My Life as an Other

The Night Watch Series

The Night Watch Series

So, this is my final post on Sergei Lukyanenko’s The Night Watch series – well, unless there’s another book in the future. Rather than focus on the books themselves, as I have done in the last three in this series, I wanted to do something different. This isn’t about the films either, I’m not a fa of them and that’s not what I focus on here. Instead, I want to be a little more creative since that’s what I’m good at and you guys seem to like it.

Don’t worry; it’s not fan-fic. I just want to put myself in that world and figure out what it’d be like to be a part of it. Most of us have imagined this at some point with our favourite films, books and games, so let’s see how this goes.

Going over the basics

So, what is an Other? Simply put, they’re human beings who are able to enter the Twilight, a word made up of different levels. The magical temperature of Others is lower than a normal human, who gives off the energy consumed by the Twilight and this means they can absorb it and use it in the form of their abilities and spells. There are more technical explanations and terms, but that’s the gist of it.

Vampires and werewolves also exist but they operate under somewhat different rules. Others take on various forms, including magicians, shapeshifters, healers, witches, enchantresses, prophets, clairvoyants and many more, with male and female variants existing. Witches tend to be dark while enchantresses light and there are other rules. A Light Other will disappear into the Twilight if they do things befitting a Dark One and vice versa so there is always a risk to being an Other.

This closest example to this we see is in The Day Watch with Igor and Alisa. We don’t know how people fade into the Twilight but Alisa dies by Igor’s hand. While he is eventually found innocent, he still fades into the Twilight by his own choice. Whether this is always the case or if there are more forceful events that could make this happen is unclear.

Would I belong to the Light or Dark?

I’d like to think of myself as a decent guy, I help people when they need it and I’ve done plenty of things that I’d say, on first glance, would make me a Light Other. However, after reading these books I have to question whether I could ever live that kind of life – especially for hundreds of years.

The Dark Others are not necessarily evil. Some are, most definitely. There are plenty of them who are just going about their business and daily lives, enjoying the benefits of being an Other and having things work to their advantage – who wouldn’t want that kind of edge? I know that I would.

The big difference I’ve seen is that Dark Others put themselves first and Light Others put other people first. This is not arbitrary for every situation however and the more I think about it, the more I think that while helping people is important, especially those I care about, I can’t do anything if I’m in no position to help them in the first place.

There’s always the Inquisition, which basically keeps the balance and peace between the two sides. That’s an option and while there’s an appeal, it would take some time for me to reach that point. Even then, those in the Inquisition are still Light and Dark, they just see things differently.

Being objective about it, I’m pretty sure I’d be a Dark Other. Not an evil one (hopefully), but most likely a Dark One. Interesting.

Could I be involved in the Watch?

This is another question altogether. At first, I’d have honestly said yes. I can keep the balance between the two sides, increase my power and have a productive life. The more I read, the more jaded I got – in terms of what the Watches represent.

It’s a constant balancing act but neither side can win, wants to win or ever will win. It becomes pointless, just for show and people still die as a result. The schemers like Gesar and Zabulon are playing a game but with real Others and humans. I felt like Anton was beginning to get fed up of it by the end of The New Watch too and I think it takes a certain kind of person, Dark or Light, to be able to take part in that for such a long time.

Maybe, at first, I could be a part of it. Regardless of how strong I became, I think even I would lose interest in such a battle. Then, the idea of doing something productive in the Watch would fade away.

I could go into much more detail but I think I’ve covered enough. It’s one thing to imagine what it would be like and quite another to write myself into someone else’s story. Interesting to think about and I’d love to know your thoughts on this so please get in touch!

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Returning to The Night Watch Trilogy

Night Watch Trilogy

The Night Watch trilogy

It’s been quite a while since I first read The Night Watch – I can’t remember when, I just know that I was hooked. I stormed through it in a couple of days and the rest of the trilogy followed the same way. The Day Watch was probably my least favourite (but still fantastic) and The Twilight Watch had me re-reading different sections to try and make sense of what was going on – it happened very quickly!

Not the standard novel

While not always, I’m definitely used to reading a novel in a format I’m expecting. Chapters break it up, with further breaks at appropriate points. It’s one story from start to finish. Fine. Cool. The usual.

Not this time. The Night Watch, and every book that follows in this series is split into three parts. They still form a more complete story but there are bigger gaps in these breaks and the narrative of each is more focused. This gives each book more depth without having to drag its feet. In short, think three novella’s rather than one novel. However, they tie in well together.

This theme continues in The Day Watch and then The Twilight Watch. There is excellent growth for main and supporting characters, with some appearing and others returning at different times. The first story in The Day Watch deviates from the ‘norm’ in that it’s the only one to follow a different character – rather than Anton, our protagonist throughout the other eight stories we follow Alisa. This still ties in well and I won’t say more so I don’t spoil it for you.

Morality plays a key role

So, the basic premise: the world consists of humans and Others. These Others can use their powers to cast spells, transform and enter the Twilight, a second world that runs alongside our own. Time slows down and the energy is drained out of anyone who spends time there. Others are split into Light and Dark depending on their emotional state when they first enter the Twilight, as well as determining what they’ll become (a magician, shape shifter, witch, healer and such) and in a lot of ways, this is where the problems begin.

Anton is a relatively new Other compared to many other characters you’ll meet along the way. As such, he still believes himself to be mostly human and as a Light Other, he is concerned with protecting human beings as often as he can.

The older, stronger and wiser Others have lost this part of themselves. They are stuck in a war, a power struggle and endless games to tip the balance in their favour and they are prepared to use any means necessary to get their way. This includes influencing people’s decisions when they enter the Twilight and even prophecies from years before. We’ll touch more on prophecies later.

Anton encounters moral dilemmas in almost every story in the series and it’s how he decides to handle the problems that arise which determine who he is. Will he become an Other like his teacher and head of the Night Watch, Gesar and his rival Zabulon (head of the Day Watch) or keep a hold of his humanity? Maybe there’s a third option – that’s what Anton is looking for but he doesn’t always find it.

There are some great characters you’ll meet along the way such as Semyon, Olga, Alisa, Edgar, Arina and more although my favourite is Tiger Cub. One story sees Anton and his Night Watch colleagues visit her home and it sounds like paradise to me! Got a favourite?

Do let me know!

Are there some problems in the translation?

While these books have been translated well, there are instances where I feel it’s been too literal. I’m no expert on the Russian language – in fact, I have no idea about it – but some phrases just don’t read write and at times it reads fine but the message behind it is just a bit off.

I don’t think it really impacts the text too much but as a reader it would be nice to have those things fixed. I’m no expert on translations and contracts either (yet – one day, maybe!) but I’d have imagined some creative license could be taken with the author’s consent to solve some issues. You’ll also notice a lot of song lyrics and I do have to wonder how these translations hold up.

If you’ve looked into this, I’d love to know what you found.