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"Of power, I could tell you much. One must seize the moment, and strike." --Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin

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.

Contains a brief excerpt from "Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi" by Kevin Hearne.

288 pages, ebook

First published November 4, 2014

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About the author

James Luceno

101 books915 followers
James Luceno is a New York Times bestselling author, best known for his novels and reference books connected with the Star Wars franchise and the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and novelisations of the Robotech animated television series. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife and youngest child.

He has co-written many books with Brian Daley as Jack McKinney.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,546 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,140 reviews3,568 followers
November 14, 2018
Indeed a very GOOD novel about EVIL


Then evil will have to do.

Sometimes is odd the development of books where the villain is the main character since not matter that he/she is the main character and very likely the very reason of why the readers chose to read the novel, still, the narrative tend to point out how incorrect is to support evil, stating how awful they are, and even sometimes they even lose at the end.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like that I support evil or anything, in real life, but the freedom of reading is able to show us worlds and points of view that not necessarily we can encourage in our daily lives. It's like in horror novels, that depends of the development of the story even if the bad guy wins at the end, you can perfectly consider that it was a good book after all.

Star Wars isn't the first or the only pop culture franchise having novels using its villains as the main characters, but certainly, it's quite impressive the quantity of novels (even inner book series) that you can find on this particular franchise. Character like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Bobba Fett and many others have novels indicating quite clearly that they are the main character and as I pointed out before, the very reason of why we choose to read the books.

I am aware that I still have quite a few of Star Wars's novels to read, so I can't be certain how often this happens in this franchise, but definitely this book, Tarkin developed the kind of story that I expected it, having clear on mind that the main character is a villain of the franchise.


It'll look even better with blood on it.

Wilhuff Tarkin is indeed the main character in the story, he is pivotal and even he is shown as an impressive strategist with a sharp mind.

I came to realize that on each trilogy, there was a key character whose kinda early demise in the conflict defined the final outcome of the war. On the prequel trilogy, the loss of Qui-Gon Jinn, allowed the developing of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire. And now it's totally clear to me, that the loss of Tarkin, in the Battle of Yavin, was the defining moment which opened the road of why the Rebel Alliance was able to success in Return of the Jedi. In the same way that I think that Qui-Gon Jinn, if he would be around, he could change the denouement in the Prequel Trilogy; it's clear too that the presence of Grand Moff Tarkin, could change the final fate of the Empire at the end of the Original Trilogy.

Darth Sidious and Darth Vader were strong in the dark side of the Force, no one can deny that, and together were a fearsome pair, however the real power of the Empire was a triumvirate and it was formed thanks to Tarkin. He may not having any Force on him, but in the same way that in the "Big Three" of Luke, Leia and Han, that they were strong thanks to the balance of Han Solo, a scoundrel smuggler without Force on him, but key to the success of that trio; it's undeniable now that Tarkin was the balance in the dark triumvirate and the key reason of why the Empire was able to exist during 20 years without worrying much about that beggarly Rebel Alliance.


In the abscence of order, there was only chaos.

The Galactic Republic had many sins as the following Galactic Empire. But it's clear that a government, any government is preferable than an anarchy that can immerse any population into a real chaos. The Empire is full of fear and surveillance, but the Republic was full of corruption and indifference.

An interesting point to think about beyond of the romantic idea of a rebellion is what will happen if that rebellion triumphs. The tyranny fell, yey!!! Okay, and tomorrow? Who will lead? Who will keep the basic services functioning? Who will guarantee that none other power would invade? Sometimes, the rebels and malcontents are so focused into battle the evil government that they haven't thought how they will avoid to provoke a chaos in the very population that they are supposedly helping.

In a humourous way shown, but I remember in the film Monty Python's Life of Brian, where the "People's Front of Judea" is plotting to overturn the presence of the Roman Empire in Judea, and the attendees keep saying good stuff that the Romans brought to the region and finally the leader of the rebel movement exploded in fury telling that they will toss away the Roman Empire and that's it.

No one can deny that the Galactic Empire is evil, so was the Roman Empire, but maybe my point here is that sometimes people tend of only thinking about how evil they were those regimens and just forgetting if those evil powers at least improved in some way how the things were before in those populations.


Politics is worse than a theater of war.

This novel shows how was the youth of Wilhuff Tarkin while growing up on his native planet, Eriadu, which is a world in the Outer Rim of the galaxy. Also, some glimpses of his young adult deals with military and politics, which along with his coming-of-age trials, will form the man of who he is. The kind of man that came to the attention of Palpatine, knowing that he may be just what he will need once his plans of take command of the galaxy would succeed. And definitely, being of an Outer Rim's world, just like Palpatine was too, it will create a bond between them, which it would be complemented with Vader's origin in Tattoine. Three men, from Outer Rim's worlds, ruling over the Core worlds, was just... the perfect vengeance over the pompous smugs of the Senate.

There is a main storyline happening like 5 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, where a mysterious line of events sent to Tarkin and Vader into a manhunt of terrorists whose agenda isn't so easy to determine.

It was cool that Darth Vader wasn't a brief cameo in the story but a pivotal character helping to Tarkin where both have to learn to work together since both have the same thing on their minds: Serving the Emperor as best as possible in anything that he would need them.

Tarkin and Vader have "balls" since they weren't affraid to "get dirty" and facing danger piloting single-seater fighters that definitely isn't as safe as to be standing in a capital ship's bridge. People already watched Vader doing that kind of stuff, but knowing that Tarkin didn't hesitate to do just the same if the situation demands it, it was cool. They can be evil, but they are villains with "balls" and you have to respect them for that.


There were some odd things during the narrative.

Some odd things were like to find out that Tarkin doesn't know for certain that Darth Vader is really, well, you know, which I found odd, since while wasn't something that Vader or the Emperor would post in their "Spacebooks", I supposed that a key officer in the Empire with the rank of Moff like Tarkin (there are only 12 Moffs, in the Imperial Army, a rank even higher than a general or admiral) would be able to know that kind of things.

Also, even "odder" is that Tarkin isn't certain that Vader is a Sith... come on! He is a Force-user, he has a RED lightsaber, and he has "Darth" on his name!!! Even it seems like he doesn't recognize the use of the Force, since Tarkin calls "thumb-and-forefinger dark magic" when Vader uses, one of his trademarks moves with the Force. Tarkin even worked alongside Jedis in his past, how is possible that he calls "dark magic" something so obvious to be the Force?

But hey, what is a good story of Star Wars without some good controversy?

At the end, this a really good story about one of the best villains in Star Wars which he never needed the Force to be a formidable opponent and a character to be afraid of.

Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
December 22, 2019
Princess Leia Organa: No! Alderaan is peaceful! We have no weapons, you can't possibly...

Governor Tarkin: [impatiently] You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this so it will be the last time: *Where* is the rebel base?

Princess Leia Organa: ...Dantooine. They're on Dantooine.

Governor Tarkin: There. You see, Lord Vader, she can be reasonable. Continue with the operation; you may fire when ready.

