Midnight World (Russian: Мир Полуночи) is a trilogy of novels written by Alexander Yang note
Despite the fact that "Midnight" is a vampire saga (in a certain way), it is not related to Twilight (the first book of "Midnight World" was finished in 2005, when Twilight was not yet known in Russia). The name of the cycle contains a different reference, a homage to Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe cycle. While Strugatskys predicted the world of prosperity where knowledge and labor would become the main values, Yang describes the world of prosperity ruled by vampires.
Actually, Midnight World is a Dystopia, disguised as an after-the end vampire saga. Word of God says that Vampire authorities are a metaphor for the modern politicians (especially in the post-Soviet space) and their ways. Also, in Midnight World a lot of moral, ethical, philosophical and religious questions are served to the reader under the sauce of a Slash-and-Whack action novel.
- By The Rising of the Moon in two parts:
- Light Side of the Moon (2009, reissued in 2011 as Guerillas of the Moon)
- Reclaim the Night (2009, Executive Meddling, reissued as Web Original Bullets from Beyond)
- A Chance with No Rules (Time of the Moon) (reference to famous Russian rock band Aquarium, album Radio Africa)
- Harsh Mistress (Homage to Robert Heinlein)
- A Case of Fire (Bakumatsu and early Meiji Japan)
- A Case of Earth (Heian Japan)
- A Case of Water (Genpei war)
- A Case of Metal (Russian-Japanese war)
General storyline: Two main characters, Andrei Viter (code name Aeneas) and Vadim Gabrielyan are on different sides of the battle lines. Aeneas is an underground gunman who fights vampires, Gabrielyan is a Security Service officer serving as a legal assistant for the vampire Arkadiy Volkov (state councilor of the European Russian Federation and the de-facto ruler of the state). Aeneas, whose parents were consumed by vampires, becomes a vampire hunter, Gabrielyan, whose parents were consumed as well, ascends the career ladder as high as at all possible for a human who hasn't gone through the vampire initiation.
Their storylines cross only in the second book, but there are some near misses in the first (chapter 1, "Chase the Wind"): Gabrielyan had come to the Ukrainian city of Ekaterinoslav to arrest Aeneas' teacher Victor Sanevich (code name Roast Beef), but to no avail, because Sanevich was killed while resisting arrest. Aeneas, his apprentice, manages to finish off the soon-to-be-a-vampire public prosecutor Gazda and escapes along with a vampire Igor Iskrennikov, whose wife was sentenced (exactly by that prosecutor) to death and executed for his illegal conversion to a vampire.
During their runaway (chapter 2, "Into the West") they meet the third member of the team, Anton Kuzmitchov, a fifteen year old boy from Moscow, who is also on the run from his mother who recently advanced in her career and became a vampire.
When they arrive in Western Ukraine, Igor gets exorcized by an Orthodox priest, Konstantin Neverov and becomes a Dhampyr. Konstantin becomes the fourth member of the group (chapter 3, "Yellow Submarine" and 4, "Song of Fire and Water"). Later (chapter 5, "The Black Pearl"), they move to Poland and unite with the remains of another scattered vampire-hunters group, Lucian Dmitryanu (aka Desperado) and Malgozhata Jasira (aka May Day).
Aeneas, his teacher Roast Beef, May Day, Desperado and their late leader Frantishek Casper (aka Pelicane) were the members of UAF - United Anti-Vampiric Front, a large underground organization. Recent defeat of Roast Beef and Casper is a clear sign that there is a mole somewhere in UAF's headquarters, and now Aeneas is determined to find out who is that.All of the second part of the By The Rising Of the Moon is a hunt for traitors. Vampires are hunted too, but rather as a bonus on the side.
In the end, Aeneas and his crew establish a new underground organization, the Free Moon (Homage to Heinlein)
We also see how Gabrielyan's group had gathered together. In Security Service School Gabrielyan had picked Michail Vinnitsky (chapter "The King" of book 1), and nicknamed him the King, after Isaac Babel's character (see Odessa Tales). Later, (chapter "The Lemur") when serving as a legal assistant and personal bodyguard for Volkov in Aachen (this city was made a Capital for international vampiric government) he became acquainted with Volkov's another personal bodyguard, Andrew Cassel (nickname Gopher), an American of Russian origin, and a Dhampyr. Soon after that both King and Gopher became his subordinates. In chapter "Go Down, Moses" they investigate the case of a vampire serial killer.
Aeneas and Gabrielyan meet accidentally in the beginning of the Chance with No Rules (Time of the Moon) when Aeneas and his crew are searching for a kidnapped girl in the unlicensed brothel (chapter 1, "The Morena club"). Gabrielyan can have them all arrested on spot, but he decides he'd rather use them. In the second chapter ("The Ekaterinburg") they work together against a powerful regional ruler, a vampire named Illyinsky.
