Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko (1998) E

Date read: (incomplete) 10.17.10
Book from: Borrowed from Kakaner
Reviewer: Emera

Adapted from the back cover:

“Set in contemporary Moscow, where shapeshifters, vampires, and streets-sorcerers linger in the shadows, Night Watch is the first book in an epic saga chronicling the eternal war of the ‘Others,’ an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who must swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. The agents of Light – the Night Watch – oversee nocturnal activity, while the agents of Dark keep watch over the day. For a thousand years both sides have maintained a precarious balance of power, but an ancient prophecy has decreed that a supreme Other will one day emerge, threatening to tip the scales. Now, that day has arrived. When a mid-level Night Watch agent named Anton stumbles upon a cursed young woman – an uninitiated Other with magnificent potential – both sides prepare for a battle that could lay waste to the entire city, possibly the world.”

I grabbed this off of Kakaner’s shelf at some point, having heard that the movie adaptations of the series were good, and being a bit of a sucker for urban-fantasy romps (as evidenced by my shameless obsession with the Dresden Files). I sampled two chapters before deciding to give the rest a miss. What I read seemed a bit silly and mostly predictable; I didn’t feel particularly intrigued by the characters or the world-building, especially given the obvious moral binary. Andrew Bromfield’s translation reads fluently, so I’m going to assume that any faults lie with the original text: namely, abuse of ellipses and exclamation points (“This was real power! With real perseverance!” “Damn!” “Faster!” “A female voice!”) and a general atmosphere of cheesy, humorless melodrama. Characters growl in anger, angst about unquenchable blood thirst, and so on.

Also, not the fault of the book itself, but still hilarious – a further excerpt from the back-cover summary: “With language that throbs like darkly humorous hard-rock lyrics about blood and power, freedom and responsibility…” – That is some quite specific throbbing.

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Sergei Lukyanenko: bio and works reviewed