Greetings everyone and welcome to the Sarlacc Pit! I apologize for being late this week, but at least I’m getting the post to you! This week I am pleased to bring you a post all about Asajj Ventress, a character who played a crucial role in the Clone Wars. Asajj is one of many cool characters who is found exclusively in extended canon and has not appeared in any live-action movies (though she was in the movie of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”). This week I am going to give everyone the background of this character found in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple. There will be spoilers, so read at your own risk!
Early Life and Jedi Training
Asajj Ventress was a Dathomirian Nightsister, born on the planet Dathomir to a clan lead by Mother Talzin, a former ally of Darth Sidious. Dathomirians are a subspecies of Zabrak, and another notable Dathomirian includes Darth Maul. The Dathomirian females belonging to Mother Talzin’s tribe of Nightsisters were known to use dark side magicks to enhance their abilities as sorcerers and assassins. At a young age, Asajj’s mother was forced to give Asajj up to a bandit as a slave in order to save the clan. Her slaver, H’steen, brought Asajj to Rattatak, a war-torn world often raided by Weequay pirates. During one of these raids her master was killed, leaving Asajj briefly alone.
Soon, she met a Jedi named Ky Marec, who was stranded on Rattatak after being sent by the Jedi Council to assist civilians. Marec took note of Ventress when she tapped into previously unused Force abilities to save him from pirates. Despite being unable to leave Rattatak, Marec took Ventress as his padawan and began to train her in the ways of the Force. For ten years Marec trained Ventress in lightsaber combat and in the ways of the light side of the Force. However, after a decade of training his new apprentice, Marec was killed by pirates. Grieving, Ventress took up her master’s lightsaber and killed his assailants. She then embraced the dark side of the Force and used her abilities to rid Rattatak of its pirates and warlords, declaring herself ruler of the war-torn planet.
Count Dooku’s Apprentice and the Clone Wars
“I hated the Jedi for abandoning my master, and Dooku wanted an apprentice as filled with hate as he was. It was a good match.” – Asajj Ventress, Star Wars: Dark Disciple
Ventress’ power in the dark side attracted the attention of the Serenno noble Count Dooku, who had recently left the Jedi Order and was secretly apprenticed to Darth Sidious. As is often the way under the Sith’s Rule of Two, Count Dooku was looking for an apprentice that he could begin to train and use, eventually using them to help overthrow his own master. He offered to take Asajj on as his apprentice and Asajj, who blamed the Jedi for never helping her master, joined him.
Dooku continued her training, and she became known for her prowess with her unique lightsaber, an S-shaped double-bladed lightsaber that could be split into two for use as two curved lightsabers. NOTE: While this was the original design, Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared to have permanently split the lightsaber during a lightsaber battle, so it was more common for her to dual-wield curved lightsabers during battle.
During the Clone Wars, Asajj was given a position in the Confederacy of Independent Systems. She often worked as an ambassador to other planets, a messenger for Count Dooku, a military commander, and, more often than not, an assassin used to do Count Dooku’s dirty work. During this period Asajj reveled in her work and continued to grow stronger at Count Dooku’s side.
Dooku’s Betrayal and Return to the Nightsisters
“Dooki. He betrayed me.” – Asajj Ventress, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
As Ventress became more of a central player in the Clone Wars, Darth Sidious began suspecting Dooku’s reason for training her was for use in usurping Sidious’ role as Sith Lord. Sidious commanded Dooku to kill her or face the wrath of his master. Dooku reluctantly agreed. Asajj, during a battle which resulted in her ship crashed into the hangar of a Republic dreadnought and surrounded by Jedi Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. When she requested assistance from Dooku, he refused to help her, telling her that it was her time to die. Asajj was barely able to escape from the two Jedi after the ship she had crashed into was destroyed by the Separatists and she was discovered by scavengers. Asajj, grievously wounded and struggling for her life, commandeered the scavengers’ ship and returned to her birthplace of Dathomir.
On Dathomir, she reunited with Mother Talzin and her Nightsister clan. Talzin used her dark side magicks to heal Asajj’s wounds. Asajj and Talzin then made plans to attempt to get revenge on Dooku. One plan had Asajj and two other Nightsisters use their magick to infiltrate Dooku’s palace to attempt to kill him while he slept (this ended with both of Asajj’s assistants being killed). The second attempt involved sending a Nightbrother (who was actually Darth Maul’s brother) sent to be Dooku’s new apprentice. Asajj and this Nightbrother (Savage Oppress) then attempted to join forces to kill Dooku, which ended poorly for the two Dathomirians. The Nightbrother, Savage Oppress, was then given a duty from Mother Talzin to find and recover his brother, Darth Maul, and Asajj was given the full title and honors of being a Nightsister (which involved this weird dark side magick baptism scene, it was super spooky).
