Dark Disciple, like Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, is meant to wrap up an unfinished story from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Also like Son of Dathomir, Dark Disciple was adapted from scripts that would have been used in The Clone Wars had the show not been canceled. This book focuses on the fan favorite character Asajj Ventress as well as the just as popular Quinlan Vos. Please be warned that this review will contain some spoilers regarding events in The Clone Wars that lead into Dark Disciple’s story.
Asajj Ventress was first introduced as Count Dooku’s personal assassin and a powerful Dark Side Force user. The Clone Wars frequently used her as a “henchman of the week”, often having Ventress in charge of an evil plan only to be stopped by Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and/or other Jedi. Eventually, Dooku was ordered by Darth Sidious to kill Ventress; Sidious feared that Dooku and Ventress were plotting to kill and overthrow him together. Fearing for his own life, Dooku complied. Ventress survived the assassination attempt and, in turn, tried to assassinate Dooku on several occasions. After these failed attempts Ventress turned her skills towards life as a bounty hunter, which is where her character remained as The Clone Wars was canceled.
Quinlan Vos is a fan favorite character of the old, now non-canon, Expanded Universe where he was heavily featured in the comic books. While his old character history is very interesting, the only notable canon appearance his character has prior to Dark Disciple is in a single episode of The Clone Wars where he assists Obi-Wan Kenobi on a mission. Vos’ appearance in the episode made many fans excited but did little to delve into his character history. Much of what is known about Vos in the new Disney canon comes directly from Dark Disciple.
Whereas Son of Dathomir felt like a storyline straight out of The Clone Wars put into graphic novel form, Dark Disciple takes a darker and more adult approach in its adaptation of a story originally meant for a children’s show. The book is by no means vulgar or more adult than any other Star Wars novel, but it is definitely aimed at an adult audience.
One of the greatest aspects of this book is its portrayal of how fighting the Clone Wars is corrupting the Jedi and forcing them to do things that are, blatantly, against the Jedi Code. Despite labeling themselves as “keepers of the peace”, the Jedi have been forced to become generals in an army and find themselves making the tough calls that come with the role of military leadership. The very premise of Dark Disciple is that the Jedi Council, who should philosophically be the greatest advocators of peace, has decided that they need someone assassinated. The Clone Wars television show touches on the “Jedi corruption” as well by giving viewers several episodes from the Confederacy’s perspective that show the damage Jedi and the Republic are inflicting on the lives of civilians who happen to be on the other side of the war. Episode III allows us to know that the Jedi are being corrupted on purpose, that it is all part of Darth Sidious’ grand plan, but it is still fascinating to see how the Jedi willingly allow themselves to be brought to a lower moral level.
The other large part of the book is the love story that appears between Ventress and Vos. After reading Lost Stars, it is apparent that a love story can take place in Star Wars and be done very well. Part of what makes their chemistry so fantastic is the parallels they have to one another. Vos is a Jedi who is teetering dangerously close to the Dark Side due to the assassination mission while Ventress has acknowledged that the Dark Side only brings her misery and largely rejects it. Both characters are written extremely well and this book serves as a great way of fleshing Vos out in the new canon while also serving as a swan song for Ventress as one of the characters confined to the Clone Wars era of the Star Wars timeline. It is highly recommended that readers minimally watch the episodes of The Clone Wars featuring Ventress before jumping into this novel. Dark Disciple is an excellent book that focuses on a great character, but it is only the closing chapter in a single section of a much larger story.