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The Guild of the Cowry Catchers, Book 1: Embers by [Hilton, Abigail]
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The Guild of the Cowry Catchers, Book 1: Embers Kindle Edition

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Length: 256 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Product Description

An honorable prince. A Jaded assassin. Can they work together to catch a pirate?

Gerard lost his birthright in his small island kingdom when he married the court minstrel. He fled to the only place that offered protection from his father and his vengeful local deity--the service of the High Priestess.

Unfortunately, his superior officer, Silveo, takes an instant disliking to Gerard. Silveo has a reputation for cruelty, cunning, and a biting wit. He's a minority species, and rumors claim that he was once an assassin, who clawed his way to power from a childhood of poverty and abuse.

In spite of their differences, the Priestess insists that Gerard and Silveo cooperate to destroy the charismatic pirate, Gwain, and his mysterious organization, the Guild of the Cowry Catchers. Gwain has been killing off the Temple Police for years, and he seems likely to make a swift end of Gerard...if Silveo doesn't do it first.

About the Author

Abigail Hilton is a nurse anesthetist living in Florida. She has spent time in veterinary school, lived in Taiwan, and skinned rattlesnakes. Not in that order. Find her blog and other information at

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2990 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Pavonine Books (Dec 26 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HD5Y02
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #932,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa3694180) out of 5 stars 117 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3686b58) out of 5 stars I like the world, but not the people Dec 2 2011
By G. Shirer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
In its description, The Guild of the Cowry Catchers, makes allusions to C.S. Lewis's Narnia and George R.R. Martin's Westeros,but I found very little in the book to be comparable to either of those settings. The author definitely gets points for world-building. It's obvious she has spent a deal of time developing her setting, an archipelego inhabited by various demihumans and dominated by a powerful religious organization.
However, I cannot say that I found her characters particularly engaging or sympathetic. The one character who appears to be untainted by bloodshed is so cloyingly sweet and good as to be irritating. One of the protagonists, whom we are informed is a man of honor, apparently has no problem lopping the heads off of defenseless prisoners. Another, a child of the slums who has risen to prominence in the local military, is an enormous bastard.
I can't honestly say that I care about any of these people, but I find the world itself, the setting, compelling. If the author ever produces something like 'A Guide to Wefrivain' I would definitely give that a look.
As to whether or not I'd continue to read this series? I can't say I feel any strong need to do so. Still, this first book was interesting and miles better than most of the free books you can get on a Kindle. You could do much worse than to give this book a look.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa34f660c) out of 5 stars Looking Forward to More! March 7 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
What a fantastic, cliff-hanger of a story! I especially like the fully formed, well thought out, imperfect characters.
I can not wait to continue the story with The Guild of the Cowry Catchers Book 2: Flames Deluxe Illustrated Edition.

Edit: I forgot to add, that the illustrations look fabulous, even on the Kindle where there is no color. The illustrator(s), did a wonderful job, and added an element of fun to the stories.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa381e24c) out of 5 stars Fantasy Fun for Everyone. Well Done! Dec 26 2011
By Reality Crafted - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This first book in the series is a true fantasy fiction in every sense.
Abigail Hilton has created a whole new world and a whole new race of
characters inhabiting it. The language is descriptive and flowing, the
story expansive and exciting and overall an excellent book. I read the
illustrated version and whilst the drawings were beautiful and imaginative,
the quality of the writing really made them just a delightful appendix, you
didn't need to see them to get a detailed and full idea of all the
characters and locations. I would like very much to add the reviews for
the following 4 books. For fantasy fiction or general fiction readers this
is highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa37d9738) out of 5 stars If you are the target audience for this book, you will love it. Nov. 7 2015
By PerkyTxGirl - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Embers (The Guild of the Cowry Catchers #1)

If you are the target audience for this book, you will love it. Read the warnings from the author and the other reviewers and if you still want to read it, I guarantee you should just go ahead and get the whole series.

I listened to this as The Guild of the Cowry Catchers: A Story of Pirates and Panamindorah, Complete 5-Book Series from audible. The series is really one long story with each book ending at the end of a part of the story. And what a story! It was an epic tale with a fascinating cast of characters and some truly imaginative world building. The audible version is a full cast performance with compelling voice work.

I have no trouble giving this entire series and each book in it 5 stars and I don’t give five star ratings lightly. There was not a moment of boredom in the entire long story.

