Dodger – Terry Pratchett

Ahhhhhhhhh, bliss. The latest book from Terry Pratchett is something a wee bit different. It’s an adventure set in a slightly tweaked[1] version of Dickensian London. You can tell it’s Dickensian London because your actual Charles Dickens is a major character in it, with guest appearances from the likes of Robert Peel (and some of his Peelers[2]), Joseph Bazalgette[3], Queen Victoria[4], and the probably less actual Sweeny Todd.

But the hero of the story is Dodger. Dodger’s a young man who makes his living by searching for whatever’s been lost down the drains – money and other things. But he gets himself into something a lot deeper than the average sewer when he runs to the aid of a young woman being beaten by a couple of thugs.

What follows is, despite the lack of the Discworld, classic Pratchett. There are proper villainous villains, good friends, more jokes than you can shake whatever it is you shake at jokes, wordplay, and loads of fun. Dodger is as memorable a character as Sam Vimes or Granny Weatherwax, and it’s a joy to see him develop and grow as the story progresses.

But hiding behind all the laughs and the fun is a very real portrait of how desperate the lives of poor people could be in the heart of the richest and most powerful city in the world at the time. Good stuff, highly recommended.

If you wanted to be a successful urchin, you needed to study how to urch.

[1] As Terry explains in the afterword, some people might possibly have been displaced in time a wee bit
[2] Police
[3] Recognised him from his introduction :yes:  [5]
[4] Who says something unexpected
[5] And we learn how he first became really interested in sewers…