The Night Watch series has been described as Russia's answer to Harry Potter. Personally, I've never thought this was a particularly flattering comparison - it's much bigger and better.
After the original trilogy of books, (Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch) Sergei Lukyanenko declared the series complete. He had told the story he wanted to tell, and he was happy with it. A few years later, he realised just how many loose ends were left, and expanded into a quadrilogy with The Last Watch. And later still, he figured there might just be another story to tell, and we ended up with The New Watch, released in the UK today (02/05/13) after six months of translation.
Fans will be happy to hear that Sergei hasn't strayed from his "three story" method of writing. Each book contains three stories, the first two loosely connected, and the third being a climax of the two, where plot strands are connected. Its one of the strongest writing styles I've ever seen, because it always leaves you wanting more, tantalisingly close to working things out, but never certain of your theory.
Set some five years after The Last Watch, The New Watch continues the story of Anton Gorodetsky the accidental higher magician, his daughter Nadya the new Messiah, and Gaeser, the scheming puppeteer, and expands on the world of The Others. After discovering a Prophet (a rare type of other), Anton is flung into peril when he discovers that Prophets are hunted and killed by a physical manifestation of The Twilight before their major prophecy is revealed. Rivalries must be put aside, and new alliances formed, in order to protect the young Other from an unstoppable force.
I'm not going to lie - I didn't think a fifth book was necessary. The Last Watch ended so well, that I didn't think there was anything to be gained from an expansion. I was very wrong - The New Watch is a worthy sequel, and wonderful swan song for the series as a whole. I have no doubt that there will eventually be a sixth instalment - when a world is as well described as the world of The Others, stories will always come. Old fans may be put off by the amount of exposition in this book - entire pages are dedicated to discussing the differences between Light and Dark, the benefits of a dictatorship, and egotism vs altruism, but I loved it personally. The series has never been afraid to discuss these topics, but never in such detail.
As I said, I consider these better than J K Rowling's wizard stories, and my reasoning is as follows: Harry Potter had good vs evil. The good characters fought for peace and justice, the evil characters fought for power and chaos. Night Watch is about the shades between black and white - the evil that good can foster, and the good intentions behind evil acts. In the very first book, there is a quote that sums this up nicely: "it is far easier to destroy the light in another man's heart, than subdue the darkness in your own".
The stories are interesting, the characters develop well, and the climax is gripping and satisfying - what else is needed?