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)
I'm a corporate training consultant and adjunct professor who loves to read! I'm always looking for the next big thing.
I had the opportunity to read this book in Russian a few years ago, and I loved it. Then, I purchased the DVD version of the movie (which is from only the first story in the book). While the movie is somewhat different from the story in the book, I still thought it was fantastic. I enjoyed it so much that I showed clips of it to the students in my Russian Folk Culture class. Perhaps it is my obsession with all things Russian, but I am continually drawn back to this book, so I read it again in English. The translation was very well done, and I greatly enjoyed reading the book again. The story is about a group of "others" who represent the forces of good (or light) in this world. They work at night (as part of the Night Watch) to defend humans against the evil (or dark)"others." The book and its characters have a very supernatural feel, yet those supernatural "others" seem so human and easy to relate to. This book is the first in a series of four (Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch), soon to be five (New Watch--or so I've read). Night Watch is divided into three short stories about the members of the Night Watch (and one agent in particular--Anton Gordetsky). Each story is self-contained; however, they all interconnect. I would highly recommend this book (and series!) to anyone who likes science fiction and fantasy--especially those who want a significantly more adult tale than those offered by many of the popular young adult series.
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.
This may be one of my favorite books. The three stories that compose the novel are tight and well connected with each other. The characters are many but are wonderfully fleshed out. We get a good sense of each of the principals. While the book may not pass The Bechdel Test, the female characters are as strong (if not stronger) than the male characters. The description of the Others, the World of the Twilight, and modern day Moscow show Lukyanenko's love of both the fantastic and the mundane. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Olga. No doubts or questions. The things she has lived and seen through would fill a small book in and of themselves. I need to know more about her and I am sad to hear she plays only a minor role in the sequels to Night Watch.
I tried to make this a one sitting book, but I ended up dividing it into multiple sittings so I could enjoy each part more.
The narrator was fairly solid with his variations of the characters though he he did have moments of droning (being almost monotone). That could just be the writing and it did not happen often. Overall, the narration was fairly entertaining.
The book is split into three parts. I was instantly drawn into the narrative and curious about how Lukyanenko planned to handle the subject matter but be warned that this is not a fast paced narrative. He managed to keep my interest pretty solidly until the third section. In the first two, there is a nice balance between inner monologue and action. There is a problem that requires quick thinking and some active climax in order to resolve it. However, in the third, the action pretty much grinds to a standstill. I became bored because the characters began waxing too philosophical. Part of the problem is that what they talk about has already been partially discussed in the first two sections. So, going over it again just seemed redundant. And the the third part's "climax" was really no more than a hiccup. I felt like there should have been more urgency to the situation. Above I said that the narrator's flatness could have been the writing but, in this case, the lack of urgency could have been the lack of excitement in the tone of the narrator. Or, it could have been both.
I gave the overall a 4 star because 3.5 is not possible though that is closer to what I would rate the story (I would still give the narrator 4). A friend recommended the book and he has confirmed that the philosophical musings continue. I told him all that I said above. I also mentioned that I don't know if I will read the rest of the series. If I do, it will be a while. His response was that Lukyanenko's work really is a lot to process is one sitting and spacing it out is a good thing. So, that is what I recommend to all of you. Break it down into the books within the books and go back after you have had a chance to mull over all of the ideas that have been presented.
I enjoyed, but wasn't blown away by this book. There were some interesting concepts bantered about by the main character, but nothing too profound or meaningful was every truly developed. Story line was run of the mill. But the writing was pretty good.
Sergei Lukyanenko successfully builds a world dense in both Russion culture and folklore amidst an urban fantasy. The battle of light and dark is not new nor are the supernatural beings in the book. Most any reader will have a context for vampires, and magicians, but that being said, it is a unique work. I enjoyed the philosophical approach and discussion of light and dark not being about good and bad. The light is capable of quite despicable acts in the fight against the dark. Instead of being guilt ridden and in denial of this; the characters for the most part accept this without much concern and happily live in this gray world where the contrast can be hard to see. Choices are mostly seen as predestined.
The book is segmented into three stories or parts. All stories revolve around Anton, a middling magician content with his abilities. Anton is part of the Night Watch that work for the light in a tightly controlled and litigated war between the Light and the Dark. Think more paperwork, tit for tat, and offenses than unmitigated bloodshed. The stories are about Anton's struggle with what is right or just, crisis of concience, personal choice, and if you must sacrifice love for the greater good. These are very typical themes handled very differently from a western perspective. I found it to be a a non graphic love story shrouded in dark horror. That amused me and is one of the reasons I liked it so much. Thank you Sergei for tricking me.
If you watched the movies, while beautiful, the story line doesn't follow the book. This is not really the fault of the Director. I would have no idea how you would portray half of the story in the movie and there is so much you would have to take out. If you enjoyed the movie I think you will feel like you won reading the book because you get so much more. If you didn't like the movie? There is still a good chance you might like the book.
Is it slow in parts? Absolutely. Will it frustrate you? Probably. If you read the whole book will you enjoy it, especially for some of Sergei's gems of quotes? I'm betting on yes. I think you will enjoy Paul Michael's narration. He does a fine job and doesn't take anything away from the experience. I will be picking up the next book Day Watch.
It is hard to write a review of something that took me so by surprise. We've been taught that something of ourselves is brought into play when a story has been shared or experienced, be it written or in audio format. If something of the story resonates with me then I normally find the story and the experience to be a good one.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoy this story.
This story brought back memories of Slavic and Baltic exchange students I'd known. Not the "Otherness" part but the everyday human part.
For me, Sergei Lukyanenko, has given us a story where the events in our heroes (both Light and Dark) lives are part of 9 to 11 ball pattern in juggling.
... and at some time or another he has thrown a ball either so high that we forget that it was in the pattern or pocketed the ball when we weren't looking, and when the time is right; pop, there is another ball in the pattern.
That the story is engaging, for me, is the best way to put it, not always comfortable and sometimes very hectic, but never chaotic.
And very beautiful ....
... but then your idea of beauty and mine may very well be different, and then again, that very difference is an important theme, voice, lyric in this story.
I hope this helps.
Bi-Vocational Pastor/Draftsman. Full time husband and dad. Audiobooks are a staple in my life because I can read and work...
While there are some interesting ideas in this book, and the main character is interesting...I find myself looking back at this book and not remembering hardly any significant turns of events in the book. it only took me a week to listen.
The book was also split up into three parts which segmented the plot to harshly. The end was a huge let down with nothing significant revealed about the plot. No climax at all.
Not really worth a credit.
Finally got around to reading the book (of course, saw the movie back when it came out). Really interesting setting, and the writing really conveys Anton and his emotions well (even when he is indecisive and when depressed, which is hard to convey while still keeping the writing engaging). However, does hit that pet peeve of mine of having a protagonist with very little agency who is just a pawn. It's kind of the point of the story, and I have read far worse examples of it, but that's just a subjective thing of mine. I am definitely still interested in the rest of the series sometime. Plus, the audiobook version was very well done and since starting it, I have found my internal voice occasionally slipping into a Russian accent. Fun. I have resisted the temptation to always refer to my boss by his first and last name every time I talk to him, however.
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