Princess Leia Organa: WHAT???

Governor Tarkin: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration - but don't worry; we will deal with your rebel friends soon enough.

An intriguing character study.

Say what you will about his politics, but Tarkin reduced unemployment on Alderaan to zero.

This is, of course, a novel about Grand Moff Wilwuff Tarkin, the character from A New Hope: Episode IV portrayed so masterfully by Peter Cushing.

Set between the time of the films Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and describing Tarkin’s early life as a wealthy but determined leader and raised in Spartan severity. Tarkin was molded to be the third man in the Empire’s dark triumvirate - Emperor, Vader and Tarkin.

This is also a Tarkin - Darth Vader adventure, featuring apt action writing from Luceno and lots of fun backstory for Star Wars fans. The interaction between Vader and Tarkin is the central focus of this biopic. Tarkin offers an inverse description of Darth Vader than Obi Wan Kenobi – that he is more man than machine.

I like that Tarkin is an interested, knowledgeable and objective observer about the Clone Wars, the Republic, the Jedi Order and most everything Star Wars. A good read for fans.

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
February 7, 2017
After Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I wanted to read a little bit more into Tarkin’s backstory. I wanted to see exactly what made this man so effective; he is not a Sith Lord or a Jedi, but he is easily one of the most dangerous men in the galaxy.

What makes this imperial so intimidating?

Ruthlessness, domineeringness and heartlessness.

Tarkin is willing to do anything to secure the future of the Empire. War is easy, murder is simple and mass genocide is a necessity. For him the ends justify the means tenfold. The author had quite a job on his hands here; he had to take this cold calculating man and make him novel worthy: he had to give him a story worthy of his vileness. And he did pull it off even if it did become boring towards the end.

This is very character driven; it’s all about Tarkin realising his importance to the Emperor. He is, essentially, the third most important man in the chain of command after Vader and Sidious. Most of the novel is given over to him remembering his orgins and how he earnt his place so high in imperial command. He has some twisted perceptions of the world, and also some rather revealing ones. He is no fool. Unlike most of the Empire, he knows exactly who Vader and Palpatine are: he knows they are Sith. He also suspects who Vader once may have been. Though, that being said, he is also cunning enough to never utter a single suspicion. He knows what could happen if he did.

The characterisation of Tarkin is superb; he is an incredibly powerful figure in the galaxy. Luceno has captured all his fear inducing presence. However, parts of the novel did become dry. It was very political at times, Tarkin remembering the troubles of the clone Wars and the rise of Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. So there was a few mind numbing accounts of Outer Rim worlds who wanted a voice in the senate. I think there needed to be a move away from such ideas with a stronger focus placed on the issues Tarkin was dealing with in the present.

As it progressed it became more and more dull. There was so much detail given over to the daily operations of the imperial fleet, and their judicial system with its court processes. It was all very sophisticated, organised and unnecessarily detailed. I really didn’t need to know half of it. There was simply too much focus on the history of the Empire and its inner workings than the events that were happening outside Takin’s mind.

Certainly, it was enjoyable in parts, and I did learn a bit more about Tarkin, but it’s far from the most exciting of Star Wars stories. It needed a bit more life.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,066 followers
May 28, 2015
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

A long time ago in a galaxy far,
far away . . . .


EPISODE III (and then some)

It is a dark time for the Empire.
Although the Clone Wars have ended,
most of the vile Jedi been destroyed, and
the Enlightened Emperor enthroned,
still there are those who subvert the peace.

Moff Tarkin was a valiant defender
of the Republic until the betrayal
of the Jedi Council. Since then he has
sworn allegiance to the Empire and
diligently enforced its edict to
maintain its perfect order.

Now, with rebellion rearing its ugly
head again, Moff Tarkin finds himself
living in secrecy, overseeing the construction
of a weapon that will ensure the peace
of the Empire is never broken again.
But with this deterrent to war not yet complete,
Tarkin finds that even he can be
drawn back into the front lines of the conflict.

Tarkin is a novel that spotlights this Grand Moff of the Empire, who is the commander of the Death Star and the “handler” of Darth Vader in Episode IV “A New Hope.” And while James Luceno crafts a decent story fleshing out Tarkin as a person and highlighting the formation of the Empire’s dark triumvirate (The Emperor, Vader, and Tarkin), what he fails to do is make the ultimate Imperial officer exciting or sympathetic in any way; Wilhuff Tarkin remaining, at his core, a sci-fi Nazi, whose does not have any redeeming qualities, something that makes him very forgettable.

The story begins in a galaxy far, far away where Moff Tarkin is stuck in the Outer Rim at Sentinel Base, overseeing the tedious construction of the Emperor’s ultimate weapon of peace. Quickly, though, the boredom ends as the secret installation finds itself the target of a cunning, vicious attack by individuals that Tarkin suspects are former Clone War Separatists. When the Emperor demands that these rebels be brought to heel, the investigation leads Tarkin out of the shadows into the Coruscant chambers of the Emperor and then onward to the Outer Rim worlds with Lord Vader in tow, where he cements his worth to sit within the inner circle of the Sith.

Interspersed into this narrative of the now, Mr. Lucero inserts numerous flashbacks to Tarkin’s early life, beginning with his childhood, showing a reader how this ultimate Imperial officer developed into the man everyone seems to both fear and despise.

Born the heir of a rich, powerful family from the Outer Rim world of Eridau, Wilhuff’s early life is filled with pomp and privilege – until his parents send him into the wild, brutal landscape with his uncle. Once there, Tarkin’s adventures become an endless lesson on harshness and brutality, designed to completely destroy any childish notions of right and wrong or protection of the weak and powerless. Quickly he is taught that he should “[n]ever try to live decently, . . . – not unless you’re willing to open your life to tragedy and sadness. Live like a beast, and no event, no matter how harrowing, will ever be able to move you.” And his kindness toward those of lesser classes is utter foolishness, because “[His] task is to teach them the meaning of law and order . . . Then to punish them so that they remember the lesson. In the end, [he must] drive the fear of [himself] so deeply into them that fear alone will have them cowering at [his] feet.” While doing this, Wilhuff must always use the most brutal force possible because “[It] is the only real and unanswerable power. Oftentimes, beings who haven’t been duly punished cannot be reasoned with or edified.” For Tarkin must always recall that at the end of his long, illustrious life “Only glory can follow a man to his grave,” and his only purpose in life is to attain more glory for himself and his family name.

And it is these basic philosophies on life that bring the young Wilhuff to the attention of another ruthless and devious man – Senator Palpatine, who immediately begins cultivating him as a future ally. This relationship helping (like it did with a young Jedi named Anakin Skywalker) to propel the young, gifted Tarkin through the Republic ranks, serving in succession as a distinguished soldier, a powerful legislator, and as a dedicated covert officer for the Republic during the Clone Wars. Groomed by the future Emperor, trained in utter ruthlessness by his family, Tarkin sees his star burn even brighter after the end of the Clone Wars, as his devotion to the will of the new Empire and his dedication to enforcing its edicts turns him into an ever more ruthless and vicious man until even the Dark Lord Vader grudgingly respect him.

