Hello! What are you reading?

hello-what-are-you-readingIn this new blog series, I ask my friends and family to talk a little about their current reads. I figured it would make a change to look at the reading habits of people who read a lot but don’t blog about it usually.

This week we’re hearing from Mess, who I originally met through his wife, but both have become great friends of ours. We’ve been on holiday together (always a good test of friendship) and Mess and I share similar taste in board games, TV and film, as well as (perhaps surprisingly) karaoke song choices. Here is what Mess says about his current reads…

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I kind of wish you’d asked a few weeks ago as I was reading a brilliant (but unfinished) fantasy series called the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, which is the best fantasy series I’ve read in a long time. The only downside is that there are only two books and there’s been a very long delay on the third one coming out, so the author may have stalled or given up.

twilight watchBut I’m not reading that at the moment. I am reading The Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, which is the third book in a series of five and thankfully nothing to do with any other books that have twilight in the title. It’s a great series, which has some fantastic ideas and plays out familiar scenarios in unexpected ways.

The premise is that there are creatures called Others who live among humans but have inhuman powers and can enter other levels of reality, called the twilight or gloom. Some of these creatures are on the side of Light, some on the side of Dark and which side you are on is determined by the state of mind of the Other when they first manifest their powers. The leaning towards Light or Dark is not to do with the traditional good versus evil; it is more to do with the understanding of freedom and whether powers should be used for the greater good or for the individual.

A treaty has been agreed between the two sides to balance the use of powers and prevent all-out war and which is policed by the Day Watch and the Night Watch. Most of the stories in the series follow the Light magician Anton as he progresses through the Moscow branch of the Night Watch and has to deal with the scheming of his superiors and opponents, while attempting to stay true to his morals.

The style and structure of the book is interesting and unusual, partly (I think) because it is translated from Russian. There are references to people and incidents from Russian history and folklore that are not as well known in the West; I had to look up things like details of the Communist Party and the story of Baba Yaga, which I assume a Russian wouldn’t need to do. Beyond that though, there are cultural differences that are integral to the story and give it a very different tone to if it were written by a Western author. The rules of drinking, honour, wealth, childhood, respect and many other things are all dealt with in ways that seem alien to some degree.

I’ve read this series before apart from book five. My wife got this for Christmas, which is the reason I’m reading them over again now. I have a lot less time for reading these days, so mostly I read at bed time, on the bus or (shh, don’t tell anyone) on the loo! I’m going to finish this series but after that, I haven’t decided. Maybe Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell?

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Thank you Mess for taking the time to share your current reads with us.

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