18 Jan 2013

DODGER BY TERRY PRATCHETT.

Mr. Pratchetts 50th published novel and a further diversion from the Discworld for which he is quite justifiably of world renown. 

This novel in fact approaches our reality closer than any other he has written, being set in Victorian London although the author takes some pains in an extended authors note in the book, to ensure that we believe its fantastical rather than historical narrative.

Somewhat of a challenge as the settings are familiar, the mockney charm of Victorian images of life in London and the Dickensian cast of characters with which the story is peppered...indeed one of our noble protagonists is one Mr. Charlie, man about town and newspaper serial writer and journalist who uses his contacts and writing to ensure the rise and rise of the eponymous hero of this tale.  Benjamin Disraeli, Joseph Bazalgette, and Henry Mayhew whom the author cites as a major inspiration for this work, alongside the indomitable Angela Burdett-Coutts just to make sure we remember that there were some key female players in mid-Victorian London.  Nods to the fictional; Sweeney Todd makes an appearance albeit briefly and Pratchett even creates his own Fagin (Solomon) in an homage to the work of Mr. Dickens and his testaments to the lives of the less privileged.

Dodger, (whose real name is a closely guarded secret only revealed much later in the story) spends his life as as an independent jack-the-lad tosher in the least salubrious parts of London, until chance sets him by a young woman belaboured by two gentlemen one stormy night and uses his earthy survival talents to see off the two thugs. In doing so he encounters the literary Mr. Charlie and philanthropic Henry and the scene is set. A damsel in distress, the young but unfortunate hero and two witnesses of influence who may provide the opportunity for this young man to develop into a person of substance and for love to bloom. A web of intrigue ensues, stretching from 'one of the Germanys' to London, through a rotter prince, a mysterious assassin  via several murders and the death of an unfortunate young woman all of which are unravelled by the street smarts, burglary skills, wit and honesty of the young Dodger. Much more crops up along the wayside but I would not wish to spoil the readers enjoyment of this book by slipping many direct spoilers into this review.

The book is beautifully written with careful construction of lyrically powerful conversations between the characters interspersed with the delicate and accurate descriptions of contexts and motivations which Mr. Pratchett does so well. I'm not so gushing as many of his fans who continually claim each book to be 'the best one yet' but I am not disappointed in anyway...well perhaps a little... the book climbs to the denoument so quickly that the book finishes way too soon. I would have wished for a slightly less steep gradient of plot towards the end, in order to enjoy a little more of the lesser characters in the book, or a further tweak or twist of the plot. Mr. Pratchetts' insight into the basics of human motivations is as sharp as ever,  which informs both plot and character development in pace with each other and particularly so in the creation of a thoroughly believable Dickens.

Delightful reading which will affirm Mr. Pratchetts place in the hearts of his fans and confirm his abilities as a writer with those who can't quite cope with the fantastical Discworld. For those who haven't read any of his work I would hope you may see this book as a way into appreciating his writing skill and thereby discover another world.

Husband Dearest.

16 comments:

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Sounds like something I would enjoy. I haven't actually read a Pratchett novel before and it might be a good place to start. I enjoy retellings.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I haven't read a Pratchett novel either, but I'm quite curious! Lovely review- very well written. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

-lauren

Kelly said...

I've not read any Pratchett, either. Perhaps I'll look into this as a way to sample his work.

Jean said...

My son's ex loaded a bunch of Discworld onto my reader - I'll definitely have to read them now then continue on with this one.

Betty Manousos said...

i really like the cover.
i'm glad you enjoyed it:)
sounds like a book i would enjoy, too.

xx

Alexia561 said...

Enjoyed your review! Haven't read a Pratchett in awhile, but this one sounds like a good one!

Jenners said...

This is yet another author that I feel I should read but haven't done so yet.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I have never read anything by this author- but this sounds great! I will have to check it out. Thanks for the wonderful review. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett--haven't read this book by him yet, though.

Great review!

naida said...

Great review by your hubby! This one sounds very good, I like that Sweeney Todd makes an appearance.

Suko said...

This sounds like a well-crafted, enjoyable book. I've not read anything by Terry Prachett yet. Excellent review by "Husband Dearest"!

StarTraci said...

I have never read a Pratchett book before but now I want to run out and get it!

:-)
Traci

Arti said...

Never read books by the author but this one seems a very good read. Excellent review by husband dearest. Have a lovely sunday Tracy :)

Kalyan said...

nice reading the review...sounds good.

Joan Robertson said...

Great review thank you pettys husband , I,ve never read any of his books before but this one I bought just before Christmas, I like the cover, thanks for the media post link it made good reading , as for the stupidest angel , well there's not a lot to say on that one , lol ,

Nikki-ann said...

I need to read this one :) I picked up his collection of short stories over the weekend.