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The Last Watch (2009)

The Last Watch (2009)

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4.09 of 5 Votes: 2
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1401309275 (ISBN13: 9781401309275)
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About book The Last Watch (2009)

„There are far more reasons for death than there are for life.” After a bit bleak third book from the series, Watch is back on top. It may not be better than Night Watch, but it's definitely my favorite in the series. The saga is still one big festival of misogyny, but at least it's extraordinary written. The novel opens with a murder in Edinburgh where the victim’s blood was drained. Anton once again investigates the crime scene. What he finds is evidence that the mythical Merlin had left something in Edinburgh for safekeeping. He and Svetlana have been married and have a powerful Other for a daughter, who is destined to be a 0 Level, the most powerful Other since Merlin's era. That means Gessar and Zabulon are once again using Anton as a pawn, but at least he knows it and accepts it as a part of the job.Act Two has Anton trying to determine the actual effects of the Crown of All things with a visit to Uzbekistan. He is sent out to find one of the greatest Others who had ever lived. Almost a legend among Others, Rustam is probably the only one who can come even close to figuring out what Merlin hid, and why. In the meantime, Anton discovers clues to the identities of those behind the murder in Edinburgh. I also enjoyed seeing the cultural differences within the Watches. It was so amusing seeing Anton being confused and a bit irritated all the time. After all the manipulating and power struggles we’ve seen in Moscow, it was fun to actually see a place where the Night Watch and the Day Watch share a building because it's cheaper. In the third story, murderers from Edinburgh make their way to Crown of All Things and Anton is dragged along for the ride. By now, there has been several plot twists and another one I particularly like is Anton's point of view towards the mentioned murderers. Anton's inner thoughts are compelling as ever. „Loneliness, dejection, the contempt or pity of people around you – these are unpleasant feelings. But they are precisely the things that produce genuine Dark Ones.“ In the third story, better than ever is showed the thin line between Light Ones and Dark Ones. It's easy to judge the Day Watch, but when the Night Watch is put in difficult position, judgement becomes clouded and not everything is as black and white as it looks. It's not even gray.The stakes are higher than ever, especially with alliances formed from the most unlikely combinations. Lukyanenko maintains his tension and philosophical exploration while reminding us that good and evil are rarely the simple constructs we assume them to be. The strength of The Watch has always been in its ambiguity and the protagonist who is as far from Gary-Stu as possible. The plot is fast paced, the characters are well developed, overall the story is more fun and exciting than ever. Unlike the other books in the series, the three acts of this book focus very clearly around one story. It is in the third act where all plot lines finally come together.It's so hard to judge Last Watch's intentions. They are doing what they believe is right and even Anton is able to understand their motives at one point. This is a well-built magical system and society so it's not at all difficult to fall in love with the story. Every book in the series can be read as a stand-alone. Each book has it’s own purpose and it seems as the author has plenty of stories to tell. The ambiguity of good and evil has higher stakes than ever. One character in particular is an interesting study in the fine line between the Light and the Dark. The motivations are far more personal. In the beginning of the series it was clear one side was good and the other was evil. In the middle, it became question of priorities - one side thought society was more important than the individual, and the other that the individual should be more important than society. Finally, in the end it's clear that everyone tries to find the right solution to the everlasting dilemmas. “After all, inside every woman, no matter how grown up she is, there is still a frightened little girl.” This would've been touching if the whole book wasn't full of misogyny.Anton is still an idealist, but in time he gained enough common sense to balance his responsibility both to his duty and his morals. Now, he's wiser, more vicious and perceptive. His emotions don't control him like they used to, there are more rational decisions involved. “Forgiving was the hardest thing. Sometimes forgiving was the hardest thing in the whole world.” More than anything, Anton tries to do justice. “That’s the hardest thing of all – never to become cynical, never to lose faith, never to become indifferent.” The biggest struggle Anton has in this book is fighting the indifference towards humans. He finds it harder and harder to feel empathy for them and sometimes to find reason for protecting their lives. Despite all of it, he still doesn't question his loyalty to Light.

