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In the climax of Twilight Watch, how exactly does Anton outwit Kostya? For a moment, I thought that he, with all the power at his command, might have moved the spacestation itself. But that sounds improbable.

What did he do?

  • A question for all you English speaking readers... when you read NW in translation, do you ever get the feeling that some idiomatic/cultural things are eluding you? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 16 '13 at 13:21
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    @DVK Frankly, I simply skip most of the song and lyric references. Besides that I don't remember anything in the English translation that significant affected the flow of the story. It's possible that some references have been "internationalised" or are accompanied by helpful clues that lets the reader grasp the gist of the reference and move along. For example, the Shapoklyak references is "She reformed, like the old woman Shapoklyak in the story, and changed sides ...". – coleopterist Aug 16 '13 at 14:19
  • Frankly, I skip most song and lyric references even in Russian version... and Lukyanenko wasn't the start of the trend for me :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 16 '13 at 22:40
  • @DVK-on-Ahch-To, I don't feel like I'm missing anything, mainly because the translation reads so fluidly that the books feel like they were written in English. Since I don't know Russian, I can't say how accurate a translation it is, but it's possibly the smoothest rendering of a translated text I've ever seen. – Kyralessa Dec 12 '18 at 21:12
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+100

It's a fun coincidence that I finished re-reading this series two days ago. Awesome books, and I can't wait to get my hands on volumes 4 and 5, yet to be published around here...

I know the asker has obviously read the books up to this point, but for anyone that might want to read those books eventually (you should!), the answer cannot be given without spoiling more of the ending than what is contained in the question. Otherwise, please read on!

TL;DR : Others are magical parasites, and as such need humans to generate magic for them to use it. There are no humans in space (not enough, at least), so Anton realizes that if Kostya goes in orbit, he will be unable to use the Fuaran or to open a portal back home, essentially committing suicide. To prevent Kostya from learning this, he used all the accumulated power to shield his thoughts from him, then simply let him go. Kostya failed, then died a fiery death while re-entering the atmosphere a few days later.


It's quite simple, really. Earlier in the book, while hunting for the Fuaran, Anton learns from the witch Arina that all Others are no better than vampires, leeching magical energy from human beings. This is explained through the temperature analogy, where human beings generate a lot of heat (magical energy), but can't really store and use it. On the other end of the spectrum, Others are cold, possessing very little heat (magical energy), so they can absorb that of humans, then use it. Later on, Gesar goes on to explain that Others do generate some magical energy by themselves, but that they are, overall, absorbing a lot more than they are generating.

Kostya has had the Fuaran used on him while he was already a higher vampire, and thus became the (one of the?) most powerful Other in the world. Using the heat analogy, Anton describes Kostya as being an "absolute zero". As such, Kostya can wield great powers, but he's become unable to produce magical energy himself.

This is what Anton realizes: as an "absolute zero", Kostya needs humans around to wield any kind of magic. As there are no humans in space, Kostya will be unable to do anything magical once he gets there, whether it's using the Fuaran or opening a portal back home. Others are magical parasites, and by going where their food is non-existent is essentially committing suicide. For Kostya to actually go through with his plan, he must not be aware of that fact. But as the most powerful other in the world, he could easily read Anton's mind, which is why Anton uses his newfound Great Magician's powers, as well as all the magical energy provided by both Watches and the Inquisition, to shield his thoughts using a simple spell, but with enough power that Kostya couldn't pierce (detect?) it.

Kostya goes on with his plan, becomes unable to use magic, gets stuck in orbit. He can't die from lack of oxygen (vampires don't need to breathe), but he eventually burns entering the atmosphere a few days later.

As to why Kostya missed the space station, there is also an explanation. I don't exactly remember where in the series, but I distinctly remember one of the protagonists (Gesar, maybe? Or perhaps Anton, while describing the opening of a portal by Gesar) explaining that portals are a messy business. They require lots of energy to open, and even then, you can only open one to somewhere you're familiar with, or to a place where you've got a good grasp on its position. Kostya, while clearly well educated, is no physicist. His plan was to open a portal to the space station's altitude then wait for it to come by (they were sending a shuttle, so it was indeed coming by), then open a portal to the inside, since he'd now have a line of sight to his objective. A good plan, really, but for one little thing...

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    Thanks! Anton's strategy is both fulfilling and unfulfilling at the same time. But that's his modus operandi, isn't it? He bumbles and hopes for the best :| – coleopterist Aug 9 '13 at 4:49
  • +1, this is an awesome answer -- and for the judicial use of spoilers! – Sardathrion Aug 9 '13 at 8:15
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    Thanks guys! Sorry for putting the whole answer in spoilers, but I didn't believe it could be done otherwise... As for Anton, he's a great character. The way he's written, it's very difficult to figure if he's just bumbling about hoping for the best or if he's in fact a very brilliant, yet disillusionned, individual. I, for one, think he deserves a lot more credit for his actions, but I can see others saying he's just lucky. His moral compass and his instincts are very good, though, which seems to have a big influence on his minidisc's randomizer :p – Dungarth Aug 9 '13 at 16:05
  • @DVK - Yes, definitely. Although I believe the translation is pretty good, often not adapting some russian expressions, but rather translating them a bit more literally. When this happens, it seems confusing at first, but when you do a 5 second search on google, you realise it made sense on a cultural level, and you feel like you've learned something about another culture. It's not perfect, of course, but it's still pretty interesting. Now if only I could get my hands on the last 2 volumes... – Dungarth Aug 16 '13 at 16:37
  • @DVK - I just ordered "The Last Watch" from the UK. It was in fact published here in Canada ages ago, but I couldn't acquire it locally for some reason. Although most local bookstores have copies of the first 3 volumes, none of them have the 4th one... I should receive it within 2 weeks, I look forward to it! – Dungarth Aug 17 '13 at 14:54

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