on his neck. He also is a broker between the demons and the gods or other immortals. Demons summon him when they want to make a bargain like trading their soul to him for some deed they want done. He doesn’t do the deed but he sees that it gets done. He sometimes turns down the deals, saying their sacrifice is not good enough or worth it.

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