Book Report: Dark Disciple

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

Christie Golden was tasked with putting together a novel based on eight (!) Clone Wars scripts originally written by Katie Lucas, Dave Filoni, and Matt Michnovetz. Think about it, this was basically two months’ worth of Clone Wars episodes. This was going to be HUGE. While concept art and such exist the episodes were never completed due to the show getting the ax. So the fates of some characters are left to Golden’s book.

The plot begins with the Jedi deciding their lives would be a whole lot easier if one of them rubbed out Count Dooku. On the one hand, one could argue that such a move would end the war and destruction and save the lives of zillions. Who wouldn’t have wanted a crack at Hitler during WWII? On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to be “the Jedi way,” something that disturbs Obi-Wan Kenobi from the get-go. Besides nobody knows the Clone Wars (the actual conflict not the show) is basically a false flag, a Reichstag fire to enable Darth Sidious to take over the galaxy. The infinite wisdom of the Council chooses quite possibly the second-worst pick to do the job, Quinlan Vos. Vos is much more happy-go-lucky on the show than he was in the Republic comics but he still has a reputation as a maverick. Anakin waves his arm around going, “Pick me! Pick me!” but Obi-Wan basically says, “Oh hell no.” That would’ve been the worst and second-worst people for the job. So an outsider is suggested…Dooku’s former protege, Asajj Ventress. The reasoning is she knows a lot about Dooku, she hates his guts, and she is lethal. Obi-Wan has some apprehensions but he gives Vos some advice before Vos goes off to find her.

Once Vos and Ventress meet, she is working as a bounty hunter. He pretends to be one too at first. After annoying Ventress, they become partners in the bounty hunting business. The UST starts up right away and it’s not long before the second Jedi in a decade has abandoned celibacy as the wacky pair fall in love. It doesn’t take much either to convince Ventress to help Vos assassinate Dooku. While Vos eventually cops to being a Jedi, there’s still a web of deceit woven around the dangerous duo. Ventress tells Vos that it was Dooku who killed Vos’s beloved Master when in fact it was Ventress herself who did the deed. Ventress wants Vos to direct his anger and hatred at Dooku anyway but she also wants to protect their relationship. Worse yet, Ventress thinks Vos is too soft and must learn about the dark side in order to work up the nerve necessary to kill Dooku. No, that won’t corrupt him or anything.

While there’s plenty of action and adventure and twists and turns, the book is surprisingly sophisticated in how it treats the complexities of Vos and Ventress’s relationship. Ventress is untrustworthy and manipulative, she’s had a crummy life, and she doesn’t trust anyone. Vos’s affection for Ventress and his experience with the dark side pull him away from the Jedi. The lure of the dark side even threatens his relationship with Ventress. Moreover, we already know the vague future they have planned together isn’t going to happen. Vos is referred to in ROTS as still being involved in the war. Ventress’s fate is unknown until the end of the novel. Yet I think things conclude in a way that redeems both of them.

Vos’s corruption symbolizes the Jedi Order’s corruption, how it has abandoned what it supposedly believed in, and how that is sucking everyone into doing things and believing things they never would have before all of this started. This leads to where the reader is wondering for a good chunk of the book which side Vos is truly on and whether he’s really sincere. Ventress could be rather unpredictable in her own way. Poor Obi-Wan is suffering as he’s seeing all of this happen around him, unaware a similar fate will soon befall Anakin.

Golden has the advantage of having great ingredients and a recipe written by top chefs. But it still takes a good cook to put it all together in a way that really works. I’m certain Golden added a lot of things that you couldn’t address on a show meant for family viewing because “Dark Disciple” comes off as a tad more adult than the show. (Though it is also the same show where Hondo makes a joke about Boba Fett not being one of his, so who knows?) It’s a book that’s never boring. There’s humor, romance (even Anakin and Padme make an appearance), fights, dark magic, crazy plot twists, and some poignant moments. Bottom line: Best Star Wars novel since “Darth Plagueis.” If you read just one Star Wars book this year…yes I know even with some other big ones coming out soon…make it this one.

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12 Responses to “Book Report: Dark Disciple”

  1. Brian47 Says:

    Thanks for this review, I am looking forward to picking it up, although I might wait until the paperback gets published. I am now reading “Tarkin” and greatly enjoying, especially all the nods to PT and TCW era events, plus there is even a small reference Palpatine makes to Darth Plagueis.

    • bansheegun Says:

      I love how Luceno threw out little nods to his Plaguies book to sneak it into the new canon. He even had 11-4D in there!

  2. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    That entry about Anakin’s eager willingness to be the one to get rid of Dooku struck me as a bit off. It contradicts his hesitation to kill Dooku in “ROTS”. Had his attitude changed by Episode III?

  3. madmediaman Says:

    Agree 100% with this review.

    Also a correction for above: Anakin’s reluctance to kill Dooku was because he had Dooku at his mercy; on his knees following their battle in ROTS. There was never any hesitancy on Anakin’s part in eliminating Dooku as a threat in AOTC or the Clone Wars. He simply was unsure about decapitating a helpless enemy… especially given what happened to him with the Tusken Raiders.

  4. zch81721 Says:

    Anyone care to give me a reading guide for the new cannon. Which books are cannon and which are worth reading. The adult books, not the rebels novels.

  5. rynnbowers Says:

    Is there any mention to Aayla Secura in the novel? I thought she was a big part of Vos’s life before the clone wars. Ugh I hate this new canon stuff and them rewriting what we all know.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I can’t remember if there is a mention or not.

      • rynnbowers Says:

        Well she is a EU characters and her whole backstory now doesn’t exist so I wonder how they are going to I corporate her In anymore…I know she doesn’t survive the Jedi purge during order 66…but it would be nice if they ar least acknowledged her.

      • M. Marshall Says:

        Aayla’s the only EU character to graduate to the movies so she should get honorable mention in this book.

  6. Marshall Says:

    I am currently in the process of reading all the books in the Legends timeline (right now I’m on “Maul: Lockdown”). This is the only “canon” book I plan to read. Where do you think it would go in the Legends timeline?

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