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The Last Watch

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Last Watch (2009) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield

This text is acceptable to the forces of Light.
THE NIGHT WATCH

This text is acceptable to the forces of Darkness.
THE DAY WATCH

This is the 4th book in the Night Watch series. As with the previous books, it is broken up into three parts: Common Cause, A Common Enemy, A Common Destiny.

“Common Cause” opens with a young Russian and his girlfriend visiting a haunted house in Edinburgh, where the young man is killed in the Castle of Vampires.

Meanwhile, Gesar is attempting to teach Anton to learn how to use his unexpected powers.

One of the things I particularly like about this series is how well the children are portrayed–kid logic and all.

We drank, then looked at each other grimly. The vodka tasted like water.

Then we looked at Nadya. Our daughter was sitting on the floor, fiddling with her building set. Sensing our eyes on her, she started trilling, “La la-la la la-la.”

It was the kind of singsong that grown-ups often use to represent little girls in jokes. Horrid little girls who are just about to blow something up, break something, or say something really nasty.

“Nadezhda!” Svetlana said in an icy voice.

“La-la-la…” Nadya sang in a slightly louder voice. “What have I done now? You said Daddy shouldn’t drink before he flies away. Drinking vodka’s bad for you, you said so! Masha’s daddy drank, he drank and he left home…” There was a subtle weepy note in her voice.

“Nadezhda Antonovna!” Svetlana said in a genuinely stern tone. “Grown-up people have the right… sometimes… to drink a glass of vodka. Have you ever seen Daddy drunk?”

“At Uncle Tolya’s birthday,” Nadya replied instantly.

Svetlana gave me a very expressive look. I shrugged guiltily.

One of the things I enjoy in this series is how technology appears in the Twilight, when that technology is used by an Other.

There was a little dragon with bristling red scales standing in the stone archway and blocking my way.

I’m not quite sure what it is, but I do enjoy this story very much. It’s not necessarily any single thing, but rather all the bits put together, the amusing and the horrible,

“A Common Enemy”, the second story, opens with Las giving a tour to a safety inspector.

“Well, now, what have we got here?” the newcomer asked. “One item left in the accounts office, one in the toilet, one in the fire safety board on the second floor,” the duty pointsman replied eagerly. “Everything’s in order, Boris Ignatievich.”

The inspector turned pale.

“Las, we haven’t got a fire safety board on the second floor,” Boris Ignatievich observed.

“I created an illusion,” Las replied boastfully. “It was very realistic.”

That scene makes me giggle every single time.

Involve Tolik from the computer service. And Las from the operations side.”

“But he’s a weak magician.” Olga snorted.

“But he has a nonstandard way of thinking,” said Gesar.

A non-standard way of thinking indeed!

This story sees Anton and Alisher off to Samarkand, which is an especially fascinating story to me.

“Give me as much as you think you can spare. I can see you’re a good man, so why haggle? A good man is ashamed not to pay a poor taxi driver enough. He pays more than my conscience will allow me to ask.”

“You’re a good psychologist,” I laughed.

“Good? Yes… probably. I did a PhD in Moscow.”

In Russia a café like this would have been closed down in a moment. In Europe they would have put the owner in prison. In the USA the proprietor would have been hit with an absolutely massive fine. And in Japan the boss of an establishment like this would have committed seppuku out of a sense of shame.

Wash the sidewalk with soap in Europe, and it will stay clean for three days. But in Russia you can lick it clean with your tongue, and the dust will settle again in an hour. In Asia, there’s even more dust, so the Europeans and the Russians think, ‘Dirt, ignorance, savagery!’ But that’s not true! It’s just the way the land is. But when you find good smells in Asia, that’s not the dirt. In Asia you have to trust your nose, not your eyes!”

I also like the story, as Anton searches out Rustam, the magician who knew Merlin, but I especially love the bits in Samarkand.

“A Common Destiny” is the third and final story of the book, and although it finishes up the arc begun in the first story, and the story itself is good, the story is all resolution of the arc, and less the bits that fascinate me. Although I do love this bit, which is something I believe.

What does all this mean? That a medieval world in which magic exists is the one most attractive to people!”

“Well, yes,” I said. “Of course. Because no one thinks about how delightful it is to relieve yourself into a cesspit when it’s twenty degrees below freezing, or the stench those pits give out when it’s ninety degrees in the shade. Because the heroes in the books don’t get head colds, indigestion, appendicitis, or malaria.”

So although the third tale isn’t my favorite, the book still has a strong finish, and there are so many bits in the first two stories that I absolutely love, I can’t not love this book.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Hachette Books

Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Re-Read, Translated, Urban     Comments (0)    



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