So, I spent a really unreasonable amount of time waiting for and then looking for the Harper paperback release of Last Watch. I waited so long that the fifth book in the series was published stateside and my copy actually started to gather dust on my shelf. Eventually I contacted Harper Collins which prompted a very curt autoreply informing me that they didn’t have the publication rights. Although the Random House imprint they directed me to doesn’t seem to have the U.S. rights either, so…Last Watch is the conclusion of all the storylines explored by The Watches books so far. Mysteries are solved, questions are answered, and actions are (somewhat) justified. The stakes are higher than ever, with friends pitted against each other and alliances formed from the most unlikely combinations. Through it all, Lukyanenko maintains his cerebral approach to storytelling, blending action, tension and philosophical exploration almost seamlessly and reminding us that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are rarely the simple constructs we assume them to be.The novel opens with a murder in Edinburgh where the victim’s blood was drained. While this would appear to signify a simple vampire attack, Anton Gorodetsky, newly elevated higher magician of the Night Watch, is once again dispatched to investigate. What he finds in Scotland kicks off the largest conflict the magical world has seen since World War II. A mad alliance of some of the most powerful Light and Dark Others are seeking a way to way to bring back the dead, but their quest may destroy everything in the process.The strength of The Watches books has always been their grey approach to morality. Here, Lukyanenko pushes that theme to the forefront with the alliance of a Dark Vampire, a Light Enchantress and a mage from the Inquisition, who ostensibly ride above the struggles of good and evil. The core conflict shifts from the power brokering and subtle maneuvering of the first three books to an outright war between a collection of agitators and those who need to maintain the status quo. This change throws new light on Anton, his Night Watch and the entire sequence of events leading up to Last Watch.As our window into these events, Anton’s sudden jump from mid-level agent to top-tier battle magician also changes our perspective on the new conflict. His slightly maverick ideas suddenly have the weight of power but are still untarnished by the cynicism that plagues the upper echelons of both Watches. In other words, he is an idealist, but one with enough common sense to balance his responsibility to his duty and his obligation to his morals.While these core changes to Lukyanenko’s storytelling are refreshingly dynamic in a way that the series really needed to continue past Twilight Watch, some of the elements I’ve really come to enjoy from the books are noticeably absent. The political jockeying of the Day and Night Watches takes a back seat to the more pressing concerns of a real crisis. This missing intrigue has always been part of the draw to The Watches books, and its absence is noticeable, but not prohibitively bad.Another minor problem is the sheer volume of callbacks to previous storylines. Dozens of old characters and events are referenced or reintroduced to help tie up lose narratives, or justify them in the context of the final grand plot. But all these references come at the price of less robust storytelling and a number of strong characters who languish in relative obscurity, including, once again, Anton’s wife and higher enchantress Svetlana. Although Lukyanenko finally gets around to some gender balancing in the form of the brilliant and capable female antagonist running the show on the other side.Ultimately, Last Watch is a different kind of story and required a different kind of style to tell it, so these complaints aren’t actually criticisms of the narrative (except for the Sevtlana one). They are acknowledgments of Last Watch’s necessary departures from the familiar mold of the series, and a warning that die-hard fans might not be as comfortable with this entry. It is still a phenomenal piece of urban fantasy and well worth the read.As a coda, Lukyanenko’s references to Russian history and folklore prompted me to pick up a pretty solid collection of Russian Magic Tales, which I am currently reading. There is some fascinating material here, from Baba Yaga, the greatest of the wicked witch archetypes, to more modern, WWII era folklore that strides the enormous gap between fairytales and ghost stories. More importantly, these stories illuminate some of the very ‘Russian’ ideas that permeate The Watches books. I probably won’t do a full review of Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov, but I will give it a stamp of recommended reading if you really enjoy Sergei Lukyanenko’s works.

Do You like book The Last Watch (2009)?

The Last Watch I'm really enjoying these books. In case you're not familiar, the series is (mostly) set in Moscow, and follows the struggle between the Night Watch, who are magic users on the side of the light, and the Day Watch, who are on the side of darkness. They're full of intrigue, twists and turns as the machinations of those in power blur the lines between the light and the dark. There's no black and white, just shades of grey. They're good stories set in a fully realised and well thought out world, and I think the main protagonist is what draws me in. Anton isn't perfect but he's self-aware, self-deprecating and a Nice Guy. He's a bit of a dork. Maybe I identify with him. Another thing I really like is the format of each book - three individual tales, each with a prologue featuring obscure events that the narrator will be investigating. We're given some insight before the protagonist gets involved. The tales are separate but related, although just how they're related isn't always clear until the end of the third story. Although I did enjoy it, this book in particular veers between the blatantly obvious and maddening deus ex machina - this character definitely can't be involved in this impossibly difficult situation, they're far too weak, you may as well totally discount them from your logical thinking. Oh, wait, now they're SUPERPOWERED! Generally though, a good instalment in the series, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Unlike the other books in the series, the three acts of this book all focus very clearly around a singular story. This may have been a choice by the other to reflect Anton's newfound awareness after the events of Twilight Watch.In Act one Anton is on loan to the Edinburgh Nightwatch to pursue the murderer of a young man whose father is well connected. The story becomes complicated when mortals armed with magical weaponry attack Anton and his allies, and it becomes apparent that the site of the murder is the resting place of Merlin's last greatest spell, the Crown of All things.Act Two has Anton trying to determine the actual effects of the Crown of All things with a visit to the hinterlands of Uzbekistan. He does not find out what the Crown does, but instead discovers clues to the identities of those behind the murder in Edinburgh.Act Three is mostly denouement, with the hidden conspirators making their grab for the Crown of All Things, and Anton dragged along for the ride. A decent ending to the story, but perhaps not as clever as previous books.In some ways this book was the tightest of the series, as the plot clearly rotates around a singular event from the beginning. However, it is also the most seemingly simplistic plot, perhaps because it is harder to hide information from Anton (though the Nightwatch seems to be staffed by unimaginative fools). The ending is somewhat less satisfying than in other books. It feels quite rushed, and lacks the emotional power of the prior books.

The Watch series started off with a wimp, base level wizard and expanded to depths and lengths that IMHO no one could anticipate. I can't say much more without revealing too much. The reason I'm bringing this up however is because the fourth book only had one way to go. It had to push the envelop further. And it does.Some of the other reviewers said that the book feels less polished than the previous ones. I don't know if I agree with that. I still feel the good vs evil war, excessively so as a matter of fact, the moral predicaments are still there, even more characters are brought in the story, mysteries that were left hanging in the previous books get plausible answers...No, I believe this is a book in the right direction. But it does have some problems.First of all, I don't understand how the same translator changes the name of a character from the previous books. What happened there?In any case, my one major gripe about this book is (you may want to skip reading this) the very last sentence. I don't know what it reads like in Russian but the sentence I read in English was such a let down that I simply couldn't believe that after three progressively amazing book endings, the last book ends like this. It feels like a bad movie trying to hint at a possible sequel. Lukyanenko certainly had NO reason to go that way.Other than that, I had no major issues with the last part of the Watch mythos. The plot thickens, new & revisiting powerful characters are thrown in, the planet is the playground (as opposed to a Russia-centric scenery) and everything works. Sometimes it may feel a bit rushed but, Lukyanenko's writing is up there with the best of the kind and even his less polished work simply shines.All but the very last sentence. If I could be so blunt, I'd say it's a disgrace for a writer of Lukyanenko's calibre.

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