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Night Watch (1998)

by Sergei Lukyanenko

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: World of Watches Hexalogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,2131332,097 (3.88)215
Anton, a young Other, who owes allegiance to the Light, is a Night Watch agent, patrolling the streets and metro of the city, as he protects ordinary people from the vampires of the Dark. On his rounds, Anton comes across a young woman, Svetlana, who he realises is under a curse that threatens the entire city.… (more)
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» See also 215 mentions

English (126)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Anton is one of the Others, an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers, serving either the Light or Dark Side who coexist in an uneasy peace by watching each other. He falls in love with 24-year-old Svetlana, when a black cyclone is placed over her by Dark Magician. While trying to save her, Anton finds Egor, a gifted boy unwilling to choose between his Light or Dark abilities. Anton struggles with his love for Svetlana and saving his precarious world of magicians, shape-shifters, witches and vampires. A bit slow at times. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
A really interesting look at the battle between good and evil--not at all a typical story of this type. Excellent translation from the Russian, as well. Not stilted or hard to read, as many translations seem to be. ( )
  sdramsey | Dec 14, 2020 |
A quick read, a definite page-turner. As with several of the last few books I've read, I'd already seen the movie version and was intrigued. I was in an independent book store in Colorado when I saw it and decided to grab it. This book actually encompasses both movies: Night Watch and Day Watch. It is confusing since there is a second book in the tetralogy entitled Day Watch that is separate. Night Watch, the novel, is pretty significantly different from Night Watch, the movie. I knew that in advance, so I wanted to see how it was originally plotted.

The book, as always, was much better than the movie. As I started off saying, it's a quick read and it's not difficult to follow what's going on. I felt the ending was a little rushed, especially after reading through three parts to get to an ending that concluding in a few pages, seemingly wrapping up everything very quickly and cleanly. Perhaps the other three books in the series would help flesh it out and make for a much longer story arc.

One thought that ran through my head was whether this book might be like a modern reworking of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, at least exploring some of the same themes and still set in Moscow. There are some surface similarities, but I'd recommend reading Bulgakov over Lukyanenko. But, I still must say that I enjoyed reading Night Watch. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Vampires, shape-shifters, witches, magicians...nothing new there. Light, Dark, the Balance...nothing new there either. So why do I like this book so much? Well, in the imagination stakes, there is the Twilight, which does seem original to me, but really it is the character and setting that I like.

The protagonist, Anton, Light One, magician, agent for the Night Watch - the organisation that attempts to ensure that the Dark Ones uphold the truce between Light and Dark - is committed to his cause yet continually morally confused and questioning and usually trying to find the right action without full knowledge of what is at stake or even who the players are. I sympathise with and relate to him; I often find those with extreme moral certainty very frightening.

Anton lives and works in Moscow - it's a Moscow I've never come across before - post Cold War, pre Millenium and most of all, Russian. The author is Russian and it comes through - places I've never heard of are mentioned casually - neighbourhoods of Moscow, Metro stations, roads - with no concession to the idea that they might be unfamiliar. Historical and cultural allusions are made that are utterly meaningless to me - and I love all that. This sense of foreign-ness is as magical as anything that occurs in the Twilight and contributes to the mysterious atmosphere of the work as greatly as any other factor.

Three seperate but sequential stories make up the book. Each of them is long enough to have been considered a seperate work and received a seperate volume in the 1960s. They are all excellent, but similar technical tricks are pulled in each, allowing the third story to become somewhat predictable, which is my only criticism of this fine contribution to the fantasy genre.
( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
I think I'm a bit amazed.

There's an awful lot I love about this novel and I had to put aside a lot of my well-misinformed prejudices about what I think I like most about modern Urban Fantasy.

Let's be clear here... this novel came out before most of the modern batches. 1998.

When it comes to similar themes of dark magic vs. light and the exploration of an amazingly deep moral ambiguity between them, I actually prefer Benedict Jacka's UF novels when it comes to straight action, magic, and characters, but Night Watch takes things slightly farther with the honest questions.

In both, anyone can be good or evil despite the categories, and there's a LOT of ground covered in both series, but Night Watch actually comes close to laying down a foundation of philosophical thought. I can be summed up as balance if I wanted to be crude. Let's not be surprised this is a modern Russian novel writing about modern Russia as a full-out UF with vampires, magicians, alternate dimensional side-realms, and a fight between the light and dark. Add the police-like drama and ramp up the focus of a morality of action versus the singularity of truth and the ambiguity of all the details will bring a hoard of devils home to us.

Sometimes slow, very often broken up into what could be a series of novellas, this first book is nevertheless pretty brilliant.

Where do dark magicians get their power? Suffering. Where do light magicians get theirs? Joy. Both diminish the source. It's quite delightful.

But if I'm being very honest, this is more of a 4.5 than a full 5 stars, but that's only due to my sheer enjoyment (or lack) that pulled down this otherwise sprawling philosophical twist to a traditional gritty UF. Maybe my issue is in the translation. Maybe it's my greater enjoyment coming from similar series to have treated the topic. I do not know.

Even so, I did enjoy this very much. Especially the end. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lukyanenko, Sergeiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bromfield, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlsson, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konttinen, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pöhlmann, ChristianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This text has been approved for distribution as conducive to the cause of the Light.
The Night Watch

This text has been approved for distribution as conducive to the cause of the Dark.
The Day Watch
Dedication
First words
The escalator strained slowly upward.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Anton, a young Other, who owes allegiance to the Light, is a Night Watch agent, patrolling the streets and metro of the city, as he protects ordinary people from the vampires of the Dark. On his rounds, Anton comes across a young woman, Svetlana, who he realises is under a curse that threatens the entire city.

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