With all this being said, I found Tarkin to be a decent Star Wars novel. It tells an engaging story about a shadowy figure in SW lore, allows readers a peak inside the head of the Emperor and Vader, and keeps them entertained with a detective story as well as a snapshot look at the Empire’s growing problems immediately after the Clone Wars. What it did not do was give me any characters to care about. Sure, there are some “rebels” thrown into the narrative as a counter point to our dark triumvirate, but these guys are little more than names with a bit of background to flesh out their motives, nothing more than that. And, quite honestly, Tarkin is, at best, a boring guy, being one-dimensional all the time, because he is 100% evil with no doubts and no redeeming qualities.

To sum it all up for you, if you really dig evil dudes who are devious and think they are smarter than they probably are, then Tarkin might be just what you are looking for. If that doesn’t sound like your preferred male lead, you might need to skip this one.

Netgalley and the publisher provided this book to me for free in return for an honest review. The review above was not paid for or influenced in any way by any person, entity or organization, but is my own personal opinions.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,631 followers
September 13, 2015
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/02/14/b...

I’ve been a great admirer of James Luceno’s Star Wars work in the past, especially his book Darth Plagueis about the eponymous Sith Lord who was the master of Darth Sidious. Having experienced Luceno’s approach to writing Star Wars villains and the credit he does them, I didn’t hesitate to add Tarkin to my reading list with high hopes for the author’s insight into the formidable Grand Moff.

Even if you’re only passing familiar with the films, you’ve probably heard of the name Tarkin. Introduced as the primary antagonist in the first original Star Wars movie, you may recall he’s the evil bastard who threatens Princess Leia with the destruction of her home planet Alderaan if she doesn’t give up the location of the rebel base, and then turns around and blows it up anyway when she gives him a name. But he’s also a soldier and a politician. A scion of a great house. A former Republic proponent and friend of the Jedi. This novel explores all this and more as we delve deeper into this notorious character’s background and history.

In the wake of Palpatine’s rise to power, rebels and freedom fighters continue to be a bane to the empire. As a trusted advisor to his emperor, Tarkin is tasked along with the fearsome and mysterious Darth Vader to squirrel out pockets of the insurgency and extinguish the spark of rebellion before it has a chance to catch.

As expected, Luceno’s work here is solid. If I have any criticisms at all with this novel – and I do have a few – it would have absolutely nothing to do with his writing or storytelling. Quite simply, the author does a thoroughly impressive job pulling together the past and present in order to paint a comprehensive picture of Wilhuff Tarkin. The story is deftly told using a combination of flashbacks and memories woven into the narrative that tells us what’s currently happening. Considering the way we go back and forth throughout the course of the story, I’m somewhat surprised that the pacing did not suffer.

Instead, most of my problems with this book lies with the character. Let’s face it, despite being one of the most ruthless and cold-blooded villains in Star Wars history who even holds “Darth Vader’s leash”, you’re just not as sexy or high on the popularity food chain if you aren’t swinging a lightsaber or wielding the force. Luceno had his work cut out for him making Tarkin a more interesting and appealing character, and I don’t know if he quite manages. We all know Tarkin’s an evil bastard. And after this book, he’s still an evil bastard. Sure, there are some great insights into his past here, such as how his experience playing “Survivor” in the Carrion honed his future skills as a cunning soldier and military strategist. But what does that tell me about the man inside? Everything we learn about him merely scratches the surface while the core of his personality remains aloof. There’s scant little dynamic in his character and I felt like an observer kept at arm’s length.

However, we do gain more understanding into Tarkin’s relationship with both the Emperor and Darth Vader. These were the three who controlled the galaxy by sowing fear after the Clone Wars, and long has it been speculated that Palpatine partnered up the other two on purpose so that they could benefit from each other’s skills. The story in this book showed how that plan ultimately created one of the most fearsome teams that ever existed. In a way, the plot here played out almost like a twisted buddy movie, with the added irony that Tarkin and the Jedi Anakin Skywalker used to be friendly and worked quite closely together. It’s the little moments, like when Tarkin regards Darth Vader and starts surmising his true identity that are probably more rewarding than anything else.

This book was actually quite enjoyable, even if it probably won’t rank up there with my favorite Star Wars novels. It doesn’t stand out, though not for want of trying. Luceno did a great job on the writing front, and was probably only held back by the limitations that are inherent in Tarkin’s character himself.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews798 followers
April 1, 2018
It was a bit daunting to read a Star Wars book since it had been years since I read one and even though I still love Star Wars I just don’t watch the movie that often nowadays as I did when I was younger. Also, this book is about Tarkin, a character I never really cared about in the movie. But Darth Vader was on the cover also so that made this book seem a bit interesting to read.

But, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading the book. It's a really, really good. Yes, it had some part that was a bit tough to get through, space fighting isn’t my favorite reading material, I prefer watching it on the telly. On the plus side, it was well-written, not too much and it was necessary for the story.

In this book we get the background story to Moff Tarkin, his childhood on Eriadu, his career to present time in the book when he is in charge of building the Death Star. But he must hunt, together with Darth Vader, down dissidents hell-bent on causing trouble for the Empire when a mission goes wrong and his ship Carrion Spike gets stolen.

As I said before this book was good so good in fact that I realized that I was rooting for Tarkin to win over the dissidents that he was chasing. I mean I know I had a weakness for Darth Vader since I was a child, but Tarkin? That felt odd. Now I’m not saying that he is good, he is not a misunderstood character. He is a firm believer in the Empire and he has done awful things. But James Luceno has written a so good portrait of Tarkin that you can see how he became the man he was when we for the first time met him on the Death Star.

If you are a fan of Star Wars then you should read this book.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Leeanna.
538 reviews93 followers
November 8, 2014
This review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.


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.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews:
Profile Image for Daniel.
754 reviews74 followers
January 21, 2016
Moram da priznam da sam malo razočaran ovom knjigom. Možda sam očekivao previše ali sam po nazivu knjige mislio da će se baviti kompletno biografijom (izmišljenog) karaktera. I dobili smo fino pokriće i situacije koje su ga formirale plus prikaz ponašanjo pod pritiskom tokom rešavanje jednog manjeg problema. I kraj. Sve ono što se događalo tokom epizode četiri nismo ni dotakli a to me je skoro najviše interesovalo.

Isto tako po meni ova kniga dosta pati od sindroma kaži umesto pokaži, odnosno imamo dosta info dumpova kada Tarkin priča o svojim ranim sećanjima ali me to nikada posebno ne motiviše pošto smo samo posmatrači umesto da nas provede kroz sve to kao učesnik.

Interakcija između Tarkina, Imperatora i Lorda Vedera je odlično odrađena i liči na nešto što bi se i stvarno desilo. Jedino je šteta što nisu izabrali neki teži konflikt da se prikaže njih odnos.

