The Day Watch

The sequel to The Night Watch follows much the same form of three short stories which drive the larger plot forward. And here the similarity ends. If the Night Watch was taut, suspenseful and thrilling, full of fresh ideas and novelty, by the time we reach The Day Watch it has become dragging, trite and increasingly annoying.

The first story tells of the doomed love story between Alisa, the dark witch, and Igor, the light magician. Previously, Lukyanenko was successful in depicting Anton Gorodetsky’s inner conundrum about how the good side must repeatedly compromise with the evil in the interest of the Balance. This time around, he fails to present Alisa’s moral conflict, or even Igor’s ambivalent morality. We feel no empathy for the Dark ones, or even for Alisa’s situation. The love story meanders until the inevitable challenge between the two, and the duel ends in the death of Alisa.

The second story tells of Vitaly Rozoga, a mysterious Dark magician who lands in Moscow, a stranger with amnesia and a nose for trouble, who is following some unknown inner compulsion. A few important characters die during the events of this story, where Rozoga is handed Fafnir’s Talon, an artefact of untold power, stolen from the Inquisition. The story here would have been vastly more gripping had the countless songs and verses been streamlined – they added needless sentimentality and dragged the proceedings quite a bit.

The final tale talks of Light, Dark, the death of Alisa, even the coming of the great enchantress Svetlana, the boy without a destiny Egor, the hearing of Igor’s duel by the Inquisition, the coming of Vitaly Rozoga, Fafnir’s Talon, Armageddon and the final coming and Czech beer. This is where the novel finally comes into its own. After a lengthy hunt for clues about what the heads of the Watches, Gesar and Zabulon are up to, it is revealed that Svetlana and Anton’s daughter is destined to be the great enchantress, the messiah who will permanently alter the Balance in favor of the good guys.

And thus the plot is set for the third part of the epic, The Twilight Watch, whose preview can be found here. Thankfully, it promises the return of the inimitable Anton Gorodetsky.

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