Part of the Clone Wars Legacy project, Dark Disciple is a novel which is based on scripted but unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars, the animated series written by Katie Lucas which aired on Cartoon Network between 2008 and 2014. With the Jedi having been thwarted across the galaxy, it seems that the only way to bring down the Sith’s most dangerous warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.
In this novel which sees some epic action scenes unfold as the Clone Wars rage on, the reader sees the lines between good and evil become blurred. Golden complicates and explores all the facets of the relationship between age old adversaries and weaves a commentary on what it means to be on a journey of redemption. It is narrative devices such as this which make Dark Disciple something of a philosophical foray into the Star Wars universe, reminding us that these characters are more than just our science fiction heroes and villains, but they also live complex lives which readers can identify with.
In addition to providing action which is in the style of both the films and original novels, there are also references to a move towards the new Disney reboots and a focus on the characterisations of our Star Wars favourites. Personal psychologies as well as interrelationships are explored in great detail and in a twist which has not been employed since Princess Leia and Han Solo, there is romance on the cards for two of the characters, whose verbal jousts, flirtations and quips develop into something which allows fans to see a deep understanding develop between two characters from seemingly opposite sides of the battle to save the galaxy and to recognise the fine lines between the Jedi knights and the dark side, something which both the films and novels within the canon consistently return to.
What is explored in Dark Disciple is the notion that darkness has the potential to be harboured within all of us and we have the agency to decide whether to act on that – there is also the strong prevalence of getting a second chance and atoning for previous actions which adds a conscience to characters such as Asajj Ventress. Ventress is also centralised as a female protagonist and is central to the action of the novel as well as its many sub plots and layers. We see her strength and endeavour to redeem herself in the eyes of the Republic as well as her unlikely heroism in the Clone Wars which may prompt the reader to reassess their previous opinions of her. These sorts of ‘big questions’ and insights offer a depth and substance to the Star Wars world which is refreshing and certainly marks out a path for more novels to be added to the canon. Dark Disciple is highly recommended to fans of the original canon and of the new reboots as a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe.
Dark Disciple was published by Arrow in July 2015.