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 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where do I start on such a great story? I really knew nothing about it other than the movie of the same name from several years ago, but I gave it a shot.
I was not disappointed. Sergei Lukyanenko builds such an excellent cast of characters and an incredible world of vampires, wizards, witches and supernatural beings. I was so engrossed with this story that I found myself sitting and listening in the garage when I got home, I didn't want it to end!
Paul Michael is an excellent reader with a top-notch performance! When it ended, I promptly downloaded the next three books and am still awaiting the next chapter that was just released in the UK... but not the US.
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