Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the "Others", an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme "Other" will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light.
When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?
©2006 Sergei Lukyanenko (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Brace yourself for Harry Potter in Gorky Park.... The novel contains some captivating scenes and all kinds of marvelous, inventive detail: The vampires’ seduction of a teenage boy is bone-chilling; every time Lukyanenko described the Other-worldly Twilight, I felt lured into it; and the fantastical powers exercised by Anton and his colleagues range from delightful to awesome." (The Washington Post Book World)
"[As] potent as a shot of vodka.... [A] compelling urban fantasy." (Publishers Weekly)
"Night Watch is an epic of extraordinary power." (Quentin Tarantino)
Member since 2000
I have been an inveterate reader for thirty years and "The Night Watch" is the best "first novel in a series" I have read other than, and since, J.R.R Martin's "A Game of Thrones" in the "Fire and Ice" series. I started listening to "The Night Watch" driving to the airport this past Wednesday. Then during a four hour flight the book continued to entertain. Before mid-night I was finished, but wanted more. I had already used my 5 credits for January but I gladly paid $24.95 for "The Day Watch".
We are told the story from the perspective of Anton, who is an agent of The Night Watch. Anton is a Light Magician, having a modest amount of power, but not a lot of experience. He is also an idealist(never forget this) and is not always careful in using his magic, which might lead him to an arrangement(or compromise) with a Dark Agent. The characters surrounding Anton are rich and colorful, and each with his own motivations as to why a certain area of magic was chosen as a strength to build upon.
The lines between good and evil begin to blur, slowly at first, as the story unfolds. The listener should pay close attention to the arguments from both sides, because each one has thought provoking assertions(and logic) as to why their way is the Right way.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Modern Moscow makes a terrific setting for an urban fantasy novel and Anton is a likable hero. Paul Michael is perfect for the role of a tough but sensitive Muscovite (and is now my second favorite audiobook reader). While the writing, the setting, the characters, and most of the plot are enjoyable, there are a couple of related problems that kept The Night Watch from being the completely engrossing story it had the potential to be. We get much of the story from Anton???s point of view and, while this made me really understand and like his character, it also means that we spend a huge amount of time listening to Anton trying to figure out what???s going on. He???ll brood for a while, then have an epiphany and give us an explanation (not always logical or believable) that he???s sure is right, but then suddenly he???ll be wrong and some other strange (illogical or unbelievable) explanation will be given, which may or may not be correct. I chuckled toward the end when Anton says: "I didn???t know. As always, I didn???t have enough information for analysis. I could have come up with thirty-three different explanations, all contradicting each other." And I think he does come up with 33 different explanations, all contradicting each other. It gets really confusing and it interrupts the action but, worse, when we find out what???s really going on, it???s not nearly as exciting as it could have been. Most of the plot climaxes just fizzle when we find out the truth. Related to this is the fact that I never quite believed in Sergei Lukyanenko???s world. In his interior monologues, Anton goes on at length about light and dark, destiny and fate ??? I???m not sure that it all made sense. I also didn???t understand some of the choices Anton made, especially at the end. Perhaps this will be cleared up in sequels. Still, I enjoyed spending time in Moscow with Anton and enemies, even if I was confused about the plot.
A Post Production professional working in the television industry in L.A.
As an American who has lived in both New York City and Los Angeles, it was the novelty of the setting, Moscow, Russia, that was most immediately enjoyable. The setting is almost a character of its own in this series.
When the Light incubus who specializes in "romance" cannot lift the spirits of the young woman who has cursed herself over her own guilt, Anton is sent in to try to help her although he has no idea what he's going to do. The scene that follows between Svetlana and Anton is one of the best in the book.
The Night Watch series doesn't go for emotional manipulation, instead it plants ideas and concepts in your head that will stay with you for a long time as you ponder them.
It is such pleasure to find a fantasy series of true quality. The only reason I rated the performance at three stars was that I felt it could have used more energy. The narrater is not monotonous by any means, but his voice is so smooth and gentle that he nearly put me to sleep while driving.
I'm a voracious audiobook listener, rarely found without my iPod.
I really wasn't too impressed with this book for the first third. The story is told in three parts, with each beginning with a Prologue. This approach felt a little disjointed, but in that second third, I was getting comfortable with the characters and warming up to the story. By the last third, I was on the library's web site and on Audible.com looking for the next book in the series.
The comparison of Lukyanenko's world building to that of Tolkien, that I read in other reviews, was ludicrous. The world we see in the Watch series is modern day Moscow, with the hidden forces of good and evil unbeknownst to average citizens. There are magicians, vampires, demons and shape shifters all aligned with either good or evil (Night Watch and Day Watch). Our main character, Anton, works for the Night Watch, which represents the good forces. He is a magician, though only an average one who works at the Night Watch as their IT/clerical support person. In these stories, he has been pulled out of his comfortable clerical/analyst job to assist on this mission. It becomes evident that not all is as it seems and there are larger forces at work.
This book is much more intellectual than, say Harry Potter or Discovery of Witches, because the thorough exploration of good versus evil. There are more than a few parallels between East versus West and Socialism versus Democracy.
This is one that I really enjoyed the audio because of the fabulous job the narrator does with the accents and pronunciation of the Russian names.
It is not a Vampire action story about blood, and guts, and gorgeous "undead". It is not even about the victory of good over evil. If you ever acquainted yourself with Russian literature, you will set your expectations just right.
It is a though-provoking book consisting of novellas, each with a separate storyline involving the same group of characters and revolving around the same theme. It is about searching in the "grey", which is, of course, a blend of black and white.
What is good? What is evil? Do we know for sure? Should we question rules and perceptions set thousands of years ago or is it always a matter of personal choice set here and now?
