Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Twilight Watch

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Twilight Watch (2003/2007) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield

The third book in the Night Watch series may be my favorite. Like the previous two books, there are three stories: Nobody’s Time, Nobody’s Space, Nobody’s Power. Like the first book, Night Watch, all three stories center on Anton Gorodetsky and are told from his perspective. (This is great, as far as I’m concerned, since I really like Anton and his way of looking at the world.)

The first story, Nobody’s Time, sees Anton returning early from vacation, and being pulled into an unpleasant mess: The Night Watch, the Day Watch, and the Inquisition have received variations of the same letter:

The NIGHT WATCH should BE INTERESTED to know that a CERTAIN Other has REVEALed to a CERTAIN human being the entire truth about oTHErs and now inTENDs to turn this human beING into an OTHER. A wellWISHer.

That’s bad.

So Anton is sent under cover, to find both the human who has been promised this change, and the Other who has made this promise. In this search, Anton is to work with members of both the Day Watch and the Inquisition–people who has worked with or known previously. The Inquisitors Witezslav and Edgar, and the vampire Konstantin, who had been his neighbor when he first joined the Night Watch.

It’s not all bad for Anton. He gets to drive a BMW and live in an expensive apartment complex and get a new suit.

The suit was already waiting for me. And the tailor too, muttering discontentedly that sewing a suit without a second fitting was like getting married on impulse.

Unfortunately, the apartment isn’t quite the lap of luxury.

As I said of the previous books, I love the glimpses into Russian life and culture.

I followed the old woman into the “large room”… The walls were covered in black-and-white photographs… I realized that the blindingly beautiful young woman with the white teeth, wearing a flying helmet, was my elderly lady.

“I bombed the Fritzes,” the lady said modestly as she sat down at a round table covered with a maroon velvet tablecloth with tassels. “Look, Kalinin himself presented me with that medal…”

Absolutely dumbfounded, I took a seat facing the former flyer.

A vague recall of this was what caused me to buy Call Sign White Lily. Anton’s elderly woman is never named, but if not Lilia Litvyak, she may well be based upon her.

All of which makes me all the more curious about other references that would be familiar to a Russian, but as an American, I would completely miss.

And then there’s one of my favorite things about this story–we’re introduced to Las, the man who lives upstairs from Anton. I really like Las.

And of course, there is the painfully complicated scheme Anton uncovers…

The second story, Nobody’s Space, sees Anton back on vacation with Svetlana and Nadyenka, except, of course, something happens.

This time, however, it’s Anton bringing a problem to Gesar and not the other way around. Two young children return from the woods, and tell a story of a woman–a botanist–scaring off wolves or dogs, feeding them tea, and then bringing them home. A perfectly ordinary story, except that when the boy went into the woods, he had a stutter. But when he came out, his stutter was gone.

This may be one of my favorite stories. I really like the witch Arina, especially her interactions with the two children.

“Are we going to turn into little goats when we’ve drunk our tea?” Romka suddenly asked.

“Why?” the witch asked in surprise.

“Because you’ll put a spell on us,” Romka explained. “You’ll turn is into little goats and eat us up.”

He clearly did not trust the mysterious rescuer completely yet.

And then there is Uncle Kolya, one of the local alcoholics. He asks Anton if his has any jobs for him, and Anton says maybe he could look at his car. The same fancy BMW he was loaned when he went “under cover” as a human.

I particularly enjoyed how that turned out.

ALSO, we get to learn why Gilles de Rais turned out the way he did. And also, Joan of Arc was a week Dark Other.

The third story, Nobody’s Power, takes place immediately following Nobody’s Space. Anton has once again returned to the office, and once again is almost immediately set off, this time with Gesar. The witch Arina’s bookshelf has been found, and it looks like Ksyusha was correct: Arina did have a copy of the Furan. Only, now it’s missing.

I quite enjoyed seeing Gesar and Zabulon working together.

“No James Bond could have crept up on him without being noticed.”

“Who’s James Bond?” Zabulon inquired.

“That’s another myth,” Gesar laughed. “Contemporary mythology.”

But even better, Las is back.

“It’s there again…the bat!”

“Catching mosquitoes,” I reminded him.

“What mosquitoes? It swerved around a lamppost like it wasn’t even there! The size of a sheepdog, I tell you!”

Las stood up and resolutely pulled the blind down. He said in a determined voice:

“To hell with it…I know I shouldn’t read Stephen King just before bed… The size of that bad! Like a pterodactyl. It could catch owls and eagles, not mosquitoes!”

And of course this:

“How can I help?” Las asked. “Maybe I could look for some aspen stakes? By the way, they make matches out of genuine aspen, did you know that? I always wondered why it had to be aspen–does it really burn better than anything else? But now I realized it’s for fighting vampires. Sharpen a dozen matches…”

I looked at Las.

That just makes me giggle. ‘Sharpen a dozen matches’ indeed!

And of course, there are still the occasional tech comments that crack me up.

The buttons on the keypad lit up helpfully when I reached my hand out towards them. Four, three, two, one. A very cunning code…

And that doesn’t even cover the story–how they search for the thief, what the thief really wanted with the Furan, how the solved the problem.

As I said, I think this may be my favorite book of the series. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s unlike anything else that I’ve come across.

Published by Miramax

Rating: 10/10


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