After that case Gabrielyan gets noticed by the Japanese Councillor, Reiji Uemura, The Minister of the Left in the Imperial Great Council. An ancient vampire, Uemura is obsessed with an idea that Heavenly Four have been out to get him for the past millenium, since the Genpei War, when his path was crossed by Minamoto Yoshitsune and his lancers, whom Uemura believed to be The Heavenly Four reincarnated. He also mistakes Gabrielyan for the incarnation of Saito Hajime, whom he in turn mistook for reincarnation of Abe-no-Seimei (see spin-offs). Shortly, Uemura comes to believe that Gabrielyan (and later - Aeneas) is his Nemesis. And he takes measures...
Midnight World provides examples of:
- Anti-Villain: Zodiac team (Gabrielyan, King, Cassel and Oleg Marchenko since 2nd book) are either this or Type V Anti Heroes
- Badass Normal: Aeneas and Gabrielyan.
- Well, in Gabrielyan's case it's not so normal, bеcause of his very high pain threshold and awfully good brain that makes him able to figure out even vampires maneuvre, in no time at all.
- Badass Preacher: Konstantin Neverov. Lampshaded by his surname which means "Son of non-believer" in Russian.
- Badass in Distress: Aeneas in Ekaterinoslav, where he gets himself wounded, beaten and nearly captured, then in Hamburg, where he gets himself poisoned, captured and nearly drowned.
- Kostya in Copenhagen, captured by UAF headquarter member Orwille Robertson (code name Bill).
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Volkov, Russian chief vampire, in a very young age became a victim of extremely unjust court. He was cruelly tortured to extract the evidence against his father, and almost died, when his Master showed him the way to survive and take revenge.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Marek "Hellboy" Kalinovsky, ex-member of anti-vampiric SWAT, now - the trainer of Vampire Hunters.
- Bond One-Liner: Igor, after decapitating Francois Tallien: "Vive La Republique Francaise!"Grandmother, too big of teeth you've got!
- The Caper: Bratislava episode (chapter "The Silver Galleon" in Bullets from Beyond). Robbing from the rich and... taking to themselves.
- Well, since they are Vampire Hunters they really need silver!
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Igor vs. Ukrainian Special Police Unit. Also, Aeneas and Desperado vs. best fighters of Mr. Zaremba, top honch in Szczecin gambling mafia.
- Christianity Is Catholic - subverted. Besides the fact that Igor lived in the dominican convent after the exorcizm, he was exorcized by an Eastern Orthodox priest, and Anton embraced Orthodoxy, not Catholicism. Aeneas and Igor became Catholics, but they attend Orthodox Liturgy since Kostya is their chaplain.
- In book 2 (chapter "Plot of Twist") we find out that Cassel was exorcized by a Messianic Judaist.
- Not to mention that Abe-no Seimei's mother was exorcised by a Buddhist priest?
- Deal with the Devil: exactly what does the one becoming a vampire.
- Dhampyr: Igor and Cassel, also brother Michael OP. In spin-offs - Abe-no Seimei and Harada Sanosuke.
- Doorstopper: actually, at least one of writing trio is known for writing doorstoppers. Her previous works - Your Honesty, Beyond the Dawn and Heart of Sword are above 600 pages.
- Beyond the Dawn is printed in 2 volumes above 600 pages each.
- Expy: Jun'ichiro Ato from A Case of Fire for Shishio Makoto.
- His rival Hitokiri Tenken is expy for Rurouni Kenshin himself.
- Fallen Hero: Andrew Cassel. Well, Being Tortured Makes You Evil.
- Fictional Document: Santana's Treaty between vampires and humanity, investigation records of dr. Forrester, Charles O'Neil's "Confession" and so on.
- Genre-Busting: Vampire Fiction, Dystopia, Social Science Fiction, Horror, etc.
- Heartbroken Badass: Aeneas, after May Day's death.
- Also, Cassel may be described as one, since all his family was killed.
- And don't forget Tsume. He doesn't mention his wife's death, but it is not because he had forgotten it.
- Heroic BSoD: Aeneas, after May Day's death.
- Actually, after her funeral. After her death he had to finish the job and kept, er, like a trojan until they buried her in the sea. And only when her body was plunged in the water, he let himself to plunge into Heroic BSOD.
- Historical Domain Character: Minamoto Yoshitsune and The Shinsengumi. And Volkov's master.
- Husky Russkie: Kostya (at least he doesnt play balalaika. But he does drink vodka. Chaste Hero has to have some weak points, hasn't he?)
