The New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (2011 – en/2012) (read in 2018)
Published by marco on
Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an interest in this book, then I’m happy for you.
The first volume deals with Prophets and Clairvoyants and how the Twilight deals with them. We learn that the Twilight has not just Mirrors, but Tigers. The Tiger is unstoppable and is there to prevent anyone from hearing a Prophet’s “main prophecy”. Anton is there, once again, this time with the help of his now ten-year–old daughter, Nadya (the zero-point enchantress). The young prophet is saved from the Tiger in the nick of time—but the Twilight doesn’t know about recording devices. And Kesha (the Prophet) was clutching a toy tape recorder when he emerged from the room into which he’d revealed his prophecy to (supposedly) no-one.
In the second volume, Anton travels once again to London to meet a former Prophet, a Dark One named Erasmus Darwin to find out what his prophecy was and to find out more about Tigers and how to stop them. Darwin had avoided dying for his prophecy in a similar way to Kesha—by yelling into into the bole of an oak tree. Anton returns from London with a cup made from the wood of that tree.
“If you know for certain that it’s impossible to win but, if you don’t fight, someone’s going to be killed . . . what would you do?” “If it’s impossible, why should I die too?” asked Las. “If you have to fight, it’s not important if you’re going to win,” Alisher answered.”
“said Semyon, nodding. “Exalted feelings, noble impulses, reckless courage, foolhardy self-sacrifice—that’s all very fine. But there has to be a reason for it. A real reason. Otherwise all your Light Other aspirations amount to no more than stupidity. The annals of the Watches recall many Others who were noble but stupid. But they’re history now. And unfortunately their example is not worth imitating.””
“Children were not special creatures, requiring different treatment, food, and clothing. They were simply little human beings who might possibly be fortunate enough to become full-fledged adults. Even in the paintings of the finest artists of that time the bodies and faces of children were indistinguishable from the bodies and faces of adults—if the artist’s eye did detect the difference in proportions, his mind rejected the distinction. A boy was simply a little man. A girl was simply a little woman . . . indeed, girls changed their status and became women very quickly, and no one found that disconcerting. Leavened with the first yeast of civilization, the human dough was seething and expanding. Humankind had to grow. And for that, there had to be as many births as possible, because it was beyond human power to reduce the number of deaths.”
“You foretell the future, even though with little skill as yet. But tell me: in three or four hundred years, who will rule on the Capitol Hill?” “A black man will ascend the throne and all will glorify him as a peacemaker. But he will send iron birds across the ocean to seize the treasures of the Libyans and the Persians, and by that shall be caused a great war and convulsions in the world . . .” the boy intoned slowly, as if he was sleepy. “Hmm,” said Erasmus’s companion, scratching the tip of his nose. “No, you are still far from your main prophecy. Too many errors. The Italians are always fighting the Arabs, but how can a black man rule in Rome? Persia—well and good . . . but there are no treasures in Libya, it is all desert that engenders nothing but a useless black oil. And even if there are iron birds in the world at that time—what ocean is this? Italy is separated from Libya by only a sea. No, too many errors—you are not yet ready.”
“Fan laughed. “The Twilight needs the blue moss for one purpose. The Tiger for another. And the Others for yet another. But all of us together do the same thing—we stir up humankind, we jolt people, make them do something, invent something, strive for something . . . sometimes they achieve success, sometimes they take a beating. We are all part of the Twilight, its symbiotes if you like. Its hands and feet, eyes and ears. The rakes and spades it uses to cultivate its vegetable patch—humankind. Do you wish to rebel against the Tiger? You will be rebelling against the Twilight.”
““Overall there has been some progress,” I said, disagreeing. “In wartime they used to annihilate people or turn them into slaves, the peasants starved to death . . .” “And now in wartime they torture them and poison them with gas in concentration camps, bomb them with high-precision smart bombs, or, in the very best of cases, they occupy countries economically and turn them into powerless satellites. And where there is no war—they dumb down their own people and treat them like cattle.” Las spread his hands emphatically. “All those Genghis Khans, Xerxeses, and Caligulas were more honest, I reckon. So far, there is nothing to respect human beings for.””