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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
4,4131382,197 (3.87)225
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 225 mentions

English (129)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
Unknown to regular people, the world if filled with supernatural beings called others. Some of the others follow Light while others follow Dark. Both sides work to maintain a balance between Good and Evil in the world, and are bound by a treaty to do so. When a mid-level agent for the Night Watch (the Light others) discovers a unknown other with extraordinary potential for great power, he finds himself caught up in a power struggle between the forces of both Light and Dark. I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series. This book was originally published in Russia, and I can see how the philosophy of the book was influenced by the author's culture. There were times that I found myself struggling a little to understand the book's philosophy, but I enjoyed having my mind stretched. ( )
  Cora-R | Feb 12, 2022 |
It's weird to say that I couldn’t engage with this book when I clearly did--I finished it, after all. I guess it would be better to say that I never really felt involved in it. It was a bit like going to a bad zoo: nothing really felt natural and it seemed like there hadn’t been much attempt to disguise the fact.

I think that’s due in part to the translation. I know translating is hard, but isn’t there an English-only copyeditor on the other end to go, “hey dude, this doesn’t really make much sense”? There were places where I got lost in the pronouns, but the weirdest thing was reading a scene or a conversation’s tone one way only to bump into an adjective that seems the polar opposite of the impression I was getting.

I didn’t like the main character, but it wasn’t in a fun way. I just was watching him move around—I never felt connected to him, or any of the characters. I think a big part of that was because this parallel world was so insular. The times I felt most connected were when humans had the narrative from their perspective for a bit: I feel like I learned more about those characters in a few pages than I did about Anton in the whole book. But for all the normal world was right next door to the Other world, there was almost no interaction…including with me as a reader.

While I do applaud the author for trying to muddy up good and evil a bit, I kind of feel like he went too far. None of the good people really seemed good. They talked about doing things for others, being selfless, but none of them actually were. Really, aside from the philosophizing, I feel like I could have been reading about the Day Watch.

And I felt like…well, what was the point? Where did we get to? Why did we need to get there? I get that a little bit of that was supposed to be in the book—it wasn’t exactly subtle—but I just didn’t feel any urgency.

It’s a cool world, to be sure, but it didn’t feel as rich as the author seemed to imply. People could live for hundreds of years, but where was their culture? There didn’t seem to be any difference between characters several hundred years old and with an average lifetime, but there wasn’t even a hint that this was deliberate.

I’m a bit disappointed—I had hoped this would be better, since I’ve wanted to read it since 2009—but honestly I just didn’t muster up enough interest in this book to care all that much. Not a waste of time, but this book will be going, with the sequel I picked up just in case, on the take shelf. Hopefully someone who appreciates it more will pick it up.

Quote Roundup

30 - "I've always believed that ill-considered but well-intentioned actions do more good than actions that are well-considered but cruel."
Duh. Oh, and irony overload.

61 - "It's discrimination..."
"You're not in the States," the boss said, and his voice turned dangerously polite. "Yes, it's discrimination. Making use of the most appropriate available member of staff without taking his personal inclinations into account."
This confused me...I was wondering if Ignat was gay, but he only seemed attracted to women afterwards. And he certainly had no trouble getting cozy with the person who merited this comment later.

131 - It's not so easy to use the familiar form of my name. From Anton to Antonshka is too big a step.
One thing I did enjoy about the book was that I got to indulge in my love of Russian names--though the -nyms weren't quite as good as in The Brothers Karamazov.

155 - In a war the most dangerous thing is to understand the enemy. To understand is to forgive. And we have no right to do that--we never have had, not since the creation of the world.
You know what, it's entirely possible that my discomfort from this book is due to my Christian upbringing. I was given a very rational approach: you try to understand those who hurt you, you try to see the bigger picture, you try to understand so that you can forgive, maybe even empathize. I'm not pitching atheism as an opposite here--more like I'm saying the refusal to think logically, to even try to understand, is what made it so hard for me to connect. I always want to understand, but no one in this book does, they just want to categorize their Good and Evil--even when everything is supposedly not so clean-cut.

179 - One of the quirks of people who've managed to find their place in life is that they believe that's the way things ought to be. Everything simply works out the way it ought to. And if someone feels shortchanged by life, then he has only himself to blame. He must be either lazy or stupid. or else he thought too much of himself and tried to "get above himself."
Privilege in a nutshell. There's so much of this in the USA.

229 - "Stay in that body! It suits you better; you're not a man, you're a spineless wimp!"
Ugh, sexism. If Sveta were a real person, I'd pity her internalized misogyny. Since she's written by a man, I pity her creator for the same reason. And I hope he quit practicing psychiatry.

228 - "We're not given the chance to choose absolute truth. Truth's always two-faced. The only thing we have is the right to reject the lie we find most repugnant."
Oversimplified thinking masquerading as profound insight. The book was stuffed with it. It vexed me.

283 - How I wished I had clean hands, a passionate heart, and a cool head. But somehow these three qualities don't seem to get along too well. The wolf, the goat, and the cabbage--what crazy ferryman would think of sticking them all in the same boat? And when he'd eaten the goat for starters, what wolf wouldn't like to try the ferryman?
I have no idea what this means. Who or what is the ferryman? The hands conquer the heart? It's implied but not stated that the heart might "eat" the head (of cabbage--I'm disappointed the translator resisted the pun). Is that supposed to mean something? Is this a Russian saying or story? Why is this so much more complicated than it has to be?!

362 - Gesar might act harshly, even cruelly. He might provoke the Dark Ones and leave the Light Ones to carry on alone. He might do anything at all. Except make a mistake.
Part of the reason I was so confused was that the characters were so inconsistent. This guy's infallible? How's that even possible? Don't we witness him failing, making mistakes? Why would Anton believe he can't make mistakes? Is he being sarcastic?

378 - You have to take responsibility for your actions. But sometimes you simply don't have enough strength for that.
Ugh, this character. You have to earn the right to say that kind of thing and have me believe you, and you definitely haven't done that, Anton. There are plenty of ways I might have sympathized with the difficulty of accepting responsibility. Instead I'm just annoyed.

397 - "The potential of Europe and North America has already been exhausted. Everything that was possible has already been tried there. There are a few things being developed right now. But all those countries are already half asleep. A healthy retiree in shorts with a digital camera--that's the prosperous countries of the West. We need to experiment with young ones. Russia, Asia, the Arab world--these are where the battles of the present day are fought."
Interesting and a bit prophetic--but I think Olga really sold places like Mexico and Greece short. ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
Hmmm... a bit of a let-down, honestly. I really enjoyed the 2 movies made from this book, but there were so many times that I felt that perhaps the translation wasn't great. (References to "jokes" that must've been puns or other play on words in Russian, for instance). The world-building was great - I was very intrigued with the whole idea of this story, but the execution just fell a little flat for me. Found too often I was looking at the clock saying "C'mon, get somewhere exciting already!". So for me: it just didn't work. ( )
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
Most times if I see a movie and then read the book, I can pick out what I didn't like and what I would have loved to have seen added in. This would have been a perfect scenario, considering I've seen both Nightwatch and Daywatch, and they are both contained within this first book. Normally that would really annoy, but the movies and the book itself are so great I couldn't even be upset. I really enjoyed everything from the format (3 shorter chronological stories involving the same characters)to the language and the questions that the book raised.
The movies were more action packed and about the very basic fight between good and evil with a few intrigues thrown in, but the book was almost more about the similarities between good and evil, who is willing to do what to reach their own ends? ( )
  Annrosenzweig | Oct 15, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (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
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The escalator strained slowly upward.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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