Dale's Reviews > Day Watch

Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
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's review
Nov 20, 2007

really liked it
Read in October, 2007

This is the twenty-first book I read on my commute, and back to the genre well I go. A strange and wondrous sub-area of genre which I like to call "modern foreign urban magical horror."

Day Watch is actually the second book in a trilogy (I read the first book, Night Watch, some time ago in the Pre-Commute days) about the agencies of the supernatural in Russia in the present day. (The author is Russian and the novels are translated into English.) Basic Premise of the Trilogy #1: powerful supernatural forces have always existed alongside humanity, in the form of Others - vampires, werewolves, witches, demons, etc. Basic Premise of the Trilogy #2: there are Light Others (benign shapeshifters, good witches and wizards) and Dark Others (vampires, evil magicians, demons) and the Light and the Dark have been at war since the dawn of time. Basic Premise of the Trilogy #3: millennia of outright warfare took such a toll on both the Light and the Dark that they came to a truce, and creating a system of checks and balances so that neither side can become too powerful. Basic Premise of the Trilogy #4: the two factions co-exist uneasily, and open warfare has been replaced by Machiavellian maneuvering on both sides, with Light and Dark angling to exploit loopholes in the treaty in order to become so powerful that the treaty becomes moot, as either Light will finally vanquish Dark completely, or Dark will utterly consume Light. In the mean time, the Others who work for the Watches on either side are usually only pawns in games played by their superiors.

I love this trilogy (so far - plan on picking up the third book soon!) because it's so different from other things I've read. Even through the filter of supernatural characters and plots, the insight into life in Russia, with its decaying infrastructure and institutional corruption, is fascinating. The characters are all interesting, as well - the first book focuses on several Light Others, but Day Watch is all about the so-called evil Dark Others who are even more intriguing. (Day Watch are the "bad guys", keeping watch on the creatures of light who belong to the day; the Night Watch keeps watch on the creatures of darkness, so they are the "good guys".) The idea of reducing the struggle between Good and Evil to a chess game of deceit, power grabs, political feints and other such bureaucratic moves also amuses me greatly, as does the world-building, the imaginative natural laws that govern the powers of the supernatural creatures.

It's one of the more absorbing and exotic worlds in genre fiction, and I'll be sad to see it go when I finish the third and final book. Definitely worth a look if you ever wondered what a government-oversight war between Good and Evil in a post-reform Iron Curtain society would look like. (And if you've never wondered that before, well, I bet you do now.)

Running total for types of books read on the commute:

Classics: 1
Modern Lit: 4
Fantasy/sci-fi: 11
Non-fiction: 4
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