You will find more questions than answers in this book. That is what Russians are all about. Always searching and not settling for ordinary and comfortable.
I loved it and will continue with the series.
PS: The narrator, Paul Michael, crosses genders and characters so seamlessly that you forget it is the same person speaking.
Don't believe the bad reviews! I've read the book, watched the movie, and listened to the audiobook....they are all fantasic. We actually get to understand the motivations of the characters--not just have the actions described. It makes for much more "complete" and "real" characters. I love these books...you will too! Oh---the narrator helps a lot. His russian accents help keep the story firmly in Russia.
Not one big story, but three novellas. I wish that had been mentioned right off the bat. It makes a difference in story, character, etc. development. Story line is unusual and somewhat interesting with (surprisingly) deep (and interesting) philosophical musings for so little (real) character development. Cops and robbers but not really. From a Russian angle no less. Entertaining. A big plus: a story with vampires (witches and warlocks, etc.) that is NOT a thinly disguised torid romance. LOL.
Set in modern (late 90s, when it was written) Moscow, "Night Watch" is about two sides in an ancient battle of Good vs. Evil. The "Others" are beings of supernatural power born to human beings but fated to live among them and be conscripted into one side or the other. The Light is made up of those who have chosen to defend humanity, while the Dark is made up of those who use their powers for selfish ends and prey on humans.
Except of course it isn't that simple. The Light and the Dark figured out years ago that if they ever really unleashed their powers on each other, the result would be an apocalypse that would destroy the world. So they formed a treaty that circumscribes what either side can do. In short, every interference in human affairs by one side authorizes an equal and opposite effect by the other. If a Light magician saves a life, a Dark magician gets to take one. If a Dark magician uses her powers for evil, the Light gets to use that much power for some good project. Over centuries, they have negotiated these rules and the terms under which each side may go about its business, and the result is a sort of detente (while each side hopes to someday gather enough power that they can actually win a final showdown).
Naturally, both sides will cheat if they can get away with it. Each side is monitored by a "Watch" - the Light magicians are the Night Watch, because they watch what the Dark gets up to at night, while the Dark magicians of the Day Watch monitor the activities of the Light.
Anton, the protagonist, in a book that's really a series of episodes (but continuous, so each affects the next) is a junior magician of the Light who comes up against the limits of his authority and what his side can do. He wants to do good and is continuously frustrated that even the smallest good deed means allowing the Dark to get away with something in exchange. He makes friends with a family of vampires, but has to remind himself that "legal" vampires just follow rules for hunting and killing humans to make sure they don't expose themselves or get carried away - they still hunt and kill humans.
The magicians of the Dark aren't all mustache-twirlingly evil, and the magicians of the Light can be hard, but they are still standing on opposite sides of a war.
The moral ambiguity of Night Watch comes from how each side comes to terms with the accommodation they have made to keep things running smoothly. Their accommodation is called into question when, for example, an uninitiated magician of the Light, who knows nothing of the two sides or the ancient agreement, begins killing Dark magicians. Or when a child with great potential becomes a chip in the game, each side struggling to influence him, Anton's boss being no less devious and manipulative than his Dark counterpart.
I liked the slow chess game being played out by the two sides - there aren't a lot of flashy magical pyrotechnics here, though there are some. The plot is more about moral quandaries and riddles of fate and destiny than who can win a supernatural throwdown.
Anton is slightly flat as a character, but this book still had a great Moscow noir feel.
I find it interesting how Russian fiction is always narrated by someone speaking with a Russian accent. It keeps the Western reader ever-mindful that these are Russian characters, but still - a reader reading (or listening to) the book in its original language would not "hear" an accent, so I wonder how different the experience of listening to "Night Watch" would be if the English version was narrated in regular American (or British) accents.
Fascinating premise. It will probably age badly die to the vampire-heavy world the author creates. Havent been charged up the read the rest of the series yet. Be warned, the novel is more like three novellas witht he same characters. I was a little disappointed the novel wasn't more cohesive.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
IN THE TWILIGHT
This book consists of three stories, with Anton as the main character in each. If all I had listened to would have been the first story Destiny, I would have given this five stars. Destiny is so good I almost gave the whole book five stars. To me this was the most intelligent fantasy I have ever listened to or read. This was one of the few times in my life, that I got it! This is an infinite chess game between good and evil and both sides are right and both sides are wrong. There is some action, but this is mostly a head game. You could compare this to Simon R. Green's, In The Night Side or China Mieville's The City, The City and maybe even Butcher's, Dresden's books, only this is better, more stimulating to the brain. Some have compared SL to King. Both use scary or fantastical elements to get a message across. King message is usually political, where as SL is more psychological. SL shows how doing good can lead to evil and vise versa. That good and evil is not a black and white issue. The second story, Among HIs Own Kind, is good, but not as good as Destiny. I would give the second story four stars.
AN EXPERIENCED KAMIKAZE
The third story, All for our Kind, is bad. Anton becomes a big whiney baby. Even the characters in the story complain about his whining. The plot does not develop until half way through the story and then it is not enough to save the story.
I would suggest buying the book, but only for the first two thirds. The first story is worth your credit. If you are not enjoying the third story, quit the book. Don't be one of those who have to finish every book they start. I used to be that way, until I realized that I was only punishing myself, which was stupid.
MY FRIEND AND ENEMY
I think I will try the next book in the series, even though it goes against my rules. If I don't give the first book five stars, I don't go on to the next. If he can repeat the genius of Destiny, it will be worth it.
Paul Michael is a very good narrator and if you listen closely, he sounds an awful lot like Rod Serling. Even if you don't agree, you have to agree his talent makes this book a better listen then a read.
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