Passed before us our last vision of the Clone Wars has, well, at least for now. Dark Disciple was the last of a long list of unfinished Clone Wars material; accompanying the Son of Dathomir comics, the Crystal Crisis on Utapau story arcs, and the Bad Batch story arcs. In a way, I think it was a perfect time to finish of the Clone Wars. Don’t get me wrong, I would love more clone wars era material. However, the focus is clearly shifting to the OT and beyond, and I believe that dark disciple was the perfect book to send us off. While I don’t necessarily think Dark Disciple is the best novel of the new canon, it served its purpose well. This review will also be spoiler-free, for those of you who have not purchased this book yet.
My first impression of this book is that it was unmistakably a Clone Wars episode arc. Its feel and storyline fit perfectly into the mold we have come to know and love from Dave Filoni and CO. for me was both interesting, but also a little distracting. It was very fun throughout the book to be able to visualize the characters and their voices. After watching the Clone Wars an insane amount of times, I was easily able to picture pretty much everything in the book as a Clone Wars episode. It was also neat to be able to attribute actual voices to these characters. However, this was also very distracting. I was constantly wondering if the dialogue that I was reading had been put in by the Clone Wars writers or Christie Golden. For example, some of the more suggestive passages I doubt would have made it into the actual episodes, nor would some of the more graphic fighting. This constant wondering took my attention off of the story where it should have belonged. Not to say this is any fault of the author, just my experience reading it.
In this book I was also very pleased by how the characters were presented. In the other new canon novels it has been about giving information we had never known and building slightly different characters. For example, I now have a different opinion of Luke and Vader after reading Heir to the Jedi and Lords of the Sith, respectively. I felt that this book did an excellent job of presenting the characters as we know them from the Clone Wars. This helped build the credibility of this book in my mind. I can sometimes see the Star Wars universe in film as a parallel universe to the novels. However, having these character representations so close helped bridge that gap for me and helped me to see this book, the Clone Wars, and the star wars universe as a whole, as a single and connected universe.
This book was also very interesting for the things it shared about the force. We have always heard the phrase “seduced by the dark side”, but apart from Anakin’s fall, we have never seen it in canon. Here we got an excellent view of this happening in someone and the consequences. We also got to learn more about the difference between using the dark side and being consumed by it. This book also did something I did not think was possible, make me interested in the light side of the force. In Star wars I have found the dark side of the force to be more interesting. The dark side users always get to do things quickly and efficiently. They do not have to try to take a horrible enemy alive or abide by the law in a corrupt society. They simply see something that needs being done, and they do it. For me, the light side has always been too passive, never allowing you, to quote governor Tarkin, “To do what it takes to achieve true victory”. While this is true in the physical sense, I realized, after reading this book, that the light side allows you true victory. It allows you victory over your anger, your hate, and your greed; and in the long run, this is much more important.
Finally, I’ll move on to the thing I appreciated most about this book, Morality. Like many Clone Wars episodes this one had a moral of its own, actually it had two. “No one is ever past redemption” and “never compromise your morals to win”. This book showed that when the Jedi chose to compromise their morals they ended up losing much more than they gained. It also showed how that it is usually something wrong, done for the right reasons, can cause your downfall; however, it also shows that no one is ever too far for redemption. Now, I know some people do not appreciate this “moral of the week” approach. I understand this position, especially when it can get a little in your face, or when it can get a little cheesy. However, this has what Star wars has always been for me. It has always been a great morality play; it is an examination of the human condition. It teaches us about ourselves, but it does so from a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars was influenced by the stories and legends that have entertained us for thousands of years, and that is why Star Wars will continue to entertain us for thousands of years to come. Sure, in real life people don’t always get redeemed, or maybe the good side does not always win. Sure, Star Wars is not realistic in that sense, but why does it need to be? Star wars can be anything we want it to be. This world is depressing enough as it is. Why not make Star Wars that place where, though the heroes may not always win, there is always some hope? Why not make it a place where, though the darkness will triumph for a time, light will always win in the end?
Overall, I would say that this book did an excellent job wrapping up the Clone wars. It further showed us palatines’ machinations coming to pass, it showed us the Jedi steepening their moral decline, but it also showed us a sliver of hope; one that which will grow during Rebels, and eventually become a new hope. The plot I did not find to be particularly amazing, but we got a lot of new interesting information and a great redemption story. Overall, a solid B+ book, if you are a fan of Clone Wars, It is a must read. If you are not interested in this era however, you won’t be missing much other than a story of redemption through love and selflessness.
For a complete breakdown of the book (with spoilers)
Official website for the book
Another great review of Dark Disciple