City of the Rats is the third book in the eight-volume Deltora Quest series written by Emily Rodda. It continues the trio's journey to find the seven missing gems of Deltora, braving dangers and guardians in each book.
Lief, Barda, and Jasmine leave the Lake of Tears, after they have retrieved the Ruby. They are now searching for the opal, which is located in Hira, or 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 bought three animals called Muddlets. Muddlets had three legs and can be ridden much like a horse. Despite Tom's directions, Lief didn't listen to him and went the wrong way. The three lost control of the Muddlets as they ran on their own. Lief, Barda and Jasmine followed the Muddlets home, the city of Noradz and become trapped. Noradz has customs that keeps the city vigorously clean. When Filli comes out of hiding from Jasmine's shirt, a Ra-Kacharz mistakes it for a rat and gives the trio two choices, to live or to die. Lief was commanded to pick a card labeled either Life or Death out of a cup. Realizing that both cards say Death, Lief tricks the Ra-Kacharz and the trio is thrown into prison. A girl named Tira managed to free them and shows them the secret way out, by passing through the kitchen trash tube. They survive the dangers of the tube by wearing the Ra-Kacharz clothes that they stole and finally reached the Broad River. Using the Water Eaters, Lief, Barda, and Jasmine crossed the river, only to find that there were rats waiting for them. They managed to escape the deadly rats using the explosive Fire Beads and enter the city's center. The Glowing Bubbles come into use and lights their way as they move through the dark. There, Lief starts to hear voices, which was revealed to be of Reeah's, a huge snake called the King of Rats. The crown atop of Reeah's head housed the opal. Lief realized that the past inhabitants of the City of the Rats were the people of Noradz. He also realized that "Noradz" was a homophone of "No Rats" and "Ra-Kacharz" was 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 realizes that Reeah had set a trap for them. After a fight, Lief and Jasmine defeats the snake. 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 their fourth gem at the Shifting Sands.
- Lief: Lief is the main character of the series. Lief was born to parents King Endon and Queen Sharn though he believed them to be Jarred and Anna of the forge. As a child Lief roamed the streets of Del, sharpening his wits and gaining him the skills needed for his future quests. Though he did not know it, he was constantly protected by Barda and he prided himself on his many 'lucky' escapes. On his sixteenth birthday it is revealed to him that he must begin a dangerous quest to find the lost gems of the Belt of Deltora.
- Barda: Barda was enlisted as a friend by the king and queen of Deltora and was trusted to help him find the lost gems of Deltora sixteen years before the initial story took place. For the next sixteen years Barda disguised himself as a beggar so as to discover information vital to the quest. He also became the bodyguard of Endon and Sharn's child Lief, albeit without the semi-arrogant Lief's knowledge thereof. Upon Lief's sixteenth birthday Barda revealed himself to Lief and the quest for the gems of Deltora began. Though Barda was at first annoyed to travel encumbered by a child, he soon saw Lief as more of a help than a hindrance.
- Jasmine: Jasmine is a wild girl, described as having wild black hair (dark green hair in the anime) and emerald green eyes who has grown up in the Forests of Silence, where Lief and Barda meet her shortly after leaving Del. Her parents, Jarred and Anna, were captured by Grey Guards when she was seven years old, and so she has been raised by the forest. She can understand the language of the trees and of many animals, and has incredibly sharp senses, but has trouble understanding some social customs. Jasmine is usually seen with her blackbird, Kree, and a mouse-like creature she calls Filli. Jasmine is like Lief and occasionally has a quick temper. After helping Lief and Barda in the forest and with the help of the topaz, she is greeted by her mother's spirit from beyond the grave, who tells her to go with Lief and Barda in their quest. After this encounter, she joins Lief and Barda in the search for the great gems that will complete the Belt.
- Kree: Kree is a raven and one of Jasmine's closest companions in the Forest of Silence. His family was taken and eaten by the witch Thaegan, and Kree was found by Jasmine. She took pity on him, as both had their family taken away, and she took care of Kree. Kree treats Jasmine as his master, and does not tolerate offensive behaviour towards Jasmine. His presence is advantageous towards the three companions, as he is able to fly ahead and warn the others of oncoming danger or safety.
- Filli: Filli is a small, mouse-like creature (although Jasmine denies that he resembles any rodent). He was rescued by Jasmine when she discovered him paralysed by the Wenn in The Forests of Silence. As such, he remains close to Jasmine and Kree, often hiding himself in Jasmine's clothing when danger arises. Like Kree, Jasmine is able to understand Filli. His small size is often advantageous to Lief, Barda and Jasmine, as he is able to hide easily and eavesdrop on others.
- Tom: Tom is a shopkeeper, brother of Ava the Sibyl, and of Laughing Jack the pirate and nomad. He is a man of business rather than honour, and will sell to anyone, regardless of allegiance. He claim to be the same person to everyone and that he does not take sides, but assists Lief, Barda and Jasmine on numerous occasions, as well as against his brother, Laughing Jack. Tom is psychically bound to his siblings, and is aware when either is in danger or causing danger for others. He also tends to speak in the third-person. His items come into use in the City of the Rats.
- Ra-Kacharz: The Ra-Kacharz are the ruling class in Noradz. They are dressed from head-to-toe in red and carry whips. Their name is a derivative of "rat catchers" and work for the Shadow Lord. It was they who caused the "rat plague" that drove humanity from the city of Hira, under which was buried a chemical that would pollute the whole of Deltora if released by the burning of the Four Sisters. The Ra-Kacharz are similar to priests, in that they "serve sacred laws", (cleanliness, watchfulness, and duty; three things required for reaction to rat overpopulation) but in other ways are more like oppressors. They keep the people afraid, through the use of what the citizens do not know. They also provided luxuries for the noble families in Del, blinding them to the poverty on the castle doorsteps.
- Reeah: Reeah is a giant snake monster. He lives in the City of the Rats, feeding on the rats that live there. He wears a crown set with an opal, one of the gems of the Belt of Deltora. In the anime, Reeah was hydra-like with three heads. Reeah was bred by the Ra-Kacharz on orders from the Shadow Lord to guard the opal; a position that gave him great arrogance. Reeah originally dwelled in the sewers and cellars, the underground areas of what is now "The City of Rats", and used to be a much smaller snake. But the "Rat Catchers" helped Reeah survive down below by secretly collecting and breeding the rat population to feed him while Reeah bid his time and continued to grow in size. Eventually the rats became so numerous that they overran the city and so the people were forced to leave and form Noradz elsewhere, leaving Reeah to claim the city as his new kingdom, with an abundant food supply. Reeah is a described as a very vain creature, becoming flustered with pride when he was complimented. Reeah seemed to have some form of telepathy as well; he could see into the minds of his prey and read their thoughts. He also has some influence as well, luring his prey closer and closer to him with his alluring voice, which was something he did to Lief to lure him into a trap. Reeah also gave a Lief a mental command to remove the Belt of Deltora, which would have been followed if not for the mind-clearing powers of the topaz. Fortunately Jasmine and Lief managed to kill Reeah and Lief managed to collect the opal that he was guarding. Ironically, when Reeah died, the rats that he fed on and depended on for food for so long began to devour his corpse when the three heroes departed the city.
- Australian Deltora Quest website
- US Deltora website
- Emily Rodda's official website
- Deltora Quest anime website