Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: you want to keep up with your favorite characters, but between the television series, the movies, the comics, the novels, and the video games, you don’t have the time. Relax. Being a fan shouldn’t be a full-time job. Trust us to give you the highlights; we’ll take care of it, so that you don’t have to.
What is Star Wars: Dark Disciple about?
As the Clone Wars rage on, the Jedi and the Galactic Republic (the good guys) suffer a brutal defeat on the plant Mahranee. Against the wishes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi council decides to assassinate the Separatist leader, Count Dooku, ending the Clone Wars once and for all. This task falls to Quinlan Vos, a happy-go-lucky Jedi master and talented spy. Vos enlists Dooku’s former apprentice, Asajj Ventress, to help kill her former master. Unfortunately, while preparing for the mission, Quinlan and Ventress fall in love. It’s all downhill from there.
Does anything important happen?
Quinlan Vos gets a new origin.
Vos was a popular character in the old, Expanded Universe (what Lucasfilm calls the myriad of Star Wars spin-off novels, comics, and other media), but then Disney bought the franchise and wiped away all that old continuity. This is a do-over.
Vos gains Ventress’s trust by posing as a fellow bounty hunter, but it’s not long before she sees through the charade and pegs him as a Jedi, because she’s not an idiot. She’s more than happy to help Vos kill Dooku, too, but there’s one catch: Quinlan needs to learn how to control the dark side of the Force if he wants a shot at bringing Dooku down.That goes about as well as you’d expect. The assassination attempt fails, Quinlan is captured, and Dooku reveals that Ventress killed Quinlan’s former master. This turns Quinlan to the dark side for good, and he serves for a while as Dooku’s new apprentice, Admiral Enigma (yes, seriously).
Eventually, Vos returns to the Jedi, but he’s been compromised—and only Ventress can see it. Under the Jedi’s orders, Vos hunts down Dooku again, and makes a deal: Vos will let Dooku live if Vos can meet Darth Sidious, Dooku’s enigmatic master. Dooku betrays Vos and tries to kill him; Ventress gets in the way, and is fatally wounded; with Ventress’s help, Vos chooses love over revenge and rejects the dark side for good.
Asajj Ventress dies.
Asajj Ventress is one of the most interesting characters on The Clone Wars, and Dark Disciple provides a pretty definitive conclusion to her arc, and explains why she never shows up during any of the Star Wars movies. Dark Disciple brings her journey from bloodthirsty dark Jedi wanna-be to spurned assassin to freelance bounty hunter full circle. Her final moments, when she finally embraces the light side of the Force, give the character a kind of redemption. It’s just too bad she needed a dude to finally show her the light.
The Jedi turn out to be complete jerks.
Throughout the book, most members of the Jedi Council are major hypocrites (especially Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu; seriously, that guy’s the worst). They spend the whole time talking about embracing assassinations and executions (without a trial, no less) like it’s no big thing. Obi-Wan Kenobi takes a stand at the end of the book, accusing the other Jedi of selling out their morals, but it’s not enough. After Dark Disciple, it’s not surprising that Anakin eventually kills the Jedi; after this book, you’ll want to too.
Is it any good?
Dark Disciple’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. The book was adapted from a series of unproduced Clone Wars scripts (written by a woman named Katie Lucas—her dad, George, makes movies. You might’ve seen some of them). As a result, the story is full of cliffhangers and plot-twists—which is fun—but it also means that some parts, particularly the final third, don’t hang together as a single story. If you’ve seen the prequels, you know that Dooku isn’t going to die, so the main tension in the story is wondering how bad things are going to get for the two heroes. As it turns out, it’s pretty bad.
As a stylist, Christie Golden does well with action scenes. On the other hand, Vos isn’t nearly as charming or funny as he’s supposed to be (Ventress, you could do better), and the dialogue is pretty rough. Of course, that’s a problem that The Clone Wars had, too. If nothing else, Dark Disciple is true to its source material.