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Dark Disciple: Star Wars Paperback – March 1, 2016
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“Reading Dark Disciple really feels like you’re watching some of the best episodes of The Clone Wars.”—EUCantina
“Emotionally charged . . . Christie Golden does a wonderful job of capturing the characters.”—Roqoo Depot
“A cool inclusion into the Star Wars mythos . . . Ventress and Vos have a cool and compelling dynamic, and are used to explore more of what it means to flirt with the Dark Side of the Force.”—IGN
“[The Clone Wars have been] a huge part of the Star Wars brand for years, and [Christie] Golden manages to craft a story worthy of the themes and characters that fans have come to relate to. . . . [She] uses this opportunity to craft Dark Disciple into a spy/espionage thriller.”—Tech Times
“Golden especially excelled at bringing Ventress’s biting but appealing personality to life. . . . She’s very much a woman trying to find her way, and Dark Disciple adds nuance.”—Nerdist
“Smart, captivating, and unforgettable . . . among the finest in Star Wars storytelling.”—Coffee with Kenobi
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Christie Golden is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including Star Wars: Dark Disciple and the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi novels Omen, Allies, and Ascension. Her media tie-in works include launching the Ravenloft line in 1991 with Vampire of the Mists, Fable: Edge of the World, more than a dozen Star Trek novels, and multiple World of Warcraft and StarCraft novels, including World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects and StarCraft II: Devils’ Due.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dark Disciple is, for lack of a better word, truly epic from start to finish. Based on eight unfinished episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the story follows former Sith assassin Asajj Ventress and Jedi Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku to put a quick end to the war. The mission was actually the idea of the Jedi Council, an idea which goes against everything they stand for. We never really saw the Jedi Council as a whole falter this much in the show or the films and it illustrates just how desperate the Jedi have become. Even more unthinkable is the suggestion that not only a Jedi, Quinlan Vos, carry out this deed, but that they do so with the help of Asajj Ventress, the only one still alive who was close to him and tried to assassinate him herself...twice.
Things really take off when Asajj and Quinlan first meet (the animatics for their first verbal [and physical] exchange were first shown at Star Wars Celebration this year). The story moves quickly but isn't rushed, which is perfect for both Quin and Asajj as characters; neither are simple or quick-to-trust people, but Golden takes the time to explore them both and explain through events how their partnership organically grows into something rather special while not detracting from the main story. In fact, the romance angle becomes just as important as the mission to kill Dooku because it becomes such an integral part of nearly everything, a change of pace from the majority of Star Wars novels. Speaking of which...
Anyone who has spent more than five minutes around me knows of my love and adoration of Asajj, so I'll get this out of the way right now: I'm still not a fan of her and Quin being romantically involved. HOWEVER! Golden takes such care in establishing and building their relationship that my initial distaste of the pairing quickly took a backseat when I read just how sweet and endearing it could be (the moment when Asajj steps out in her ballgown for the banquet on Raxus Prime was priceless).
Where most would expect the confrontation with Dooku to be the climax of the novel, it's certainly not. Like I said, this is an epic. That fight is just the start of a whole chain of events that leads to one of the most bittersweet, heartbreaking conclusions I've ever read in my life. I don't want to spoil to much, but I will say that if you're not at least the tiniest bit choked up by the final chapter, you might want to go see a doctor because you clearly have no heart.
As engrossing as the story is on its own, there are some small issues that will hopefully be corrected by the time the final copies are released next month. Inconsistent facts, contradicting dialogue, and a missing word or two didn't hurt the story too badly, but they did jerk me out of the flow for a moment.
The only other complaint I have is regarding Quinlan's motivation in the second half, which actually hurt any chance that I might have been more willing to accept he and Asajj as a couple. Again, without too many spoilers, while their relationship is sweet, it starts on lies and Quin is the one who keeps that going even after Asajj has owned up to her own lie (which is a rather massive one). He hides things from her and does things that, even though she had committed terrible things while in the service of the Sith, she would have been horrified to learn about.
The real crux of it all is a choice that Quin makes which is nothing short of a betrayal of trust. Asajj Ventress is not someone who trusts easily, and to betray the faith she has put in you is a grave violation that she really doesn't need to deal with after so much heartbreak in her past. Quinlan could try to rationalize it all he wanted, but it doesn't change the fact that his choices changed his relationship with her from a partnership to a power play, with him in command. Not cool, Quin. Not cool.
But overall, Dark Disciple fills in a few blanks from The Clone Wars TV series rather well and handles every character with love and care (yes, even Dooku). There is humor, there is joy, there is action (and plenty of it), there is despair, there is emotion. We learn just how deep Asajj's guilt over the Nightsister massacre goes, how far Quinlan is willing to go both for the task of assassinating Dooku and to preserve what he has and hopes to have with Asajj, and how one who has fallen can find their way back to the Light in the end. I finished the book in a record (for me) 16 hours over two days. Other readers may want to stretch out their reading time if only to spare their hearts and souls the agony Dark Disciple will instill in them.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
It is no surprise that one of these untold stories has found it’s way into a novel. The newest edition to Star Wars canon is Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, which was to have been an eight part arc in an upcoming Clone Wars season. It follows up on the character Quinlan Vos who is tasked by the Jedi Council to assassinate Count Dooku after he commits near complete genocide. Vos’ mission is to secretly recrute discarded assassin Asajj Ventress to take out the Separatist leader at all costs. What follows is a tale of darkness, deception, hope and ultimately redemption.
