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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Isaac Newton
James Gleick
Progress: 32/289 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
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Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 468/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 242/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
I Am a Cat
Graeme Wilson, Aiko Ito, Sōseki Natsume
Progress: 410/638 pages

The New Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko

The New Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko

Here's the fifth volume in Lukyanenko's Watch series about the precarious truce between Light and Dark Others and the various goings on related to it in contemporary Moscow. Now, if you don't already know what the Others and the Watches are, you could get away with starting here; there is enough re-capitulation of the basic scenario, but you would be a lot better off starting at the beginning with the Night Watch, where we are introduced to Anton.


Anton is a Light Magician, tasked with ensuring that the people (and creatures) of the Dark do not break the rules of a truce that ended a magical war, as part of the Night Watch. A balancing force, the Day Watch is staffed by Dark Magicians to ensure the Light abide by their side of the bargain.


When we first met him, Anton was young, naive, morally conflicted and somewhat idealistic - but five books later he is fifteen years older, much more experienced and teaching the newbies the ropes - when he is not getting dragged into complicated international intrigues that threaten the status quo for all Others, that is...


The things that stand out here are much the same as in previous books - that is not all the "urban fantasy" trappings but the character of Anton and the contemporary Russian voice of the author.


Taking the latter first, we get a Russian perspective not only on modern Moscow, but on London and Taipei as well. I find this interesting - what does a Russian find remarkable about London and Britain in general? How does that differ from native views and from the views of other foreign visitors? And such Russian views are quite rare - not much contemporary Russian fiction gets translated and published here.


Then - Anton. He's been through a lot and gets put through more here - and it's interesting to see him being contrasted with the new young members of the Watch who are going through similar moral and motivational crises to those he endured in his youth. Which is the main reason why I think it's better to start at the beginning of the series rather than jump in here.


The story itself develops slowly for the first two thirds but the final act makes up for that with a mystery that I only guessed the least important part of and a denouement that was satisfyingly unpredictable.