- Colleen McMillan
Colleen’s Book Corner: Dark Disciple
Author: Christie Golden
Published: July 2015
Pre-read checklist (if so inclined): Watch “Hunt for Ziro” arc in Clone Wars for Quinlan Vos intro and also all Ventress episodes, particularly those with the Nightsisters and Dathomir.
Set during a planned Seasons 6 & 7 of CW but never made into TV episodes (19 BBY)
Be prepared for tears!
You guys. This book made me CRY. I was not prepared to be emotionally caught up in this story, not because I don’t enjoy Ventress or Quinlan Vos as characters, but because I’ve never come at Star Wars from an Adventure Rom-Com frame of mind. This novel takes the familiar “will-they-won’t-they” tropes and turns them on their heads. There’s a meet-cute, but the underlying impetus for Ventress and Vos to meet is sinister. There’s witty banter, but the stakes are much higher than either character wants to admit, to each other and to themselves. The main plot involves an assassination attempt on Count Dooku, but the driving narrative force is Ventress and Vos’s relationship and how it builds.
Ventress and Vos get Center Stage
The plot was taken from an 8-episode arc treatment that was supposed to be in Seasons 6 and 7 of The Clone Wars, which Katie Lucas (George Lucas’s daughter) wrote. Her forward in the novel shows how much care was taken with Ventress’s character: these women wanted to protect her characterization and wanted her in the right hands. And it shows. Ventress is vibrant in this book. The reader gets inside her head and feels what her involvement with Dooku and the Nightsisters has done to shape her persona. Any chapters with her POV were my favorites.
Quinlan Vos was a great foil for the overly-serious Ventress. I enjoyed his CW arc, but he didn’t make any of my favorite character lists. He comes alive in this novel. He’s not your typical Jedi: he takes pride in his abilities, is super confident and nonchalant, has a ton of swagger, and is handsome enough to turn Ventress’s head. He has a unique Force ability, psychometry, which allows him to sense a person’s history when he touches their possessions. This power makes him an expert tracker, so the Council throws him into many unsavory situations. This is another through-line of the book: is it right for the Council to use Vos’s gift this way? Does he owe them to use his power since they raised him? But even with all his self-assurance, Vos isn’t sure if he’s flirting correctly. You don’t exactly train for that in the Jedi Temple. These early scenes were hysterical; Vos trying his best at banter and doubting his own appeal. One thing’s for sure: he thinks Ventress is HOT. Their chemistry is palpable throughout the book and is the fulcrum the entire story balances on. This is definitely different territory for Star Wars. It’s sultry, sensual, and SEXY.
What do Force Users Owe to Each Other?
I thought a lot about The Good Place while reading, particularly the lesson of “what do we owe to each other?” At this point in Ventress’s life, she’s only responsible for herself with no ties to anyone. Vos is the exact opposite. As a Jedi Master and agent in the Clone Wars, he carries the weight of galactic responsibility. Their clashes on this key issue is what kept me turning pages. The novel also focuses on what we owe to ourselves; inner honesty is often more difficult than being honest with others, and a few characters struggle with this in the novel.
Conclusion - Would Recommend: 9/10 Lightsabers
I don’t want to give too much away. Many relationships are tested in this book, not just Ventress and Vos. I was so angry with the Council, remembering that CW is basically about how the Jedi Order fails and its slow descent into morally grey territory. Many favorite characters are here, including Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda. Dooku gets time to shine as well, but Ventress and Vos are the stars. Highly recommend this novel once you finish watching CW. I wish they’d had time to put the story on screen!