Sergei Lukyanenko successfully builds a world dense in both Russian culture and folklore amidst an urban fantasy. The battle of light and dark is not new nor are the supernatural beings in the book. Most any reader will have a context for vampires, and magicians, but that being said, it is a unique work. I enjoyed the philosophical approach and discussion of light and dark not being about good and bad. The light is capable of quite despicable acts in the fight against the dark. Instead of being guilt ridden and in denial of this; the characters for the most part accept this without much concern and happily live in this gray world where the contrast can be hard to see. Choices are mostly seen as predestined.
The book is segmented into three stories or parts. All stories revolve around Anton, a middling magician content with his abilities. Anton is part of the Night Watch that work for the light in a tightly controlled and litigated war between the Light and the Dark. Think more paperwork, tit for tat, and offenses than unmitigated bloodshed. The stories are about Anton’s struggle with what is right or just, crisis of conscience, personal choice, and if you must sacrifice love for the greater good. These are very typical themes handled very differently from a western perspective. I found it to be a a non graphic love story shrouded in dark horror. That amused me and is one of the reasons I liked it so much. Thank you Sergei for tricking me.
If you watched the movies, while beautiful, the story line doesn’t follow the book. This is not really the fault of the Director. I would have no idea how you would portray half of the story in the movie and there is so much you would have to take out. If you enjoyed the movie I think you will feel like you won reading the book because you get so much more. If you didn’t like the movie? There is still a good chance you might like the book.
Is it slow in parts? Absolutely. Will it frustrate you? Probably. If you read the whole book will you enjoy it, especially for some of Sergei’s gems of quotes? I’m betting on yes. I think you will enjoy Paul Michael’s narration. He does a fine job and doesn’t take anything away from the experience. I will be picking up the next book Day Watch.