Book Review: Tarkin by James Luceno

22012250Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority mercilessly while pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. But insurgency remains a genuine threat. Guerrilla attacks by an elusive band of freedom fighters must be countered with swift and brutal action–a mission the Emperor entrusts to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer, and Tarkin, whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empires’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction. (synopsis on back of book)

Rating: 8/10

Overall: Pretty good origin story book.

Basically, this book is something that I have been wanting for a while. I’ve always been interested in Tarkin’s character. I mean, the man had the power to tell Darth Vader what to do, and Vader listened to him. Who wouldn’t want to know more about that guy! Tarkin was my Bobba Fett. While everyone else wanted to know everything about that mysterious bounty hunter, I wanted to read about Tarkin. And now I finally have that book.

I definitely liked this book more than Aftermath. The writing was better and the story seemed more cohesive. It was actually difficult to  not admire Tarkin at times. He’s incredibly smart and can read people like a book. However, Luceno does a great job of getting you to a point feeling some admiration and then reminding you that he is an awful human being and a textbook example of a villain. In a word, he’s awesome.

Luceno does a great job of incorporating scenes from Tarkin’s young life that gives us some insight into how he became the person he is. While these parts were interesting to me, I have to say that my favorites sections were when Tarkin and Vader had to work together. Luceno shows us how the relationship between these two forms, and it’s interesting to see their mutual respects for one another. It gives some moments in the original trilogy some depth. We finally understand how it is that Tarkin is able to actually tell Vader what to do without Vader trying to force choke him afterward. Vader has a healthy amount of professional respect for Tarkin and therefore actually recognizes his authority.

I loved how the Emperor worked to make sure that these two could work together, understanding that Vader needs someone to reign him in from time to time, and the only person that could do that would be Tarkin.

My only complaint about the book is that is sometimes drags a little. The ship battles can be a little tedious to read when you aren’t really well versed in all of the different ships and jargon, however, I think Luceno did a decent job of writing these scenes and not making them fly completely over my head. I was still interested while reading them, it’s just not the kind of action that I’m used to reading. Other than that, it’s a well done book that I would suggest to anyone who has an interest in Tarkin’s background. Overall, a good addition to the new Star Wars canon.


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