Due to its nature as a sequel, any spoilers regarding Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be left unmarked.
For years, the galaxy-wide conflict known as the Clone Wars has raged. The struggle between the rightful government of the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems has claimed the lives of untold billions.
The Force-wielding Jedi, for millennia the guardians of peace in the galaxy, have been thwarted at nearly every turn by the Separatists and their leader, the Sith Lord Count Dooku.
With the war showing no signs of ending, and the casualties mounting each day, the Jedi must consider every possible means of defeating their cunning foe. Whether some means are too unthinkable—and some allies too untrustworthy—has yet to be revealed...
Dark Disciple is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel by Christie Golden which focuses on an alliance between the failed-Sith-acolyte-turned-bounty-hunter Asajj Ventress and maverick Jedi Master Quinlan Vos, who has been ordered by the Jedi Council to assassinate Count Dooku in the hope that his death will bring a swift end to the Clone Wars. This radical act is prompted by the near-genocide of the Mahran at Dooku's order. During their mission, Ventress and Vos will have to struggle with their differing ideologies and growing feelings for one another as they seek a way to finish Dooku once and for all.
The plot of Dark Disciple is based on eight unproduced scripts written by Katie Lucas from The Clone Wars that were written but not animated before the show was canceled. The eight scripts were divided into two four-episode arcs that would have been part of seasons 7 and 8 of the show. The episode titles would have been "Lethal Alliance", "The Mission", "Conspirators", "Dark Disciple", "Saving Vos, Part I", "Saving Vos, Part II", "Traitor", and "The Path".
Dark Disciple provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The novel is essentially an adaptation of Quinlan Vos's storyline from the Republic comics, just condensed and with some rather major divergences.
- Affably Evil: Quinlan Vos maintains his usual attitude while he’s working for Dooku, and he still loves Ventress while he saves his ‘allies’ lives, when he kills his former friend, it’s to put him out of his misery and he’s genuinely regretful.
- Affectionate Nickname: Ventress initially called Vos "the Idiot" when thinking about him, but it eventually turned into a nickname she occasionally used as a form of affection.
- Appropriated Appellation: After taking up bounty-hunting, Asajj Ventress becomes known as the "bald banshee." She takes the name Banshee for her personal starship.
- Bait the Dog: Dooku initially expresses sympathy and gently tells Vos of Ventress’s ‘true nature’ but this all turns into an attempt to break Vos when he makes him relive his late master’s death.
- Book Ends: Ventress dies on Christophsis, which is the same planet where she was chronologically first introduced in the Canon.
- Bounty Hunter: Ventress has become a full-time bounty hunter, and Vos goes undercover as one to get close to her. Other bounty hunters who appear include Boba Fett, Bossk, C-21 Highsinger, Latts Razzi, and Embo.
- Call-Forward: When Ventress brings Vos to Dathomir to train him, she reflects that Dooku will only be killed by someone with hatred in their heart. Much later, on one of Coruscant's floating parks, Ventress tells Vos that, whether or not the Jedi are able to kill Dooku, someone will. While it doesn't end up being Ventress or Vos, in the end, Dooku will indeed be killed by someone with enough hatred to match his.
- Canon Immigrant: Among other things, the Faleen ability to project pheromones, and the B3 Ultra Battle Droid (which is briefly mentioned, but not shown).
- Caught on Tape: Ventress lies to Vos, telling him that Count Dooku killed his Jedi Master, Tholme. When Count Dooku captures Vos, after hearing this from Vos, he plays a holorecording showing that it was Ventress who did the deed. It doesn't convince him because Dooku has falsified tapes in the past. Dooku, however, knows that Vos has the skill of psychometry, the ability to experience past events by touching an object, so he makes him touch Tholme's lightsaber.
- Death by Adaptation:
- In the Legends canon, Vos's master Tholme survived the Clone Wars, but in this book he's a Posthumous Character.
- Similarly, Ventress is still alive in the Legends Continuity (where she went into exile).
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Ventress, who's always been cool and distant with everyone, even her fellow Nightsisters to a degree, gradually opens up and grows very fond of Vos, eventually falling in love with him.
