Star Wars has shown us heroes and villains, Jedi and Sith, bounty hunters and mystics. But across the pantheon of Star Wars characters, very few beings are all of those at once. Enter Asajj Ventress.
Asajj Ventress first appeared in the feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and made the jump to the TV series, where she quickly became a fan favorite. As a Sith assassin and apprentice to Count Dooku, Ventress led armies, fought both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and worked behind the scenes to destabilize countless in an effort to help the Separatists win the Clone Wars.
Her skill and tenacity should have won her some measure of glory. Instead, it earned her an assassination attempt when Darth Sidious himself saw her strength with the Force and commanded Dooku to eliminate her.
And that was only the beginning of her story.
Despite her popularity, Ventress never made an appearance in the Star Wars saga films. Her story began before the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and ended after the series was canceled in the book Dark Disciple. In fact, you have to dig to find her story if you want to know all of it, but it’s a story that is worth telling. Ventress never stopped evolving as a character and she took so many different forks in the roads along the way.
Born on Dathomir to one of the Nightsisters, Ventress was taken as a slave by a criminal as part of a deal made by the Nightsister leader Mother Talzin to save the rest of the coven. A few years later, the criminal was killed and Ventress caught the attention of a Jedi Knight named Ky Narec who sensed Force abilities in the girl and began training her as his Padawan.
If she had been left to train with Narec, Ventress may have become a powerful Jedi, but fate intervened once again and her master was killed by pirates on Rattatak. It was during the fight to avenge him that Ventress learned the power of the dark side. Her anger gave her power, and her skills only improved as she gave in to that anger.
It was that same anger that brought Ventress to Count Dooku’s attention. As a former Jedi, Dooku saw her pain as a way to gain her trust and her loyalty. He turned Ventress against the Jedi and took her on as his apprentice.
But once he turned on her, Ventress evolved once again. Now disillusioned with both the Jedi and the Sith, Ventress returned to Dathomir and to Mother Talzin. She reclaimed her place among the Nightsisters and turned to revenge once again, planning along with Talzin the death of Dooku.
Ultimately, it was Dooku who brought death to Dathomir. Under Dooku’s orders, General Grievous and the Separatist Droid Army fought and killed all of the Nightsisters save for Ventress, who barely escaped with her life. Once again, she was left with no home and no clear path.
A Bounty Hunter’s Life
Fate, it seems, was not done with Asajj Ventress, who found herself in a place where she could choose a new path and a new master — herself.
In a dingy Mos Eisley cantina, Asajj Ventress crossed paths with a team of bounty hunters led by a teenage Boba Fett. They even ran a mission together, but Ventress was her own woman throughout and it was clear she would never let anyone else lead, so she moved on quickly.
That same dedication to her fierce independence saw Ventress fight alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi against Darth Maul, and later partner with Ahsoka Tano when Tano was falsely accused of crimes against the Jedi. Once an enemy of the Jedi, Ventress went head to head with Anakin Skywalker and, instead of killing him, helped him clear Ahsoka of the charges against her. After that, Ventress became a bounty hunter of note dubbed “The Bald Banshee” and made a name for herself once again.
Revenge Against Dooku
Whatever life threw at Ventress, she fought through it and came through on the other side. Many had tried to control her and some had almost killed her, but Ventress survived. Still, that survival had a cost: trust.
No matter how much she had done to help the Jedi in the recent past, Ventress was an unknown quantity who still had badly needed information about one of the Jedi Order‘s biggest targets; Count Dooku.
In an effort to gain that information, the Jedi sent Jedi Master Quinlan Vos undercover in search of Ventress. His mission was to gain her trust and find out as much as he could about Dooku. She, in turn, very much wanted her revenge on Dooku, so the two joined up
But Ventress was no fool. She saw through the ruse. Even so, she found herself falling in love with the would-be spy. Something about him drew her in.
In many ways, Vos was like her. Conflicted, independent, fierce, powerful. His abilities with the Force made him useful to the Jedi but there was a part of him that questioned the rules and strictures of the Order. The two became partners, lovers, master and apprentice, and co-conspirators. They might have been happy together if their lives had been different or their paths had crossed at different times.
In the end, Ventress never got her revenge. She never killed Dooku. Instead, Ventress died at his hands as she gave her life to save Vos.
The woman who had been ripped from her family, who was left to fend for herself by both the Jedi and the Sith, who climbed her way to independence and fought for everything she had in life, surrendered her life to save another and, in doing so, redeemed herself.
Asajj Ventress is one of the greatest characters in Star Wars and her story is truly one of the legends.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars will return with new episodes.