Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch series may already be familiar to English-language sci-fi fans. In 2004, these Russian bestsellers got two high-octane film adaptations directed by Timor Bekmambetov; the movies broke box office records in their home country and garnered a cult following in the US. The Night Watch books were brought stateside, but didn’t grab as much attention as they should have (I blame the covers) and the books eventually went out of print. I’m glad the series, beginning with Night Watch, is making a comeback, however, in a slick new package that is way more attuned to the series’ vibe.
The premise of the book may sound a bit tired—individuals known as “Others” are divided into Light and Dark magicians that square off in Moscow—but the way that Lukyanenko spins the material turns oft-used tropes and makes them into instantly readable and increasingly addictive books with every installment. Lukyanenko writes an engrossing urban fantasy with a spy thriller bent for those who like their protagonists hard-boiled and their plots seasoned with ethical dilemmas and political brinkmanship. In the first book of this series, he takes the reader on a long, dark subway ride of the soul—figuratively and literally.