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
©2012 Terry and Lyn Pratchett (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks
Having read a number of Pratchett's non-Discworld books before, and enjoyed them, I was looking forward to this one. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Dickensian London and the squallid, aromatic streets of Ank-Morpork have a lot in common, and this story could have taken place in either.
The story itself is enthralling. Not actually Pratchett's best, which is the only reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5, but still great, and Briggs performance is just as good as it always is.
If you're considering getting this, but don't know if you'll enjoy a non-Discworld book, I'd encourage you to give in and do it. It's either a credit, or money, well spent.
Most definitely. There is so much I might have missed. Also it was such a delight to listen
Too many to choose from
He made every character come alive in their own special way. What a magnificent reader he is. Would like to hear more of him.
His encounter with his dying 'grandfather'.
It must be one of the most wonderful books that I have read in many years and I am of 'many years'! Well done to all concerned.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Terry Pratchett's historical novel Dodger (2012) is a fun read right from the opening stormy night scene, in which the eponymous seventeen-year-old protagonist saves a golden-haired damsel in distress from two thugs and makes the acquaintance of Charles Dickens. This sets in motion a chain of events that threatens Dodger's comfortable and unambitious life and identity as a "tosher" (earning his living by scavenging the labyrinthine network of sewers running beneath mid-nineteenth century London) with new emotions, revelations, responsibilities, reputations, dangers, and prospects.
In addition to being the "king of the toshers," Dodger is a "geezer," which means that he knows and is known by all the right people dwelling in London's underbelly and that he is sharp-witted, skilled at acting, and adept at reading people. Suiting his nickname, he's also quick and slippery, never to be caught by the police ("peelers") or other undesirables. Pratchett has taken the Artful Dodger from Dickens' Oliver Twist and reformed him with a handsome figure, a good heart, a salubrious mentor, and a less illegal occupation than pick pocketing (though he is accomplished at that as well).
Pratchett turns other fictional characters into "real" figures in his novel, including Sweeney Todd, a murderous though pitiable veteran suffering from war-trauma, and Solomon Cohen, a philosophical Freemason who has escaped in the nick of time from murderous anti-Semite mobs in seemingly every European city before ending up in London. Solomon, like Dodger, is a reformed version of his Oliver Twist persona, Fagin the Jew, who in Dickens' novel exploits street kids and corrupts them into lives of crime. In Pratchett's novel Solomon is a learned savant who repairs intricate watches and other valuable objects found by Dodger in the sewers in order to return them to their original owners for monetary rewards. He is Dodger's landlord and mentor, keeping him clean and fed, teaching him to read and write, educating him in the ways of the world and the scope of the universe, and generally helping him to grow his soul.
Pratchett, like Dickens, partly based his Jewish character on the historical crime lord Isaac Solomon, but unlike Dickens, writes a sympathetic character in Solomon. Other real life historical personages also appear in his novel, including Henry Mayhew, socially conscious co-founder of the journal Punch, Angela Burdett-Coots, independent woman of great wealth and connection, and of course Charles Dickens, a canny, crusading, and well-connected young journalist working to improve life for the impoverished masses. Dickens is also a burgeoning popular author, and through his dealings with Dodger he gains inspiration for titles of his future novels, like Great Expectations and Bleak House.
Pratchett writes vivid details about early Victorian London, like "honey wagons," "growlers," "flower girls," and "nobs." The foul London fog he turns into a metaphor for truth, an amorphous thing that people make into what they want it to be. From the toshers and their sewers he fashions an interesting sub-culture of London, with its own goddess of the sewers, the Lady, whom the Romans who built the sewers called Cloacina. And Pratchett, who highlights Dickens' role as social critic and reformer, does a fair amount of both himself by skewering politics, poverty, and wealth.
Sometimes Pratchett tries too hard to be constantly humorous, as when he plays with words like hubbub ("the epicenter of a hubbub that was loud enough to be considered a hubbub with at least an extra hub, not to mention bub") or refers too often to the strong odor of Solomon's dog Onan (who is unnecessary for the plot and exists in the novel for the many jokes about his bad smell and the pay off regarding his name).
As Pratchett says in his afterword, Dodger is a historical fantasy, and hence, I believe, has less of gravitas and believability and more wit and narrative expedition. And as he also says, he does "put a shine on things," for his characters, whether fictional like Solomon and Dodger or real life like Charlie and Angela, are all wittier, luckier, stronger, and kinder, and more interesting, capable, and effective, etc., than their real life avatars could be. Things are a bit too easy for Dodger. This novel is therefore entertaining but not so suspenseful or powerful. And I've found most of Pratchett's straight fantasy Discworld books to be more of all three.
If it is easy to read Dodger with a smile on one's face, this is due in part to Steven Briggs, who gives a great reading of the novel, speaking the accents and moods of the different characters and the witty flourishes of the narrator with engaging skill.
I just love Briggss' narration.
I have the impression that Pratchett's last books (like Snuff) had a more complex and entertaining plot. This one has a simple straightforward story, above Pratchett's average in my opinion, but compensates with the historical references to old London. Can't be disappointed with Pratchett stories.
I really enjoyed Dodger. Moving out of the standard Discworld fare felt strange at first but the same loving care went into Dodger's London as was ever given to Ankh.
It is a brilliant and compelling story. The character is so strong - but it's all so well-written. I really want to know what happens to him and his lady.
I just loved the treatment of real people, like Disraeli, or Bazalgette.
Not heard it before but liked it very much.
Sometimes the best people are found in the darkest of places.
Hope it gets to the actor that I loved the book but really thought the voice performance was great.
I feels as if Pratchett was having fun writing Dodger.