I naravno oseć da je Tarkin vojni genije je isto slabo prenesen pošto imamo svuda u knjizi tvrdnje da je on genije ali slabo imamo situacije koje bi nas ubedile u to. Mislim rezultati postoje samo što je slabo prikazan proces kako je dolazio do dotičnih pa više dođe da je samo jako pametan i surov ali ništa više od toga. Iako knjiga stalno tvrdi da jeste.

Sve u svemu nije loše ali moglo je to mnogo bolje.
Profile Image for Robert.
1,601 reviews106 followers
August 8, 2018
One part traditional audiobook, one part old-timey radio serial drama complete with musical score and SFX, I confess that Tarkin was the most fun I've had with an audiobook during my daily commute in a long while. Only issue was lowering the volume a bit when sitting idle at a stop sign or a traffic light with my windows down so that the sound of blaster beams or Darth Vader's rasping breathing didn't freak out my fellow motorists or nearby pedestrians!

Art by Allen Douglas

(Art by Allen Douglas via deviantart.com)

In terms of story and writing, Luceno obviously really knows his stuff, including myriad technical specs for gizmos, 'droids, alien races, and character backstory dipping into sources as varied as the Prequel films, the Original Trilogy, the Clone Wars television series, and so forth. This is both a strength and, I fear, a weakness as relative newcomers might find themselves daunted by lengthy lists of names and historical SW-universe events.

As a protagonist, "Governor" Wilhuff Tarkin is a fascinating, if creepy, character study of a child born into privilege on a relative backwater, raised to fiercely protect his family, home and interests via not just force but the fear of force, tying in nicely to his fully formed persona in the original Star Wars (1977) film. Vader and The Emperor also feature as secondary characters, and their methods and motivations during the early days of the Galactic Empire are interestingly explored. There's also a gaggle of proto-Rebels, and Luceno does well to tease out exactly who they are and what they are attempting to accomplish over many chapters rather than just ramming a lot of exposition down the reader's (or listener's!) throat.

All in all, definitely worth checking out in whatever format.
Profile Image for Jesse A.
1,301 reviews85 followers
January 27, 2016
Another SW novel I didn't particularly care for. Not a bad story just not anything special.
Profile Image for Scott Rhee.
1,884 reviews74 followers
August 27, 2017
It’s almost impossible not to see the parallels between the current American political landscape and the political landscape of “Star Wars”. Strangely enough (although not really, if you truly grasp human nature), most conservative Republicans who still support Trump are incapable of seeing themselves as the side of the Empire. To everyone else, it’s obvious: Republicans, whether they can admit it or not, represent the death knell of the Republic and the gradual but assured ascendancy of the Empire.

It’s simple, really. Bad guys never see themselves as bad guys, of course. Evil always justifies its own actions and behaviors. Evil finds excuses for everything, and its supporters always have a steady stream of rationalizations: “He didn’t say that,” “He said it, but he didn’t mean it,” “He meant it, but it’s not as bad as it sounds,” “Well, the other side is just as guilty of doing it as well.”

In the world of “Star Wars”, an over-ambitious Senator from Naboo, who may, at one point, once have had honest intentions, slowly introduces legislature and executive orders that gradually erode the foundation of democracy, chipping away at the basic civil rights and protections that are constitutionally guaranteed. When nothing is guaranteed, democracy becomes tyranny, and a well-intentioned Senator bent on law and order at all costs becomes a totalitarian dictator, an Emperor.

Okay, sure, one could throw Hillary Clinton into that metaphor and maybe a little bit of it will stick, but Clinton---unlike Palpatine---lost the election and disappeared from the political stage. Anyone who still sees an Imperial wardrobe on a non-player like Clinton is deluding themselves and refusing to see the Emperor’s new clothes.

Trump is no Emperor Palpatine. Trump is, if anything, Palpatine’s younger cousin from an embarrassingly tacky side of the Palpatine family, a family of used speeder salesmen in the lower levels of Coruscant, who, via nepotism and political skullduggery, scaled his way up the Imperial ladder to a position of some power but is, for the most part, nothing more than a figurehead representing a secret cabal of wealthy donors who actually pull the strings.

Trump is no Darth Vader, either. If anyone is Vader, it’s Steve Bannon, but that’s an insult to Vader, as everyone who knows “Star Wars” knows, there is still good within Vader. The same can’t be said for Bannon, not that it matters now anyway.

And Trump certainly isn’t Grand Moff Tarkin because, well, that’s just plain insulting. Tarkin (played wonderfully by Peter Cushing in the original 1977 film) may be evil, but he is also charming and brilliant. He is the epitome of the Gentleman Villain, and no one has ever accused Trump of being a gentleman.

If Trump is anything, he’s Jabba the Hutt, a fat, bloated gangster with delusions of grandeur, believing that he could play with the big boys when all he really does is stink up a room and leave a trail of slime wherever he goes.

Let’s be honest: the most appropriate manifestation of the Emperor in this current political atmosphere is the GOP. Conservatives may argue that the Democratic party is the Emperor, but that doesn’t make sense. Democrats, at the moment, are a shambles. They are, if anything, the remains of the Republic, an ineffectual group of disparate political entities who have lost any sense of identity or purpose. They’ve certainly lost their base, most of whom are being trampled under the boot-heels of squadrons of Nazi flag-waving stormtroopers.

No, the GOP is the Emperor. Here’s a party so desperate for change, believing the old guard to be so utterly corrupt and awful, that it was willing to do anything, even undermine its own integrity by opening the door to the Sith and letting in the Dark Side of the Force. It eventually became the very thing it originally fought against, but it blinded itself to that fact, claiming the ends justified the means.

So, I kind of got carried away on my soapbox and forgot my review. Here it is: James Luceno’s “Tarkin” is a brilliant, if flawed, attempt to create an anti-hero in the famously stiff but terrifying Grand Moff, a title created specifically for Wilhuff Tarkin by the Emperor for a lifetime of loyal service and because he is a brilliant tactician and ruthless leader.

Tarkin would fit well within the ranks of the contemporary Republican party: born of a wealthy household on planet Eriadu, young Tarkin grew up under the tutelage of his father, a free-market anti-union capitalist whose sole purpose in life was the accumulation of wealth at the expense of everyone and everything around him, and his Uncle Jova, a cunning hunter/soldier/assassin. Where Tarkin lacked in physical strength and prowess, he more than made up for in intelligence and quick wits. His lack of sympathy for the weak was, in his opinion of himself, a great strength.

The interesting thing about Tarkin is that while he considered himself loyal to the Empire and, specifically, the Emperor, he secretly had loyalty for only one person: himself. He is evil in the sense that he had eliminated all vestiges of a moral and spiritual center, replacing it with unmitigated self-interest.

