Book Review: Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko

I finished reading Nightwatch (urban fantasy 455 pages) by Sergei Lukyanenko a few days ago and, as usual, am only getting around to writing up my review now.

You know how sometimes you have to be at a certain place in your life in order to really understand or appreciate certain things? Or how you look at stories differently depending on when in your life you read or heard them? I’d say this book was perfectly timed for me and where I’m at in my life. I’d seen this book on bookshelves many times before and I even picked it up to look at it every now and again but I never actually managed to buy or read it. Until a really good friend loaned it to me over a week ago. As I was between books at the time and I have a very healthy respect for my friend’s judgment concerning movies, books, and music, I started Nightwatch the day it was loaned to me.

The book consists of three stories – Destiny, Among His Own Kind, and All For His Own Kind. Each story is separate, yet still part of a greater whole. Events from Destiny and Among His Own Kind are referenced in All For His Own Kind. So while the events of the three stories are linked, I suppose it would be possible for a person to read them individually. I wouldn’t recommend it, though.

I was very intrigued by the idea that the Nightwatch is actually run by the agents of the light while the Daywatch is run by the agents of the dark. It was an interesting point of view shift for the “good” guys to be working at night while the “bad” guys worked during the day. Most fantasy or urban fantasy stories I’ve read all have the bad guys being more prominent during the hours of darkness. I guess that makes sense that the Nightwatch would be the agents of the light and working during hours of darkness when the agents of the dark would be more likely to be awake and prowling.

One of the most interesting things to me throughout the book was the continuous demonstration of how the forces of “good” and the forces for “bad” must constantly strive to maintain a balance throughout the world, but that balance is a matter of perspective. If you kill a law-abiding vampire just because it’s a vampire and take no notice of the vampire’s family or the other negative emotions released because of the vampire’s death, then even though you may believe you committed an act of goodness with positive intentions, that doesn’t mean that your actions were actually good. The concept reminded me a little bit about one of Mercedes Lackey‘s books, though I don’t remember exactly which one. But the concept there was that evil done in the name of good is still evil while good done in the name of evil is still good. It feels a little bit like the same general concept. And I think Nightwatch goes more into real world situations and approaches the modern aspect of how someone could accomplish small good acts or small bad acts and how those small actions have the potential to become something so much bigger with more extensive consequences than originally anticipated.

I really liked how the stories were all interconnected, and how it was the really small details that mattered the most. Two or three times throughout my reading, I had to flip back to previous sections because I had not been paying at much attention to the small details as I should have been. I suspect that is mostly due to never really having read books centered on such a gritty location. The setting of Moscow was fascinating and I felt as though the writing allowed me a glimpse into the foreign culture and world of Moscow, which is completely unfamiliar to me.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and will be looking to add this to my own collection. I was most taken by the philosophical points concerning the typical notions of good and bad. I really liked how the book left me with many deep thoughts as I read it and also once I’d finished. I’m also going to see if I can find the next book so I can read it, too.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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