|City of the Rats (book)|
"Lief, Barda, and Jasmine—three companions with nothing in common but their hatred of the enemy—are on a perilous quest to recapture the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora. Only when the Belt is complete can the evil Shadow Lord be overthrown.
They have succeeded in finding the golden topaz and the great ruby. The two gems' mysterious powers have strengthened them and given them courage to move on in their search for the third stone. But none of them can know the horrors that await them in the forbidden City of the Rats."
This book is 132 pages long
Lief, Barda, and Jasmine having retrieved the topaz from the Forests of Silence and the ruby from the Lake of Tears, leaves the lake in their search for the opal, which is located in the City of the Rats. While travelling, they find signs which all have the word "Tom" written on it.
They then find themselves in a trap that Thaegan's remaining eleven children had prepared. With the help of Filli, the three managed to kill all the children except for one, Ichabod, and continue on their quest.
They find and enter Tom's shop and buy useful provisions such as Fire Beads, Water Eaters, Glowing Bubbles, and Instant Bread. They also buy three animals called Muddlets. Muddlets had three legs and can be ridden much like a horse.
Despite Tom's directions, Lief does not listen to him and goes the wrong way. The three lose control of the Muddlets as they run on their own, and are knocked unconscious. Lief, Barda and Jasmine wake up in the city of Noradz. Noradz has customs that keeps the city vigorously clean, and is ruled by the nine Ra-Kacharz. The Ra-Kacharz of Noradz look after the companions and insist that they stay for the main meal, which the people are about to have. Reluctantly the three companions agree, seeing that they do not have any choice in the matter.
During the meal, the companions decide to leave immediately after it has finished. Jasmine expresses her dislike of the city, and says that Filli feels the same. While serving the threesome, a girl, Tira, accidently drops a roll of bread onto the ground. The people cry out and the Ra-Kacharz seize the girl, ordering that she be whipped one hundred times for the crime. Horrified and seeing how terrified Tira is, Lief calls out that it was his fault, and not Tira's, and apologises because he and his companions did not know the rules in Noradz. Lief suspects that the Ra-Kacharz will not punish him because he is a stranger to the rules. To the trio's relief, the Ra-Kacharz release Tira and do not punish Lief.
When Filli comes out of hiding from Jasmine's shirt, the people of Noradz mistake it for a rat and are frightened. The Ra-Kacharz seize the companions and give them two choices: to live or die. Lief is commanded to pick a card labeled either Life or Death out of a cup. Lief sees the girl Tira mouth the words, 'Both cards say Death,' and realises that the head Ra-Kacharz, Reece, swapped the Life card for the Death card to be sure that the companions would die. Knowing that both cards say Death, Lief picks a card and "accidentally" destroys it in the fire. Lief then states that he has the opposite of whatever card is in the cup. The Ra-Kacharz believe him and sentence the companions to life imprisonment, much to Reece's annoyance.
Hours after they are imprisoned, when it seems as if all hope is lost, Tira manages to free them and shows them a secret way out of Noradz, by passing through the kitchen trash tube. Tira leaves the companions there. The Ra-Kacharz find the companions and proceed to attack them. Reece grabs Jasmine and whips at Lief and Barda, driving them towards the edge of the Hole. The threesome are saved by Tira, who knocks Reece on the head with a saucepan. He falls to the ground, unconscious.
The threesome manage to subdue the rest of the Ra-Kacharz, and decide to where their red garments while escaping, to avoid attention. While stripping them, they realise that all of them have the Shadow Lord's brand on their bodies, and realise that they are the Shadow Lord's creatures. Lief, Barda and Jasmine decide to take Reece with them as a hostage, as a precaution. However, once down the tube Reece is killed by the poisonous fungi in the tunnel. The threesome feel slightly remorseful, having not realised what the garments were for.
The trio escape Noradz hidden in a rubbish cart. To their surprise, they end up at Tom's shop again. Lief is furious when Tom arrives and greets the Grey Guards as if they were good friends. Lief begins to think that Tom is a traitor. Tom helps them escape the cart by distracting the Grey Guards. Once the Grey Guards are gone, Lief accuses Tom of being friendly to the enemy; Tom replies that at Tom's shop, everyone is treated equally and that he does not concern himself with taking sides. All he cares about is good business.
The trio leave Tom's shop and travel to the Broad River. Using the Water Eaters, Lief, Barda, and Jasmine cross the river, only to find that there are rats waiting for them. They managed to escape the deadly rats using the explosive Fire Beads and enter the city's centre. The Glowing Bubbles come into use and light their way as they move through the darkness.
At the centre of the Plain, Lief starts to hear voices, which is revealed to be Reeah's, a huge snake called the King of Rats. The crown atop of Reeah's head houses the opal. Lief realises that the past inhabitants of the City of the Rats are the people of Noradz. He also realises that "Noradz" is a homophone of "No Rats" and "Ra-Kacharz" is a homophone of "Rat-Catchers". The overrun of rats in their city had caused them to move and take up vigorously clean customs. Also, "Noradzeer", which is repeated very often by the people of Noradz, appears to be a homophone of "No Rats Here".
Lief realises that Reeah had set a trap for them. Lief distracts the snake, while Barda and Jasmine try to take the opal. However, Reeah grows impatient and attacks Lief, holding him in its jaws. Jasmine kills Reeah, causing Lief to fall onto the ground and break half the bones in his body. Once a safe distance from the city, Jasmine and Barda use the nectar from the Lilies of Life to heal Lief. Lief touches the opal to take it, and gets a vision of him sinking into the Shifting Sands. Lief remembers that the opal's vision of the future is not always true, they continue their quest to seek the fourth gem at the Shifting Sands.
- Thaegan's children - Hot, Tot, Zan, Zod, Lun, Lod, Pik, Snik, Fie, Fly, Ichabod
- Tom, the shopkeeper
- The Muddlets - Noodle, Zanzee and Pip