Sunday, July 8, 2007

Night Watch

Night Watch
by Sergei Lukyanenko
Translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield

Night Watch falls into the "shadow world" sub-genre of fantasy. Unknown to normal humans, there are forces outside our perceptions that shape our history and destiny. The Harry Potter books can be placed in this sub-genre. Light vs Dark, good vs Evil. In Lukyanenko's novel, Light and Dark have a treaty and the Night Watch (light/good) and Day Watch (dark/evil) enforce that treaty. The "people" who serve in the watches call themselves Others and do not consider themselves entirely human. Because there is a treaty Light Others and Dark Others might find themselves neighbors. Anton, a member of the Night Watch has a family of vampires living in the same building and he goes to pains to make sure that they don't see any of his tools of the trade when they visit. The forces of light and dark would like for their respective sides to gain the upper hand but they have to do so within the terms of the treaty which makes for some convoluted plotting, attempts to recruit new members, etc. The book also contains an element of moral ambiguity - are the actions of the forces of Light really in the best interests of humanity. Anton is the conscience of the Night Watch and he relates the events in first person.

I can't speak to the accuracy of the translation however you don't encounter the awkward phrasing you see in less skillful translations.

This is the first in a tetralogy and is told from the perspective of the Light. The other books are Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch. While I enjoyed Night Watch, I don't know that I will read the books that follow unless I find them in a used book store or the public library buys them. I've read some discussion that the rest of the series was written more th capitalize on the success in Russia of Night Watch the novel and the movie.

Night Watch on Amazon
Night Watch in Wikipedia
Sergei Lukyanenko on Wikipedia