While perhaps not as interesting a character study as Vader, with all of Vader’s histories and internal conflicts, Tarkin is fascinating in his one-dimensionalness. Perhaps it is this aspect of “Tarkin” that made me think of Trump.
Profile Image for Mpauli.
157 reviews464 followers
November 3, 2014
ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tarkin is one of the main villains of the Star Wars universe and I was pretty excited to read his story.

Initially I thought this would be more like a chronological biography of Tarkin's life, but the author went in a different direction.
Most of the book is set between the third and fourth Star Wars movie, while the Empire is already reigning. Tarkin is already a Moff and govenor.
After an attack on a station he's in charge of, the Emperor orders him to Coruscant and sends him and Darth Vader on a mission to investigate some suspicious findings of technology.

In the first third of the book we get regular flash-backs to Tarkin's youth or into early years of his studies and career, f.e. the first meeting with Palpatine, the later Emperor.

Later on, there are added perspectives of the people that are working against Tarkin and Vader. This is actually one of the better things of the book, cause up untill the middle you are at least neutral towards Tarkin, maybe even have sympathy for him.
The added povs remind you of his villain status and that kind of twist was done well.

Overall the book is a good addition to the Star Wars universe, but it isn't the eye-opening look into Tarkin's psyche that I was looking for.
The plot is solid, the characters behave like we would expect them to behave and overall the book was an enjoyable read, but nothing special.
For Star Wars fans this will be definitely worth a read, other readers won't miss a hidden gem, if they sit this one out.

Video Review on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alg8m...
Profile Image for Shane Amazon.
165 reviews5 followers
October 23, 2014
Perhaps it's just me.

When the new EU was first announced I saw the cover for Tarkin and was eager to learn more...and then I saw who was writing it. Over the last few years I have read many Luceno works; some I loved and some I wanted to throw against a wall. And although there were a few things I found entertaining in Tarkin, I have to say this is the most disappointing SW book I've read in a long time.

There are two things I know about writing good books. The first was best said by Anton Chekhov...

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

This is where Mr. Luceno leaves me behind as a reader. There are aspects of his books that are amazing. The first third of Darth Plagueis is something that sticks with me to this day - and I was hoping to relive that in this book. I wanted to see Tarkin's savagery, his ability to make others bow to his will, and I wanted to read it all in grand detail. But what I read in Tarkin was the most watered down and contradictory story that could have been written for a character that had so much potential. The big story of this book is that Tarkin has his ship stolen and he and Vader must travel around the galaxy to get it back, all the while being outsmarted at every turn. That's basically it. The military genius and cutthroat leader gets his ship stolen from under his feet by a bunch of unknowns. WHAT?!? And, incredibly, all of this was written as facts on paper instead of a well told descriptive, sit by the campfire, tale.

So without spoiling the whole book, I will ask those who have read the book, or plan to, this. Is this how Tarkin should really be portrayed? As a bumbling idiot that can't even keep track of his own vessel and needs Vader to come along and save him from the Force grasp of the Emperor? NO! This is a man that is feared and respected by those under him. This is a man that inspires men to aid in savage acts to protect the Empire. This is a man that grew up in royalty and education and has risen to the top of the ranks by exploiting both as the eyes of his superiors watch on! But no, alas he is just a man who has some how failed upwards.

But there are places where Luceno tries to paint Tarkin as a genius, both personally and militarily. But the larger story takes everything away from Tarkin's genius and turns him into a weak leader and a foolish man who couldn't find his way out of a paper bag.

So, yes, I am being harsh, but why? Well that brings me to the second thing I know about writing a good book, and that was said by someone we all should know...his name is Matthew Stover. Stover once said...

"Hook 'em with the very first sentence."

Luceno's grand opening to the Tarkin story is mind-blowingly awful. Luceno sat down and decided to raise the Tarkin curtain by constructing a grand scene about military fashion. A whole chapter, the very first chapter, was all about talking to a droid about updating his uniform.

And so now Luceno pushes me down the rabbit hole and feeds me everything I can't stand about his work. Now comes the encyclopedic writing that Luceno loves to drivel on about. No longer does the story even matter because Mr. Luceno has page after page of facts that have to be crammed into the story in order for his tale to not only work but swell the page numbers. And while he does this, I begin to once again wonder, why do I still read these books? Why don't I just wait until another Zahn Star Wars book hits the shelves? Why indeed.

Plot spoilers ahead...

But, Shane, what would have made this book good...in your opinion? Thanks for the question. Well, how about Tarkin grows up in his royal domain, but instead of going on a hunt and eating the liver of his kill in order to "show the other animals the order of things", we got something more meaningful. How about Tarkin grows up in his royal domain and befriends an animal, and over time establishes a deep relationship with it. But as time goes on the animal's species becomes unruly and, from what his family says, needs to be put in its place. To do so would mean that Tarkin has to kill his new friend. This harkens back to Germans in WWII having to kill their dogs to show their loyalty and commitment to Hitler. It would be more impactful to the youth and would show him taking his first steps into the darkness ahead. Many people hunt in real life, it doesn't make them a savage or a great military leader, so this story arc never worked for me.

Another thing in the book. Luceno talks about how Tarkin wasn't a particularly good student at the academy and that he got into fights a lot with the other boys. Okay, so how about this? Tarkin has a nemesis at the academy, a nemesis that he battles throughout his education, a nemesis that somehow graduated ahead of him - a thorn in his side that he remembers to this day. But now his nemesis is the guy leading the Rebel assaults on Tarkin's space station and the one whom stole his ship...a personal connection that he must overcome for good.

Two simple changes that could have made a very lackluster tale into one that would have been more impactful, more entertaining, more memorable.

But no.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Perhaps I'm officially done with Luceno books. Perhaps I'm done with Star Wars books all together.

Perhaps its just me.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
580 reviews220 followers
November 27, 2014
My first foray into the post-EU era reboot of the Star Wars novel series. Since this is "official" canon now, it's even more interesting to get a look into the backstory of Grand Moff Tarkin.

Overall, the story is pretty basic. Nothing special, other than that it's Star Wars. There's not a lot of adventure, though there are some battle scenes. The big draw here is the character development of Tarkin himself, the Big Bad of the very first movie. This was Star Wars when it was simply Star Wars. There was no New Hope, no Jar-Jar Binks, and no Ewoks. There was one movie, and Disney did not own it. It was so cool to see Peter Cushing as this villain, as anyone watching movies in that era knew him from horror movies.

My favorite part of this book was seeing the relationship between Tarkin and the other Big Bad Villains, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. We get to see the dynamic between them, most notably that between Tarkin and Vader. For years I wasn't sure the pecking order of the Emperors top two minion/henchmen, but this book sets that straight.

We also get to see some of Tarkin's role in the Clone Wars, and in the early days of the Empire. We got to see how he interacted with Count Dooku and the Separatists. Though I always thought that was the main weakness of the prequel series (besides Jar-Jar), it was interesting to see how he and Dooku related. As a side note, I would have loved to see that part filmed, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee talking over ideologies.

