Book Review: Dark Disciple

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, Star Wars Canon

The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

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.

So far this year has treated me some very fine Star Wars books but Christie Golden really tops it all off with Dark Disciple. In my Star Wars ventures I read about the Jedi side, the Sith side, that of bystanders, that of rogue traders, that of bounty hunters but never have I read about what Christie Golden tells in Dark Disciple, that of Sith and Jedi joining forces to defeat a bigger evil. The result is just amazing. I know Christie Golden actually only from her World of Warcraft books from my brother. But Christie Golden is no stranger to the Star Wars universe as in the past she has participated in writing the Fate of the Jedi series. Dark Disciple ties in with the currently popular The Clone Wars Legacy series and is based on episodes that never aired! 

If you are familiar with the Clone Wars series, the protagonists of Dark Discpile should be know to you. Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress. Quinlan Vos is a true Jedi, though with a bit of a more free spirit being expressed in doing things by his own rules. Asajj Ventress was once a Jedi Knight who was lured by Count Dooku and turned into a Sith however, Asajj got hold of Dooku's plans and in the end they parted ways in not that of a mutual way. From that point onward Asajj has absolved the ways of the SIth and continued her life as part of the Nightsisters, though still holding that dire hatred to Count Dooku. OK so these are the protagonists of the story in Dark Disciple, but what is the story about? How do these two characters come together? 

Well it is because of Count Dooku, he has done another atrocious deed that the Jedi Council led by Yoda just cannot let stand any longer. Count Dooku is growing in power and he has to be called to a halt. However Dooku was a prodigy, he is one of the stronger Force wielding Jedi turned Sith that has lived. Sending one Jedi Knight to fight will not be enough. Having considered a lot of options, the Jedi Council sees only one option remaining that of sending Quinlan Vos undercover to contact Asajj Ventress. As the former apprentice of Count Dooku, Asajj offers the best possibility of knowing the weak spots of Dooku to bring down his defeat. Quinlan has to find a way to breach the shields of Asajj who does not only hate the Sith but also the Jedi. So Quinlan sets out for this dangerous task, he uses some well placed advice in winning her over and soon they find themselves allies due to unforeseen circumstances. Not in getting rid of Dooku, but in being bounty hunters. Though where Quinlan thought he has good defenses, Asajj is not easily fooled and soon the truth surfaces of Quinlan's true purpose of being with Asajj. However Asajj duly notes that even with the current capabilities of Quinlan, which are vast he won't be up for the task of defeating Dooku by far. The Jedi rules are limiting him in his power, I think you can understand where this is going. Asajj knows what she is talking about because she is Jedi turned Sith. She knows what power is. And thus Asajj trains Quinlan in ways that the Jedi Council hadn't anticipated. But will a brief but strong training regime be enough to defeat one of the stronger Force wielders in the universe? I can really go on and on about the story for much longer, but there are so many twists and turns that it would spoil to much!

When I was reading the story and got to the point where Quinlan and Asajj were training and went to Dooku it hit me. Jedi and Sith. In the movies and other fiction we are always led to believe that the Jedi are the good guy and the Sith the bad guys and in the bigger picture they probably are but there is a very nice discussion/monologue/explanation in this book that treads a careful path in the ways of the Jedi and that what they do isn't all the boy scout good guy attitude. There are explanations that the Jedi do somewhat indoctrinate their apprentices and make them believe somethings are bad. Actually in the lines of a cultist idea not saying that they become the bad guys all of a sudden but it will make you thinking. 

I also tweeted that the lines between Jedi and Sith are thin, and of course we know this from the movies but Christie Golden gives the best depiction ever of just how thin these lines are and that there is a definite gray area in between. As with the portrayal of the sides of the Force showing these thin lines does make you wonder. Gaaah Christie Golden what are you doing with my believes! The Dark Side doesn't offer the cookies as shown on many a t-shirt but well just letting a bit in can make you that much stronger. 

The blurring of the sides of the Force gives a very nice complexity to the main protagonists of the book, Quinlan and Asajj. They switch allegiance back and forth with some very great twists in the story. All in all I was very taking with the progress that both characters made, Asajj was the loose canon in this context she already threw away the Jedi and the Sith side to pursue a more free life, but the interference of Quinlan's presence in her life was on thing she hadn't anticipated and this changed Asajj battle hardedend persona where she in the first instance didn't want nothing to do with Quinlan but later well... As for Quinlan's character wow. Just wow. I liked him a lot, more than a lot. He is the undercover Jedi that has to infiltrate Asajj's comfort zone. Which is no easy task, Quinlan is presented with many challenges that will put his allegiance to the test plus the capture of him by a certain someone who reveals a nasty truth to him doesn't make things less complicated. And well the ending. It does take sacrifices even for the Jedi. Perfect, spot on characterization.

In addition to these two stars there are plenty other characters that are put in a brief spotlight. Anakin, Mace, Yoda, General Grievous, Dooku, Obi-Wan. No worries on that department! Though they didn't get the amount of focus that Quinlan and Asajj got they all had their own influence in the story and were true to their character self. I especially liked how Anakin was shown. The hot-headed one.... signs! 

Dark Disciple is a marvelous read. When I read the premise I knew the book was cool but what Christie Golden does is just amazing. A lot of the Star Wars books that I have read are straightforward, in Dark Disciple Christie Golden adds many more layers to the story that will make you think about the whole current setup of the Star Wars universe. It might be a side track but it is a clever one. Now I didn't mention the action above but that is pretty tense, lightsabers, Force lightning and much much more. On one hand it is a pity that the episodes that make this book weren't aired on the other hand it does give your own mind much more freedom to play it out all in your head. Imagination is a great thing to have and Christie Golden feeds it with this perfect story. One warning though. Cancel your plans when you pick this book up, you don't want to anything other than devour this book in a single setting. Again a perfect addition to the growing Star Wars Extended Universe books. 


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