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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
In Death
The series is set in a period after The Bad Guy Wins the Urban Wars.
As has been noted in the main page under Dystopia, the world of the books has the Fridge Logic feel of a low-level fascist state. Governmental intrusion is ubiquitous, eco-mania has restricted real food to only a few, the Bill of Rights has been largely rescinded, government officials suffer no penalties for complicity in crimes, and the Statue of Liberty, given all this, exists only ironically. The specifics of the Urban Wars are described only vaguely, but one can easily imagine them as the rebellion against this encroachment. They lost.

Note that this does not make the characters we follow Villain Protagonists, given that they are just doing the best they can, and combat actual, unambiguously criminal activity. One could even call Roarke a hero for going around the restrictions of the setting whenever he can.

I Have No Mouth and I Must ScreamWMG/LiteratureThe Infernal Devices

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