The Day Watch

Author: Sergei Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vassilyev
William Heinemann
RRP: 11.99, US $13.95
ISBN: 978 0 434 01443 9
Available 18 January 2007

Beneath the gaze of the crowded Moscow streets another world exists just out of reach, the world of the Others. Powerful beings endowed with magical abilities, a world of witches, werewolves and vampires who belong to one of the two Watches. The Night Watch patrols the evening making sure that the followers of the Dark keep within the Great Treaty, but when the sun comes up it is the turn of the Day Watch to monitor the followers of Light. The Watches exist to maintain the tentative peace between the followers of Light and Dark, but in the grey spaces in between the night and day the Watches vie for power and the destiny of the human race...

The Day Watch is the second part of the Night Watch Trilogy by Sergei Lukyanenko, not to be confused with the film of the same name by Timur Bekmambetov, which in fact was the second part of the first book The Night Watch, very confusing.

Like its predecessor, The Night Watch, The Day Watch is a hefty tome of a book running to 487 packed pages. Whilst the first part contained three interconnected stories, this book contains only two.

For fans of the first book the first story Unauthorised Personnel Permitted throws you a bit. The story concerns the consequences of a confrontation between the operatives of the Day and Night Watch. Alisa, a witch, and an ex-lover of the leader of the Day Watch is injured to the point where all her powers are drained leaving her more "human" than "other". Sent off to a children's camp to recover, she meets and falls in love with Igor who, unbeknownst to her, is a recovering magician of Light. Their love can only end in conflict and a fight to the death.

As a big fan of the first book, I was kind of thinking: "What the hell?" Okay, the story is written from the perspective of a member of the Day Watch, which allows Lukyanenko to further explore the grey area where good and evil dwell, and it's not as if isn't well written, its just that after the labyrinthine plot of the first book this initially seemed fairly light fare.

I really should have more faith in Lukyanenko's writing - or at the very least remembered the first novel where seemingly inconsequential events were introduced only to turn out to be the linchpin of the overall book - and so it is with this book.

In the second story, A Stranger Among Others, Edgar arrives in Moscow devoid of much of his memory but with the feeling of growing power. Through a series of murders, which he is inextricably drawn to, but is innocent of, he comes to the notice of both the Day and Night Watch. I won't spoil the whole plot for you and truth to tell it's another brilliant piece of intricate writing, which only comes to fruition in the very last pages.

The Day Watch is a more than worthy successor to The Night Watch, wonderfully written and brilliantly translated, from the Russian, by Andrew Bromfield. Anyone who is a fan of fantasy horror really should add this one to his or her collection. Now all we await is for the publication of The Twilight Watch to complete the trilogy.

Charles Packer

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