I don’t usually do book reviews. I don’t like criticizing fellow authors’ work… usually I’m not one to talk, but this is one book that I cannot keep quiet about. Why you may ask? Because it is amazing!
With the fall of the expanded universe into ‘Legend,’ several new books have risen out of what is being euphemistically called ‘New Canon.’ Which basically means it’s canon and universe-correct… until the next movie comes out and messes it all up. (Don’t think it could happen? Heh, look into the controversey surrounding Lucas and Karen Traviss. That got nasty real quick.)
How are these books? Ehh… depends on which ones you’re reading. Lost Stars was great, albeit a little rushed and many of the others are getting mixed reviews.
Before I continue on with my review, I want to explain what I consider to be cano and what is not… since these days it’s far more subjective than it has EVER been.
- KOTOR and many of the other Old Republic stories. Yes, I’d say they survived the TFA purge, simply because nothing really came out in these movies that would discredit them. Malachor has been confirmed to exist by Rebels, (K)Morriban has been confirmed to exist, so we still have those worlds, and a number of others have gotten honorable mention. So it’s logical to assume that anything from prior to Episode 1 could still withstand the canon test.
- The movies. This goes without saying, but still the movies have the official seal and no matter how much we may love or hate a few of them, THEY ARE THE PRIMARY SOURCE. So that means that all 9 current Star Wars movies are canon:
1. Phantom Menace
2. Attack of the Clones
3. Revenge of the Sith
4. A New Hope
5. Empire Strikes Back
6. Return of the Jedi
7. Sigh… The Ewok Adventure
8. The Battle for Endor (God help me now)
- Both Clone Wars cartoons. I’ll admit to not being a huge fan of the originals. Their animation and style just wasn’t my thing, but they are more of a summary of events that take place in the actual TV show.
- The old Droids and Ewoks cartoons… I didn’t want the Ewoks one, but it’s Lucasfilm… and so it counts. Droids was pretty good though.
- Even though I’m sure to get lynched for this… the Wookie Holiday Special.
Yes, THIS Holiday Special:
(If you click the link, it’s your own fault!)
- Star Wars Rebels
- Anything that came out DURING the movies. This includes Clone Wars novels, Shadows of the Empire, etc.
- Anything that came out after the movies and has both Lucasfilm and Diseny’s stamp of approval.
So that brings us to Dark Disciple. It is a Clone Wars novel and based on unproduced episodes of the TV series. Given that, it more than qualifies as canon.
I’m going to warn everyone now that there are spoilers in this review!
Book info from Amazon:
Based on unproduced episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this new novel features Asajj Ventress, former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter and one of the great antiheroes in the Star Wars galaxy.
The only way to bring down the Sith’s most dangerous warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.
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.
What can I say? The book was amazing and has been enshrined on my shelf as one of my favorite novels of all time. Christie Golden hit it out of the park on this one. The novel features the adventures of two very well-known characters in the Star Wars Universe… 1. Quinlan Vos 2. Asajj Ventress. So already, you have the hurdle of accurately portraying these characters who both have very distinct personalities.
I admit that I went into this novel being skeptical. Ventress was one of my favorite characters in the Clone Wars series even from the time of the original Clone Wars short. I had secretly hoped that she would appear in Revenge of the Sith… but Lucas disappointed me, yet again!
Anyway, I’m happy to say that the character is not only well-portrayed, she’s been improved upon. Christie does an incredible job of showing Ventress as a former sith apprentice (I won’t say reformed as I’m not sure that’s the correct word) turned bounty hunter. She’s dedicated to her work, fair and surprisingly honest, though she’s focused on the job more than anything and isn’t one to expect mercy from… at first. There is also a great deal of backstory on her in this book so technically you can read it without watching the show (though I really do not recommend this.)
Vos is the other main character and definitely strikes me as a vagabond who doesn’t really fit into the Jedi role so well, even though he is technically a master. I feel… and the novel really confirms this, that he was a war time promotion who was granted the title of master more out of necessity than anything else.
So an out-of-place Jedi is tasked with the mission of assassinating Count Dooku… a black op if ever there was one and not something we’d typically see the Jedi do, as this is not there way. It’s a task that has many objections, but as the Jedi watch helplessly as Dooku massacres more and more people, they believe that they have no other choice.
Vos is tasked with getting Ventress to assist him as she’d have intimate knowledge of how to get close to Dooku… and if anyone in the galaxy wants him dead…
Anyway, they meet up and start working together. Their partnership is anything but smooth. It’s later revealed that Ventress figured out pretty quickly who he really was, at which point, she is informed of his true mission. She takes to it pretty easily, but does not believe that Vos can take Dooku on in his present state. This takes them to her Homeworld of Dathomir where she begins to train him in the dark side of the force.
One key aspect of the book that I liked comes up here. It’s at this point that we see how Ventress became the person that she currently is. She tries to teach Vos how to wield the dark side and use it to make himself stronger, without being consumed by it. This is a teaching that is apparently very common on Dathomir, but something that Jedi typically avoid and Sith… well they speak for themselves.
At this point we come to what I believe to be the weakest part of the novel… yes even one that I thoroughly loved can have its weak points. If it’s not plainly obvious from the cover, this book is a Romance under Fire story. Yes, Vos and Ventress become lovers. Both reluctant, but it happens. My only issue with it is that the whole thing feels rushed. There isn’t much exposition about their emotion, or how their feelings really develop. You could argue that this is done to keep the novel’s pace going and I guess that’s a legitimate point, however there is no rule that a face-paced novel can’t slow down at certain points. Still it does touch on everything it needs to and really it’s more of a minor gripe from someone who’s a sucker for action romance, so I’ll move on.
Eventually they go to confront Dooku. The fact that they fail is obviously no spoiler as he appears in Revenge of the Sith. However, what happens next is a shocker. Vos is captures and Ventress is forced to retreat.
She makes an attempt to rescue him, only to find that Dooku used what Ventress had taught him, and pushed him the rest of the way by revealing to him that Ventress was the one who killed his old master. Again, she is forced to retreat.
Leaving him haunts Ventress to the point where she does something she never thought she’d do; she contacts Obi-Wan Kenobi, goes before the council, telling them everything she knows and accepting the Jedi offer of clemency in exchange for her help.
They do eventually succeed in rescuing Vos. They find him beaten and near death. However, despite the Jedi’s belief that he has not totally fallen to the dark side, Ventress senses something far more nefarious within and refuses to believe Vos.
Vos attempts to convince her over and over, and eventually she takes him at his word. The mission to assassinate Dooku is resumed and this time, Ventress and Vos have the help of the other Jedi.
I’m going to stop here and just say that the ending is extremely sad… EXTREMELY sad. However it is a fitting end to the story and despite what happens, Ventress is successful in saving Vos from the dark side and showing the Jedi Council the error of their ways. In the end, she is honored by them as nothing short of a hero.
So there you go… what is my overall assessment of the book? AMAZING!
The action scenes were amazing, the book was fast-paced and hard to put down. In many other Star Wars story that I’ve read, I found myself skipping over paragraphs with lengthy descriptions and exposition without losing anything. In DD, I couldn’t imagine skipping anything. The book successfully keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire read. Yes the pace of the story means cutting down on a bit of the detail that I thought the book could have benefited from, but that’s not really enough to detract from the story in my opinion.
So with that in mind, what is my overall rating?
For a book this good? Four and a Half out of Five stars! I can’t wait to check out some of Ms. Golden’s other work!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!