Review: Dark Disciple

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Author: Christie Golden
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 7, 2015
Pages: 336

This review contains minor spoilers.

When The Clone Wars was canceled two years ago, fans were devastated and many important plot threads were left dangling. What would become of Darth Maul? Would Ahsoka’s story really end on that note? What about Order 66? In the intervening years, Lucasfilm has tried to give fans resolutions to these open questions via the Lost Missions episodes on Netflix, the Clone Wars Legacy bonus content, and a Darth Maul comic mini-series. Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple is the latest of these, bringing together fan-favorites Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku.

Star Wars: Dark Disciple

Star Wars: Dark Disciple

The novel is an adaptation of eight unproduced scripts taking place at the end of The Clone Wars timeline, with the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir arc set in between the first and second halves. In fact, Dark Disciple was originally supposed to be the title of the arc’s fourth episode. Readers wary of spoilers, however, should avoid looking at the original episode titles until after they’ve read the book. Golden does a great job adapting the thrilling scripts by Katie Lucas (who also wrote the forward for the novel), Matt Michnovetz, and Dave Filoni. It’s easy to spot the seams between the episodes in hindsight, but you never get the sense that there are eight acts to the story while you’re actually reading it.

It’s interesting to see the Jedi reach a point where they’re willing–and, in fact, planning–to assassinate Count Dooku. It’s not the Jedi way, but the Council makes the decision with little hesitation, ordering Master Quinlan Vos to spearhead the effort and enlist Dooku’s former apprentice turned bounty hunter Asajj Ventures. The only catch? He has to do it without her knowing, making her think the whole plan was her idea. This leads to some entertaining scenes between Quinlan and Asajj, as well as a few nice moments where Obi-Wan gives Quinlan some tips on how to verbally spar with his new ally.

Of course, anyone who’s read the book’s inside cover knows that the two warriors–one formerly of the dark who is beginning to see the light and the other a trusted Jedi with some darkness inside him–quickly become close. It’s a little odd to see a more romantic side of Asajj, but it helps that a number of characters also remark on this strange turn of events. There are a few parallels to Anakin and Padme’s relationship, and at one point Anakin even tries to pass judgment on Quinlan’s actions until Padme notes the similarities.

The absolute best part of Dark Disciple, however, is that it keeps you guessing. There’s a healthy amount distrust and uncertainty, and you never really know which side a character is on. This is especially true during the last half of the book, making it difficult to put down. Obi-Wan’s line in Revenge of the Sith about Master Vos moving his troops to Boz Pity removes some of the tension when it comes to Quinlan’s ultimate fate and every fan knows that Count Dooku survives until the Battle of Coruscant in the same film, so the fact that the Dark Disciple keeps you on the edge of your seat is a testament to Golden’s writing and the masterful storytelling from Lucas, Michnovetz, and Filoni.

In fact, reading Dark Disciple really feels like you’re watching some of the best episodes of The Clone Wars. The inclusion of Boba Fett and his team of Bossk, Latts Razzi, C-21 Highsinger, and Embo; Dathomir; Mustafar; Black Sun and the Pykes; the Mos Eisley Cantina; Vanqor; Christophsis; and many more Clone Wars characters, organizations, and locales doesn’t hurt either. This truly is a continuation of the fan-favorite TV series, even filling in more details about Asajj’s backstory and the Nightsisters clan.

Dark Disciple does a great job wrapping up Asajj Ventress’s character arc. It puts a definitive end to her story which, without saying much, should hopefully leave readers satisfied. More importantly, it’s easily the best book in the new canon. Dark Disciple is must-read for fans of The Clone Wars, and those unfamiliar with the series should enjoy it as well.

4.5/5 Kath Hounds

Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Del Rey. All staff members can be contacted at contact@eucantina.net.

About the Author

William Devereux (@MasterDevwi) is EUCantina's administrator, as well as the host of the Ion Cannon podcast. When he's not talking about Star Wars, he works at Microsoft as a Program Manager.