Dark Disciple by Christie Golden is a solid entry in the new Star Wars canon for both Clone Wars fans and those who have never watched it alike. Fans who have been waiting for closure ever since the TV series was cancelled will appreciate it for wrapping up the loose ends from the show. Alternately, this book was very accessible and easy to jump into as someone who has never seen an episode of the show; it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.
Unconventional Jedi Quinlan Vos and former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter Asajj Ventress take center stage in this story about the quest to kill Count Dooku. Golden was tasked with writing a novelization to condense six un-aired episodes of the show. Overall this helped with the pacing of the book. Since it was based on several distinct episodes, there was always another destination waiting and thus the plot avoided the mid-book slump so many novels fall victim to.
Both Ventress and Vos were well fleshed out, and had an interesting dynamic going that helped fuel dramatic tension. Anakin and Obi-wan share some good chemistry that I felt was so often lacking between them in the films. Count Dooku could have been more interesting. So much was made of how hard to kill he was and how cunning, but I felt like his dialog and mannerisms could have been swapped out with any throw-away villain from any number of media properties. For the motivator of the book and the force behind so much of what brought the mighty Republic to its knees, he was surprisingly underwhelming.
Dark Disciple plunges readers into a pitched fight with grave consequences. The pacing was good for the most part, and this book’s true strength was the amount of suspense it managed to generate and sustain. The tradeoff for that suspense did detract from my enjoyment slightly, however. In order to keep the mystery alive, about two-thirds into the story one of the viewpoint characters abruptly stopped getting any POV scenes and was replaced with characters who had been absent for most of the book. While it was a worthwhile tradeoff, it was noticeably jarring. The other main character, while still getting some viewpoint scenes, almost seemed out of character towards the end.
(Potential spoiler ahead: skip if you wish to remain completly spoiler-free)
The biggest disappointment is that one half of this dynamic duo gets a very trite and unsatisfying treatment so as to further the characterization of the other character. It was an unworthy way to end the book, and feels like it’s a growing trend in the Star Wars universe. One that I sincerely hope ends with this book.