Friday, March 1, 2013

From Russia with WTH?

When I first opened Nightwatch by Sergi Lukyanenko (translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield), I was reminded a bit of Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series. (Which I should finish reading at some point. Even if I was annoyed at the odd treatment of my own sign in the novels.)

This was mainly due to the approval by both the Daywatch and the Nightwatch on the first page. Much like Pettersson's Zodiac, warring factions of supernatural beings work to save/enslave humanity. Unlike Pettersson, these warring factions of Light and Dark have a very strong treaty in place that (while there are workarounds) pretty much keeps both sides in check.

The Nightwatch is the side of light. As such, most of the three inter-related stories contained within are narrated by Anton, a former paper pusher in the Nightwatch who's been thrown in to field work. (I say most of, because there are bits and pieces in 3rd person that have to do with the real focus of the particular vignette.

The first part deals with an undecided Other (folks who join the watches are Others...wizards, vampires, etc.) and a woman with a very large curse hanging over her. (As a note here, Others become fully formed others when they enter Twilight, kind of a an Astral Plane, or the Umbra for those of you who play White Wolf games. How you react to the Twilight pretty much influences whether you go Light or Dark and what kind of Other you become.) The second follows a servant of the Light who keeps killing off servants of the Dark. And the third concerns Anton's girlfriends and the things she's going through on her way to becoming a Great Sorceress.

Really though, the central conflicts in the novel seem to lie in the theme of "How much done in the name of Good is really Evil?" To a lesser extent, we're also getting an echo of Babylon 5's Vorlon/Shadow war, in Authoritarian policy versus Darwinian politicking. (The girl who recommended this book to me [she read the trilogy in Russian, bless her Hungarian heart] tells me that the next book is told from the Daywatch perspective, and explores more what the side of Dark is like. So while this one is really Angels with Filthy Wings, the next book will probably be Demons with White Washed Tails.