Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Night Watch

Night Watch
Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I've read this book twice, the latest time being December 2006.

Translation: I had my husband read this first, after he read the Russian version, so he could tell me how good the translation was (he was born in Russia). He tells me the translation from Russian is very good, as good as could be expected considering there are so many Russian words and phrases that simply cannot be translated into English with the same amount of impact. Apparently the Russian version of this book has a great deal of humor in it - what I primarily perceived was a fairly melancholic air.

My Synopsis: This book - all three parts of it - focus on Anton, a 5-year veteran of the Nightwatch. The Nightwatch is a group of Light Others - magicians, shapeshifters, etc. - who work to ensure that the Dark Others (led by the Daywatch) keep the truce that was set up by both sides as a result of WWII (as far as I could tell judging from the time frame). Anton is having what could be most closely defined as a crisis of faith; he feels that maybe the ends do not justify the means and that the Nightwatch is not acting in the best interests of humankind after all. However, he does not want to switch allegiances - in fact, as far as he knows no one can - and he cannot act directly against the Nightwatch or he will be sent into the Twilight forever.

Act 1: The first part of the book is the part that most closely resembles the movie that was created from these novels - they must again save Egor, a young boy, from a female vampire, after Anton has already saved him once and killed her paramour, who illegally turned her after falling in love with her when he was licensed to take her (I presume the "legal" result of this transaction would be the death of the girl, but it is never baldly stated this way). At the same time, a large dark vortex has opened over the city and they must find first the person over whom it has risen and secondly the Magician or Sorceress who has set it.

Act 2: The second part of the book finds Anton in a great deal of danger when he is sent after a Maverick Other, who does not even realize that he is an Other, who has been killing off Dark Others for around three years. He must find the Maverick and bring him in before the Daywatch catches up to him (or the Maverick - but the Daywatch is certain is it Anton himself who is committing the murders).

Act 3: Finally in the 3rd section of the book, we find Moscow under an unusual heat wave and the Nightwatch has been cut down to a skeleton crew, with the rest being sent off on vacation. Anton fears that Svetlana - who, he is told, is destined to be a Great One - is being pushed too far, too fast and that, as a result, the fragile love that has grown between them will be snapped. As a result, he pushes her even farther away and finally ends up making a deal with the Dark Ones; however, he redeems himself in the denouement, before announcing to Gesar and Svetlana that he has realized this whole situation has been a feint and distraction to keep the Dark Ones from knowing what is actually going on (of course, we ourselves have very little idea ourselves, as Anton doesn't deign to actually state out loud much about the actions going on.)

Comparisons and Recommendations: Maybe more perceptive readers than I will figure out what is going on in the background, but a lot of this feels like a book by L E Modesitt, Jr., where I never quite know what the heck is going on, but I love it anyway.

Don't miss this one - it's a terrific book.

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