- Delinquent Hair: Ventress has grown a mohawk since her last appearance on The Clone Wars. In contrast to her brown hair in her Troubled Back Story Flashback in the installment, it's white-blonde in the novel; however, it is unclear which one is her original hair color and which one was dyed.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Sleeper is a very ancient creature that has been living in the depths of the Nightsister Fortress since before the clan was formed. Until Vos got a clear view of the Sleeper and killed it, previous Nightsisters' Rite of Passage involved going into the pool where it rested and claiming a piece of it, but each had contradictory explanations of what it looked like. The only thing they could agree on was that it was terrifying. The Sleeper's also implied to be able to see through the Force.
- Enemy Mine: The Jedi Council decides to send Vos to ally with ex-Dark Jedi Ventress in order for him to stand a chance of getting close to Dooku and killing him.
- Everybody Knew Already: When Vos can't stand lying to Ventress any longer and reveals that he's a Jedi, Ventress replies that she had already figured it out; even though Vos mostly refrained from using the Force, there were a few instances - such as his impossibly quick reflexes, or surviving jumps that would've killed a normal human - that gave him away.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Wether this is the case or not, Dooku explains to Vos that he did not order Tholme’s death and was irritated with his assassin for acting without his orders.
- Faux Affably Evil: As usual, A lot of emphasis is put on Count Dooku‘s attempts to come across as a Benevolent Leader, but they fall flat every time he doesn’t get what he wants.
- Female Gaze/Male Gaze: Ventress and Vos mutually check each other out before they decide to partner-up.
- Femme Fatale: Ventress knows that most humanoids find her attractive, and has no qualms about using this as a weapon while working on a job. She even has two different tactics: the "nod-and-wink" is supposedly more subtle (although it's not shown), whereas the "full-on gambit" is flat-out active seduction and unsubtle flirtation.
- Final Solution: Dooku orders the genocide of the Mahran after they refused to join the Confederacy and provide them with the rich resources found on their planet. The Separatists subsequently invade their homeworld of Mahranee, destroy their cities, and annihilate the refugee convoy that attempts to flee the planet. The remaining Mahran on the planet go into hiding with the occupying droids having orders to shoot them on sight. The majority of the Mahran still alive are those who were off-planet when the invasion occurred.
- Foregone Conclusion: Dooku will survive Ventress and Vos's assassination attempt, since he dies at Anakin's hands in Revenge of the Sith. Vos will likewise survive since he's mentioned in that film commanding a clone unit on Boz Pity.
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: At the end of the story, the Jedi Council has come to accept that Quinlan Vos has been redeemed, but that doesn't change the fact that he's caused so much irreparable damage - and the deaths of many, including his long-time friend Desh - while he was under the Dark Side's influence, and Vos is very much aware of this. As such, he's put under surveillance and rehabilitation to make sure he doesn't betray them again, especially when he goes to return Ventress's body to the Nightsister Fortress on Dathomir (a place strong with the Dark Side).
- Hero Antagonist: Mace Windu serves this role. While Dooku is the true Big Bad, Windu attempts to have Vos and Ventress killed with Dooku.
- Important Hair Cut: Inverted. Word of God said that Ventress shaved her hair as a way of showing her allegiance to the Sith. By this book, she stopped doing so as a way of showing that -at least partially- she turned away from the Sith teachings.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Quinlan Vos, a Kiffar, and Asajj Ventress, a Dathomiri Nightsister, fall in love with each other through the events of the novel.
- Their first quarry, Moregi, was a Volpai who was married to a Rodian woman.
- Intro-Only Point of View: The first half of chapter one is from the viewpoint of Ashu-Nyamal before the ship she's on is destroyed by the Separatist fleet.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Obi-Wan worries about what the war is doing to the Jedi Order's morality, and is extremely concerned that the Jedi are close to doing this by authorizing an assassination.
- Le Parkour: Moregi used a lot of leaps jumps and short-cut while trying to shake off Ventress and Vos, and ultimately succeeded doing so, even though they themselves are pretty good at it as well.
- The Mole: Vos specializes in undercover work due to his skills at deception and Psychometry giving him an edge.
- Morton's Fork: The plot is kicked off by the Jedi facing a morally grey decision: try to assassinate Dooku as a last resort to end the violence of the Clone Wars, compromising their ideals in the process, or continue conducting the war they had been doing since the beginning, and being indirectly responsible for the deaths and suffering of millions.