On the audio, I was impressed with the reader, Euon Morton. His narration was pleasant, and his character voices were spot on for the most part. I also liked the addition of the Star Wars music and the occasional sound effects. My favorite was Darth Vader breathing in the background as he listened to Tarkin tell a story of his youth. It made for great atmosphere without being too much.

So this was a good book to read/listen too. Not the best of the Star Wars novels, but it's a great character insight. Best of all, no Jar-Jar.
Profile Image for Andrew✌️.
264 reviews23 followers
July 10, 2018
This is the second book I read set in the Star Wars universe (after "Kenobi") and it’s based on the figure of the Grand Moff Tarkin, a character seen in the movie "A new hope", in my opinion not valued enough there.

The story takes place five years after the birth of the empire. Darth Sidious rules with an iron fist, thanks to the help of Darth Vader who swept away what remained of the Jedi knights and Wilhuff Tarkin, ruthless governor from one of the Outer Rim planets. After having climbed the ranks of the Empire and pursued with zeal his destiny as an architect of absolute dominion, we find him here busy overseeing the construction of the Death Star.

The story that unfolds in this scenario is quite simple: an unknown ship attacks the base commanded by Tarkin. The suspicion that the conspiracy is much more extensive than what it appears, urges the Emperor to send Tarkin and Vader to investigate.
The novel focuses almost entirely on the pursuit of these rebels, by Tarkin and Veder, littered with flashbacks on the life of Tarkin, put in order to explain to the reader the character and personality of the Moff.

There is few action, sacrificed in my opinion, for a greater psychology analysis of the characters, in particular the trio Sidious-Vader-Tarkin. And indeed these three characters are very well defined, the relationship between the Emperor and those who are his main followers, but also the forced collaboration between these two.

A pretty quick read, my first experience with a book by Luceno. Very good at delineating thoughts, feelings and memories, even if often a bit wordy when it comes to tracing the political situation of the empire.

However, it remains a good job.
Profile Image for Jon.
833 reviews253 followers
October 31, 2014
I finished the eARC in a couple of days. A fast read, but not a compelling one. I was intrigued to read the back story for Tarkin, who we barely got to know in the original Star Wars movie through the lens of Peter Cushing. I suppose I was hoping for a bit of redemption, as I am always looking for redemption for even the vilest characters, but Tarkin didn’t exhibit anything redeeming, beyond his uncanny military acumen.

I have given up on Emperor Palpatine. He’s beyond hope or redemption. I can shrug off Darth Vader’s antics because I already know how that story ends. But Tarkin was an unknown. What made him tick? What made him turn a blind eye to the death of the Republic and the birth of a dark Empire? So very similar to the S.H.I.E.L.D/Hydra situation in Marvel and the age old security/peace v. liberty/freedom debate or fear v. respect.

Tarkin’s adolescent adventures on his home world, while primitive and brutal, did not adequately convince me that he was forged to such complete ruthlessness and mercilessness.

Read the rest of my review here.

My thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read the eARC of this novel, available Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at your favorite book retailer.
Profile Image for Malum.
2,287 reviews131 followers
November 14, 2020
A very good Star Wars novel that delves a bit into Tarkin's past and his ascension to Grand Moff. We also get a bit of a twisted buddy cop story with Tarkin and Vader.
Profile Image for Lady*M.
1,069 reviews100 followers
September 5, 2015
4.5 stars

I didn't know I needed Tarkin in my life until I read it.

My second venture into the new EU, Tarkin effortlessly connects all elements of the new cannon: the prequels, The Clone Wars, Rebels and the original movies. It gives us a thorough examination of Tarkin's origins and background, but also delivers an engaging conspiracy plot and explains how the great triumvirate of evil - Emperor/Sidious, Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin - was created.

If you have only seen the movies, the Empire must seem to you like a great, monolithic evil. Your attachment to the rebels prevents you from seeing the people behind the Empire. This is what Luceno does. I was entranced with Tarkin's upbringing. Born into the privilege on the harsh Outer Rim world Eriadu, he was put through the rigorous survivalist training for years. The personal ambition, he was taught, is the only worthy motivator. To rule your enemies through the fear of force, rather than the force itself isn't the thing Tarkin learned from the Empire. It is the lesson he brought to it from his home world. It is no wonder that the young officer caught the attention of Senator Palpatine. The hero of the Clone Wars who fought side by side with the Jedi (including Anakin himself), mastermind tactician, the proponent of law and order, Tarkin climbs the Empire's ladder with dizzying speed.

But, this is the young Empire, only five years after the Revenge of the Sith. The Emperor is still strengthening his hold on the civilized universe, Vader is nothing more than an enforcer. When the dissidents attack the secret installation Tarkin is overseeing (Death Star), the Emperor throws Tarkin and Vader together to investigate. The adventure ensues.

I enjoyed the relationship between Vader and Tarkin. Tarkin, who suspects Vader's real identity and his relationship with the Emperor, respects Vader and acknowledges the need for his methods. But Moff has a trick or two to teach the Dark Lord as well. By the end of the book, the respect is mutual.

The dissidents of this book are not the rebels we know and love, but their existence shows us that the first seeds of dissatisfaction have fallen on the fertile soil. Their motivations are not idealistic. They are out for revenge. Their methods often mirror those of the Empire. But, the seeds are there and it will just take someone to unite them all to start the rebellion. By the time the Rebels begin, it will be well on its way.

I liked a different look on the Republic and the reasons it failed. I liked a different look on the Jedi as well - Tarkin grudgingly respects them, but sees their flaws too. Most of all, I liked, yes, I liked Tarkin. He is not a super-powered Sith. He is just a man, albeit extraordinary man. He is intelligent, fearless, he is not a sycophant. He has friends and remembers them when he is in the position of power. He has a sense of humor. Evil? To quote the man: Evil will have to do.

Yup, I like this a lot. I liked it so much, that I had to downgrade A New Dawn which I also enjoyed. Why not full five stars? While I'm far, far from the expert and I could be wrong, I think I saw some minor contradictions with the movies. But, in the Star Wars world, that is nothing new.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,712 followers
August 8, 2016
Increasingly, I find the popularity of the Empire disturbing.

The fact that cosplayers dress as Stormtroopers in massive numbers, that there are plushy Darth Vaders for sale (or cute little kid Vaders starting their parents' cars with the force), that our girls are meant to look up to First Order ultra-thug Captain Phasma (and it's supposed to be a positive step forward for women in general), that Empire aesthetic is cool, and that we now have peeks into the making of the Empire's greatest criminals, peeks which humanize them and make them at least somewhat sympathetic (as James Luceno does) is at the heart of this disturbance.

It is a massive shift from the way we consumed Star Wars in the seventies and eighties, the time when the Empire was seen as universally evil and beyond redemption. Now, however, the Empire has become only sort of bad, and members of the Empire are impressive for their power, their loyalty, the conviction, their military brilliance, their embracing of order.

