In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the republic…the Jedi council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting count dooku himself.
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.
(excerpted from Book jacket)
I’ve embarked on a chronological read through of the Star Wars canon. You can find my other posts about this journey here http://www.unmistakablystarwars.com/so-i-hate-sand-but-i-still-love-attack-of-the-clones/ and here http://www.unmistakablystarwars.com/focus-determine-reality/
My third read in my Star Wars chronological read through was a little different than my first two in a couple of different ways: it is a novel, not a novelization; it was also a reread for me. Dark Disciple by Christie Golden was one of the first novels I read when I started consuming canon books. I really enjoyed the book both times I read it. It had an emotional impact on me, similar to Lost Stars and opened a new era for me the first time I read it (I hadn’t watched The Clone Wars at that time.)
Dark Disciple was originally published in 2015 so FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!
Now that I’ve watched all of The Clone Wars I can appreciate the development of Asajj Ventress in the novel more fully. Christie Golden developed her character in a deeper manner than previously seen. We feel all what Ventress has been through. Overcoming multiple traumas, learning to leave the Dark Side, learning to trust someone. Ventress’ toughness and vulnerability were intertwined so beautifully.
Dark Disciple explores areas of the Force that haven’t been seen much before. We learn more about the Nightsisters of Dathomir and their use of the Dark Side. We learn more about the Dark Side, how one falls to it, how one comes back. This book begins to explore some of the themes that are continuing to play out in Star Wars Rebels and potentially even in The Last Jedi: there is more to the Force than Jedi and Sith.
The Fall of the Jedi
The Jedi do not come out of this novel looking like the heroes they think they are. Their behavior is morally ambiguous…at best. Ordering an assassination. Ordering an execution. Their treatment of Ventress is reprehensible: dogmatic and harsh. Hardliners like Mace Windu are even more imperious; even Obi-Wan Kenobi passively goes along with plans that he knows to be wrong. This novel shows, what is arguably the overarching theme of the prequel era: the fall of the Jedi.
This book is a romance. The love story between Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress is central to the plot and it is central to Ventress’ redemption (more on that later). I know some people may not relish in the romance, but I’ll just come right out and say the romance was delightful and I loved every word of it. If you like love stories, this is a book I’d recommend.
The ending of Dark Disciple finds Ventress being guided by the Force and sacrificing her life to redeem Quinlan Vos from the Dark Side. Yes, the Redemption by Death trope. Yes, a female character dying to further a male character’s development. Again. Many readers find this problematic, and I completely understand that reaction. I however, don’t have a problem with the ending. I found it very moving (read: I cried. Both times I read this.) And as the text says, it ends with Ventress at rest, fully herself: not a Sith acolyte, not a Jedi apprentice, not a Bounty Hunter. But one of her sisters.
I will admit to feeling a little conflicted that the ending didn’t bother me. Perhaps it should? Am I fake feminist for not minding it? I pondered this for awhile, and came to the conclusion that I had more of a problem with the fact that the ending wasn’t problematic for me than the ending itself. (This was overthinking, even for me.) So I’ll just say, I get why it is troubling, but I personally don’t have a problem with it.
Dark Disciple was an emotionally satisfying read. I’m so glad we got this story, which was originally going to be an arc of The Clone Wars. I’m looking forward to more novels of this type as I continue my read through. Next up however, is Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Stover.
Have you read Dark Disciple? What did you think of it?