- Mythology Gag: Several times throughout the story, most specifically as the location of the cantina where Vos and Obi-Wan meet-up, a specific level of Coruscant is mentioned. Which level? 1313.
- The Needs of the Many: Windu's justification for suggesting the assassination of Dooku is that by doing so, they could save millions.
- Of Corsets Sexy: During their assassination attempt of Dooku, Ventress and Vos had to infiltrate a high class gala event. Ventress' choice of disguise was a pair of highheels, fishnet stockings, a long skirt...and a ''very'' sexy corset, that left Vos speechless.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During Ventress' and Boba Fett's team of bounty hunters attempt to rescue Vos, Fett and his team managed to somehow defeat and subdue Dooku, although he escapes before they can kill him.
- Opposites Attract: The always cold and distant loner, but also no-nonsense Ventress is partnered up with the friendly and fun Vos.
- Pragmatic Hero: Mace Windu decides that the easiest way to end the war is to assassinate Dooku, a decision which he considers pragmatic and the only way to prevent millions of more deaths. Several Jedi consider this course of action to be very close to straying to the Dark Side of the Force.
- Psychometry: Vos is one of the very few Jedi with this Force ability, which makes him a natural choice for dangerous undercover assignments, investigations, and assassinations.
- Red Shirt: Two Jedi redshirts bite the dust during the story.
- Aleena Jedi Master Chubor, who's killed in the first chapter when Dooku destroys the refugee fleet he's commanding.
- Chagrian Jedi Knight Kav Bayons, who's introduced late in the book and killed within a few pages when Vos and Dooku escape from Jedi custody.
- Shout-Out: a clone helping Anakin pursue Dooku and Vos and Ventress to Christopsis is named Threepwood.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Ventress and Vos go through some major hardships and ultimately Ventress ends up killed by Dooku.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- Vos and Ventress rescuing Marg Krim's wife and kids from Mustafar doesn't solve his problems with Black Sun, as they were merely holding them hostage and threatening to kill them to get Krim to merge the Pyke Syndicate with Black Sun. In fact, leaving Ziton Moj alive just prompts him to send some of his thugs to Oba Diah just as Vos and Ventress leave the system with their payment and kill Krim's family anyway.
- Being a Force user herself, it's very obvious to Ventress that Vos is a Jedi. Despite his best efforts to suppress his Force abilities, his inexplicably quick reflexes and surviving landings that would kill a normal person (especially in fight or flight situations) give him off.
- After betraying them twice and having only recently turned away from the Dark Side of the Force, the Jedi Council puts Vos on temporary probation and rehabilitation even though they are willing to give him a second chance at redemption. They let him go to Dathomir to return Ventress's body, but under Obi-Wan's supervision since it's a known Dark Side hotspot.
- Taking the Bullet: Ventress shoves Vos out of the way and takes Dooku's lethally intense Force Lightning for him.
- Taking You with Me: The Mahran have a stinger that contains a poison guaranteed to kill its target. However, the act of simply unsheathing the stinger reduces the Mahran's life expectancy to mere minutes, as the poison it contains will also be released into the Mahran's bloodstream and travel to their heart.
- Teach Him Anger: Both Ventress and Dooku approach training Vos in the Dark Side of the Force, by helping/forcing him to embrace his rage.
- Villain Has a Point: When Dooku gives his acceptance speech of the CIS Humanatirian Award, he points out how the Republic uses an army of slaves. Quinlan, despite being aware that the latest atrocity Dooku commited was all-out genocide, is quite disturbed to realise, he's right. What Quinlan is not aware of, is that it was Dooku who placed the order to create said slave army in the first place.
- Would Hurt a Child: Dooku orders a refuge fleet destroyed despite the fact it is full of innocent refugees, including many children.
- The Black Sun kills the children that Vos and Ventress had rescued from their clutches, along with their family.
- You Killed My Master: Invoked. Ventress tells Vos that Dooku killed his Master Tholme, to make his rage help him embrace the Dark Side. As it turns out, it was Ventress herself who killed Tholme - after Tholme had surrendered to her, no less. When Vos found out, he was very upset.