As excited as I am for the new unified canon I have to admit upfront that the idea of a Tarkin book among the four-book announcement was not the most exciting of the bunch to me. As a Star Wars fan, I’m a guy who might be a little too into adventure and excitement. Tarkin was a character that I as a fan never really wondered or cared about the background story of. He’s a megalomaniac who gives the order to destroy a planet with his new toy. He’s a narcissist who refuses to believe a bunch of snub fighters have a chance to harm him. He’s a military warlord with the regal bearing of a politician. What else needs to be said?
James Luceno is probably most famous for his addition to the Star Wars Legends library Darth Plagueis. A lot of people seemed to love this book however I wasn’t as overjoyed with it as everyone else seemed to be. I don’t dislike the book but I definitely don’t put it on the top of my Legends favorites either. It had some great moments but seemed to focus mostly on Palpatine and I guess I just expected to learn more about Plagueis himself. It was still enjoyable and answered some interesting tidbits about the nature of Plagueis’ and Palpatine’s research into Midichlorians and the Dark Side. Out of all of Luceno’s Star Wars additions, I would have to say he knocked it out of the park with Darth Vader: Rise of the Dark Lord and Millennium Falcon.
Now that we get somewhat of a fresh start with this book as far as continuity goes I am a little curious to see which Legends are true and which remain just that. Maw Installation? The search for Zomona Sekot? Daala?
Picking up the book and just diving into it I’m immediately drawn in. The opening statement and the implications of creating an “Empire that will endure” is a wonderful portent for the future of the entire Star Wars galaxy. I’m surprised with how quickly Luceno paints a picture of this character that is much more complete than anything we’ve ever had.
As the story starts to move it becomes a wonderful mystery story of Tarkin tracking down his enemies with the focus and ruthlessness of a hunter. The addition of some wonderful character moments between Tarkin, Vader, Palpatine, and even Sate Pestage reveal a lot about the state of the galaxy and the Empire’s dominion and potentially even the climate of Star Wars: Episode VII. Tarkin’s tactical genius and efficiency in dealing with obstacles are interesting and compelling to watch unfold.
The story ends as a Star Wars story should, a great sense of finality to the events in the book, and a glimpse into where the threads made here will lead into the future of the Star Wars universe. This book packs a punch with the Imperial intrigue but also doesn’t fail to deliver a lot of Star Wars style action. Dogfights, blaster shootouts, and even a bit of Lightsaber swinging (bet you can guess whose).
All in all my expectations were blown away by the book I was least looking forward to (sorry Del Rey!) It’s definitely something worth reading even if Tarkin isn’t your favorite. It’s a worthy addition to the new Star Wars canon line and judging from this and A New Dawn we’ve got a lot to look forward to!
“Death or renown, ladies and gentlemen.”