The most unexpectedly fun read of the year is Terry Pratchett‘s Dodger. With an unmatched skill, Pratchett shows himself to be a writer akin to to Mark Twain and as adept in the historical world of 19th century London as he is in the imaginary world of Ankh-Morpork.
A month ago or so, Britt came home with a book on CD for a road trip.
“It’s called Dodger,” she said as we set off down the road. “By some guy called Terry Pratchett.”
“Discworld?” I asked from the driver’s seat.
“Disc-what?” she said. “No, it’s won some award.” She flipped to the back. “It looks like is about Charles Dickens…and Sweeney Todd?”
“Hm…I wonder if it’s the same Pratchett.”
She popped in the first CD, and we began one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable books of the year. And yes, it is the same Terry Pratchett of Discworld fame.
In a departure from the comings and goings of the denizens of Ankh-Morpork, Pratchett delves into the world of Dickens’ London, when the sun never set on the British Empire, but the streets stunk and the poor lived a miserable life.
The story opens on a dark, wet night(almost the cliched “a dark and stormy night” but Pratchett never lets you see it) as a carriage comes careening through the streets, carrying a damsel in distress, under threat of death. Out of the darkness comes Dodger, a whirl-wind beating off thugs and saving the day.
And we’re off. Little more than a child of the streets, Dodger falls for the girl in the carriage, and soon find himself on a path carrying him directly away from the sewers and into the halls of Parliament, the rich, and the powerful. Including appearances–and more–from Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, Benjamin Disraeli and others, Dodger, and its title character, take the reader on a clever and delightful ride, full of the language, color, and flavor of 19th century England.
I’ve read several of Pratchett’s previous novels, including from the Discworld novels and his The Long Earth (with Stephen Baxter) and Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman). In Dodger, though, Pratchett proves his skill as a wordsmith and story-teller. Constantly colorful and always witty, Dodger is fun, inventive, and thoroughly enjoyable. As I said at the outset, it puts him up there with Twain, in my estimation.
If you’ve never read Pratchett before, Dodger is a great place to start.
- Sex: Nope. Pratchett keeps it “Victorian.”
- Language: Colorfully full of the wonderful vocabulary of 19th Century London…but no swearing.
- Violence: Some minor scuffles and fights, but nothing graphic.
- Adult Themes: Reference to the treatment of women and minor discussion about the loss of a pregnancy due to abuse.
Buy a copy of Dodger by Terry Pratchett from Amazon today, and start reading by the end of the week. Seriously! You won’t be disappointed!
- Dodger, Terry Pratchett (liseal.wordpress.com)
- Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet (tor.com)
- Terry Pratchett: ‘Fantasy is uni-age’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Terry Pratchett is the Most Shoplifted Author in Great Britain For A Reason (tor.com)
- And now for something completely different (7thatgirlisme7.wordpress.com)
- Dodger, Terry Pratchett (booksjadore.wordpress.com)