Dark Disciple
This review originally appeared on DialogTrees.wordpress.com

As I move further and further down the rabbit hole of Del Ray’s new Star Wars canon of novels I’m finding that, like Star Trek movies, every other book is quite good to read. Twilight Company was a fantastic, non-game story about the Rebellion on the run after the Battle of Yavin, as told through the eyes of grunts. Heir to the Jedi was a so-so adventure that read like Luke Skywalker’s personal diary. Tarkin was awesome and Lords of the Sith offered a chance to see Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in action.

I’m currently reading through Dark Disciple written by Christie Golden and from the forward, I found out that the novel is based on a series of unreleased script for the unfairly canceled Clone Wars cartoon. All the more surprising, these scripts were worked on by Katie Lucas, George’s daughter, who previously wrote the episode “Jedi Crash.” A so-so episode for me, but good for her! Dark Disciple has an interesting premise: the Jedi send Quinlan Vos to partner with former Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress to assassinate Count Dooku. I’m not done with the book yet, I’m about 60% finished, but I’m having some real issues with it. On the one hand, it’s nice to (possibly) get some closure with Asajj who pretty much dropped off the face of the galaxy. And we get to see more Quinlan Vos, a Jedi that factored heavily in the Dark Horse Clone Wars comics but only appeared once in the television series. However, on the other hand, the problem I have with the book is largely the result of how Vos is represented in the book against his now-Legend depiction.

Vos appears once in the Clone Wars and is depicted as a puckish rogue who finds delight in his supernatural abilities. He’s also the Black Sheep of the Jedi Council, earning groans, eye rolls, and finger wagging whenever his name is mentioned. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Dark Horse comics (perhaps it is time for a re-read) but this is nearly the opposite of his original characterization. In the book, the Jedi have decided to do the unthinkable: an assassination attempt on Count Dooku. This plan is uncharacteristically developed by Mace Windu and while the Council rubs their hands against Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lone voice of displeasure, Yoda agrees that the assassination attempt is the best course of action.

First of all, I do not take issue with the plan itself. Having the Jedi resort to assassination is just another means to show how the Clone Wars, as Palpatine has orchestrated, forces the Jedi into compromising positions against their faith. However, this plan seems unmotivated by Palpatine’s influence. It’s purely a Jedi plot, one that they never would have devised in the first place, let alone agree to. And for Mace Windu, wise as he is, to suggest it feels so wildly out of character.

What’s worse is that no one on the Council wants to get their hands dirty and they give the mission to Quinlan Vos, an accomplished Jedi whom the Council seem to hold in contempt. It’s not enough for Quinlan to go after Dooku by himself, he is ordered to partner with his former apprentice, Asajj Ventress. This in itself is not a bad plan. Who knows Dooku better than his failed apprentice? What follows is a long, drawn out “seduction” of sorts as Vos tracks down Ventress and ingratiates himself into her bounty hunter lifestyle. And then then inevitable happens: they fall in love.

Or should I say, Vos falls in love with Asajj. The romance, as it is presented here, is absolute garbage and reeks of bad cheese. It’s hard to tell whether or not Vos is being sincere until he finds that he absolutely cannot live without her. His feelings for the woman build as they work together to hunt bounties and, after Vos reveals himself, train to fight Dooku. Vos is forced to comprise everything he has ever known in order to become powerful enough to fight the Separatist leader, even learn to draw on the dark side of the Force. As they grow closer, Vos turns into a love sick, cow eyed puddle of mush. It’s dumb, it’s disrespectful, it’s Twilight-esque “love.” The best (read: terrible) example of this is when Vos sees Asaaj in an evening gown as part of a disguise to infiltrate a banquet honoring Count Dooku:

“You look…”

Like a goddess of love and war and hope and ecstasy. Like a glimmering star that I have somehow blessed to hold.

Like the rest of my life. 

“…nice.” He wanted to kick himself.

Ugh. Their assassination attempt is thwarted (after Vos deftly battles Grievous by himself) and Vos is captured, leaving him to be tortured by Dooku. While Asajj seeks out her former cadre of bounty hunters. Vos is left to pine and ache over his love fro Asajj in the face of his merciless tormentor. It’s all so grossly out of character.

There’s still more to read before the end of the book, but my hope of Vos’ puppy dog infatuation is all part of the plan. Even then, I still won’t like it. It’s so over the top and disingenuous and fake. Asajj herself seems to take his affections in stride and slowly draws him closer instead of acting like a junior highschooler. Her attraction to Vos feels more genuine but honestly, she doesn’t need to fall in love. She doesn’t need man in her life and her brief pining for a family, mentioned in an early scene, feels unnecessary.

Vos brief appearance in the Clone Wars does him little favors. His presentation in the comics is so wildly and uncomfortably different from that of the cartoon and this book degenerates everything fans liked about him, making him less than a man of mystery and intrigue and more of a slave to cheap, tawdry, Stephanie Meyer-style love. Out of everything that was lost in the Great Del Ray Purge, Quinlan Vos has become the franchise’s biggest casualty.

When not playing games, Allen is a Teen Services Librarian, which means he reads lots of books, right? Well, not as much as he would like. He is a fan of fantasy, science fiction, and graphic novels both in and out of the YA sphere of influence.