My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Having devoured the first four books of the Night Watch series with nothing other than intense gusto, and having felt immensely satisfied by that all-too-brief period of feasting, seeing a fifth title in the series filled me with conflict. The feeling was at once joy at seeing Lukyanenko again in print, and so soon; and also disappointment.
You see, the fourth book was such a perfect tidying up of storyline that the entry of another title seemed forced. Or, rather, opportunistic.
Nonetheless, I bought the book, whose size was smaller than the other four titles, thus making even the physical book itself look uneasy in my bookshelf against its predecessors.
And for a while, even the warm familiarity of Lukyanenko’s prose seemed somehow contrived. It took a while to find its feet, and the continual references to popular culture – in particular, to Rowling’s Potter series, were superficial. Designed for a Western audience, perhaps, one that had salivated over the Night Watch series. One for which an editor not worth her salt had maybe suggested be thrown in.
Then again, maybe I have high expectations and am being unfair.
The work itself, once past the initial part of the story and has found its stride, fell back into the world that we know and love from the previous works in the series.
Lukyanenko’s style is so easygoing, in fact, that suddenly I was more than halfway through the book. And then the book was over and I lamented that it was finished, as I had before, with his previous works.
It has to be said that, although I had waxed lyrical about the completion of the fourth book, Last Watch and its incredibly skilled tying-up-of-ends, there is one thing I must grudgingly admit. And that is that there were a couple of threads left danging, invisible until now: The nature of the Twilight. And the existence of Nadya. And how the two are inextricably linked through Anton Gorodetsky.
The elegance of Lukyanenko’s construction is still undeniable, but The New Watch, as good as it is, lacks some of the passion of the rest of the series. You can’t blame the translator either; Andrew Bromfield also worked on the previous titles.
While part of me is now hoping that book five is the last in the series, the very existence of the fifth has ignited the idea that maybe the series continuing wouldn’t be so much of a bad thing. The risk, however, is that any more works would dilute further what is a frankly magnificent construction.