I've decided to do a double post today- two book reviews. Here's the first; enjoy.
The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko was published in Russia, 1998 and is the first book in the series. The fantasy/supernatural novel, aimed at adults, is set in modern day Moscow, Russia and looks at the conflicts between the Light and the Dark fractions. The narrative is told by Anton Gorodetsky, an agent of the Light and he introduces the readers into his world.
The novel is divided into three connecting novellas and it can be a confusing -due to its complexity- read. However, it does feel worth it and the original ideas come through strongly. I would have preferred a whole novel to introduce Russia, the supernatural elements and the opposite forces. I haven't had the chance to read the second book, so I can only hope that it's different.
In the novel's world is a supernatural/magic realm called The Twilight, which is alongside the real world. Only those who have the ability can tap into this realm and they are classed as The Others. The realm allows them to become stronger, but it feeds off strength and emotions as a payment. The Others are divided into The Dark (vampires, werewolves, witch, warlock) and The Light ( magicians, sorceress, shapeshifters) depending on their beliefs. Sometimes the races can switch sides, it just depends on what attracts them more.
The Light believe in helping the weak and stopping the Dark, who believe they can do what they want. After being at war for years and with no side ever going to win, a Treaty was created. Thus, The Light become The Night Watch and The Dark became the Day Watch to ensure that no one broke the Treaty. All of this is repeatedly explained within the novel, but it does tie in with the plot.
Speaking of which, the plot and its subplots is very complicated, even if the book is read as three separate novellas.The plot of the first novella involves Anton discovering two new Others. The first a young boy called Egor who's destiny has yet to be written and the second is Svetlana who is a sorceress. Anton ends up saving both their lives as Mage Zabulon, the leader of the Dark tries to use them against Mage Boris, the leader of the Light. The struggles between the Light and the Dark to gain overall power is one of the main themes. Each group uses its' members and the public as pawns to achieve what they want. Anton is content to go along with this, however in the end he always stands up for what he thinks is right and normally it does turn out to be.
There is a lot of different characters that appear throughout the novel. They are well written and are needed, but it can be difficult to keep up with them. Thankfully, this is not a problem with the main ones and due to the first person narrative, the reader doesn't become lost within the different stories. There is a range of development across the characters, but Anton's is the most important as he realizes the true nature of things.
Overall, I did like reading The Night Watch and at first I was wondering why I'd not picked it up before. However, towards the end I was feeling a bit confused and all the repetitive history about the Light and Dark does bog the main plot down. The characters are strong and once you do get to grips with things, it is a good read. So, if you are looking for a different fantasy book or/and you want something new from your supernatural genre, then give this a read.