Holy smokes, this book was adorable.
This isn't my first Pratchett book, but I don't remember much of the one Discworld book I read back when I was thirteen or so. I do remember it being humorous - I just didn't remember how absolutely hilarious
Pratchett is. I'm serious. This guy has a penchant for making people laugh and sometimes I found myself laughing so hard that I had to shut the book and put it down for a bit to recover. My flatmate found this endlessly amusing.
The characters in this book were the epitome of what it means to be lovable. Everyone from Jewish Solomon to the smelly Onan to the rich-but-will-always-be-single Angela were fleshed out and created solely for the purpose to be loved. I especially liked that Pratchett also included real people from this time. People like Robert Peel, Sweeny Todd, Benjamin Disraeli and even the well-known Charles Dickens. I can't be sure that's how those real people would've behaved in the circumstances that our hero, Dodger, always found himself in, but I loved seeing their reactions - especially Dickens's. The reader also gets to meet the Queen herself when she is young and first starting as ruler of England. This might have been my favorite part. I felt like I was being let in on some little secret by "being" with all of these people who were once real, by having these adventures with them.
I can think of no one better to write about Victorian London than Pratchett. He doesn't try to romanticize the hardships for you. He doesn't try to make it seem like this beautiful and idyllic place. He just gives you the facts - the facts from the rich people and the facts from the poor - and the facts from those caught kind of in the middle. Dodger finds himself, accidentally, caught in the middle of a diplomatic problem, something that, as a tosher, he really just wants nothing to do with. But because there's a damsel in distress (and no good Christian boy would leave a damsel in distress, would he?), he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the problem and the reader gets to experience his discoveries and epiphanies.
Highly recommended for everyone.