|Publication date||October 23, 2007|
| Preceded by|| Followed by|
Author: Tamora Pierce
Subseries: Beka Cooper
Almost 200 years before Alana became the champion of Tortal, before any other story of Tortall; back in the history of Tortall there lived a girl who became a legend. Written as the journals of first her descendant, the mother of the soon to be King of the Rogue, then Beka herself, this story chronicles her first year working in the capital city of Tortall.
At a time where the Provost's Guard bear the name of "Dogs," Beka finds herself a Puppy assigned by choice to the most difficult part of the city, and also to the best pair of Dogs in the city. The Lower City is a haven for thieves, both those associated with the Rogue and those who are not. Its a hard life, but the Dogs keep the peace, and their Birdies keep them informed of any trouble with the underworld. But Beka has a different kind of Birdie... she has a Wild Gift, a Gift of Air. She can listen to the dust spinners on the street corners and hear the voices of all who have past by, and she can hear the voices of the dead as their ghosts ride the pigeons that serve the Black God. So as she starts her first year in the Dogs, her Birdies bring her news of people dying, but death is no new thing in the Lower City. At least, it isn't until nine birds bring her ghosts that all died at once, that all died for the same secret. And then, one of Beka's friends falls victim to a shadow, a mysterious person that has been terrorizing the Lower City for years without anyone noticing. The two cases slowly begin to link to each other, and the young Puppy becomes more and more resolved: "The Lower City is mine, its people are mine. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for my mercy, because once I get my teeth in 'em, I will never let them go."