by John Grgurich
When I first heard about Lucasfilm moving over to Disney, I couldn’t help but have mixed feelings. I thought it would be a good business move for the man who created it. But as a fan, I thought it would the end of an era – that the Star Wars I had grown to love would be gone forever. So, when I first heard they were making a new film, I was far from excited. And I was so focused on pursuing other interests that I didn’t even bat an eye.
That was until I saw the trailer for The Force Awakens – a movie I vowed I would never see. I was beginning to think that it might be worth watching, and I was surprised to find out that it was. It rekindled my love for a story that had influenced much of my childhood, and it was a passion that stuck with me as an adult. So, I decided to read the new books, and Dark Disciple was the first one.
It took me by surprise in the same way as Episode VII.
I read some of the books from the Expanded Universe (which are no longer part of the official Star Wars storyline), and some of them were pretty good. Of course, there were others that were mediocre at best. Then again, that’s the way it is with any literature related to some part of Pop Culture. With that being said, Dark Disciple is one of the best Star Wars books I’ve ever read. And I don’t say that lightly.
The book features some of the more popular characters from the Clone Wars series, including Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress. And the relationship between these two characters is something you would not expect. They join forces in a plot to kill Count Dooku, and it’s completely sanctioned by the Jedi Council. In fact, Obi-Wan shows up on a periodic basis to meet with Vos, who has to keep his identity as a Jedi a secret. But his subterfuge ends in failure, because Ventress is able to figure it out. She discovers the real reason for their partnership, and she knows that Quinlan won’t succeed unless he flirts with the Dark Side. However, the temptation of crossing over is too much to bear.
Dark Disciple is full of plot twists that leave you in doubt until the very end, and you wonder if Quinlan has really turned to the Dark Side. Believe it or not, Asajj Ventress plays a major role in his redemption. And conversely, it was Asajj’s love for Quinlan that plays a role in hers. That’s what made this book so exciting. You see a gradual change in a character who is supposed to be the hero of the story, which is why you’re left with such doubt.
One interesting fact is that Quinlan Vos has the gift of psychometry, which gives him the ability to see images of the past by making contact with an object that’s related to a specific event. And he discovers a terrible secret that pushes him over the edge. When the Jedi finally rescue him from Count Dooku, there is a question of whether he has really fallen to the Dark Side. And they suspect that he may be trying to sabotage their effort to kill him. This is what makes the story so riveting. It leaves you wondering who Quinlan is really working for.
Dark Disciple is one of the best Star Wars books I’ve read in a long time, and it was hard for me to put it down. Every part of the plot left me wanting to find out more, so I was able to savor every part of the experience. Was Quinlan Vos a double agent, or was he just faking it to get close to Count Dooku? Read the book if you want to find out!
(Warning: Spoilers Ahead!)
Out of the Silent Planet was written by C.S Lewis in 1943. Most of the story takes place on the planet Malacandra. The protagonist, Dr. Ransom, is a complex character who commits both dishonorable and good deeds. He is led into a trap by Weston and Devine, who he believes are scientists. They kidnap him and take him in a spaceship to a planet that the inhabitants call Malacandra.
They were invited by a being called Oyarsa, and planned to desert Ransom there. But, the doctor evaded his captors and made it into the wilderness where he risks both his life and his chance of escaping back to Earth. Fortunately, Ransom will discover that most of the creatures are friendly on this planet.
The first group of natives he meets call themselves the hrossa. One of his first friends is later shot by his former captors, who wish to show their power. The hrossa suggest he go to Oyarsa, who lives in a valley. In order to make the journey, he must first cross steep mountains. As the cold nips at him from the altitude, he comes across a cave. In this cave, he finds a sorn named Augray, another inhabitant of this strange planet, who he finds to be friendly. This creature helps him to find Oyarsa’s valley.
Finally, when he meets Oyarsa, he finds that his captors had already been taken captive for the death of the hross. Weston and Devine confess and are forgiven for their crime, and Oyarsa frees Ransom. Their space ship only holds enough provisions for ninety days. If their spaceship does not make it to Earth by then, they would die. Under great stress, they barely make it in 88 days. After they return home, Ransom becomes extremely sick. When he recovers, he wonders if any of this was real.
My favorite character is the protagonist, Dr. Ransom. It was amazing to see how much his character changed from when he was kidnapped to the trial scene with Oyarsa. C.S Lewis does an extremely excellent job of describing him. In most physical respects, he is rather average, although he has notably high stamina. An example of the latter is the trip he made when he was searching for Oyarsa. As C.S Lewis put it, it would usually be impossible for some one “with his age and build” to stand up to the extreme conditions he faced.
C.S Lewis writes many beautifully descriptive passages throughout the book. Here is an excerpt of Ransom’s impressions when they landed on the planet:
A mass of something purple, so huge that he took it for a heather-covered mountain, was his first impression: on the other side, beyond the larger water, there was something of the same kind. But there, he could see over the top of it. Beyond were strange upright shapes of whitish green: too jagged and irregular for buildings, too thin and steep for mountains. Beyond and above these again was the rose-coloured cloud-like mass. It might really be a cloud, but it was very solid-looking and did not seem to have moved since he first set eyes on it from the manhole. It looked like the top of a gigantic red cauliflower – or like a huge bowl of red soapsuds – and it was exquisitely beautiful in tint and shape.
I liked how descriptive C.S Lewis is in painting the scenery in my mind. The characters were realistic and believable, as well. This book was full of mystery and suspense which were well-balanced with the rich character development. The natives learned to trust Ransom, and to be wary about Weston and Devine. Ransom himself changes dramatically through the story. At the beginning, he had been dishonorable, but when his life was on the line, his values changed. The following passage talks about his encounter with a hross:
Then something happened which completely altered his state of mind. The creature…opened its mouth and began to make noises. This in itself was not remarkable; but a lifetime of linguistic study assured Ransom almost at once that these were articulate noises. The creature was talking. It had a language.
If you are not yourself a philologist, I am afraid you must take on trust the prodigious emotional consequences of this realization in Ransom’s mind. A new world he had already seen – but a new, and extra-terrestrial, a non-human language was a different matter…In the fraction of a second which it took Ransom to decide that the creature was really talking, and while he still knew that he might be facing instant death, his imagination had leaped over every fear and hope and probability of his situation to follow the dazzling project of making a Malacandrian grammar.
Readers will be delighted to know that this is only the first book of a three part series called the Space Trilogy. The two books that follow this are Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. For further reading, C.S Lewis has also written almost 30 other books that may be of interest.
Photo credit: Amazon.com, Fair Use
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