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 Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

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PostSubject: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko    Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:15 am

I'm currently going through the Night Watch series (there are four books, I think. I'm on Book 2, Day Watch) and I thought I'd post a review here just in case any of you were thinking about checking it out.

Night Watch isn't, let's face it, a very interesting title. These books are done a tremendous disservice by their covers or 'blurbs'.
Example: 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?

I read that and literally cringed. And you'll be happy to know, that blurb is almost entirely misleading. This book is Grade-A urban fantasy, and focuses so much on the moral aspects of "Dark" and "Light" and the struggles its members go through that it often comes off as a character study as well as a fantasy novel. One thing that especially attracted me to this book was the same thing that drew me in to other books by non-American/British writers - the style of writing is completely different, and unlike so many fantasy novels, we are spared the gratuitous "She brushed her silky red hair over her slender shoulder while her sea-green eyes lit up," nonsense that so many writers, good or not, use. Another thing I like about Lukyanenko is that he doesn't talk down to the reader or try to pander to them. You either like the novel and keep up or you don't, and if you don't, well, sucks for you. There's no forced-in sexual tension or token-appeal character to try to keep the readers there. This novel is one of the least pretentious fantasy novels I have ever read.

Night Watch is split into three stories (all interconnected) about a young man named Anton, who works for the Night Watch. The beings of Light and Darkness have forced a uneasy truce, and as a result they don't fight each other, but instead keep tabs on each other's doings, making sure neither side crosses the line. While that description may sound drab, it actually opens up a interesting premise. Imagine it - office hours of patrolling dark wizards and vice versa? There's also all the expected office circumstances, and they are so effortlessly meshed with your odd conjured fireball ... it's perfect. Anton is preoccupied with thinking about humanity's future and whether or not he really belongs to the forces of Light (it's a personal choice) while trying to save the world at regular intervals. That young boy with SUPER-STUPENDOUS power? I don't know if it's Anton. No, I really don't. I don't think so, though. I think the "Chosen One", (who I'm guessing the identity of, still) is much more a periphery character, which makes it so much more interesting. When do you ever read a fantasy novel focused on the guy who made all the cogs work, instead of the shining superhero?

Seriously, this book is good. Pick it up, you won't regret it.
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PostSubject: Re: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko    Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:06 pm

Thanks for the review, Lilli. It does not surprise me that the blurb is worded that way. I'm sure some genius in the publisher's marketing department came up with that one. The author probably cringed as well when he read it, but was talked into it by the publisher.

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