Vampires, shape-shifters, witches, magicians...nothing new there. Light, Dark, the Balance...nothing new there either. So why do I like this book so much? Well, in the imagination stakes, there is the Twilight, which does seem original to me, but really it is the character and setting that I like.
The protagonist, Anton, Light One, magician, agent for the Night Watch - the organisation that attempts to ensure that the Dark Ones uphold the truce between Light and Dark - is committed to his cause yet continually morally confused and questioning and usually trying to find the right action without full knowledge of what is at stake or even who the players are. I sympathise with and relate to him; I often find those with extreme moral certainty very frightening.
Anton lives and works in Moscow - it's a Moscow I've never come across before - post Cold War, pre Millenium and most of all, Russian. The author is Russian and it comes through - places I've never heard of are mentioned casually - neighbourhoods of Moscow, Metro stations, roads - with no concession to the idea that they might be unfamiliar. Historical and cultural allusions are made that are utterly meaningless to me - and I love all that. This sense of foreign-ness is as magical as anything that occurs in the Twilight and contributes to the mysterious atmosphere of the work as greatly as any other factor.
Three seperate but sequential stories make up the book. Each of them is long enough to have been considered a seperate work and received a seperate volume in the 1960s. They are all excellent, but similar technical tricks are pulled in each, allowing the third story to become somewhat predictable, which is my only criticism of this fine contribution to the fantasy genre.