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Night Watch Paperback – July 26, 2006
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Another aspect that I enjoyed is their Russo-centrism - remember Lukyanenko wrote these books in Russian for a Russian audience (the translation is flawless and the writing is terrific - you will read about Russian heroes and villains that you have never heard of, and there are some cultural references that you'll want to check out on Wikipedia - easy to do on Kindle).
When you read these books you will find yourself almost exclusively in Moscow - events occurring here that have the potential to dramatically alter (or end) life everywhere on the planet (a very common theme in many other books I read, except it is events in NY, or Chicago, or DC, or LA, etc). I thought reading about the life there was fascinating (so close to the US, but also so different). If you read the books, check out when Lukyanenko first published them (he started in the 1990s) - while he doesn't put dates in his stories he is writing about contemporary Russia. Reading the challenges facing the people in the books, and their attitudes towards their problems, and life in general (in some ways so close the US, and in some ways so different) and reflecting on the actual events in Russia occurring when he wrote the stories is very interesting (depiction of government, military, police, crime, etc).
To the story itself. A long long time ago a Treaty has been made between two opposing forces, the Dark Others, and the Light Others. Both sides have established a sort of police, the Night Watch (to police the Dark Others at night) and the Day Watch (to police the Light Ones during the day). Enter Twilight, the magical realm that exists underneath the real world, the place that dims your perceptions, sucks on your energy, the place that turns humans into Others once they step inside. The narrative is divided into three stories, mostly told by Anton Gorodetsky, the member of the Night Watch. There are vampire chases across nightly Moscow, mysterious owls, murderers with wooden daggers, dark vortices above human heads cast there by curses, silver bullets shot in Moscow metro, shape-shifters, witches, and, of course, vodka, drunks, notorious Moscow militia, and more. You should really read it, especially if you have never been to Moscow.
The Night Watch protects and encourages good in and amongst humans, and keeps an eye on the activities of the Day Watch, who spread and encourage darkness and evil.
Both sides have access to the Twilight, a magical space that humans cannot see.
Anton discovers a very strong sorceress, who literally has the power, and the special chalk, to rewrite destiny. How to handle this without a war starting? Anton has to figure it out.
While it does get wordy, and sometimes too philosophical for fantasy fiction, Night Watch is good. An inventive, dark take on urban fantasy. I plan to read more!