Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Come one come all to greatest city in the world.
In London, all men are free, the streets are lined with gold and the naughty ladies are friendly to all.
In London there are geezers on ever street corner and every urchin and tosher is an angel with a dirty face. Home to Her Majesty, Fleet Street, the Square Mile and Dodger - known to all, Dodger is crafty, nimble and some what flexible object of lost and found. Its not really stealing if it could have fallen out of a pocket any way, It's a service really. So, you saw nothing, you heard nothing and Dodger wasn't even there.
Dodger rises from the gutter as the hero of London; rescuing damsels in distress and defeating the villains with a smile and a quick wit, but lets not forgot wit gets you only so far so brass knuckles and a crowbar do help.
I still remember my first Terry Pratchett novel. I picked it up by chance and I haven't looked back since, thank god for specials at Waterstones.
It's hard not to compare to Terry Pratchett's non Discworld novels because I love them so much and in Dodger I feel like I am getting a Discworld novel in structure and flavour, but with a difference. There are some definite Discworld style characters, Onan, Dodger's dog has been illustrated in a manner, and with such personality, I expected him to be able to speak or turn out to be a Wizard of the Unseen University on an expedition from the next universe over, except disguised as a dog.
Pratchett has beautifully narrated Dodger. The story has been written in such a way you can feel the cobblestones under your feet as Dodger works his way around London; thankfully you don't have to feel some other things described. The quality of the writing takes me back to discovering Terry Pratchett for the first time.
Without giving too much away the sewer grate has definitely been left open for further book, and I say yes, more please. One of the few negatives I had of the book was I would have liked a little more back story on the main characters, but there is always room in the sequel. I am not sure if I would have liked it a little grittier but that would have just made it a different book with a different feel.
This is a little left field but I feel that story was been written in such a way that once Terry succumbs to his illness it could be continue on in its own fashion without trying to recreate Discworld, that uniqueness and wizardry belongs to Terry Pratchett. I can think of no greater tribute to Terry Pratchett if his works could be continued in a small way by others.
If you love Terry Pratchett novels you will love this, if you haven't read any off Terry's works before and want to start, you can't go wrong here.
Fergus McCartan, 9.5/10
Dodger is a tosher – a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London.
Everyone who is nobody knows Dodger. Anyone who is anybody doesn't.
But when he rescues a young girl from a beating, suddenly everybody wants to know him.
And Dodger’s tale of skulduggery, dark plans and even darker deeds begins...
Sir Terry Pratchett is most famous for his Discworld series, which is already running 39 books, and although I have given these books a fair chance I just never could quite get into them. When the chance arose to review Dodger, a stand-alone young-adult book, I just had to give it another shot. From the short synopsis I didn't really know what I was in for, but it turned out to be unique, fresh and gave me a sense of urgency to finish it.
Dodger takes place in London during the reign of Queen Victoria, focusing on a time when the majority of inhabitants were poverty stricken. Several historical figures make an appearance in Dodger, including Charles Dickens, Robert Peel and Henry Mayhew. Using this realistic setting of poverty stricken London gives more weight to the story, but the essence of the story centers around Dodger, a young boy orphaned off who now lives as a right ol’ tosher.
It is the character of Dodger that truly brings the book to life. We first get to meet Dodger after he emerges from a manhole to save a young lady’s life. We get to see him as a scoundrel, immediately going on the defensive when surrounded by citizens and police officers who just want to see what all the commotion is about. This was nicely shown by the dialogue that followed, which helped to again emphasize the early 1800’s setting. When this encounter hits the newspapers, Dodger finds himself having to deal with a completely different life. After this point you see his character taking a great developmental leap in terms of growing up, looking after the people he cares about, learning to see the good in people, but also becoming bolder when dealing with thugs. It is a “coming of age” story, and also a “rags to riches” story. Dodger’s philosophies were also a great enjoyment for me to read about. For example:
Even worse, he was being spied on. Plain-clothed policemen!
