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Book Review

Book Cover

The Last Watch


Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
William Heinemann
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 0 4340 1738 6
Available 06 November 2008

It is often said that the world should be a multi-layered experience but, due to our limitations, often all that we are aware of is a small part of reality. And so it is in the world of the Others. Hidden from normal human sight the Others, creatures with extraordinary and mystical qualities, exist almost completely hidden from the human world which they share. With great ability comes great potential for disaster and following a particularly brutal war - between those who could be said to follow evil and those who follow good - a concord was agreed which set up the Day and Night Watches. Along with The Inquisition, these three organisations do their best to curb the excesses which great power brings, whilst at the same time always vying for more power, overt conflict has been replaced with intrigue. With the Watches having both form and function it seemed that the status quo had been achieved, that was until the arrival of The Last Watch...

The Last Watch is the latest, and hopefully not the last, of the Nightwatch books which mix the fantastical with the contemporary world of Russia. Written by Sergei Lukyanenko, and translated by Andrew Bromfield, this latest instalment takes a minor departure from the structure of the preceding three books.

Structurally it keeps the three story format of The Night Watch, The Day Watch and The Twilight Watch, but where these books were very much like a plot from a M. Night. Shyamalan movie - in that you thought you knew what was happening during the first two segments of the book, only to have your understanding and expectations turned on their head with a revelation in the third story - The Last Watch takes a much more straightforward approach to the narrative.

The Night Watch started with the story of Anton Gorodetsky’s initiation into the world of the Others, a world consisting of vampires, witches, wizards and shapeshifters. His eventual elevation into the first ranks of power is too conveluted to go into here, but for a fan like myself it’s good to see that Lukyanenko has gone back to one of his best creations and made Anton the main subject of The Last Watch. In fact the whole book is written from his perspective. This time round Anton's character seems a little kinder, which may seem like an odd thing to say for a character who is on the side of light - but as any fan of the series will tell you, the difference between good and evil is often only a matter of methodology. I presume that this is because Anton is now married, so his focus is no longer the machinations of the heads of the two watches - which allows Anton to be less angst ridden and more focussed on his mission.

Following a particually greusome murder in Edingburgh, apparntly by a vampire, Anton is dispatched by his boss, Geser, to investigate. This turns out to be no ordinary attack when he is informed that someone has stolen a magical artifact and is trying to recover Merlin’s 'Crown of all Things', a magical object which will gain the possessor great power. If this wasn’t bad enough, he also discovers that The Last Watch appears to consist of elements of both watches as well as the Inquasition.

In keeping with the previous installments Lukyanenko has produced a roller coaster of a story that’s hard to put down. Little wonder that the first two of the books were made into successful films - both of which have just been released on Blu-Ray.


Charles Packer

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