The Twilight Watch

Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
William Heinemann
RRP: 11.99, US $14.95
ISBN: 978 0 434 01444 6
Available 19 July 2007

In a world where magicians, werewolves and vampire bats are a reality the Day Watch and the Night Watch keep an uneasy truce as they try to limit the actions of both good and evil. The agents of the Watch are overseen by the mysterious Inquisition and all three organisations jostle for power. Within the Night Watch Anton, a low grade magician, continues to have doubts about the real line between good and evil and the place of people like him in the world. As an Other he is able to access different levels of reality and wield great power - power which is only limited by The Great Treaty, which has kept the peace between the Watches for a thousand years. Now events are set in motion which will threaten both Watch's forcing them together into the Twilight Watch...

The Twilight Watch is the third of four books by Sergei Lukyanenko and is another stunning, must have, chapter in the history of the Moscow Watches. The format is similar to the previous three books, offering up three interlinked stories. Lukyanenko is a superb novelist and a master of setting up situations which all come together in the final pages. The reveal at the end of the book always makes you think back and smack your hand on your head when you realise that the answer was there in the first page. I'm getting better at figuring out the underlying plot - I got it around page four hundred this time, just about the same time as Anton did. Okay, so it was only about twenty pages till the end, but given the labyrinthine plot strands it's still a source of great satisfaction.

The Twilight Watch contains three stories. The first, Nobody's Time, has Anton investigating an anonymous note which reveals that someone within one of the Watch's has promised to turn a human being into an Other. If the promise is not fulfilled then the human will reveal to the world the existence of the Others. Not only does Anton think that this is impossible, after all Others are genetic aberrations, a birth defect. The problem is that not only is this strictly against the Treaty, but if true then the Other which promised the impossible will die if they cannot fulfil their promise.

The story reunites Anton with his former neighbour and now Higher Vampire, Kostya, with whom he has an ambivalent relationship. As a former friend, Anton has difficulties in reconciling his feeling for his former friend and his feelings toward a creature that has to kill innocents to survive. Due to importance of the case the Inquisition sends Edgar, another character from a previous book.

In the second story, Nobody's Space, Anton is on holiday with his family when he is sent on a mission to find an unlicensed witch who appears to have saved a group of children from a pack of werewolves. In the course of the investigation Anton discovers that the witch may have in her possession Fuaran, a mythical book which supposedly holds the spell to turn humans into Others. As the object is so powerful and deadly Anton once more teams up with Edgar and Kostya to find and destroy both the witch and the book.

The last story is Nobody's Power and it is confirmed that that the Fuaran exists and is in someone's possession, but who that is and what they intend to do with it is unknown. The full powers of both Moscow Watch's and the Inquisition is bent towards stopping the insane Other.

Like the previous book, this is a must have for any fans of fantasy writing. The Twilight Watch immerses the reader in a fully realised post communist Russia, full of wonders. You don't just get great stories; the author also weaves in his thoughts about good and evil, about the state of modern Russia and the justifiable uses of power. Once more a large nod of gratitude must go to Andrew Bromfild who has done a magnificent job of translating the book.

Only one more book to go to finish the series and I'm already salivating with anticipation. If you haven't already started reading this series you really are missing out.

Charles Packer

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