I read Dark Disciple years ago and always remembered it fondly, and this week I gave it a re-read. It definitely held up the second time around, and was honestly even better this time! I think it's just a really great story in general, I like the exploration of Quinlan Vos' character and a great part of Ventress' arc. Plus, reading it seriously just feels like watching The Clone Wars. I can picture everything happening in The Clone Wars animation style, and hear the voices of the voice actors.
Spoilers ahead for Dark Disciple by Christie Golden!
The story of Dark Disciple is such a beautiful one, and very layered. We see both of our main characters, Vos and Ventress, at some really low points as they struggle with their relationships to the Force and to morality. Vos is tasked with assassinating Dooku and is told to seek the help of Ventress. He tries to create a facade and form a bond with her as a bounty hunter, but eventually comes clean as a Jedi, though she'd figure it out. She trains him to dip into the dark side and they form a romantic attachment. But things go bad. They try their assassination attempt on Dooku, but Vos is captured. Under Dooku, he is tortured and pushed into the depths of the Dark Side, becoming the evil Admiral Enigma. Ventress enlists the help of Krayt's Claw to mount a rescue mission but fails after Vos, trenched in anger, attacks her. Later the Jedi try to mount one of her own and get her help. She helps them rescue Vos, who appears to have returned to the light and be better, but Ventress swears she senses darkness in him and refuses to trust him. The Jedi don't share her same suspicions, but are still wary of letting Vos take on too serious missions for a while.
But he truly seems to be better, and even Ventress reconnects with him and trusts him again, though in secret because he's rejoined the Jedi. However, Yoda senses strong darkness still in him, and evidence begins to mount that Vos has been working as Dooku's hand this whole time after his rescue. They send him on a mission to kill Dooku as a test, and he takes Ventress along for help- and Obi-Wan and Anakin secretly follow him. This is where all is unfortunately revealed- Vos sides with Dooku, both of them swearing that they'll take down Sidious and rule the galaxy together. Anakin and Obi-Wan are wounded by this and take chase after them, and Ventress is stuck going along with Vos and Dooku, hoping Vos knows what he's doing and actually has a plan against Dooku. But they all underestimate things, and Ventress sacrifices herself to save Vos from Dooku, who escapes.
Ventress' death was so powerful to read from her perspective, because we can see how in her last moments she sees the light of the Force again, after being clouded by the Dark side for so, so long. Though it is unfortunately her last moments, it was really beautiful that she finally got to return to the light before her death. It's also devastating, especially for Vos. Vos also gets a sense of clarity after her death, and he realizes that he truly had been using the Dark side through all of this and wasn't really thinking clearly or acting as himself- he'd just been in denial and hadn't realized the control that the Dark side had over him. At the end of the book, Vos is in a truly difficult, unimaginable place. He has returned to the Jedi, but he's mourning Ventress and grappling with what he did when he was wrapped up in the Dark side- the countless civilians and clones his actions hurt, as well as the murders of two of his fellow Jedi, one being one of his closest friends. Plus, there is so much distrust now between him and other Jedi, though Obi-Wan did defend him and point out that the Council is responsible for setting him down the path by ordering him to assassinate Dooku, which is against the Jedi way.