Series: Star Wars
Published by Del Rey on November 4, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
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.
I’ve long been a reader of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In fact, most of my favorite characters and storylines come from the books, not the movies. But Tarkin is one that caught my interest in the movie, and I’ve been waiting a long time for his story.
But TARKIN just wasn’t the book I hoped it would be.
First I should say that James Luceno’s writing style doesn’t always work for me, and this is one of those books where it really didn’t work. I slogged through this book, constantly distracted by descriptions of every single person encountered, down to their hair color, facial features, and attire. Once you take away all the descriptions and random tangents, there’s not a lot of story left. And the story that is there … well, I can’t imagine Tarkin being outfoxed in the way he was, and by a group that didn’t have a strong motive. I’m also not sure I buy his “training” on Eriadu.
TARKIN contains passages from characters other than Tarkin, including Emperor Palpatine and the ship thieves, but … everyone sounds the same when they open their mouths. I just can’t see Darth Vader speaking like this: “Then there was some purpose to turning a blind eye to illegality, and to fostering dishonesty of a particular sort. But times have changed, and it is incumbent on you to change with them (Chapter 7).”
I was hoping for a book about Tarkin, but though TARKIN contains some flashbacks to his youth, the book is mostly about him and Darth Vader taking a trip around the galaxy to find Tarkin’s ship. There are a few examples of Tarkin’s ruthlessness, which I did like, but otherwise … I didn’t believe in Luceno’s version of him. It just didn’t work for me. Hunting animals and living primally doesn’t turn one into a military strategist — why not show more of Tarkin’s time at the academy? Why not show some important events, instead of telling me about them? That’s another big gripe I have with the author’s writing: he tells almost everything, instead of showing me what’s going on. And I’m not going into the tons of classes of ships I’d never heard of before, and dialogue like the line I quoted from Darth Vader.
Ultimately, TARKIN was a disappointing story about such an iconic character. When I finished the book, I thought, “That’s it? Really?” The main plot was, well, weak, and there were unresolved side plots, including the Emperor feeling dark currents in the Force? The ending of the book felt rushed. Instead of spending so much time detailing everything, maybe more attention should have been giving to developing sub plots and connecting everything together.
I think from now on I’ll stay away from Star Wars books written by Luceno, and possibly the new reboot of the EU, since I haven’t liked what’s come out of it so far.