When Three becomes Four: The Last Watch

The Last Watch

The Last Watch

While I really enjoyed The Night Watch trilogy, the way it ended confused me. I understood what was going on (eventually, after a couple of reads) and while it seemed to close up well and tie everything together, I had a feeling that we weren’t finished with Anton. Throughout the books, we gain a deeper understanding of the Twilight and the role of the Others. It’s not simply a case of telling us the next step of Anton’s life, there’s more to it than that. It’s what The Last Watch, the sequel to the trilogy, handles so well.

A familiar setting

While not the whole book, a good part of the story is set in a very familiar place for me; in Edinburgh. I was born there and I have family who still live there so I visit when I can – less so now I’m older and working – but I could definitely tell a lot of research and planning had gone into getting it right for readers. Some will never have been there and while I’m not saying I know Moscow like the back of my hand from these books, there are parts that I could look at and remind myself of the books with. I like that.

There are attractions like the Edinburgh Dungeons, Edinburgh Castle and even Waverley Station to name a few and the Fringe Festival is also taking place. That’s not completely unrelated but doesn’t play a massive part in what’s going on.

Some old faces

There’s the usual crowd in The Last Watch. Anton is our protagonist still and we’ll see Svetlana, Nadiyushka, Gesar (although it’s spelt Geser in this book. That confused me), Zabulon, Arina, Edgar, Semyon and even Egor.

We’ll meet new people too, of course as Anton doesn’t stay in one place too long and it’d be boring if this was purely a holiday! The head of Edinburgh’s Night Watch, Foma, is a new acquaintance and we’ll be meeting Galya again, a young werewolf girl who was first introduced in The Twilight Watch.

My favourite character also made an appearance again, which I really enjoyed even if it was only briefly.

Night and Day Watch films

The Night Watch and Day Watch films

A word on the films

Films don’t really come under my remit here but they’re worth mentioning. While I can and do watch them, they are vastly different from the books. The Night Watch and The Day Watch films are loosely (very loosely) based on The Night Watch book only. They’re worth watching so you can see how different but it annoys me for multiple reasons – that’s another story.

When references are made to events in other books, a note is placed at the bottom of the page so the reader can check up on it, which is great if it’s been a while. This happens in The Last Watch as Anton thinks about what might have happened in another situation or life. It’s a bit of a nod but for me, puts some distance between the films and the books. Needed distance.

Tell me if you agree!

A great spin on a classic myth

I don’t want to give too much away by going into a lot of detail but the Merlin myth is introduced to us in The Last Watch. I say introduced because it’s one of the stronger links made out of all four books – at least that I related to. It makes sense in a lot of ways for it to appear in this book given the setting and it provided a much deeper background to the world and history of the Others and the Twilight.

It was handled very well, treated as myth and history up until the end where the revelations are made. I found myself guessing what might come up throughout the book and while I got some small details right, I was actually way off with a lot of my ideas.

Where next?

This was a really good way to end off the books, at least for now. I’d have been quite happy to have no more at this point – yes, there are more things I’d like to know but I like that. It keeps me going back for more, digging up clues I might have missed. The story came back on itself and I was content with that. However, there is more to come, as I found out earlier this year! Check back next week to find out what that is.

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.