Welcome Carina Press author Joely Sue Burkhart and The Bloodgate Guardian
When you think of the Maya, your first thought might be massive ruins in the middle of the jungle, crumbling pyramids, mysteries about why their great cities were abandoned, and even human sacrifice. But one element that has always fascinated me that might not be quite as widely known is the significance of the jaguar in Maya mythology.
The jaguar was one of the most feared and respected animals. To show how powerful they were, kings and priests often wore part of the jaguar pelt or necklaces made from teeth and claws. The Jaguar God was associated with the all-important sun. When the sun sets each night, he became Jaguar Night Sun who paddles through the watery underworld of Xibalba to rise anew each day. Four jaguars guard the cardinal directions. The Lower Temple of Chich’en Itza is named after the Jaguar, along with the Jaguar Throne, which represents the first of the hearth stones the Maya believed were set in “First Five Sky,” the home of the gods in the cosmos.
But what intrigued me the most were legends about the Maya priests who were rumored to be able to shift into the jaguar’s form. One carving that particularly caught my fascination showed a shaman dancing while his hands, legs, and head slowly transformed into the jaguar.
I love shapeshifter stories, but honestly, wolves have never done much for me. I much prefer the big cats, especially a sleek, black jaguar. *shivers* In walked Ruin, the hero of THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN. He’s a powerful priest who not only commands the Bloodgates—portals to the mystical worlds of the gods—but he also shifts into a jaguar whenever he needs to kill in order to protect those secrets.
Unfortunately for the heroine, Dr Jaid Merritt, she first meets him as a jaguar…because she’s been tampering with his magic.
A small excerpt:
Breathing deeply and slowly to regulate his body, he caught a faint whiff of…
Magic. His magic.
A snarl pulled his lips back from his teeth. He threw his head back, breathing deeply to find the source. Weakness pushed aside, he slunk through the shadows with the jaguar’s gift of stealth and watched the car drive up the graveled road to the well-lit building the encroachers had constructed outside his ruined city. The doors opened and a woman stepped out of the car, clutching a well-wrapped package in her arms.
He didn’t need to see the contents to know she bore his codex. She’d read those pages, deciphered his glyphs, and studied his words until she breathed magic through her very pores. His palms itched, the compulsion to protect the city and his magic trying to grind his bones to dust.
This was the daughter of which the white man had spoken. She had come here after all.
After hundreds of years, his doomed city had been discovered and the last copy of the Heart of Blood Codex–which he should have also destroyed–had been found and read. His magic had been used to breach the Gate.
Silently, he glided through his abandoned city to the secret chamber beneath the Pyramid of Dawn. He unsheathed his knife and raised it toward the lake, its shimmering seduction whispering in his blood despite the stone separating him from the mighty Gate. “Great Feathered Serpent, Lord of Sun, grant me the power to kill this last threat to the Gates. Bury this city once more and all who trespass within. Then let me die, Great One. Please, let me die.”
Quickly, he drew the knife down both ear lobes. The pain was immediate, but familiar and soothing. Bloodletting pleased the gods and brought him closer to the ultimate sacrifice. If he thought the Great Feathered Serpent would let him die at last, he’d carve open his own ribcage and rip out his heart.
Soon, he promised himself. Soon I will walk the White Road with my brother at my side.
Sheathing his blade, he carefully tucked the bone knife into the modern clothing he’d stashed beneath a stone in the floor. He closed his eyes and spread his arms in silent supplication, letting magic spread with each drip of his blood. Power swelled within him, hot, sweet, and thick. A joyful flood of life danced about him, casting shadows on the painted stone walls.
His body blurred, bones cracking, limbs reforming until a jaguar as dark as the night crouched on the temple floor. He inhaled the sweet, fragile scent of his prey on the air. The jaguar padded through the temple to the dead city above, silently slinking through the trees toward the cabanas the invaders had constructed.
She would not escape his wrath like the man who’d fallen into the pit of Xibalba.
Read excerpts of The Bloodgate Guardian Chapter One (pdf) and Chapter Two or purchase at Carina Press.
Review or rate THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN (or any of Joely’s books) by July 31st to be entered to win at least two $50 gift certificates! Details here.
Joely always has her nose buried in a book, especially one with mythology, fairy tales, and romance. She, her husband, and their three monsters live in Missouri. By day, she’s a computer programmer with a Masters of Science degree in Mathematics. When night falls, she bespells the monsters so she can write. Find her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and check out Scribd for free reads!