Count Dooku, angered by the two attempts on his life by an ex-apprentice who should have been dead by this point, sent General Grievous and a battalion of battle droids to Dathomir to attack the Nightsisters. The Nightsisters fought back using their magicks, including the raising of dead Nightsisters to fight at there side (that’s right, an undead army). However, despite the Nightsisters’ battle prowess and dark side abilities, they proved no match for the droid army, who killed every Nightsister except for Mother Talzin and Asajj Ventress. After the destruction of her people, Asajj found herself in exile.
The Bald Banshee
After the destruction of her people, Asajj fled to the Outer Rim, where she began to work as a bounty hunter. Using her Force abilities, she was very successful as a tracker, and of course near-unbeatable in combat. There were several instances when she found herself back in the center of galactic war and politics though, taking jobs alongside a young Boba Fett, saving Obi-Wan Kenobi from torture and death, and even helping Ahsoka Tano clear her name when she was framed for bombing the Jedi temple. During her stint helping Ahsoka, Ventress lost her lightsabers and began to use traditional Nightsister energy bows, which were pretty cool. At some point, Ventress replaced her lost curved lightsabers with a saber with a yellow blade from the black market, which she also used in combat. Ventress began making a name for herself in the underground bounty hunter world as the bald banshee. Despite mostly working alone, she became fairly wealthy in this line of work.
Quinlan Vos and Asajj’s End
Meanwhile, the Separatists were gaining more power, and the Clone Wars continued to drag with no end in site. The Jedi Order, against its principles, determined that the best course of action would be to assassinate Count Dooku, the Separatist leader. They ordered Quinlan Voss, Jedi Master, to find and work with Asajj Ventress to kill Dooku. To gain her trust, Vos worked with Asajj for a while as a bounty hunter before she discovered that he was a Jedi. When Vos told Ventress about his mission to assassinate Dooku, Ventress insisted that Vos allow her to train him on Dathomir in the Nightsisters’ dark side magicks, claiming that without the strength from the dark side they would never be able to kill Dooku.
As they began training they also developed feelings for each other, causing conflict with Vos’ Jedi principles of not having romantic attachments, and arguably helping Ventress pull Vos more and more to the dark side. Despite her romantic feelings for Vos, Ventress’ training was harsh, with lessons often focused on physical pain, aggression, and the murder of different animals. Vos’ training culminated in a Nightsister ritual involving the harvesting of the Sleeper, an ancient beast who lived in pools of water throughout Dathomir and whose blood and organs were used in the Nightsisters’ rituals. Here, Vos had to lure the beast to the surface, and then kill it. The Jedi struggled at first, but then overcame his hesitation, reveling in the pain her dealt to the Sleeper and eventually killing it by strangling the beast to death. With that, Ventress’ training of Vos was complete.
The two then went to Raxus, and challenged Dooku to a two-on-one duel. While the pair initially had the upper hand, Dooku was able to discern that they had feelings for each other. Crafty as ever, Dooku used this to his advantage and was able to take Vos captive. Dooku then tortured Vos, and was able to briefly turn Vos completely to the dark side and against even Ventress, although with the help of Boba Fett and his syndicate of bounty hunters, as well as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, Ventress was eventually able to rescue Vos and bring him back from his darkness.
Now, while the fact was that at this point Ventress had tried and (miserably) failed to kill Dooku three time, Ventress and Vos were certain they could do it if they tried. The two planned to pretend to assist the Count escape from an unwinnable battle against the Jedi Order. They would then convince Dooku to take the two of them to Dooku’s master, where Vos and Ventress would kill both the Sith in one fell swoop. This failed. Miserably. However, it was indeed Ventress’ last failure, as when Dooku discovered their plan he turned and used his Force lightning on Quinlan Vos. Asajj, unwilling to let her lover die, jumped in front of the lightning, sacrificing her own life for Quinlan’s. This sacrifice helped completely break the remainder of the dark side’s hold on Quinlan, and, after putting Asajj to rest on her homeworld, he returned to the Jedi Order completely.
This is just Asajj’s main character arc. Fans of the show “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” know that she was a major player throughout the Clone Wars, providing a constant obstacle for the Jedi and the Republic. She was a total badass, whose lightsaber skills constantly proved troublesome for Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka, and she proved jsut as dangerous without them. In the end, Asajj will most likely never make it to the big screen, but she is one character that deserves recognition for her contribution to canon. If you have not seen “The Clone Wars” or read Dark Disciple, I highly recommend both of them!
Next week is a big deal. It will be the two year anniversary of me beginning the Sarlacc Pit. So, like I did last year, next week will be my “State of the Canon Address,” where I provide a brief overview of the many new canonical tributes to Star Wars over the past year. As always, thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!