“The Night Watch” Watch #1 by Sergei Lukyanenko – compelling Russian urban fantasy

Night_Watch_book_coverDon’t be put off by the terrible movie that was made from this book. It and its successors in the series are worth reading.

There is much that is alien and different in the fantasy story of the continuing struggle between good and evil.

Most of it comes not from the world that Lukyanenko constructs but from the distinctly Russian assumptions and perspectives that he brings to the fantasy. When the Russians imagine a struggle between light and dark both concepts are quite different from the Hollywood version.

One image that stuck with me is a joke graphic on a t-shirt showing a World War II Russian solider ready to cut an American solidier’s throat open from behind. The Russian solider is saying: “Let me explain who REALLY won the Second World War, Comrade.”

The concept of the being able to step into the twilight and see and act differently that forms the basis for the magical conflict is fully imagined and beautifully described.

Andrew Bromfield has produced an English translation that keeps the pace of the book without losing its exotic feel.

The plot will keep you turning the pages. Betrayal is the order of the day and no-one’s motives are obvious, sometimes even to themselves.

The assumptions and ethics of the book will have you reflecting on whether some of the things you take for granted about how the world works are true.

 

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