The enemy of my enemy is my assassination BFF …or at least that’s the logic of the Jedi Council when it comes to teaming Master Quinlan Vos with Asajj Ventress to try and take the nefarious Count Dooku out of the picture and hopefully end the war. (No one ever said the Jedi Council was brilliant, okay?) What could possibly go wrong with this plan? And it’ll worth it if it brings the Clone Wars to an end, right? Out today, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden asks these questions as an unlikely partnership forms to take on an impossible task.
While there were things I did and did not like about the book, it was an overall enjoyable reading experience. While readers go in knowing the outcome (the mission fails, it has to fail,) Golden does a good job of building up anticipation and making you think that just maybe Vos and Ventress will succeed and Dooku will die. This is a book that’s more about the journey than the actual end result. The story is based upon unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars but Golden takes the basis of the arc and really makes it her own so well that it’s impossible to tell what was originally in those eight scripts and what wasn’t. (Dark Disciple may, however, may not be the most accessible book those who didn’t watch the show.)
Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos are the heart and the core of the story and Golden handles both of them fairly well. Both of them are incredibly complicated people and can’t really be boiled down to a one or two word descriptor, which is really their strength. At times, Asajj felt a little too nice compared to what we’ve seen previously but this was also the first time we’ve really gotten inside of her head. (These aren’t characters that I personally have any particular attachment to though so take that assessment as you will.) I liked that Golden took the time to build up the trust and partnership between the two of them even if the passage of time within the story occasionally felt a little funky. It all felt very logical, as did the development of the relationship between them. If anything, I thought it felt like Vos and the Jedi Council didn’t really need to expend that much effort into convincing her to help them assassinate Dooku. On the flip side, I prefer to see too much groundwork laid instead of too little.
The biggest character surprise was definitely Dooku. Golden has his voice down pat and I could even hear the great late Sir Christopher Lee’s voice saying them in my mind. If Del Rey chooses to publish more in this Prequel Era, she could be a great choice for a Dooku novel. Her Kenobi was also a pleasant surprise especially with his dry observations about Asajj. On the flip side, Yoda’s speech patterns felt a little off at times but those are usually tricky to start with.
The book isn’t all characters though; the plot definitely deserves some discussion. It’s not nearly as “Let’s go kill a Sith Lord!” straightforward as I expected and instead has some really enjoyable twists and turns along the way. I especially enjoyed the very big turn and thought that how Golden handled writing it was fantastic. It kept me guessing for pages to come. As I’m striving to keep this review spoiler free, we won’t discuss the ending except to say that I’m feeling fairly conflicted about it still and that I predict the fandom will also be conflicted about it.
Dark Disciple gets a 3.75/5 along with a recommendation to all those who like the characters or enjoyed The Clone Wars.
Thank you to Del Rey for providing me with an advanced copy of the book for review.