Night Watch, the first of the Watch series, reminds me of the Dresden Files books. We’ve got a man whose job is to be part of the fight of good against evil. Lukyanenko, however, has created a darker world than that of Butcher’s Harry Dresden.
Lukyanenko’s world consists of normal people and Others, people with magical powers. A small number of Others are part of one of two Watches. Those on the side of good take part in the Night Watch, keeping tabs on what evil Others are doing, while those of the side of evil monitor the good by becoming a member of the Day Watch.
Night Watch is composed of three interwoven stories. The first, “Destiny,” starts off with the almost-killing of a teenage boy, Egor. Our hero, Anton, comes to his rescue, outright killing the male vampire involved in the attack and seriously wounding the female vampire. After all, they were poaching — Egor wasn’t on the list of acceptable prey, and the woman had no license at all.
Anton gets a better look at Egor’s aura after the fact, and realizes the boy is an Other, like him, but undecided as to whether he will become good or evil, making him a rare creature indeed — most people over the age of three are decided in one way or another.
Mixed into all this is a woman Anton came upon while hunting down the poachers. Svetlana, a physician, has a dark cloud over her the likes of which are rarely seen. A cloud as large as she has means not only the destruction of Svetlana herself, but also that of the entirety of Moscow if left unchecked. While trying to balance his debt to Egor and his concern for Svetlana, Anton gets himself into a very difficult situation — needing to stem two crises at the same time.
The stories of Egor and Svetlana twine through the next two stories as well. “Among His Own Kind,” the second story, is about a rogue good Other — who doesn’t know he’s an other — who goes around killing evil Others. For a while, it appears that Anton is being framed for the murders. He has to go on the search for the actual killer while trying to prevent Svetlana from killing those who threaten his life and, later on, needing to protect Egor once again.
The last story, “All For My Own Kind,” pushes Anton and Svetlana to the test — Svetlana’s powers are becoming stronger than Anton’s, pushing the two apart. Anton is lamenting this, and is angry over the change. He is tempted by the Light Watch. He has to make a choice between his feelings and his sense of duty.
I thought Night Watch was very good. Anton has a tendency to ruminate, almost to the point of annoyance, but it is, to an extent, understandable. Lukyanenko also likes to quote Russian music, which also is slightly annoying. Overall, though, Anton’s tale is interesting and suspenseful, which is just what I was looking for.