A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.
He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly . . . and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.
Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel—by intimidation . . . or annihilation.
Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin—whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy . . . and its enemies’ extinction.
As the second novel released in Disney's new Star Wars Expanded Universe, Tarkin has a lot riding on it. While A New Dawn - the first book in the new canon - acted as a prequel to Rebels, the new cartoon series, Tarkin takes place in the run up to A New Hope, giving us a glimpse into the mind of a favourite character and using a lot more well-known characters than that first book, not the least of which are Darth Vader and the Emperor himself. As such, Tarkin was going to give us much more of an idea what the Star Wars new canon would look like and how much of what had gone before was being done away with.
Beyond that, though, Tarkin obviously had to be a good story. And it delivers, in spades! Telling a story of fledgling rebels playing a game of cat and mouse with Tarkin and Vader, both of whom are far from the established figures in Imperial power that they will become, Tarkin also delves into the titular character's history, much as Darth Plagueius did in the old canon. With lots of little nods to that former canon, proving that the new Story Group is going to do exactly as promised - delving into the old stories for inspiration and elements while not allowing themselves to get bogged down in minutiae - Tarkin tells a compelling story. Full of double crosses, surprises, Force powers and space battles, Tarkin is Star Wars done well, while also giving a nice depth to this man we love to hate.
I said at the end of my review of A New Dawn that I hoped the upcoming novels would do more to ignite this new expanded universe. Tarkin does that. I for one can't wait for Heir to the Jedi, a Luke Skywalker starring novel told in first person written by Kevin Hearne, one of the greatest urban fantasy writers working today!
I gave Star Wars: Tarkin 4 stars.