The setting is the city of Elantris and the surrounding suburbs. There's a force in Arelon known as the Dor that randomly chooses people and grants them divine powers. Elantris was once the city of the gods, where anyone who was 'chosen' went to live. Ten years ago, the Elantrians lost their powers and caught a terrible disease instead. From that point on, Elantris became a prison city/contamination zone for any who caught that diseasefor the Dor continues to choose people and curse them.