Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dodger, by Sir Terry Pratchett

“Dodger” is the story of a poor but street-smart orphan who lives in Victorian-era London.  Dodger makes his living as a “tosher”, which means that he wades through the city sewers in search of lost coins and jewelry.  It’s a rough life, and it’s made even more challenging when Dodger stops a kidnapping in progress.   From that point on, Dodger is drawn into a web of crime and espionage, relying on his wits to carry him through.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit London once, but I didn’t know a whole lot about the city’s history.  The author’s writing is very detailed, and after a few chapters you almost feel like you’ve gone back in time.  Horse-drawn carriages are everywhere, as is the dirt and filth of a huge city.  It’s an unlikely place to find a hero, but that makes Dodger’s brave acts seem even more impressive.

Through the course of the story, Dodger gets to meet notable people from that era, including Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd.  Introducing them as characters seemed a little gimmicky at first, but I was grateful that I got the chance to learn more about them.  After I had finished the book, I had a whole separate list of people and places that I wanted to learn more about.  I also liked the way that the author left a little opening at the end of the book, in case he ever wanted to write a sequel.  Even if he doesn’t, it kind of makes the reader wonder about what will happen to Dodger next.

Reading books about the world out other places or other historical periods is a great way to experience another person’s life.  Is there another place that you’d like to visit?  What about a period of history that you’re particularly interested in?

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