Reviewed by Colin Odell and Mitch Le Blanc
William Heinemann Ltd
Paperback: 448 pages
A welcome and timely translation of the final part of Sergei Lukyanenko’s Watch Trilogy (the film of The Day Watch is, miraculously, in UK cinemas, subtitles and all), The Twilight Watch follows its predecessors by giving the reader a value packed three mini-novels for the price of one, all linked and building on the previous texts. The effect is to emphasise how everything in this world is inter-related – that nothing can occur in a vacuum. Seemingly irrelevant events (even from the start of the first book) can have massive consequences further down the line, placing the future of the earth, the human race and the Others in extreme jeopardy. The extent to which the ways that the familiar characters’ actions are manipulated or prophesised is always an issue in the Watch books and makes them feel like a cross between Film Noir and the military ponderings of generals, pushing models around a map, only half identifying that their strategies result in death, even if it is for their perceived greater good. Except, of course, that those genres don’t tend to be populated by magicians, vampires, werewolves, witches and all manner of psychic disturbances which, through centuries of tenuous truce, have kept the presence of the Others shielded from the lives of humans.
The Night Watch monitor the activities of the Dark, the Day Watch monitor the activities of the Light, ensuring that neither violate their treaties. Anton works for the Night Watch and has been progressing through the ranks of power at quite some rate although he pales into insignificance compared with his wife Svetlana and, very likely, their daughter. Svetlana has rejected the Watches but Anton clings on, although he is beginning to have doubts about what constitutes light and dark, good and evil. What unites the two factions is their belief in their separation from the rest of humanity and their determination to keep their very existence secret in order to prevent witch-hunts, bloodshed and possible extermination. When news comes through that someone is offering to change a normal human being into an Other both Watches are riled – a human is aware of their existence and, worse, the unthinkable that is being suggested, is that Others can be created. Anton is sent from the Night Watch to uncover the mystery but so too is his vampire ex-neighbour and now higher vampire Kostya. The ramifications mean Anton is given extended leave in the countryside with his wife and daughter – unfortunate in that an unregistered and immensely powerful (but seemingly benign) witch resides in the forests. The final tale takes matters to a potentially catastrophic conclusion.
The Twilight Watch is a fitting end (?) to the series, balancing matters mundane and apocalyptic. Intelligent but easy to read, the intertwined narratives never become convoluted and are always grounded in a believable modern day society that runs parallel to the supernatural forces among us. If your only experience of the Watch stories are through the films be prepared for a surprise – although the films closely follow the books in many respects, the bombast and visual excess, explosions, effects and fury have little in common with the core of moral dilemma, intrigue and emotion that make the books such a joy to read. Imaginative, believable and wholly entertaining the entire trilogy is highly recommended for anyone fed up with unpronounceable names, needless po-mo sassiness or gratuitous sex and violence. At last a modern fantasy saga for adults.