Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Night Watch - #19

I’m so behind on my reviews! I decided not to review all my overseas reading at once like I did in June, but this means I’m reading faster than I am reviewing and not catching up! So I think I need to throw that idea out the window.

So, Night Watch. This was going to be my Russian read. Then I had the brilliant idea of reading Anna Karenina as my Russian read (which I haven’t finished yet), and as Sergei Lukyanenko was born in a part of the USSR that is now Kazakhstan, this became my Kazakhstani read instead. Brilliant playing of the system, however confusing when all the stories are set in Moscow.

I say stories as the book is pretty much 3 stories of around 150pp each, featuring the same characters and building on the events of the story before it. I loved it. It was a play on the supernatural domains that I hadn’t read before, with a distinctly European twist. It had magic and wizards and such, but without the kitchness that the fantasy genre tends to fall into.

The basic premise is that there is light and dark magic. When one finds out they are a magic user, or Other, they have to make a choice between whether they are light or dark. But there is more to it than it seems, as a lot of the time it comes down to the circumstances that the person is in the first time they enter the Twilight (the magical realm). Ie, you’re in a bad mood, you may end up on the dark side because of that, not because you are inherently bad.

Light and Dark are in a permanent truce with each other. In order to police this truce, we have the Night Watch of light magicians who monitor the Dark, the Day Watch who are dark magicians who monitor the Light, and the Inquisition who monitor and police them both. This book was stories about, funnily enough, the Night Watch (the second in the series is conveniently called the Day Watch and confusingly the third is called Twilight Watch so not sure on that one).

I wanted to read this book badly after we had heard such good things about it in Aus, and then they released the movie before any of us had read the book. And the movie was shocking. Absolutely appalling. Which meant even more that we had to read the book. There is no way this acclaimed book could have been that bad.

It wasn’t, it was great. The movie it turns out is based just on the first of the three stories. This meant that the characters where pretty underdeveloped in the movie. Turns out, because you have another 350pp in the book to get to know them. The strange reasoning in the movie gets explained in the book. Another reason why some books are just better left as books.

The moral to this particular story is to pretend the movie doesn’t exist. It’s how we get on with our lives. So pretend the movie never happened and read the book. The book has a wonderful spin on light and dark, good and evil, highlighting the fact that they are sometimes blurred, incomprehensible and indistinguishable, even to those inside the system. 4 stars.

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