Del Rey’s Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden captures the feeling of STAR WARS: The Clone Wars television perfectly. And rightfully so. During Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, at the Untold Clone Wars panel, we were treated to stills and uncompleted videos from some of the same unfinished Clone Wars episodes the book is based on.
It was easy to see those same scenes come to life in my minds eye as I read the book, just as they had when I saw them playing on the big screen at Celebration. Golden nails it.
At Celebration, at the Untold Clone Wars panel, Dave Filoni would give us insightful background on each character, location, and design, before showing us what he, and his team, had in store for us. Among these was a great clip from “Lethal Alliance” where we saw Quinlan Vos make an appearance, as well as Ventress, sporting her new golden locks. The two were chasing a bounty. And the way the scene plays out in the book captures the “Stover Effect” (more on that to come in a separate article) in short giving the readers more insight than the viewers due to the behind the scenes angles a book can use: head space, flash backs, and the space between words. When the scene played out at Celebration it was a fun chase with a few witty comedic timed lines. But in the book we see Vos struggling with the hows and whys of what he is there to do. How can he gain Ventress’s trust, and how much more difficult will it be not being able to divulge his full mission parameters. And Ventress was about ready to knock Vos out at any moment! There was much more on the line than just ‘the bounty is getting away’ as we had seen in the unfinished clips. The most exciting thing at that time though, wasn’t just getting to see these scenes play out on that screen, it was knowing that we would get a chance to read all about the adventure of Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos’s team up in the new novel when it came out.
Dark Disciple being based off of the unfinished episodes- “Lethal Alliance,” “The Mission,” “Conspirators,” “Dark Disciple,” “Saving Vos Part I,” “Saving Vos Part II,” “Traitor,” and “The Path.” -benefits by having the background already laid out, as well as the lead up of the tv series to this point, we’ve already started journey’s with these characters! Thus, it tells a story that needed told! Most often people gripe of throw away stories, and one-and-done characters, of wasted potential. That certainly is not the case here.
Christie Golden takes the characters of the Prequel Era and brings them to life again for another adventure. As each character speaks on the page I can almost hear their Clone Wars voice actors in my ears. Vos is every bit as fun loving as he was in the television series, but Golden also found ways to make truth of elements of Vos from Legends. Most specifically his double agent story.
I found myself enjoying Vos more than I had thought I would. In the novel he felt more serious than he came across on the television series, while staying jovial. As a Legends fan, it can sometimes be hard to forget the alternate versions of these characters, but Golden found a way to bridge what I felt I knew about Vos, with who Vos is now in Canon. And I enjoyed that.
I enjoyed that this story brings conclusion to things from the television series, it further adds to the weight that THIS IS CANON; these books matter. As the new era in Star Wars literature continues, and we start to see the way this new universe will unfold, stories like this will become the essential reads for television and film fans who are new to jumping into the realm of novels and comics.
This story delivers. Emotionally, thematically, and with its pacing.
Just as promised we see Vos team up with Ventress, we see the delicate balance of a Jedi’s emotional state, and we see just how far the Jedi Order is willing to go just to end Dooku’s threat once and for all.
There is a lot being balanced in this book in fact. Golden does a great job of switching back and forth from Ventress to Vos, and later even with Kenobi thrown into the mix, keeping the reader apprised of what each character is thinking, since both Ventress and Vos seem to be playing with their cards held close to their chest. For Ventress we are treated to additional back-story from her point of view, her loves, her joys, and her betrayals, and how it helped to mold her into the fierce warrior she is today. And where she is willing to go in the name of Love. And for Vos we see a melding of what we thought he was (from Legends materials that no longer count) and who we saw on TCW (dubbed the ‘Surfer Dude’) You see, in Legends Vos goes on a similar undercover mission to kill Dooku. He becomes a double agent, only he starts to literally fall to the dark side to the point the Jedi aren’t sure he hasn’t become a triple agent. This gave the character an overall grittiness and Roguishness that many fans immediately loved, and felt slighted when they saw how Vos was represented in TCW. But for me, this novel made a lot of things right in my mind with Vos. I felt Vos was almost the star at first. Which I think worked well for the type of ride this story turned out to be. When things twist and we learn WHO the Dark Disciple is, I had goose bumps. And the resolution to that plot literally brought me to tears.
In many ways this novel acts like a mini series tribute to Vos and Ventress’s story arcs from the television show. And that is what we need more of in the literary world of Star Wars; Books expanding our perceptions of characters from one medium into the next, connecting the films and the comics, and the books, and building a bigger world. Stories about characters we know, and make them stories that matter. And that is exactly what we have here.
I hope we see more of certain characters in later stories and I would love to see how the events of this book impacted, and continued to shape these characters for years to come. Over all it was a great ride, a fun story, and a book I can’t wait to share with my friends. But I can’t continue to beat around the bush without spoiling you. And for that you’ll need to wait for our full review by Joseph Tavano, and more Dark Disciple coverage when Nathan P. Butler and I cover it on an Episode of Star Wars Beyond the Films.
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