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Book Review

Book Cover

The Day Watch


Author: Sergei Lukyanenko with Vladimir Vasiliev
Arrow Books
RRP: £7.99, US $13.95
ISBN: 978 0 0994 8993 1
Available 03 January 2008

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...

It seems hard to believe that it has been a year since I first reviewed this novel. The new imprint by Arrow books is exactly the same excellent translation, by Andrew Bromfield, published by William Heinemann in 2007, not that the book tries to hide this with an advert for the original Heinemann imprint on the inner back dust jacket. This imprint has been released to tie in with the film release.

The large sticker on the front of the book declaring it as "The International Movie Sensation" is going to confuse a lot of people as The Day Watch is the second part of the Night Watch Trilogy by Sergei Lukyanenko, and the film of the same name by Timur Bekmambetov, which in fact was the second part of the first book The Night Watch. Another thing which may cause a few eyebrows to curl is the quote from the Daily Telegraph declaring the book as "J.K. Rowling, Russian style..." Now I can understand the commercial reasons which would have Arrow salivating over such a quote but, in truth, this is misleading as the two authors have little in common.

Sergei Lukyanenko does not write about pubescent adventures, set in a magical hinterland, but sets his fantasy world slap bang in the middle of Moscow, where the motives of all the players is ambiguous. Sure, it has vampires and magicians, but to compare Rowling with Lukyanenko on this basis is overly simplistic.

Lukyanenko is a master of suspense and misdirection only pulling all the treads of his story together, he plunges his hand into a cornucopia of plot possibilities and pulls out another nugget of gold with this second Watch book. If you didn’t buy the initial imprint, and if not why not, then get yourself the Arrow book. It’s smaller than the tome that was the first imprint, far more pocket friendly, but no less an enjoyable literary experience.


Charles Packer

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