- Lampshade Hanging: tons of it. Yang is completely aware that he often deals with plot twists and archetypes that are very, very old, so he uses Lampshade Hanging almost as often as commas. (Actually, not as often, but close...)
'I am sorry, Anton, but this plot has a strong flavour of soap to it'.'Look at yourself', Savin's mouth twisted. 'Read the news about yourself. What is the flavour of your story?'
- For example, in "Into the West" Igor expresses his doubts in Anton's runaway story, which seems a bit melodramatic to him:
- And the very fact that vampire's name is Igor, isn't it a clear Lampshade Hanging?
- The Mafia: The Sicilian Mafia and Sicilian vampiric Don - Federico di Salvo.
- Mr. Fanservice: Both Good Guys and Bad Guys crews are designed to fulfill the requirements for any kind of men's beauty. Handsome guy of average size? Aeneas. Thin tall blonde? Tsume. Even the Guys Want Him. Big guy with big heart? Kostya. 15-years pretty boy? Raccoon. Both muscular and brainy Cultured Bad Ass? Gabrielyan. Red Headed hero? Misha the King. Ugly Cute - Cassel (leaving aside that he is a poet and a fencer, he also had sex in the most expensive Moscow brothel for free!) cute boy - Oleg the Behemoth (nicknamed after cute demonic cat from The Master and Margarita).
- Only a Flesh Wound: subverted. It took more than a month for Aeneas to recover from the wound when bullet had slid along the ribs and damaged only a flesh on his chest.
- Mind that Aeneas was harshly beaten soon after getting the shot, and interrogator that stomped on his wound didn't bother to disinfect his soles.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Word of God said that they tried to stick to original Bram Stoker's model as close as they can, but some differences exist. Vampirism in Midnight World is not limited to Blood Lust. A vampire has to commit murder or at least a conversion to calm down his (or her) vampiric Thirst, or else it will simply drive him mad and he will murder somebody anyway. Thus, there are no such things as Vegetarian Vampire or Friendly Neighborhood Vampire in Alexander Yang's saga. Vampires are bad, full stop. Are they affected by virus or possessed with demons? The world believes it to be a virus (or, rather, an advanced, but not necessarily intelligent symbiont). Vampires are still afraid of holy water, communion bread, crosses and so on, but, according to the scientists, this may be due to a psychis effect. Although crosses, holy images, holy water are not lethal for vampires, they do cause pain and seizures of fear and loathing. If a vampire really, really hates being a vampire - he can be exorcized and becomes a Dhampyr. Or, if he has lived longer than it is humanly possible, he can be exorcized and then die (peacefully). An exorcism is dangerous, with very uncertain chances of success. Decapitation works better. Wooden stakes may be helpful for they cause messier wounds than iron ones. A stake in the heart will not kill the vampire, just injure it (seriously enough to buy some time for decapitation). Yang's vampires are not totally Immune to Bullets, but usual bullet wounds heal very fast on them. Silver does work. A shot in the head may put a vampire out of commission for several days. A Silver Bullet head shot will put a vampire out for good. Also, injuries delivered by a silver-gilt blade are extremely painful and are much harder to heal. Direct sunlight inflicts pain and burns, but it is still not lethal. The older vampire grows, the more immune to sunlight he gets. Actually, the older vampire grows, the more immune he becomes to anything. Which makes vampire hunting a bit tricky. Vampires are sterile, the process of conversion is not a secret: on a verge of death one has to drink the vampire's blood. Than he|she falls in three-day coma, during which the potential vampire dreams of nastiest things he|she can imagine. In the dream, some power demands that he|she commit the most hideous thing imaginable. If the human surrenders - a new vampire is born. If the human resists (Heroic Willpower required), the human dies. A Master (the one who initiates the new vampire) and a nestling (his creature) are connected with a strong Psychic Link.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Igor to Francois Tallien:You see... Mulga snake, for example, is dangerous not only because of deadly poison, but also because you can scarcely tell it from a grass snake.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:Interrogator (to Aeneas, treading on his wounded chest): "Where did the second one go?"Igor (from behind the interrogator's back): "Objection! I'm not the second one, I'm the first one."
- Really 700 Years Old: Volkov and Uemura. Actually, Volkov is almost 500, and Uemura is above 1000.
- Titled After the Song:
- Training from Hell: since vampires are swift and strong bastards, both vampire-hunting rebels and Security Service which also hunts renegade vampires, are to pass through this. And it's not just martial arts and shooting practice - mind that Vampire Hunter is hunted by State Sec and vice versa. Gabrielyan and Aeneas experienced harsh sparrings battery in a Spartan Way, Truth Serums, insomnia, you name it - we've got it - more from their teachers than from enemies.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters - of course, Vampire Hunters in a vampires-ruled world are branded as terrorists.