I’ve loved Sergei Lukyanenko’s ‘Watch’ series since the first book, ‘Night Watch’. Having thought the series had finished with the fourth one, I was really excited to discover there were at least 2 more books!
‘Walking the streets of our cities are the Others: men and women who have access to the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world that exists alongside our own. Each has sworn allegiance to one side, either the Light or the Darkness. But now comes a peril that threatens their very world…
After discovering a child prophet who can foretell the future, Higher Light Magician Anton Gorodetsky senses a disruption in the natural order, one that is confirmed by the arrival of a dark and terrifying predator. Gorodetsky travels from London to Taiwan and across Russia in search of clues, however he soon realises that the existence of the Twilight itself is at stake – and that only he will be able to save it.’
It took me long enough to pick this up to read, not because I didn’t want to, but because of my usual dilemma of delaying reading books I know I will enjoy.
I was drawn in straightaway, same as with the other ‘Watch’ books, and I was looking forward to meeting up with ‘old friends’. After the fourth book, which took us deep into the Twilight, I was intrigued as to what the author had in store for the Others, and what could possibly threaten the Twilight.
I guess now would be a good time to explain what the Twilight is, which is one of my favourite things about the series. I’m going to borrow my own explanation from my previous review.
The Twilight is a realm that exists parallel to the one we inhabit, which basically feeds off happiness and grief, and is one only the Others have access to. The Others who die disappear into the Twilight. I love the way they access the Twilight – they literally call up their shadow and step into the Twilight; simple yet effective.
It reminds me of a Siberian belief that traditionally believed in several worlds, usually 3,5 or 7, stacked one on top of the other. Our world is the middle one; the upper words are usually the realms of the good spirits, while the lower worlds often contain evil spirits.
But, in the Twilight, the different levels are in a downward direction, and each subsequent level is that much more difficult to access, with a danger of getting stuck in a level if the Other is too weak, magically or physically, to travel back up and step out of the Twilight. Things appear different in that realm, and the deeper down one goes, the more ‘true’ the form of the person or even an inanimate object becomes. For example, the features of a vampire who appears as a normal human in our world starts to change in the Twilight to look more cadaverous with exaggeratedly long teeth.
What I said earlier about reading books I know I’ll enjoy? Well, it pains me to say this but I was disappointed with this book. The familiar characters were present and recognisable, the Twilight was still the Twilight, the threat – the ‘dark and terrifying predator’ – was disturbing enough and I wanted to find out more about it… But it didn’t take long for the narrative to bore me.
Instead of reading another gripping instalment of the ‘Watch’ series, I found myself wading through socio-political waffle on the state, not just of Russia, but also the world. Lukyanenko has touched on this topic before in the other books but always with a light enough touch, which I found entertaining. In this book, he just went on and on and on to the point where I, literally, lost the plot!
This book, like the previous four books, is divided into three parts. In the other books, each part was written from the point of view of a different character. And that’s one of the things I particularly enjoyed. To begin with, I’d wonder what each part had to do with the other, but by the third part, the seemingly unrelated strings would all be pulled together into a neatly packaged ending. However, in this book, all three parts are told from the point of view of Anton Gorodetsky.
After the first few chapters, he struck me as being jaded with the whole Watch operation; he just seemed to be going through the motions, and sometimes, came across as petulant. I didn’t get the impression that he particularly cared about what was happening. Not that I blamed him; to be honest, by the time I was about halfway through the book, I didn’t particularly care either. In my opinion, even the explanation of the threat to the Twilight fell flat. I found the build-up to the finale boring, and the climax of the whole thing… to paraphrase Rhett Butler - I seriously did not give a damn.
I’m not going to bother with the sixth book even if it’s the absolute last one. For me, the ‘Watch’ series will only ever be the first four books.