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Pigeons aren't only animals in Tortall . They are the Black God's messengers and carry the spirits of the dead. Most spirits continue to the Peaceful Realms quickly but those of persons who didn't die of natural causes but were murdered remain in the Mortal Realms, riding the pigeons, until their unfinished business is dealt with. The ghosts don't let go of the bird they are riding until their murderers are brought to justice and their corpses are found.

Many of the pigeons Beka talks to are native to the Lower City of Corus. Sometimes birds bred for use as messengers and for races escape and bring more colours into the flock like pink, copper and white[1].

Magic with Pigeons


Most people are unable to hear the pigeon's spirits let alone to communicate with them. The ability to hear and to some degree talk to the ghosts seems to have been quite common in the Cooper family around the year of 240 HE. Not only is Rebakah Cooper able to commune with them, her grandmother Fern Cooper tells her also of three other family members who have or had this particular form of the Gift as well as a book of the family in which all about it is written down.[2]

The pigeons are helpful to Beka in her work as a member of the Provost's Guard as she learns about new deaths or even about the circumstances of the murder. In the Lower City of Corus, Beka feeds a flock of about fifty pigeons, of whom only a few have names[3].

Named pigeons

  • Ashes - looks as if it had been sprinkled in ashes and its tail dipped in them[4]
  • Fog - blue-grey and blue-green male[3]
  • Inky - black and white; young in 246[5]
  • Mumper - bedraggled grey male[6]
  • Pinky - silver and dark pink female, bold personality[3]
  • Slapper - blue-black male, lamed, tends to slap Beka in the head [7]
  • Spangle - spangled in blue, green and violet on white[8]
  • White Spice - white, copper-spotted male, struts in front of the females[3]

Ghosts Riding the Pigeons

Even the ghosts of dead toddlers can talk as clear as any grown-up and tell their story to those who have the ability to hear the spirits.[9] However, normally there isn't much of a conversation possible with the ghosts as they don't respond to questions, although there are exceptions to that.

In April and May of 246 HE, many ghosts riding the pigeons were victims of the Shadow Snake or related to the Opal Murders.


Most people in Beka's time, probably also later, were prejudiced against pigeons, thinking they carried sickness and brought dirt in the house. Beka--and obviously also her friends, who didn't care that pigeons attended their breakfasts--knew better, however. She also tried to let people see their error, when they complained about the birds, but to no avail. Thus she had to stop feeding them while staying at Ladyshearth Lodgings in Port Caynn because one of Serenity's maids, Berna, complained and wouldn't listen when Beka told her that pigeons weren't dirty and that she herself, who had handled them for years, has never been sick because of them.[10]


  1. Terrier, May 2, 246 (p. 388; Random House paperback)
  2. Terrier, Prologue, Ilony Cooper's Journal (p. 9 - 11)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Terrier, April 2, 246 (p. 77)
  4. Terrier, April 7, 246 (p. 228)
  5. Terrier, April 8, 246 (p. 278/282)
  6. Terrier, April 5, 246
  7. Terrier, April 2, 246 (p. 76)
  8. Terrier, April 7, 246 (p. 230)
  9. Terrier, April 2, 246 (p. 78)
  10. Bloodhound, September 16, 247 II (p. 275)

See also