The Night Watch review

Two parts mystery and intrigue to one part dull philosophical rambling…

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

489 PAGES · £18.99

Sergei Lukyanenko

William Heinemann

0-434-01609-8 (hardback)/0-434-01412-5

Rating: 3_5/5

It can't be easy to write a novel that’s built on a foundation of heavy philosophy – as an author, can you sustain a decent story without getting sucked into your own intellectual debate? Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko has had a good go at it here, but despite a valiant effort the story in The Night Watch can’t quite go the distance.

For millennia a treaty has existed between the forces of Light and Darkness, designed to enable both sides to co-exist with minimal bloodshed. To ensure that everyone abides by the treaty, two supernatural police forces have been established – the Light-aligned Night Watch, and the Day Watch, staffed by the Darkness. But things are brewing behind the scenes in the run-up to an event that will profoundly affect human history…

No doubt people who loved the superb film adaptation will want to read the original book, but it’s a very different animal: the book consists of three separate but linked stories (only the first of which will be familiar to fans of the film), with much of the action taking a back seat to philosophical musings on the balance between Light and Dark. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since this balance is more complicated than you might think, but it does get quite wearying after a while.

While the first two acts offer some real intrigue, by the third it feels like the plot has been thrown out of the window in favour of extended navelg-azing sessions. In the end The Night Watch feels rushed and confused, and after the first strong two-thirds the denouement is just a little disappointing.

Sandy Auden

More info

Available platformsTV

SFX Magazine is the world's number one sci-fi, fantasy, and horror magazine published by Future PLC. Established in 1995, SFX Magazine prides itself on writing for its fans, welcoming geeks, collectors, and aficionados into its readership for over 25 years. Covering films, TV shows, books, comics, games, merch, and more, SFX Magazine is published every month. If you love it, chances are we do too and you'll find it in SFX.