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Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Night Watch coverA review by Nalini Haynes

★★★★★ five out of five stars

Night Watch is the first in an urban fantasy series by psychologist and Muscovite (inhabitant of Moscow) Sergei Lukyanenko. Lukyanenko brings a wealth of knowledge and love for his city into his novels, imbuing his world with a remarkable sense of place, deepening with every subsequent novel.

Each novel is separated into three stories – novelettes – each with a prologue. Occasionally some stories have an epilogue as well. These prologues and epilogues are made to be read! Skipping them is like skipping the teaser that sets the scene for a TV show.

The Night Watch is staffed by those affiliated with Light – allegedly the good guys – who police Darkness, those who chose self over community. Anton is a newbie; an IT guy for the 5 years since he discovered his Other-ness, Anton’s boss has evicted him from his comfortable desk job, forcing him into practical policing. Anton feels inadequate for the task, promptly bungling an assignment.

Anton shares his stories in Night Watch including his internal struggles but he isn’t present in the third-person point-of-view prologues. Night Watch tends towards the police procedural style with an unusual romantic story-thread set in an alternate high fantasy world.

Exploration of ethics, philosophy and morality murky the waters while adding depth and complexity to each story. What is the nature of good? Why must good compromise with evil? By Twilight Watch, book three, Anton’s ruminations build into concrete plot twists…

These days urban fantasy routinely features werewolves, vampires, witches and the like. Originally published in 1998, Night Watch led the way. Even now, Night Watch is a classic, holding a special place in fantasy literature due to Lukyanenko’s excellent writing.

While each story can be likened to an episode of a TV show, each story in every book contributes to the overall story arc. It’s surprising that HarperCollins and Hachette have published different portions of the series. The devoted reader must make note: the series is Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch (all HarperCollins), Last Watch (Hachette; it seems to be in text and graphic novel formats) and the much-anticipated New Watch (HarperCollins).

I have a copy of New Watch sitting on my coffee table taunting me while I await the arrival of Last Watch from the wonderful peeps at Hachette in New York.


Five out of five stars.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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