Saturday, December 24, 2016

Star Wars: Dark Disciple review

 

   Yeah, I don't know how to summarize my opinions on this book. I don't want to to insult Christie Golden as I absolutely adore her and still consider her novel, Arthas, one of my all-time favorite novels. Certainly, she can do romance since I found the Jaina Proudmoore/Arthas Menethil romance to be one of my favorite in the World of Warcraft universe. But this? Well, I just didn't like it.

    Before we begin, I should also mention this book isn't like Star Wars: Bloodline or Lost Stars. It's not a book a causal Star Wars fan can just pop open and read. Instead, this book depends heavily on your knowledge of The Clone Wars television show. Much of the story focuses on popular villainess Ventress, Count Dooku's brief Sith apprentice, and is designed to wrap up her story arc that was cut short by the show being cancelled. I understand this book was supposed to be a few episodes on television and it's a shame they weren't filmed since I think they might have worked better on screen.

    The premise of the book is Count Dooku orders the extermination of an entire planet of innocent aliens and the Jedi Knighthood decides this is the bridge too far. They must assassinate Count Dooku and rid the world of the Sith once and for all (oh, how little they know). Rather than send Anakin Skywalker, who is HILARIOUSLY just sitting in a corner waiting for them to call him, they decide to send Jedi Master Quinlan Vos to recruit Asajj Ventress in order to help him do this.

    Okay, this stinks because I'm not even finished with the summary and there's already way too much wrong with this to properly parse. First of all, Count Dooku was intending to survive the Clone Wars. He was keeping his hands clean while General Grevious did all the dirty work and atrocities. You're telling me he ordered an Alderaan-scale massacre and pretty much no one noticed?

    Next, the Jedi Knights sending Quinlan Vos after him is a hard enough pill to swallow. I'm not sure what the canon Quinlan brings to the table which would allow him to defeat the galaxy's greatest swordmsan after Mace, Yoda, Anakin, and Obi-Wan. What is Quinlan Vos' special ability that makes them think he can take Dooku? It's certainly isn't his gift for psychometry. That doesn't help fight a Form II lightsaber combat master.

    After that, we go into the fact the Jedi Council wants Quinlan Vos to join up with Ventress, a failed SITH LORD. Shouldn't the Jedi Knights be trying to track her down and arrest her for all of the war crimes she committed? Yeah, I regret she's come to regret being a Sith but even if the Jedi are planning on offering her a pardon to help kill Dooku, this seems like an insanely risky plan for almost no reward.

    The story proceeds to go on with Quinlan hooking up with Asajj as a bounty hunter before they start a flirtacious relationship which, eventually, blossoms into love. After Quinlan reveals he's a Jedi, which she already knew, Asajj starts teaching him the Dark Side of the Force so he can have the power to defeat Dooku. Quinlan, a supposed Jedi Master, thinks this is a good idea and things go pear-shaped from there. Not the least because it turns out that Asajj has done bad things to Jedi Quinlan knows.

    My God, I really don't know how to judge this book because there's just so much nonsensical stuff going on here which never gets sold to me as the reader before something equally weird happens. The stuff I listed above is just the beginning, really. I mean, I don't even know where to begin analyzing the stuff which didn't work for me because I can't just say everything.

    Let's go with the fact the majority of the book is a romance, or an attempt to do a romance. The portrayal of the book is Ventress is a skilled seductress and femme fatale who Vos finds captivating. Well, I guess some people would find Ventress appealing. She's certainly a dominant female and Dark Side ladies have their appeal but mostly I've always found her a really nasty character with a smoker's voice.

    Even so, there's a history of her and Obi-Wan Kenobi flirting, which gets mentioned. I could maybe, kinda, buy them having an attraction since he's the opposite to her in virtually every way. The Yin to the Yang and vice versa. Quinlan Vos generally acts like a complete pushover who tosses aside decades of training to go along with her statement the Dark Side is more powerful. What does Ventress see in him? Especially, you know, when he goes from following her around like a puppy to murderous rage?

    There's also a bit where Count Dooku decides to team up with Quinlan Vos to try to take down Emperor Palpatine. This is actually the one part of the book I liked. Unfortunately, it occupies only a small section of it and goes in some bizarre directions. Not the least of which being that Count Dooku only wanted to kill the Emperor because Palpatine ordered him to kill Ventress in the first place, eventually resulting in the destruction of the Nightsisters. Getting some of that complicated relationship deconstructed would have been great but do we? No. Also, Quinlan Vos while Drunk on the Dark SideTM is able to kick Dooku's butt from here to Mustafar.

    Which, no, I'm sorry, I don't buy that.

    No spoilers since Revenge of the Sith happened but Quinlan Vos doesn't kill Count Dooku in the end. The thing is, the Jedi Knighthood learns a "lesson" about the evils of assassination and vow never to do it again. Except, in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is feted for killing Count Dooku and they intend to do the same thing with Palpatine. They also send Obi-Wan to (successfully) kill General Grevious. So they learned exactly nothing from the events of this book.

    As a finale for Asajj Ventress' story arc, I have to say I was rather disappointed in it as well. Ventress, for all of her flaws, was one of the most formidable female characters in the Star Wars Expanded Universe(s). I never quite bought her redemption stories, though, because all of her personality was focused on being a ruthless murdering psychopath.

    Here, she never really rejects the Dark Side and when she does, it's for the somewhat prosaic reason of romantic love. I can't help but think I would have preferred her story to have something less traditional like wanting to take down Dooku for his crimes or facing Anakin Skywalker. Indeed, in the Republic comics, Ventress' best death (she had several) was when Anakin murdered her to protect the secret of his marriage. A pity that wasn't her canonical end.

    I can't say I much cared for the book's interpretation of Quinlan Vos either. The character was popularized by John Ostrander in the Republic comics before being brought to mainstream canon by the The Clone Wars show. He had an extensive arc where he was corrupted by the Dark Side, tried to assassinate Count Dooku, and fell in love with a beautiful thief but this story lacks all of that story's oomph. We also don't have Aalya Secura as Quinlan Vos' padawan in this book, which seems just plain strange given her popularity.

    In conclusion, I recommend reading the Wookieepedia summary of the book instead of actually reading it.

4/10

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