World of the White Rat

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The World of the White Rat is a fantasy setting the author describes as "faux early Renaissance”[1] with multiple nations and city-states where several gods are worshipped, including the White Rat. Books set in the World of the White Rat include the Clocktaur War duology, Swordheart (eventually to become a trilogy), and the Saint of Steel series.


At the present time, the societies of the World of the White Rat are at a pre-modern (early Renaissance) level of development, but they are generally feminist and queer-friendly: people of all genders hold religious and political office, there is a gender-neutral honorific (Ser), non-binary people are common enough that there is a standard way to identify pronouns (“vestments bore the slender silver stripe indicating the polite form of address”), and same-sex relationships are common and unremarkable. The nations and city-states of the World of the White Rat have governments ranging from moderately competent (Archenhold) to failed (Morstone).


The people of the World of the White Rat worship a variety of gods, major and minor, who tend to make their presence known in the world in concrete, verifiable ways; there is little to no atheism because the gods demonstrably exist.

The cult of the White Rat is widespread; the Dreaming God, whose religious fight demons, is also widely worshiped, demon-hunting being a necessary societal task. In the Archenhold area, other regionally worshiped gods include the Forge God, the Four-Faced God, the Many-Armed God, and the Lady of Grass. The Saint of Steel’s god-touched paladins specialized in killing those who needed killing, until the god’s death.

Saint Ursa holds a status somewhere between saint and minor deity, with an order of nuns in the north. The Hanged Mother is a minor deity worshiped in Archenhold; the current Archon favors her and allows wide latitude to her followers.


Technology is generally at an early-modern level, with some convenient modern additions. The printing press exists, and has existed for long enough that books are widely available: there is a library in Archon’s Glory that the public can visit. Anuket City is famous for its artificers, whose automatons rely on steam for their power:

Everywhere he looked, Caliban saw clockwork. Doors did not swing, they ratcheted open. A display window crawled with oiled brass insects. One of the teapots at an outdoor café had climbed up the side of the building and clung there, exhaling steam.

The Wonder Engine, chapter 29

The “ancients,” who lived an unspecified amount of time before the present day, appear to have had more advanced technology than is available in the present. One common ancient material is an ivory-like substance that is “much harder” than ivory. There is also mention of a fabric of a “finer weave than anything we could make… one corner of it had been singed, and it didn’t burn, it melted like wax.”[2]


Some people, known as wonderworkers, have a magical talent. While some religious orders, including the Hanged Mother’s cult, frown on wonderworkers, they seem to be widely accepted in most places. The talents are usually very specific; one in-world theory holds that “everyone is a wonderworker, it’s simply that most of us are never in the situation to learn what talents we may have.”[3]

As with technology, the ancients had access to more advanced magic than is available in the present day. One remaining vestige of this advanced magic is wonder engines, which still work in the present day, but are entirely inexplicable by the current understanding of magic and technology.

”What’s a wonder-engine?”
“Nobody’s really sure. Some of them do things… miracles. Marvels. Completely useless things. It doesn’t seem to follow any particular pattern.”

Clockwork Boys, chapter 15


A map of the World of the White Rat, showing inland Charlock in the northwest, and Morstone in the northeast on the sea, north of Arral Territory. The Dowager's City is in the southwest, in a mountain valley through which flows the Falsefall River. The Vagrant Hills ("Probably") are farther east, and Archenhold is north of the Vagrant Hills. Rutger's Howe is westernmost in Archenhold, with Amalcross to its east, and Archon's Glory farther to the east, on the Elkinslough River. Across the Elkinslough and further south is Anuket City, with the East Falsefall River flowing through it from its source in unnamed mountains to its northeast to join the Elkinslough at Anuket City. Moldoban is well south of the Vagrant Hills, on the sea. South of Charlock and north of the Dowager's City are (in order from northeast to southwest) The Court of Smoke, Ghaston, and the Hundred Houses. West of these three locations is a mountain range, which curves around to the southeast until it ends in the mountain valley that is home to the Dowager's City. At the top of the map is a pointer to the northeast, reading "To Baiir."

Places mentioned in the books include

  • Anuket City, a major city-state
  • Archenhold, a nation near Anuket City
  • Archon’s Glory, the capital of Archenhold (sometimes written as Archen’s Glory)
  • Rutger’s Howe, a small town of 400 people, five days’ walk west of Archon’s Glory
  • Amalcross, a town between Rutger’s Howe and Anuket City
  • The Dowager’s City, several days’ travel west of Anuket City, in the Falsefall River valley[4]
  • Ghaston (has a monastery of the Many-Armed God)[5]
  • Charlock, a kingdom far north of Archenhold, with a drier climate[6]
  • The Vagrant Hills are (or at least should be) south of Rutger’s Howe
  • Morstone, well northeast of Archenhold, on the sea
  • Baiir (formerly known as the Weeping Lands), far to the north[7] and also distant from Charlock, famous for their weaving[8]
  • Devilspine Islands (supplies cloves to Archenhold)[9]
  • Moldoban (has a wonder engine, nothing more known)[10]

Archenhold and Anuket City are on two tributaries of the same river, and are in competition for river trade. Anuket is the larger city, with the larger tributary.[11] They are three days’ walk and a ferry crossing apart[12], considerably less than one thousand miles distant from each other.[13]


The books are set in the mid-1300s; Swordheart begins in the year 1346[14]. The dates below are calculated relative to 1346.

~550 (1346−800)
cult of the White Rat emerges amid plague, in cities of the old empire, in the west[15]
~900 (1346−450)
Sarkis enters the sword[16]
end of the Clocktaur War[17]
Halla first draws the Sword[18]
death of the Saint of Steel[19]
Stephen meets Grace[20]
Istvhan travels north with Galen[21]
Galen meets Piper[22]


  2. Paladin’s Hope, chapter 6
  3. Paladin’s Grace, epilogue
  4. Clockwork Boys, chapter 6
  5. Clockwork Boys, chapter 6
  6. Paladin’s Grace, chapter 23
  7. Swordheart, chapter 23
  8. Paladin’s Grace, chapter 23
  9. Swordheart, chapter 60
  10. Paladin’s Hope, chapter 11
  11. Paladin’s Grace, chapter 14
  12. Paladin’s Grace, chapter 25
  13. Paladin’s Grace, chapter 9
  14. Swordheart, chapter 3
  15. Swordheart, chapter 26
  16. Swordheart, chapter 23
  17. Swordheart, chapter 16
  18. Swordheart, chapter 3