The Twilight Watch: Does what we expect

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSergei Lukyanenko 3. Twilight WatchThe Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

The Inquisition carefully manages the balance of power between the Day and Night Watch, and nowhere in the world is it as precarious as in Moscow. At any given moment, the leaders of the Moscow Watches, Gesser and Zabulon, could carry out a diabolical scheme to seize power for their side in this never-ending cold war of magicians. As always, middle-class magician-detective Anton Gorodetsky is caught in the middle. As always, the world does not make sense. The magicians feel like they must regulate their own activities to keep balance, all the while wondering whether there is a difference between the light and the dark, and of course completely aware that there are cosmic forces for good and evil that will keep both teams roughly even no matter what they do.

So what’s the point?

Perhaps Sergei Lukyanenko has finally caught on that he has written himself into a dead end. In the third novel of the Watch series, The Twilight Watch, he sends Anton out of Moscow in order to expand this universe of confused magicians.

This works quite well when we are introduced to new magic users like Arina. Arina is a witch and her magic is alien to both Anton and his girlfriend, the sorceress Svetlana. There’s no underlying logic for this magic, but in this series readers have to accept this as part of the ride. And it works quite well when Lukyanenko carefully brings these unusual talents into conflict with one another.

However, Arina’s introduction is just a warm up to the real game-changer: ancient, (probably) mythical lore seems to be returning to the modern world. When Anton discovers that the “Book of Fuaran” might be real, a whole new topic for vacillation begins: Does the book exist? It couldn’t. It must! No, surely it doesn’t… Does it? If it does exist, it could change the relationship between the Others and humanity forever. Or not.

Somehow, Lukyanenko manages to make endless speculation interesting by attaching it to another investigation — the true strength of this series. In fact, there are, as always, three investigations that work independently but add up to a larger narrative arc. Lukyanenko has used this larger arc to put the world at risk before, but this time it looks like humanity will almost certainly be destroyed if Gorodetsky doesn’t figure out the mystery, rally the troops, and lead the charge against the common threat. The problem is: even if he does unravel this mystery, how will he get scheming vampires, scheming wizards and scheming warlocks to cooperate?

On the whole, The Twilight Watch does what we might expect the third novel of an SFF series to do: stakes are raised, relationships are complicated, and the magic world is expanded. There’s little in The Twilight Watch that will prevent the already converted from enjoying this novel.

Watch — (2006-2016) Publisher: Walking the streets of Moscow, indistinguishable from the rest of its population, are The Others. The Others are magicians, possessors of supernatural powers and capable of entering the Twilight, a shadowy world that exists in parallel to our own, each Other owes allegiance either to the Dark or the Light. The two factions, having long before realised that open struggle can only create chaos and disaster, coexist in an uneasy truce, each side aware of, and keeping a close eye on, the other’s activities around the city. Their aim is not mutual destruction, but rather the maintenance of the precarious balance between good and evil. Anton, a young Other, who owes allegiance to the Light, is a Night Watch agent, newly seconded to patrol the streets and metro of the city, to protect ordinary people from the vampires and magicians of the Dark. On his rounds, Anton comes across a young woman, Svetlana, who he realises is under a powerful curse that threatens the entire city, and a boy, Egor, a young Other, as yet unaware of his own enormous power, whom Anton narrowly saves from vampires. Anton is assigned a partner, Olga, a powerful female Other who is trapped in the form of an owl in punishment for a past error of judgement. Together with their colleagues in the Night Watch, they struggle to remove Svetlana’s curse and to protect Egor from the vampires that pursue him. Set in a vividly realised post-Soviet Russia, where vampires operate under license and Good and Evil exist in a Cold War-like balance of power, “The Night Watch” is a page-turning fantasy thriller, an international bestseller that represents the most original writing in its genre since Anne Rice’s “An Interview With a Vampire”…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSergei Lukyanenko 1. The Night Watch 2. The Day Watch 3. The Twilight Watch 4. The Last Watch Segei Lukyanenko New Watch


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RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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