It seems to me that this is all a reflection of the shift in our society, in our world of Forever Terror War. So a book like Tarkin, that I might have admired forty years ago as providing some balance to the black and white of the Star Wars universe, feels now, instead, like a tiny part of a greater movement in our culture, wherein the Tarkins and Vaders and Emperors are, once again, to be looked up to and understood as inspirational figures, figures of authority that we should bow to, whose decisions should be accepted, regardless of what those decisions would mean for us (and do mean for us) in the real world.

I am not saying this well, so I will try and boil it down.

Something in me feels more and more that Tarkin (and his Star Wars cronies) are slowly becoming peoples' heroes, and that scares me. Genocidal maniacs are not to be honoured and revered, even if they are fictional. They should be feared and reviled.
Profile Image for Učitaj se!.
688 reviews113 followers
April 2, 2017
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Moff Tarkin razmišlja o izgledu svoje nove uniforme i mogućim problemima u izgradnji mobilne oružane postaje čiju izgradnju on nadgleda, kada ga u tome omete poziv u pomoć s obližnje svemirske postaje. Nakon što se ispostavi da se radi o lažnom napadu, Tarkina pozovu da hitno doputuje na Coruscant kako bi se provela istraga o tome što se dogodilo. Uskoro se ispostavi da je lažni napad bio tek mamac za ono što slijedi, a što je to točno, tko stoji iza toga i koji im je krajnji cilj bit će na Tarkinu i lordu Vaderu da otkriju...

Ova priča iz Star Wars svijeta vrti se oko naslovnog lika Tarkina, kojeg ćete prepoznati iz filmova kao zlokobnog zapovjednika Zvijezde smrti. U ovoj priči, Zvijezda smrti tek je u izgradnji, a Tarkin je na čelu tima odgovornog za njenu izgradnju.

Uz Vadera i Imperatora, Tarkin među fanovima serijala slovi kao jedan od najnemilosrdnijih i najzlokobnijih likova, jednim od onih koji oko sebe šire strah već samom svojom pojavom. U ovoj priči dobivamo određenu pozadinu tog dojma, kao i priču o Tarkinovom odrastanju i kušnjama koje je morao proći, a koje su ga učinile onakvim kakav je danas.

Sporednu, iako značajnu, ulogu u ovoj priči imaju i Vader i Imperator, čije pojavljivanje u priči nam pruža dublji pogled na njihove međusobne odnose, posebno one koji se odnose na Imperatorovog omiljenog učenika, i Tarkina, kojeg on jednako cijeni, mada na drugačiji način.

Sviđa mi se kako ovdje, kao i u prethodno pročitanoj knjizi 'Gospodari Sitha', likovi koji su u filmovima u biti zlikovci postaju junaci - barem ovih romana. A bez obzira na to naginjete li više strani Jedija ili onoj Sitha, ne možete si pomoći a da ne navijate da ti 'zlikovci' ovdje pobijede.

Čitava priča je u biti utrka s vremenom - nemilosrdna potjera Tarkina i Vadera za zagonetnim kriminalcima čije namjere im nisu posve jasne. Iz svemirskog sustava u svemirski sustav, od planeta do planeta i od postaje do postaje, bijeg bjegunaca i potjera njihovih gonitelja ne prestaje sve do posljednje stranice, a tijekom cijele te strke izmjenjuju se različiti sukobi, taktike i manevri, pri čemu je krajnji ishod potjere do samog kraja prilično neizvjestan.

Ova knjiga je nabijena adrenalinom i akcijom, izletima u prošlost i introspektivama različitih likova, a svi ti dijelići zajedno čine vrlo napetu i zanimljivu priču. Volite li SF, naročito svemirske potjere s brzom radnjom i nepredvidivim daljnjim događajima, svakako pročitajte. Ako ste k tome i fan Star Warsa općenito, mislim da vas ni ne trebam posebno nagovarati. ;) #MTFBWY
Profile Image for Helix.
146 reviews47 followers
June 4, 2017
A very fascinating read, if not a bit heavy on exposition, details, and technobabble, with plenty of secondary characters that I couldn't keep track of (and frankly I didn't care about that much).

I have to admit, I haven't been onboard this "cool Imperial villains" trope long, I love Anakin (.....yeah judge me) and Peter Cushing as Tarkin is undoubtedly iconic in A New Hope, but I wasn't quite onboard with r/EmpireDidNothingWrong until Rogue One. Ironically, Catalyst and by extension Krennic, was what brought me here, and his apparent rivalry with the Governor in both the prequel novel and the movie (WE STAND IN THE MIDST OF MY ACHIEVEMENT) got me interested in the entire Galactic Empire hijinks.

And boy, this novel DID deliver. Not quite what I expected, but it's full of delicious details about the Empire's workings and inner politics, and even a glimpse at our glorious Emperor's mind (sorry, ISB was watching as I was typing this). Most of all, it confirms my suspicion: that above all, the officers of the Galactic Empire, no matter in which (military and/or political) body they served, cared a LOT about the hashtag aesthetic. Do you love the aesthetic? Are you interested in fashion? Are you interested in looking good and being Extra (tm) while oppressing people and crushing Rebel Scum underfoot? If so, then the Galactic Empire is definitely FOR you!

...ahem. Anyways. Tarkin (this novel, not the titular character) did open with the legendary Moff trying out outfits, when the base he's been assigned to came under attack. "But Sir, the fitting!" said the droid he's with, as Wilhuff rushed out of the room.

Appearances aside (metaphorically and literally) this novel slugged and didn't pick up pace until, I don't know, chapter 10 or 11? It's rather boring in the beginning and it's very much information and exposition-heavy, including LOADS of technobabble, details about the environment, some fashion commentary, and flashbacks to our beloved Moff's childhood. Which is fascinating, and I do love the theme of this book (other than the entire good vs evil and Empire vs revolutionaries thing obviously), which can essentially be summed up to: You don't know what sort of events has shaped up a person to be what s/he is today.

I do applaud Luceno's deftness in storytelling, weaving what happened now with flashbacks/Tarkin's reflection seamlessly, and he is indeed a very cerebral character (in a sense that he spent a lot of time thinking and observing his surroundings and comparing external input with his personal experiences and memories, as opposed to Krennic who is very much mercurial and influenced by his surroundings, or Vader who just Forced himself into any given environment and starts chewing the scenery), but throughout it all I get the sense that we didn't really get to the heart of who Wilhuff Tarkin IS (probably an oxymoron), but rather just a description of events and how they influenced him now. There's not much in terms of emotional response there. Even if Tarkin is a naturally cold person (lovers and friends apparently think he's "heartless", no surprises there), he still presumably HAD some sort of emotional response to things, especially something so drastic like being taken to the Carrion plateau by the tender age of eleven.

I can really glimpse what motivates the characters in Catalyst, for example, in terms of emotions, but with Tarkin it's just...isn't there. Whether this is because he's a very cerebral and mind-oriented character, as I say, or because of the writing (intentional or not), I can't say.

