Dodger **Spoilers**

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Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:56 am

Now that the book is out and people have it, here's the place to discuss it with spoilers. :)

If you haven't read the book yet, you probably should avoid this thread until you do.

You have been warned.

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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Quatermass » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:00 am

Okay, my review on another BBS, posted in spoiler brackets on chris.ph's Dodger thread.

REVIEW: Dodger by Terry Pratchett


Much of Terry Pratchett's output is occupied by his famous Discworld series, but of late, it seems that he is making a comeback to original novels, particularly for younger readers. In 2008, Pratchett published the alternate history novel Nation, a good but serious work. Now, four years later, he comes to Victorian London, a setting that seems so much like Ankh-Morpork of the Discworld books. And anyone thinking that this will be a Pratchettian take on Oliver Twist is in for a twist themselves...

The life of a tosher is a hard one, scavenging valuables from the muck of London's sewers. The street-savvy kid known as Dodger is a little more fortunate than most, in that he has lodgings and a man looking after him. And so many people in the rookeries and other low places of London know him. But when Dodger saves the life of a young woman, calling herself Simplicity, who escapes from a carriage, he finds himself under unwanted attention from corners both benign and malevolent. There's Charlie, the journalist and aspiring novelist, and associate Henry,both well-to-do men who are concerned about the state of London's poor. But there is also those behind the attack on Simplicity, and they will stop at nothing to get her back. Dodger is thrown into an unfamiliar world of poshness and politics, where a woman's life is a price willing to be paid for peace between countries, and heroes and villains are easily manufactured at the stroke of a pen, but Dodger's street smarts might just put him out on top...

Anyone expecting Dodger to be about the character from Oliver Twist are going to be disappointed, although there is indeed a Dickensian slant to the whole book. And Dodger does not explore as many of the deeper themes as Nation does. But while there is a lack of actual depth compared to that story, Dodger more than makes up for it in entertainment value. To be sure, there are some rather dark themes for even older children (Pratchett revisits the spectre of miscarriage from I Shall Wear Midnight very early on in the novel), but at the same time, it's also lighter than many of his previous books for older children. It's a rocking good yarn that will no doubt interest many people in the history of the time (a number of the characters are actual historical personages, with Charles Dickens and Robert Peel being the most famous) as a beneficial side-effect, even if the tale, in the end, feels a little like a tale of sound and fury, signifying little (with apologies to Mr Shakespeare).

I wish some of the characters were a little more fleshed out. Dodger doesn't seem like that well fleshed-out a protagonist in many regards, but he is a competent and interesting hero nonetheless, and Simplicity, while her backstory is interesting, feels just a tad too flat for my liking. Solomon is a rather more interesting character, as is the brief cameo of a certain homicidal barber. Charlie (aka Charles Dickens) is also interesting, although it feels more like London and its society as a whole is a far more interesting character than the vast majority of those here, real or fictional.

Keep in mind that these criticisms are more nitpicks than anything else. Dodger is certainly leagues above many other books, and while dark, it is certainly alive and interesting and entertaining, and will appeal to fans of Pratchett, Dickens, and Victoriana in general...


9/10


BTW, do we ever have any idea of what country's prince "Simplicity" was married to? They say Germanic or something similar, but even I know that Germany wasn't a single country in those days. Or is it just one of those things Pratchett leaves up in the air? And I was a little surprised that, given that this takes place during the early years of Victoria's reign and Dickens' career, that William Honeisn't mentioned.

Love the Sweeney Todd cameo, and it's actually refreshing to see Dodger not being the Artful Dodger.
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:30 pm

Quatermass wrote:Okay, my review on another BBS, posted in spoiler brackets on chris.ph's Dodger thread.

TW, do we ever have any idea of what country's prince "Simplicity" was married to? They say Germanic or something similar, but even I know that Germany wasn't a single country in those days. Or is it just one of those things Pratchett leaves up in the air? And I was a little surprised that, given that this takes place during the early years of Victoria's reign and Dickens' career, that William Honeisn't mentioned.

Love the Sweeney Todd cameo, and it's actually refreshing to see Dodger not being the Artful Dodger.


That may refer to (in the passing of) the Winsors as King George V
(Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (popularly known as Brunswick or Hanover) to Windsor, and he relinquished all German titles and family connections.)
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:46 pm

Having now finished Dodger, I'd have to pretty much agree with Q's review. In many ways it could almost have been a Discworld novel and in some ways A-M seems to be a nicer place than old London. I understand that Terry, as a boy, read Henry Meyhew's book, 'London Labour and London Poor and it was a great influence on his creation of Ankh-Morpork and many of the characters in there. Robert Peel, after he'd taken the Bow Street Runners and made a professional police force from them is rather like Sir Samuel Vimes after he'd taken the night watch and made them into the characters we know and love.