This series is not for everyone, though. I think the description and the other reviews make it clear but I’ll add some warnings of my own. It is an adult story. There is violence, sex, sexual exploitation of children (told of by adult characters), rape, and other themes that some readers may just not be willing or able to deal with.

In addition to all that I’ve mentioned so far, the world itself might sqidge some readers out. There are no humans at all. The people are called shelts. They are creatures that have the top halves of a humans (the word human is never uttered) and the bottom halves of an animals. There are various kinds. Panauns (shelts with paws - such as felines and foxes) and Fauns (shelts with hooves) and Nauns (shelts with neither - such as Selkies). The author gives specific names to each type and it is usually easy to follow. The art makes it clearer so I highly recommend buying the Art of the Cowry Catchers or just check out the author’s website as there is enough there to make things clear.

In addition to shelts, there are also talking sentient animals as well. There are pegasus, gryphons, and other less mythical talking animals.

Another element of the world that is disturbing is that the shelts on the top of the hierarchy (Grishnards at the very top and other Panauns just below them but above Fauns) eat other shelts and wear their fur. It is a very hierarchical society and on the top of all the shelts are the wyverns, who are considered gods, and their high priestess Morchella.

In the first book, we are introduced to the islands of Wefrivain (which is a part of the world of Panamindorah) and the main characters Gerard Holovar and Silveo Lemire. It is a complicated world with a complicated story, but the author manages to introduce things without too much exposition by using quotes from three books “A Guide to Wefrivain”, “The Truth about Wyverns”, and “The Non-Grishnards of Wefrivain” - all authored by someone named Gwain. This is brilliant in more ways than one. First as I have mentioned, it takes care of some exposition without the annoying ‘as you know Bob’ trick. Secondly, it subtly sows some mis-information as Gwain’s tone is so authoritative but in reality he don’t actually know everything he thinks he knows. This pays off in the later books.

Gwain is at first just the name of a resistance fighter / pirate rumored to be organizing a movement but eventually he is a significant character in his own right.

The story starts out as we follow Gerard in his attempt to make something of his new post as captain of the temple police. He is an exiled Prince of the island of Holovaris and has spent the last year in the sea watch working for Admiral Silveo Lemire - a foxling whom he despises. When the high priestess Morchella makes him her captain of police, it is a promotion that put him technically on equal footing with Silveo but also puts him square in the middle of political intrigue and plots he can’t begin to understand.

Gerard is sort of a straightforward hero and the main POV character. He has led a privileged life as the eldest son of a king. A good shelt with sense of honor, he has been disowned for marrying a low born Grishnard named Thessalyn.

Gerard is in many ways the perfect hero for this story. He comes from a place of privilege and therefore is naive about most of this brutality of his own world. He is a Grishnard and a prince and has a really long journey to get to a place where he can begin to understand someone like Silveo Lemire. He considers himself honorable and notes he tries to right injustices, but in reality he barely notices them. He can’t from where he comes from. He finds eating fauns distasteful, but he stills does it. Morally, he is disquieted by the idea of slavery but barely gives the slave rowers on the ship more than a few seconds thought. As the hero he needs to start here and like the reader discover certain truths and take the journey to realize that he is on the wrong side of things. This isn’t much of a spoiler - if the reader isn’t rooting for the so called pirates pretty early on in the story then perhaps this isn’t the story for you!

Then there is Admiral Silveo Lemire. He quickly became one of my favorite characters - and not just of this series but of all time. Imagine (if you are a Lois McMaster Bujold fan) Miles Vorkosigon if he had been raised in a brothel and trained as an assassin at age fifteen - and he was half fox. His sharp wit and humor won me over. Once he is on task, there is no such thing as impossible. I absolutely loved Silveo!

The story starts out slowly, but the pacing is perfect to get to know the characters and the world. There is a nail biting finale and the book ends on a cliff hanger but luckily, you can get the entire series.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4365c0c) out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Fantasy March 13 2011
By Mark Stone - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In her world of Panamindorah, Abigail Hilton has created a fantasy like no other. If you're looking for business as usual fantasy, with elves and dwarves and wise wizards fighting dark lords, this is not the place for you. If you're looking for a setting that will blow your mind, characters you will fall in love with, and a story with will captivate you from moment zero, then you're in the right place. Abigail Hilton is one of the few truly original fantasy writers left in the world, and everyone should buy her work, and continue to buy it until her brilliance is recognized.

In other words, I recommend this book to all readers without reservations.