Dark DiscipleAuthor: Christie Golden
Publication Year: 2015
The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.
In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.
But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.
Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.
This was also a book I read from the library as an e-book using Overdrive. Asajj Ventress was a character that was introduced in The Clone Wars, the animated TV series that I have raved about before (in my Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir review). She was a Sith apprentice to Count Dooku before he turned on her. This book focuses on her, after the show ended. This book was actually based on scripts for The Clone Wars episodes that were unproduced at the time the show was cancelled. I binge watched the series and was sad to see it end, but was excited to get to read the continuing adventures in the Expanded Universe timeline.
This is my favorite Star Wars novel thus far, in full honesty. Between Canon and Legends timelines, this book is the BEST of all the ones I have read up to this point. For this one I read around five chapters a night, and even that was not enough to satiate me. I forced myself to stop. The book ended all too soon though. It gripped me tight and took me on a rollercoaster that I was not entirely ready for.
Asajj Ventress at first, in the show, is a character that is just evil. She fights the Jedi, we don't know much about her, and that's the extent of it. In later seasons however, she becomes very developed as her life changes (abandoned by Dooku, showcasing her backstory, featuring her as a main character for some episodes). By the end of the show, I actually found myself having a lot of sympathy for her and wondering what would happen to her between end of the show, and the next animated series I've gotten into watching (Rebels). This book takes that backstory and character development one step further, revealing what happens to Ventress at the show's close.
Ventress still wants revenge on Dooku and the Jedi are really tired of dealing with Dooku's plots, so an unlikely alliance is formed. If anything, I think this is a much better book to qualify for a title like "Fatal Alliance" than the actual Fatal Alliance book I already reviewed. Jedi are normally a group that provides aid after trouble has begun and tended to mind their own business until the start of the Clone Wars, which forced them into a more militaristic way of life, temporarily. In Dark Disciple, the Jedi are pushed a step further, taking action into their own hands with a secret mission. The Jedi known as Quinlan Vos is sent undercover, with a secret identity, to recruit Ventress to ultimately take down Dooku once and for all. Definitely a much darker path than the Jedi usually tread on. Ventress has been a solo operator for a long time and does not want connections to ANYONE, but Vos somehow finds a way to wriggle into a very dominant place in her life.
One of the best things about this book is the way it balances the differences in the two main characters. The rapport between Vos and Ventress is incredibly dynamic, with lots of snark and respect going both ways. The combat sequences are highly satisfying and both characters are accurately represented. Over the course of the novel, it is revealed that in order to carry out the final plan, it is necessary for Vos to actually engage with and learn about the Dark Side of the Force. This is a huge obstacle and something that raises a lot of moral questions and confusion among the Jedi Council. Is Quinlan going to be lost to the dark side? Is he already lost? Will he return and be a Jedi still should he succeed in his mission? The book also succeeds in providing even Ventress with a moral compass, showing that even a Sith apprentice can be redeemable in certain ways. It provided each character with significant choices, that they were able to make of their own will, without external factors FORCING them to be just one way, even if there were influences that pushed them in certain ways. Ultimately, the choices they made were THEIR choices.
For me, this one was also a bit of a tearjerker. I won't say why, because I am very ANTI-spoiler. Then again, anyone who knows me knows that basically anything can make me cry when it comes to entertainment. This includes but is not limited to: happy tears when major emotional elements are resolved, critical moments of sacrifice regardless of if there is a happy or sad ending, character deaths, loss of anyone important to a character where emotional tones run high... I do a LOT of crying. It wasn't so bad when I was a kid, or even a teen, but sometime after I started college I turned into a walking bubble of tears ready to release waterworks at the slightest pierce of said bubble. I'm not proud of it, but I will own up to it without any hesitation. So yes, I cried while reading this book. I was emotionally invested. That is a marker of a good book for me. It made me feel and question and get excited.
This is definitely a MUST READ for fans of The Clone Wars series, and any fan that has familiarity with these characters (mostly Ventress). This book is the quintessential Ventress story, hands down. Should anyone want to know what direction her arc takes after the show, THIS is where you will find all the answers you need. It also feels just like an episode, albeit an extended one, which is great for anyone who, like me, misses the show. I really wish this book would be adapted into an animated film, similar to what DC has frequently done by adapting their comics/graphic novels into animated films (ex: The Killing Joke, The Flashpoint Paradox, the upcoming Death of Superman, etc.). It would make a phenomenal film.
Star Wars Dark Disciple receives a LoneStar Rating of:
Star Wars Canon Novel
✅ Dark Disciple
✅ Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
✅ Dark Disciple
✅ Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Thanks for reading another review here at The Real World According to Sam. I'll be back with the final Star Wars Saturday post of my Star Wars month festivities, NEXT SATURDAY, 5/26. That will be focused on the Kanan comic omnibus. Hope to see you then!