There ought to be a law against it; everybody said so - it was, well, it was unfair. After all, seeing policemen around kept you honest, didn't it? If they were going to lurk around like ordinary people they were basically asking you to commit crimes, weren't they? It was entirely unfair in Dodger’s opinion.
Excerpt from Dodger p255-256.
This is just one example, but it illustrates why Dodger is such a loveable character – his philosophy portrays young-boy innocence combined with “street-smarts”, protectiveness and surviving.
When I first started reading Dodger, I assumed that the story would revolve around Dodger and his adventures around London as a tosher. But to my pleasant surprise, there is much more to this story. The story often took a number of turns, keeping things interesting and showcasing what a great lad Dodger is. We get to see Dodger trying to right a wrong, trying to track down villains that are beating up young girls, and much more. It is these actions that reveal the true heart of Dodger
Although the whole story was great, I was especially pleased with the ending - it had a real “and they lived happily ever after” kind of feeling. When I finished the last paragraph, an image immediately sprung to my mind of Dodger leaping all over Paris with jewellery in hand, just like a cartoon thief. Great stuff!
All in all Dodger is an amazing book and I am more than happy that I picked up this book. It creates a great display of historical London, contrasting the above ground cleanliness against the below ground filthy and often-times rotten sewers. Add in a lively set of support characters, funny dialogue, great action, and finish it all off with Dodger, one of the most lovable characters that I have read about.
Jasper de Joode, 9/10
Thanks to Random House Children's Books for kindly providing me with a review copy.
Have you read Dodger?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Dodger reader reviews
9.3/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troop...
Guy Gavriel Kay
Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the t...
A Christmas Carol
It is Christmas Eve in Victorian London, and all around the snow-covered city people are rushing home to be with their families. All except one man, that is: Ebenezer Scroo...
Sailing to Sarantium
Guy Gavriel Kay
Rumoured to be responsible for the ascension of the previous Emperor, his uncle, amid fire and blood, Valerius the Trakesian has himself now risen to the Golden Throne of t...
In the winter of his eleventh year, Little Hawk goes deep into the forest, where he must endure a three-month test of solitude and survival which will turn him into a man. ...
As they approach adulthood, Cat Barahal and her cousin Bee think they understand the society they live in and their place within it. At a select academy they study new airs...
The Moon and the Sun
Vonda N McIntyre
Louis XIV, the Sun King, rules the Western World from the Chateau at Versailles. Marie- Josèphe de la Croix looks forward to assisting her brother in the scientific ...
Who or what is Endymion Spring? A power for good, or for evil... A legendary book that holds the secret to a world of knowledge... A young boy without a voice - whose five-...
Publius Varrus is the last legionnaire in Britain, and The Skystone is in many ways his story. He is a common man with aristocratic friends, and successful both as a soldie...
Dreaming Of Zhou Gong
The Wu have been living in isolation for decades while the Shang Emperor and his enchantress have ruled the land. It has been a terrible time for the common people and the ...
Kepler is like you, but not like you. With a simple touch, Kepler can move into any body, live any life - for a moment, a day or for years. And your life could be next. SOM...
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg
Philip Jose Farmer
About a hundred years ago, a group of mutant supermen began playing a major role in our affairs. It is no accident that Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, and Doc Savag...
The High King of Montival
Rudi Mackenzie has returned to Montival with the Sword of the Lady, ready to face the legions of the Prophet. To achieve victory, Rudi must assemble a coalition of former e...
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine i...
Sold into servitude in the pagan splendour of the Night Court as a child, Phedre no Delaunay is a woman who struggles for honour and duty, whose loyalty to the land she lov...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
The Silver Mask
The gods and goddesses are dead, killed two hundred years ago. With their destruction the moon split apart, the sun dwindled and the land was devastated. Civilisation has re-e...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she...
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her al...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...