Dodger takes us on a Toshing Tour of London. Brilliant.
Pace, Energy and Comic Timing
Made me laugh out loud while in the car in heavy traffic... not cool
hard to say, how can you really choose among Prathcetts books??
i for one can't rank them meaning i have about 40 books sharing first place :)
Dodger, because of his innocence and how it is used to further the storyline
i've always been a fan of Steven Briggs and he doesn't let me down this time either...
he is just a overall amazing reader
yes, though i doubt i have the time to do so...
Yes, the story was wonderful and the reader excellent
No, just thoroughly enjoyed it
The book reminded me of the Sallay Lockhart mysteries; very entertaining.
I would start them on one of the Witches books or the Tiffany ones if they were younger, definitely not this one. I also would look for any other narrator.
As expected, all sorted out and by that point, I was just waiting for the book to end. Dodger was far too heroic with no real flaws and so there was no real challenge - everything came easily and coincidentally to him. Frankly, Saul was the most interesting character in the entire book.
Briggs was very recommended online, but I found his reading fairly monotonous. I expected a change of pace for different scenes but it seemed like he had one speed setting for the entire book.
Hope there will be another Pratchett book soon to get over the disappointment of this one? He is 95% of the time brilliant, so Dodger is really a sort of Dark Side of the Sun for me.
"Pratchett does Dickens, and so wonderfully too"
Dodger is a streetwise teenager living with an elderly Jewish gentleman he saved a few years before, and their rather fragrant dog. We are launched straight into a mystery when at the very beginning Dodger saves a mysterious young lady from two attackers. This then draws you into a great mystery romp, as the attackers knew the young lady, and someone wants her back.
The titular character is given the chance to be many things in this book, and his journey of self discovery, as he tries to find out more about the young lady, is totally absorbing. Briggs also reads this exceptionally well, and allows you to get lost in the story as only the best narrators do.
I only wish Pratchett had taken to victorian london sooner, but am so glad he has now.
"Pratchett in Victorian England"
I was a bit uncertain about this book. I really like the Discworld books and was concerned that a departure to something different might be disappointing. I was completely wrong! We are taken back to a Victorian world with characters coming to life through the skills of Mr Pratchett' writing. Steven Briggs' narration adds, as ever, another dimension which makes it hard to stop listening. If you are a Terry Pratchett fan, try this. If you have never read or listened to a Terry Pratchett book then this would be a great introduction.
I usually find terry Pratchett hard to read but listening to this made all the difference. I have now stared to listen to his other books also. Dodger is nothing like any of his other work however. This is a new spin on the old tale of Oliver Twist and I must say he has done a brilliant job. I could not stop listening until the very end x
"For Pratchett fans only"
Slightly more drawn out & lumbering than Pratchett's Discworld books (though that could be said to apply to some of his recent works), the book nevertheless tries to take us to as many famous Victorian events and figures (both real and fictitious) in an attempt to make the world cohesive, which unfortunately feels more like name checking a lot of the time.
Still interesting & with his trademark humour, this unfortunately joins the pile of Pratchett's recent works that have been far too long & sparse.
"Super book, great narration, why 2 parts?"
An absolutely fantastic book, start to end.
In essence very much like the Discworld setting in feel and tone, but no worse because of it. As always the narrator is fantastic!!! I'd recommend this book to anyone, Terry Pratchett fan or not.
If I have any criticism it's directed at Audible for splitting the book into two individually payable parts. Why? The US Audible doesn't do this anywhere near as frequently. I get the distinct impression that this is simply a money making ploy. I found the same to be true for the Hobbit. Shame on you!
"What's there to like about it?"
OK, first things first. I really like Pratchett. I know his writing really well. I've been through about thirty Discworlds and still ain't tired.
So it's not that I've ever dome across Pratchett before. I actually think he's one of the best there are out there.
Just like The Long Earth was a SyFy B-novel, this is a 'period' B-drama. The characters are about as uni-dimensional as a superstring. The plot is badly developed and so predictable you wouldn't have to read it beyond the first few pages to know how it's going to end. Good job it's fast-paced; too bad it's so fast a major character can be introduced and killed in ten pages.
The attempts to sound Victorian by using the 'period' slang are pathetic. The name-dropping - Dickens and Disraeli among many, many others - is so clumsy it makes it sound even more like a piece of salon amateurism.
Oh god Can I hand it back for a refund please?
"Dodger - I would dodge this book"
I'm a huge terry pratchett fan, and particularly enjoy this narrator however I couldn't get past the first chapter. It was boring and the language obvious and predictable.
"Tosheroon of a book"
I had never read or listened too anything by Terry Pratchett befor and now I know what I've been missing, what an amazing book and what an amazing story writer Terry is. I was captivated from start to finish, loved the story mixing facts with fiction and Steven Briggs narration makes for a wonderful listen, I'm now a Terry Pratchett convert.
"Please Sir Terry, can I have some more?"
I have put off listening to this as I am not all that much of a fan of the non-Discworld books but am now three quarters of the way through and am loving every second of Dodger. It may not be Discworld but Dickensian London feels very much like Ankh Morpork and with Steven Briggs doing the reading it is, as as always a delight to listen to. The characters are very memorable from the top geezer (and King of the Toshers) Dodger and his mentor, Sol to Charles Dickens, Henry Mayhew and even Sir Robert Peel, not to mention Onan!
This is my favourrite Terry Pratchett title for a long time and I hope we hear more of the excellent Mr Dodger!
"an excellent listen"
It took a little while to get used to the narrators style having just finished listening to derek jacobi, but the characters and story were great fun, and very touching at times.
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