And what about Dodger? The boyhood of Harry King perhaps. :)

I'd describe Dodger as a ripping yarn. Very readable and enjoyable but perhaps without the depth of some of his other books. The message in this book as in Unseen Academicals seems to be that you can make a better life for yourself if you are prepared to work for it.

As to your question (Q) about the Germanic state in question - I kind of think that Terry picked that exactly because there were so many states and monarchies in that area so he could be ambiguous without actually treading on historic facts. As he says in his afterword - it's historical fantasy not an historical novel.

If you enjoyed Dodger you might very much enjoy 'Gallows Thief' by Bernard Cornwell. ;)
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tiffany » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:38 pm

I have just finished reading Dodger & I agree with what you say above me, Tony. I enjoyed it & couldn't put it down. :clap:
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby chillicamper » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:47 am

Just finished the book. I found it really enjoyable. As others have said, It was maybe not quite as deep as some of Terrys books, but non the worse for that......still a great read. :D
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Quatermass » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:18 am

I found it, as I mentioned in the review above, to be overall the same quality as Nation. While it wasn't as deep as Nation, it was certainly a higher level of entertainment.
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:33 pm

I liked the way that Terry sympathetically dealt with the story of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It's unlikely that Todd was a real person, more a character in a Penny Dreadful, but Terry has given a whole new slant to this story and one that hadn't occurred to me before. He effectively makes Sweeney a victim of sorts. Of course it is likely that, as a barber surgeon, Todd would have served in the Napoleonic Wars, some of the most bloody in British history, where the standard way of dealing with a wound was amputation. Terry gives Todd a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that, if not excusing his behaviour, goes some way to explaining it.

I think it's an excellent bit of writing to turn someone who is normally seen as a character of horror into a victim. :)
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby pip » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:06 am

Sweeney Todd did first appear in a penny dreadful. I've a facsimile copy soemwhere at home. But Terry's twist on the character is really good and I like the idea that the villian hero divide is not always black and white ( i would use the cliche shades of grey but its been ruined now).
I quite liked the Forest Gump style influence Dodger manages on the historical figures . It could have been cheesy but Terry manages to get it about right. :D

As a warning the first sod to join using Dodgers real name as there forum name will have to deal with me and Mr Todds razor ;)
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:14 pm

For those of you who have never heard of the character in Dodger, Joseph Bazalgette, you might find this YouTube video of a BBC show called Seven Wonders of the Industrial World interesting and informative. :) (And Holly from Red Dwarf is in it).

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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Confucious » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:19 am

Just reserved Henry Mayhew's book (at least, Vol 1) from my local library.

For those of us who were worried about Pterry's alzheimer's affecting his writing, we needn't have worried. Another great read.

On page 132, last line of 2nd paragraph is the word Jprobably - is this a typo? In which case, has the proofreader been whipped? or is it just a silent J?

The other thing that I thought was incorrect - but is far more likely me just learning something new as I always seem to do reading Pterry's books, is that the wine at the dinner party was described as a sauvignon blanc. I thought it only very recently that the actual grape variety has been used in describing wines and most wines were described by where they came from. Was this not the case in the 19th Century?
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Molokov » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:22 am

Same typo (Jprobably) in my copy too.
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:23 pm

Yes, I had that typo too. I fail to see how the editors miss such a thing. I find something like that very off putting.

As to the wine question - I wondered that too. The grape seems to have existed then, but I'd have expected it to be referred to as a white Bordeaux. :?

Still, it's hardly worth quibbling about.
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby chalkeee » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:37 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Yes, I had that typo too. I fail to see how the editors miss such a thing. I find something like that very off putting.

As to the wine question - I wondered that too. The grape seems to have existed then, but I'd have expected it to be referred to as a white Bordeaux. :?

Still, it's hardly worth quibbling about.

gaimans law states " when an author opens a book he has written, they will invariably find a typo"
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Re: Dodger **Spoilers**

Postby rockershovel » Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:49 pm

I'm watching for this one in paperback. Nation remains the only Pratchett book I've never finished ( although I've never read the Neil Gaiman ones ), and I thought Snuff was well below par, mainly because the whole Sam Vimes/Summoning Dark arc seemed to have been taken as far as it could go in Thud! , Willikins seems to act completely out of character at times, the Fred Colon cameo was irrelevant and the Nobby Nobbs/Tears of the Mushroom sub-plot, plain squick.

Making Money seemed, as quite a few others have commented, a re-tread of Going Postal and I'm not much looking forward to further Moist von Lipwig stories.
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