The Road to Hell
One of the strengths of The Clone Wars has been the way it fills in the gap between Episodes II and III. Lucas has mentioned before that in the course of the Skywalker saga there was not the time to dive into the war itself. The Clone Wars does a spectacular job at showing the slow slide down the slippery slope that the Jedi have been put on as war was thrust upon them, They have gone from keepers of the peace to soldiers, in a war that has been manufactured as their doom.
Dark Disciple is one of the finest examples at how far the Jedi Order has been eroded by the war. It has begun to chip away at their morality and connection to the light. They are willing to put aside what they know is right for a chance and victory, yet the price may be more that they can bare. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that is the case here as the Jedi Council authorizes a dark mission for Quinlan Vos to enlist the help of Ventress through deception to assassinate Count Dooku. Irony of it all, the greatest proponent on the Council is Windu who once defended him to Padme by saying, “You know, My Lady, Count Dooku was once a Jedi. He couldn’t assassinate anyone. It’s not in his character.” Unfortunately the war has created an atmosphere for the Jedi where what was once unthinkable has become tolerable or even acceptable. The corruption of the Jedi is almost complete.
It’s a powerful reminder of just how easy it is for the truth to slip away from us, even when we think we are doing the right thing. Circumstances cannot craft right and wrong as the Jedi learn here. Embracing even the smallest amount of the the dark side can destroy lives.
The Power of Sacrifice – Spoilers
One of the greatest character arcs in The Clone Wars is that of Asajj Ventress. At the resent Star Wars Celebration, Dave Filoni mentioned that Lucas was not happy having Ventress as an acolyte of Dooku. George felt like her story would be much stronger if she were to make her own way and boy was he right.
The last time Ventress was seen in the show she had assisted Ahsoka who was on the run from the Jedi Order. Her character had already begun to turn from the darkness in the Darth Maul arc from season 4 where she saved a young girl who was about to become a slave wife.
As Dark Disciple begins Asajj is still working the bounty hunter scene, going it alone when Vos shows up. As they begin a fledgling partnership, she begins to open her heart to the possibility that she could have more. The most powerful theme in the book becomes the redemption of Ventress, a character who has been to the brink of the abyss and clawed her way back. It is her love of Vos and her willingness to embrace the way of the light that enables her to sacrifice herself for another. She lives out the words of Jesus when he says, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The affect she has on Vos and Obi-Wan is profound. Obi-Wan specifically points out to the Council the error of their ways and just how much they can learn from Asajj. They have lost their way and turned to the dark side for answers, but is it though the light that the true power comes.
This story brought tears to my eyes as it illustrated the beautiful truth that no one is beyond redemption. Most of the time, people only lack the light to show them the way so it is our job to love those that others might see as unlovable. It is only through self sacrificial love that this can happen. People are not won by words but by actions and there is nothing more powerful than true love at work.
Kenobi and Yoda
Another fascinating about Dark Disciple is the way Kenobi and Yoda seem to be setting themselves apart from the rest of the Jedi. Both of them are uncomfortable about the idea of an assassination mission. Kenobi voices strong opposition to the plan and even gets rather heated with Master Windu as the Council debates whether or not to pursue this dangerous idea. Kenobi seems to be channeling the defiance of Qui-Gon as he tries to steer the Council back towards the light. One character even remakes that Obi-Wan always strives to take the high road and see the best in people.
As the book progresses it is Kenobi and Yoda that have the hardest time believing Vos could have fallen to the dark side. They seem to be the only ones that still have faith in the Jedi’s ways. Not only do they have trust in Vos but they also give that trust to Ventress as well. Kenobi and Yoda, again and again in this book portrays the very best qualities of the Jedi, fighting for what is right and trusting in only incontrovertible evidence about the guilt of a trusted friend.
This book puts to rest any doubt that Yoda and Obi-Wan were the greatest Jedi and showing just why they survived. I’ve personally never been prouder of my favorite character Kenobi than when he stands before the Council at the end of the book and says,
“We lost our way,” Kenobi had said. “We lost it when we decided to use assassination, a practice so clearly of the dark side, for our own ends, well intentioned though they might have been. All that has happened since—Vos succumbing to the dark side, the deaths he has directly and indirectly caused, the secrets leaked, the worlds placed in jeopardy—all of this can be traced back to that single decision. Masters, I submit to you that Vos’s fall was of our making. And Asajj Ventress’s death is on all our hands. That Vos is here with us today, devastated but on the light path once more, is no credit to us, but to her. She died a true friend of the Jedi, and I believe that she deserves to be laid to rest with respect and care, with all gratitude for the life she gave and the life she has restored to us, and this bitter lesson that came at so dear a price. We are Jedi, and we must, all of us, always, remember what that means.”
Christie Golden has written the finest book in the new canon with Dark Disciple. The book immediately feels like an arc of The Clone Wars. In many ways it is a stinging reminder of just how much life was left in this show and the power it had to tell amazing stories. My sincere thanks to Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo for continuing to find opportunities to get The Clone Wars content to fans any way they can. Dark Disciple is now my gold standard for what this new line of canon books can and should be. This book is rated a perfect 10.
Interview with Christie http://www.trek.fm/the-602-club/s7