Character Guide

Goldie Roth has worn the punishment chains more than any other child in the history of Jewel. She has a bold nature and a talent for fingertalk. The first sentence she ever signed was ‘Guardian Hope is a plague rat.’ Her brooch—a small blue bird with outstretched wings—used to belong to her auntie Praise, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances many years ago. When the Blessed Guardians try to crush Goldie’s spirit, she touches the brooch and dreams of freedom. Her best friend is Favor Berg.

Toadspit taught himself to pick locks when he was ten. (His parents thought he was learning to knit.) He is a skilled thief and an excellent liar. He has a fiery temper, but will throw himself into the face of danger for his friends and family without thinking twice. He hates the Blessed Guardians just as much as Goldie does—with good reason. His best friend is Morg, a slaughterbird. Sometimes he thinks she’s the only one who understands him.

Most people think that brizzlehounds are extinct—if they ever existed in the first place. According to legend, they were enormous brutes with red eyes and slavering jaws, who lurked in dark alleyways and sprang out with a roar to kill any children foolish enough to walk past. It is said—though no one at all believes this—that they could talk, and the mere sound of their voice was enough to strike a person senseless with terror.

Morg is a slaughterbird, and she likes eyes. Blue, green, brown—she’s not fussy, they all taste the same. Like the brizzlehound, she is one of the creatures from the old days of Dunt. She came out of the egg five hundred years ago, and has a particular fondness for Toadspit. His head feathers are so black that he might be one of her own chicks. She has always thought it a pity that he refuses to learn to fly.

Unlike her brother the Fugleman, the Grand Protector hardly ever thinks about her looks. (She is very short-sighted, and once came to the office in her slippers.) She is also tough, thoughtful and clever, and tries hard to be fair, except when the corns on her toes are hurting her. She has always disliked her brother, and suspects that he was adopted.

The Fugleman is a handsome man with a talent for manipulating people. His Blessed Guardians adore him, and who can blame them—he adores himself! He enjoys the ancient art of swordsmanship, partly because all that parrying and thrusting shows off his fine figure. When he was a baby, the first word he learned was ‘Mine!’ He has always disliked his sister, and suspects that she was adopted.

Guardian Hope loves being a Blessed Guardian more than anything in the world. She wears her official badge to bed every night, pinned to the front of her nightie, and when she’s in the shower she carries it clenched between her teeth. In the evenings, she sits alone in her room, polishing her large collection of punishment chains and dreaming of the day when the Fugleman will at last realize how clever, witty and beautiful she is. She dislikes children.

Herro Dan has been in the museum since it began, five hundred years ago. (He’s older than he looks.) He is one of the Furuuna—the people who lived on the Faroon Peninsula before the invaders came from Merne. His whole family was killed when he was a boy. Despite this, there’s something very calm and warm-hearted about him. He loves Olga Ciavolga and she loves him.

Olga Ciavolga carries the winds of the world in the knots of her kerchief. She is an argumentative old woman, but she has a kind heart. During her long life she has learned a lot of wisdom, which she uses in her position as Second Keeper. She has a soft spot for animals.

Sinew has a talent for Concealment. He once walked into the House of Repentance in broad daylight, stole an armful of files and walked out again without anyone knowing he was there. (He also took the Fugleman’s favorite sword, and threw it in Dead Horse Canal.) He is Herro Dan’s and Olga Ciavolga’s eyes and ears in the city. As a child he was awkward and unhappy—until he discovered music. His harp is called Mercy.