Monday, August 20, 2007

The Twilight Watch – review

Author: Sergei Lukyanenko

First Published: 2004 (Russia)

Contains spoilers

The third book of the Night Watch trilogy, for cross reference purposes the review of Night Watch is here. Regular readers may recall that the second book, The Day Watch, received an honourable mention – due to the minimal vampiric activity within the book. As this is a review it is clear that vampires play a more prominent role in this volume.

As in the first two books this is split into three distinct and yet interlinked stories. The first is called “Nobody’s Time” and is told, as is the whole volume, from the point of view of Night Watch agent Anton. Anton is on a final day of leave when Night Watch boss Gesar calls him in. Both Watches, and the Inquisition (the organisation that polices the two Watches), have been sent a note saying that the truth of the Others has been revealed to a human and a promise made to make them an other – something allegedly impossible. That said, humans can be turned into werewolves or vampires, but the promise seems to be to turn him into a magician.

All three organisations are to work together to discover who the human is and who the Other is. The Day Watch agent is Kostya, Anton’s erstwhile vampire neighbour and now the youngest higher vampire in Europe. We also get a vampire in the form of Witiezslav, also a higher vampire and an agent of the Inquisition.

Unlike the first two volumes this is less about the machinations of the two Watch leaders, but those intrigues, plots and counter plots are replaced by a mystery that slowly unfolds over the three stories. The first two stories seem vaguely related until we realise exactly what is going on in the third story. The book also reveals the true relationship between the Watches and the true nature of the others – making this an essential finale for readers of the series.

We get a little more vampire lore. All Others reveal more of their true nature in their physical appearance the deeper they go into the Twilight (the shadowy world only Others can enter). When we see Koysta in the second level of twilight the young man’s features have altered so, “his face looked like a skull with the skin stretched tight over it, his eyes were sunken and his ears long and pointed.”

We also discover that vampires grow in power through the drinking of human blood – something that is limited due to the fact that they must be granted a licence to hunt – although it is not actually the blood but the emotions and the energy it contains that is important. The last, and very interesting, concept we discover is that alcohol has a similar effect on vampires in the Night Watch universe as holy water traditionally. Throwing alcohol in a vampire’s face will prove painful and alcohol in a bloodstream will make it unappetizing in low levels and if concentrated will make the blood poisonous.

As the two vampires featured are higher vampires we get to hear about some of their specific powers, including transformation into animals, but I do not want to reveal too much about them as they build into the plot at times.

Well written, as the other books, and a fine translation once again by Andrew Bromfield, this is a necessity for fans of the series.7.5 out of 10.

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