Wizard of the Pigeons
is a 1986 urban fantasy
novel by Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden
under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm
-- she now writes under the pseudonym Robin Hobb
. It is out-of-print and difficult to find, but worth the effort to track down a copy.
The setting is the city of Seattle. The characters are chiefly street-people; living day-to-day, trying to survive the world, and keep the city running smoothly and safe from evil. Each of these derelicts and bag ladies has a gift. One can "read" of coming danger in the nursery rhymes of children playing jump-rope. Another can grant a small wish. Our main character can speak words to ease a stranger's troubled mind and set them on the path they need to follow. Each of these people is a wizard of the city. But with these gifts come restrictions and responsibilities. Our Wizard -- he doesn't know his own name -- must not carry more than a dollar, he cannot sleep with a woman, and he must care for the pigeons.
An evil force is seeking to rob him of his magic and Wizard is filled with self-doubt. His past haunts him in brief almost surreal flashbacks -- both Vietnam and his broken marriage. While his friends do the best they can to help, ultimately he must face these demons himself and come to grips with who he was, who he is, and who he wishes to become.
Lindholm has crafted a novel rich in characterization with a depth not found in many genre works. Every time I see a copy of Wizard of the Pigeons I buy it. I've given many copies of this book away.