Embers (The Guild of the Cowry Catchers, #1) - Abigail Hilton On the face of it, this seems like a decent set-up: a disinherited prince of a lesser kingdom becomes Captain of the Police for the slightly sinister ruling Princess, and with the help of a cynical and threatening admiral (who dragged himself out of the lowest classes) embarks on an investigation of a growing resistance force that puts both their lives in danger.

But, the prince Gerard (voice by the esteemed Nathan Lowell, who I hope got a lot of money for doing this) is a "grishnard," the ruling caste of "shelts," who are half-human and half-griffin, with fuzzy ears, tails, and hooves. Silveo, the admiral, is a "foxling," and Gerard's best friend is his trusty griffin, who flies him all around and talks, too. The Princess is bound by her service to the gods, all-powerful wyverns, who also talk, of course. And swim.

Talking animals. Who kill each other and make fine coats to wrap around their, um, pelts. This would be a perfectly good story if not for the endless description of the Wyfervain caste system based on the histories of each "breed" of talking magical animals. Really. Well, mostly.

The growing trust and friendship between the extremely well-voiced Gerard and Silveo is very nicely done, and these are the best parts. I tune out during the occasional "exciting" parts (oho, a storm approaches!). And I was extremely disappointed to discover, upon concluding "Book One," that there is no narrative arc that distinguishes any of the "Books" from one another, and the story is apparently only one-third, or less, over.

Alas and alack, it is over for me. Even the gifted Nathan Lowell can't keep up the interest for me.