“With the war showing no signs of ending, and the casualties mounting each day, the Jedi must consider every possible means of defeating their cunning foe. Whether some means are too unthinkable–and some allies to untrustworthy–has yet to be revealed…” –Dark Disciple
Dark Disciple is a lot of things, but in the end, it’s a painful, rapturous story. Honestly, this book is emotionally charged like no other Star Wars novel that’s been released in the new canon. Part of that is due to the characters. Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos have a lot of history in the old expanded universe. Star Wars: The Clone Wars built onto that history even further, reshaping them, and perhaps even making them better. Yet with Dark Disciple, these two characters come to life like never before. In a way, it cements Quinlan’s history both past and present, an accomplishment that will likely bring joy to longtime Vos fans who aren’t averse to a little rebooting. However, for me, the payoff lied with Ventress. She was one of my favorite characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and with her getting the spotlight in Dark Disciple, it made it a true joy to read. Painful, but good.
“Her bounty had escaped, she was tired, her jaw was on fire, and she’d had to deal with someone who was the single most annoying man she had ever met—a drink was definitely in order.” –Dark Disciple
The premise is pretty straightforward. The Jedi Council decides that Count Dooku needs to be eliminated. They choose Jedi Master Quinlan Vos for the mission and further stipulate that he should utilize Asajj Ventress in order to get the job done. The story builds a relationship and trust between the two as they go off on missions together, delve into bounty hunting, and explore the breadth of the Force. Asajj tries to show Vos how she’s found a balance between dark and light that allows her to remain herself without being consumed by the dark side. As the story unfurls, they get mixed up with bounty hunters like Boba Fett, Bossk, Latts Razzi, Embo and Highslinger. They go up against Black Sun and the Pyke Syndicate. Along the way, the Jedi Council keeps an eye on the two, and readers can look forward to seeing some Obi-Wan and Anakin in action in this book. But ultimately, the conflict comes down to Quinlan, Ventress and Dooku. In a web of emotions, ambitions and the dark side, readers are in for a tumultuous ride.
“Then tell me. Make me understand.”
She faced him then, her eyes searching his. “It will require you to forsake nearly everything that it means to be a Jedi. But you have already begun down that path, I think.” -Vos and Ventress
With Quinlan and Asajj at the core of this book, a lot rides on how attached readers are to their backstories. Keep in mind, this book is based off of eight scripts for episodes of The Clone Wars that were never completed due to the show’s cancellation. For fans still clinging on to the old Dark Horse Comics backstories for Ventress and Vos, you might not like this one. As always, The Clone Wars goes it’s own way and tells it’s own story for each of the characters. Quinlan Vos’ story is rewritten, but it also reflects much of the spirit of what it was. His master is still Tholme. He can still read memories and images from objects using the Force. Furthermore, his life is still haunted by the dark side. I found the Vos presented in Dark Disciple to be a very nice bridge between the Vos of old and that of this new creation. As for Ventress, her character arc follows what was laid out in the television show. She’s turned to bounty hunting, has found a peace within herself, and is no longer ruled by the dark side. If you like what they did with Ventress in the tv show, you’ll like the Ventress in this book.
“All must proceed as the Force wills it. Sometimes it is a dark path we must tread so that long more for the light, we shall.” -Jedi Master Yoda
It’s hard to talk about the book too much further without delving into serious spoilers. However, there is some more that needs to be said. First off, Christie Golden does a wonderful job of capturing the characters. Be it Quinlan, Asajj or Yoda and Obi-Wan, all of the characters in this book fall perfectly in line with what The Clone Wars created. As a big fan of The Clone Wars, I really enjoyed this story and how well it worked in telling a chapter of the show in book format. I was rather disappointed with the previous Dark Horse Comics mini-series that tried to tell a Darth Maul arc from The Clone Wars as it just did not work for me at all. Dark Disciple, however, works. It captures the depth of the characters, the resonance of emotion, as well as the excitement and action as they’re thrown into combat. There are lightsaber fights, speeder chases, soul searching and yes, there is a romance angle to this story. Prepare yourselves, cause it’s a good one.
“He has no idea what he’s getting himself into.” -Boba Fett
A New Dawn kicked off the new canon as everything else was shoved off into legends, and managed to capture a spark of the joy that is Star Wars Rebels. Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi both dove into specific characters to try and show readers a new side to Tarkin and Luke Skywalker. Lords of the Sith went a different route by going for sheer, all out action with some extreme characters. There was joy to be had in all of them, but Dark Disciple raises the bar. It has character exploration, it has action, and it captures the magic of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It takes all of those great aspects, throws in a thick layering of character investment, and gives fans an emotional experience that will leave them trembling when it’s all said and done. At least that was my experience. With any luck, fans will get the same level of enjoyment as I did. I give Dark Disciple a five out of five metal bikinis.