Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Ronin Reads – Star Wars: Dark Disciple


Title: Star Wars: Dark Disciple
Author: Christie Golden
Type: Novel
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a bloody war rages on and continues to claim innocent lives: the Clone Wars. At long last, the Jedi Council has decided that enough is enough. Count Dooku, the leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, must be assassinated and the Jedi have sent one of their own to do it. But even Quinlan Vos, the most unorthodox of the Jedi Masters, is going to need help with such an assignment. Enter Asajj Ventress, former apprentice to Dooku and now Force-using bounty hunter, who has to partner up with Vos to bring an end to her old master’s reign of tyranny. But to prepare him for the very un-Jedi-like task of assassination, Ventress must train him to harness the Dark Side (which, as we all know, works out ever so well for everyone in the end) and the experiences they share seem to bring out some forbidden feelings between the two…

In order to talk about this book effectively, I have to bring up two things first. For starters, this book actually ties into the Star Wars animated series known as The Clone Wars. It was a computer animated show that ran on Cartoon Network for five seasons before being canceled. The thing is that it was canceled in mid-production of the would-be sixth season, so half of the episodes were already fully finished and animated. That half was released on Netflix and called “The Lost Episodes,” while the others were released in their animatic form online. All, that is, except the last eight episodes of the season, which essentially serve as the inspiration for this book. The second thing is the author, Christie Golden, who’s actually an Expanded Universe alumni. She has three of the nine Fate of the Jedi books under her belt and that’s only her Star Wars works. Aside from that, she has written several spin off books of Star Trek, World of Warcraft, a Dungeons and Dragons setting, StarCraft, and a short-lived animated show called Invasion America, totaling to 36 licensed books in total. So what we have at the end of the day is an adaptation of a spin-off written by a woman who makes her living off of writing spin-offs and adaptations. Does this Inception-esque pairing deliver? For the most part, yes.

The scenes between Vos and Ventress are absolutely electric, complete with colorful banter, natural and realistic interactions, and even some genuinely sweet moments. They’re so interesting that whenever it cut back to Obi-Wan and Anakin, the de facto stars of The Clone Wars, they felt bland by comparison. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch Quinlan Vos having to manage himself while tangling with and trying to master forbidden techniques and emotions. Likewise, watching Asajj Ventress struggling to lower her guard and accept a partner, both in assignment and in life, is an interesting side of her to view, especially for fans of the show who have been following her progression. In both respects, it’s a story of reaching out to the other and coming back different; both characters end their journeys differently from when they started, forever changed.

The translation of the story from script format to prose proved to have its own advantages and drawbacks. On the one hand, it allows the story to bring up past events in a succinct manner rather than devoting an entire flashback sequence to it or taking it on faith that the audience remembers. This comes in handy quite often because there are a lot of call backs to earlier events. This also lets the story not be restricted by a 22-minute run time, so it has a lot more space to breathe. However, the narrative can sometimes be restricted in a different way. Each section of the book takes place in a single perspective, which can work most of the time, but at others it can leave you with some odd things that happened out of view leaving you a bit confused. For example, Count Dooku gets into a scuffle with some bounty hunters while Ventress runs through his facility. When she comes out, one of the hunters has Dooku on the ground with a gun pressed to his neck. Count Dooku, I may remind you, is a Sith Lord with a skillful mastery of lightsaber combat, so you’re left baffled as to how the fight turned out that way. There’s an animatic of the fight online that was made before cancelation, so you can tell that question would have been answered had this been an episode. In addition, there are some parts near the end that kind of meander and you can tell were meant to be the opening sequences leading into one of the episodes’ main plot. A minor mark against the book, but a distracting one nonetheless.

The biggest problem with this book is the premise and the fact that it’s a midquel. Count Dooku met his fate at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, so you know that Vos and Ventress aren’t going to succeed in their mission. Knowing that, it would be perfectly understandable for some people to lose all investment in the book. However, looking back on it, I realize that the point isn’t whether or not they kill Dooku, but if they can preserve their souls through this trial. Assassination is not the Jedi way and by resorting to this, they pulled promising people into a dark spiral that they have to escape from. Obi-Wan encapsulates this perfectly in his final speech when all is said done and, just like in Romeo and Juliet, all are punished. It’s kind of cathartic after the many ways that the Jedi of the old Expanded Universe have gone off the rails with no repercussions, but we’ll get to that in my articles on the subject.

In a way, I’m glad this was a book and not the episodes it was intended to be. If these had been the final episodes of The Clone Wars, the series would have ended on a very bittersweet and depressing note. I much prefer the final episode of the Lost Episodes, which was more melancholy in the knowledge that things were going to get a lot darker, but with a ray of hope that was worth striving towards. But as its own self-contained story, Dark Disciple is perfectly serviceable and an enjoyable read. I’ll admit that I enjoyed A New Dawn a lot more, but that only fits since I enjoy Rebels more than The Clone Wars. I don’t know that this will appeal to many Star Wars outsiders, but fans can certainly find peace in closure of some fan favorite characters.

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