Nightwatch : excellent sci-fi from Russia


night-watch.jpgI learnt about Sergei Lukyanenko’s Nightwatch series of novels reading online reviews of the equally successful Russian movie adaptation. Film distributors didn’t release the movie in Hong Kong, but luckily the Hong Kong International Film Festival gave it a screening a few years ago. I liked the movie enough to become interested in the novel, and when I came across the English translation, I was more than thrilled.

Nightwatch the novel is the first in a series about the conflict / truce between the Light Others and the Dark Others. Possessing super-human powers, these being have two “police” forces that keep their counterparts in place: the Nightwatch refers to the Light Others unit that patrols the Dark Others during the night. Anton, the protagonist in this first novel in the series, is a relatively novice in this world, but he plays a crucial part in the delicate balance between these two forces.

The novel consists of three independent but connected stories with Anton as the narrator. The stories are titled “Destiny”, “Among His Own Kind” and “All For My Own Kind”. As the stories progress, Lukyanenko serves up well rounded and interesting characters – and gradually we the readers become aware that the conflict between the Nightwatch and the Daywatch is not a clear-cut justice versus evil scenario. The three story structure makes it easier for readers to become acquainted with a sizeable cast of characters and the mythology of the series, a wise strategy on the author’s part. Nightwatch is a fast read and all three stories are excellent, my personal favourite being the third one. Overall, this promises to be an excellent series. Oh, and the book is much more fascinating than the film (as usual).

As a side note, the Nightwatch the movie is pretty much based on the first story, and Daywatch the movie on the second story in the first novel. Both of these movies also borrow minor elements from other stories in the series; for example, the prologue to Nightwatch the movie is lifted from the first part of Daywatch the novel.

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