Friday, October 19, 2018

Star Wars: Dark Disciple

 Star Wars: Dark Disciple 
 Star Wars 
 Christie Golden 
 Lucas Books 
 July 7, 2015 
 hardcover, paperback 
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.

Dark Disciple, like Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, is meant to wrap up an unfinished story from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Also like Son of Dathomir, Dark Disciple was adapted from scripts that would have been used in The Clone Wars had the show not been canceled. This book focuses on the fan favorite character Asajj Ventress as well as the just as popular Quinlan Vos. Please be warned that this review will contain some spoilers regarding events in The Clone Wars that lead into Dark Disciple’s story.
Asajj Ventress was first introduced as Count Dooku’s personal assassin and a powerful Dark Side Force user. The Clone Wars frequently used her as a “henchman of the week”, often having Ventress in charge of an evil plan only to be stopped by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and/or other Jedi. Eventually, Dooku was ordered by Darth Sidious to kill Ventress; Sidious feared that Dooku and Ventress were plotting to kill and overthrow him together. Fearing for his own life, Dooku complied. Ventress survived the assassination attempt and, in turn, tried to assassinate Dooku on several occasions. After these failed attempts Ventress turned her skills towards life as a bounty hunter, which is where her character remained as The Clone Wars was canceled.
Quinlan Vos is a fan favorite character of the old, now non-canon, Expanded Universe where he was heavily featured in the comic books. While his old character history is very interesting, the only notable canon appearance his character has prior to Dark Disciple is in a single episode of The Clone Wars where he assists Obi-Wan Kenobi on a mission. Vos’ appearance in the episode made many fans excited but did little to delve into his character history. Much of what is known about Vos in the new Disney canon comes directly from Dark Disciple.
Whereas Son of Dathomir felt like a storyline straight out of The Clone Wars put into graphic novel form, Dark Disciple takes a darker and more adult approach in its adaptation of a story originally meant for a children’s show. The book is by no means vulgar or more adult than any other Star Wars novel, but it is definitely aimed at an adult audience.
One of the greatest aspects of this book is its portrayal of how fighting the Clone Wars is corrupting the Jedi and forcing them to do things that are, blatantly, against the Jedi Code. Despite labeling themselves as “keepers of the peace”, the Jedi have been forced to become generals in an army and find themselves making the tough calls that come with the role of military leadership. The very premise of Dark Disciple is that the Jedi Council, who should philosophically be the greatest advocators of peace, has decided that they need someone assassinated. The Clone Wars television show touches on the “Jedi corruption” as well by giving viewers several episodes from the Confederacy’s perspective that show the damage Jedi and the Republic are inflicting on the lives of civilians who happen to be on the other side of the war. Episode III allows us to know that the Jedi are being corrupted on purpose, that it is all part of Darth Sidious’ grand plan, but it is still fascinating to see how the Jedi willingly allow themselves to be brought to a lower moral level.
The other large part of the book is the love story that appears between Ventress and Vos. After reading Lost Stars, it is apparent that a love story can take place in Star Wars and be done very well. Part of what makes their chemistry so fantastic is the parallels they have to one another. Vos is a Jedi who is teetering dangerously close to the Dark Side due to the assassination mission while Ventress has acknowledged that the Dark Side only brings her misery and largely rejects it. Both characters are written extremely well and this book serves as a great way of fleshing Vos out in the new canon while also serving as a swan song for Ventress as one of the characters confined to the Clone Wars era of the Star Wars timeline. It is highly recommended that readers minimally watch the episodes of The Clone Wars featuring Ventress before jumping into this novel. Dark Disciple is an excellent book that focuses on a great character, but it is only the closing chapter in a single section of a much larger story.

Editor's note: This review was written by Nicholas Watkins, originally published in Literature is Life, and has been reposted with permission. It is available under Creative Commons and the original page can be found here. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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