Many and profuse thanks to my buddy Bookmonkey for recommending this totally awesome series way back whenever he did. It was months ago. Check out his blog, there's a lot of awesomeness over there.
Night Watch is kind of the Russian version of The Dresden Files, but better. (Please don't kill me, Dresden fans. He's awesome too.) It follows Anton Gorodetsky's life as a low-level operative of the Night Watch, the organization of good-guy magic-users devoted to foiling the plots of the Day Watch, the bad guys. They have a careful truce set up, so that for every good deed THEY do, the bad guys get to do one EVIL deed, and vice versa.
So, they don't do all that much good. What makes them the good guys, again?
That's what the book is about. It's totally frikkin awesome. There's some navel-staring toward the end, but for the most part it's action, magic, chase scenes, and murders! It's divided up into three separate parts with some time in between each one, so we get an overview of a slightly bigger picture, three major events happening in sequence. We see some of the consequences of actions further down the road that we (or I, at least) never saw coming. It's like life, like that.
In a book with a theme like this, you expect to get a lot of Dark, Broody, Controversial characters (i.e. characters with no redeeming qualities whatsoever), and there is some of that, but I really like these characters and I like how all of them have legitimate reasons for their actions. Not just excuses or "I have to have motivation for my villains" reasons, REAL reasons. Of course, Anton is my favorite, and in no small part because he's one of the few characters who doesn't want to take part in the dance and the compromises, who doesn't just assume things are they way they should be because someone else tells him they are.
This is a book about subtlety. And it's about plots, and intrigue, and mysteries. And also about hurling fireballs. And a note on the translation: Absolutely flawless. I never would've guessed that it was originally in Russian, there's no awkwardness at all, and the writing isn't only competent, it's amazing.
Really, there wasn't a thing about it that I didn't love. There are three sequels, which I'll be reading as soon as possible: Day Watch, Twilight Watch, and Last Watch.
I post weekly reviews of books in all genres, though I have a special affinity for fantasy and YA. Reviews are posted on Fridays or shortly thereafter, are spoiler-free or clearly marked, and feature recommendations for similar books near the end of the review. I make an effort to give exposure to books that are not already highly publicized and/or are not brand new. If you're passing out review copies and think I might like your book, email me!
My name is Fatalis Fortuna, Fate for short. I am currently a student and a part-time librarian. When I'm not working, I occupy myself with all things fictional, be they in print, on television, or on the silver screen; my two cats, Amontillado (after "The Cask of Amontillado," of course), and Alice (after Alice in Wonderland,); and my novel-in-progress, which is of course the next Great American Novel. To my knowledge it will be the first Great American Novel that is YA urban fantasy, and for this I will become both famous and rich. I've been published in both regional magazines and national magazines (Teen Ink, anyone?), but have not yet cracked the professional market.
Feel free to ask for a list of books in my BookMooch inventory. They're there because I want to give them away, don't be shy.