Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Night Watch

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Night Watch (1998/2006) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield

This text has been approved for distribution as conducive to the cause of Light. —THE NIGHT WATCH

This text has been approved for distribution as conducive to the cause of Darkness. —THE DAY WATCH

I’ve got the final two Night Watch books just waiting to be read, so I decided to go back and restart the series, because, well, I can.

The books is divided into three parts: Destiny, Among His Own Kind, All for My Own Kind

“Destiny” is our introduction to Anton, the Others, and the Watches. We also meet several characters who will recur throughout the series, including Egor, Svetlana, and Maxim.

And of course the Twilight.

“Profits on Loans Are Down,” said the headline.

In the real world the phrase was different: “Tension Mounts in the Caucasus.”

I could pick up the newspaper now and read the truth. The real truth. What the journalist was thinking when he wrote about the subject he was covering. Those crumbs of information that he’d received from unofficial sources. The truth about life and the truth about death.

Anton is sent out to catch a vampire couple who are acting outside the bounds of The Treaty. Except that Anton has a complicated relationship with vampires.

How did it feel to be an outcast? To be punished, not for committing a crime, but for the potential ability to commit it?

There is so much I love about this series, from the bands I’ve never heard of, the the Russian jokes and the Russian humor, and of course the outlook on life.

In a war the most dangerous thing is to understand the enemy. To understand is to forgive.

“Among His Own Kind” is the second story, and it opens with Maxim, a Light Other who believes he is the only one of his kind, and that his personal battle is to fight the evil and darkness that he occasionally sees.

One of the quirks of people who’ve managed to find their place in life is that they believe that’s the way things ought to be. Everything simply works out the way it ought to. And if someone feels shortchanged by life, then he has only himself to blame. He must be either lazy and stupid.

(F)or some reason that evening he’d got drunk and killed a woman he’d been trying to track down for two weeks, a woman whose Dark power forced men to leave the women they loved and go back to their lawful wives.

Of course we also have Anton, who is under suspicion of killing Dark Others, which leads to a complicated plot where Anton and Olga switch bodies.

The young man standing beside me reached out his hand and helped me up.

If not for that, I’d probably have fallen over. My center of balance had completely changed.

Her movements were as uncertain as mine. Maybe she was even less steady. “Light and Darkness, how do you men walk?” she suddenly exclaimed.

I actually like the thought he put into what it would be like for Anton.

Apparently the way we looked and the car we were in drew attention. Windows were wound down; heads with crew cuts were stuck out, sometimes with a hand clutching a cell phone, as a universal badge of status. At first I just found it annoying. Then it started to seem funny. By the end I wasn’t reacting to any of it any longer, just like Svetlana.

This story, more than the previous, shows precisely how devious the Watches are, and how grey the difference between the dark and the light are.

“All for My Own Kind” sees Anton spiraling out of control as he realizes that no matter how much Svetlana loves him, she is quickly surpassing him and will leave him behind. Which makes it hard for him to actually admit how he feels.

What was my truth worth, if I was prepared to defend the entire world, but not those who were close to me? If I subdued hate, but wouldn’t give love a chance?

I also enjoy the glimpses into the lives of the other characters, from the saved weather contest to Yulia, the thirteen-year-old sorceress.

“What magical powers?” Yulia asked, genuinely surprised. “I told my friend Sveta I was going off for a party with some guys and asked her to cover for me. She was staggered, but of course she agreed.”

Ilya giggled in the driving seat.

“What would I want with a party like that?” Yulia asked indignantly.

That cracks me up.

I really do love this series–how even the odd bits that place it in a specific time don’t make it feel dated. And I love the bits that I don’t understand because I’m not Russian, because it’s all fascinating.
Rating: 9.5/10

Published by Harper Paperbacks

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