Another weakness of this novel is that it introduced a lot of characters, and by a lot I mean a LOT, definitely not as terrible as ASOIAF (no one can beat Martin) but still a lot. I don't remember most of them, and I don't care. I get that we're supposed to sympathize for Teller and co but honestly...can't really sympathize with them either. I just feel like a detached observer. I do love how that Hask pointed out how Teller, in the end, isn't very different than Tarkin, after all. Only that they're supposedly "the good guys". This is a very good point, because although in the Star Wars narrative, the Empire is without doubt the bad guys, we have to remember that at the same time, the Rebellion isn't all that perfect, either. The only difference is that they have noble aims, or at least they claimed as much.

But for all its weaknesses, it's still a pretty good read, offering an in-depth look at the pre-New Hope era. And it's something of an easter egg to me that Rogue One didn't contradict anything, but instead truly expanding on already existing details. There's more: this novel mentions the system Brentaal, which means that's where Galen Erso and Orson Krennic went to school together for the Republic Futures Program. I thought that "Brentaal" was the name of the school/academy all this time. Even more: Vader had a custom black starfighter! Anakin, you old angsty emo, you.

All in all, Tarkin is a magnificent, evil bastard. You really get the sense that he's the Real Thing (sorry Krennic) when you read this novel. And I actually feel kind of sorry for him, because if he wasn't raised that way and taught that way by his parents and his crazy evil space Steve Irwin uncle, he probably could have been a different person. He probably could have been a truly just person, instead of a merciless one.

Anyway...I know it's probably unrealistic, but I'm still waiting for my Krennic-centric novel, possibly set before Catalyst. Cheers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Joseph.
513 reviews48 followers
March 1, 2022
In this delightful novel, we come to understand what makes Tarkin tick, so to speak. We learn more about his upbringing and the forces that shaped him and the paths he dared to tread. We are introduced also to the yet-to-be-completed Death Star. We also meet the Sith Darth Vader. All these elements are blended seamlessly into one heck of a good read!!!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
713 reviews81 followers
May 23, 2017
DNF - I got to about 35% on the audiobook but it was too boring to hold my attention.

I WILL say the audiobook narrator was very good and did a great job voicing Darth Vader and Palpatine.
Profile Image for Neil R. Coulter.
1,090 reviews117 followers
October 30, 2015

I read James Luceno's Tarkin right after reading Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig. That was good for Tarkin. I probably would have enjoyed it no matter when I read it, but coming right after what must surely be one of the worst Star Wars books, it shines even brighter. My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised: this is a good Star Wars story.

Luceno's writing style has an easygoing, natural feel to it. He knows the Star Wars universe, but his trivial knowledge doesn't come across as fan-boy, nor does it draw attention to itself in any way that takes me out of the story. There's a great flow in his prose, and a number of times I was impressed by Luceno's use of a word that isn't quite the easiest choice; again, it doesn't feel like he's just using a thesaurus, but rather that he is fully immersed in this world.

Tarkin is everything that I think a Star Wars book should be: intriguing story, interesting deepening of familiar characters, new characters who fit into the world, and no reliance on action scenes (lightsaber duels and space battles). There are a couple of space battle scenes in Tarkin, but they are far from the focus of the story. Luceno understands the politics of the Empire at a more nuanced level than some other Star Wars authors (or even George Lucas in the Prequel trilogy), so even his many references to the Clone Wars actually rekindled that imagination that I loved thinking about when I was a kid (years before the Prequels were created, transgressing nearly every imagination I'd had about what the Clone Wars were). I think there are a lot of references to episodes of the Clone Wars TV series, which I didn't get because I didn't watch very much of that show; but the story still works--possibly even better, because of the backstory that is just hinted at in this book.

This is not a book that follows many major characters, and I thought that was just perfect. In fact, I so enjoyed the first part of the book, about Tarkin and his team on the remote station, that I was actually a little disappointed when Vader started tagging along in the story. I didn't think the story needed an injection of Major-Character Presence. As it turns out, what Luceno is exploring through this story is the confusing relationship and authority hierarchy between Vader and Tarkin. In the film, it always seems odd that Vader is in most ways the top authority of the Empire, yet Tarkin has the power to order him around when necessary. This novel looks into that question, as the working relationship of Vader and Tarkin is just beginning. The story follows mostly a single plot, which sees Vader and Tarkin sent to unravel a mystery. There are times when the book hovers just on the edge of becoming too Holmes/Watson, if not Oscar/Felix. But generally it's okay. Luceno has a difficult task in writing extended scenes of dialogue involving Vader or the Emperor--it's just hard to imagine them having a long conversation. Vader in normal conversation is just odd, and the Emperor is mostly seen in the films cackling and spooky-talking. Luceno does as well as anyone can with that challenge, and I liked seeing the inner workings of how the Emperor is building his Empire. Also, Luceno begins to reveal the motivations behind the Sith's conquest--not only to create a universe in submission to the Sith, but to be able to use the dark side to re-create or re-fashion the universe to his liking. In this novel, the dark side is shown not simply as a personification of fear or anger, which is how it seems in the films, but as a literal presence, which can communicate with adherents. This is an intriguing idea that, to me, fits into the series, and I would like to read more about this era of Star Wars.

I'd expected that this book would be a full "biography," so to speak, of Tarkin, starting from the early days and ending with the destruction of the Death Star. Instead, it is one episode in his life, set closer to the beginning of the Empire than to the completed Death Star. Within that story, we see glimpses of his childhood, through flashbacks. None of this is intended to justify his villainy or make him a sympathetic character. But I found the details of his early life interesting. Luceno has made a mostly side-character into a compelling main character for this book.

Luceno is a little bit weaker when he writes about the revolutionaries who are Tarkin's foes in the story. It strikes me that it's a little harder to write new good guys in Star Wars. They have to be just the right balance of plucky, intelligent, rough-around-the-edges charming, and driven. That's hard to pull off. It would have been hard, for example, to write a good Han Solo without Harrison Ford's portrayal. With any new character, it's hard not to connect him or her to an existing character (this was certainly the case with Dash Rendar and Kyle Katarn, being basically Han Solo proxies), or to feel that he or she doesn't really fit into the world of Star Wars at all. Luceno creates a small band of revolutionaries (not called "rebels" yet, as there is not yet an organized alliance), and they're okay, but it's not the best part of the book. I also felt that perhaps the story didn't even need to show what was happening from their perspective, as Tarkin is the one we're most interested in following. By the middle of the book, Luceno is weaving together the same story as seen from Tarkin and Vader on their ship, Palpatine from Coruscant, and the revolutionaries on their ship, and that does make for a nice, quick pace, as each chapter shifts from one point of view to another.

I recommend this book to Star Wars fans who don't feel that every story needs a climactic lightsaber duel, and who are comfortable in the in-between time, after the Clone Wars but before the Rebel Alliance. I hope Luceno continues to write for the new canon. I look forward to his next Star Wars novel.

Profile Image for Milo.
787 reviews85 followers
December 7, 2014
The Review: http://thefictionalhangout.blogspot.c....

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 honourable 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.

It’s a new era for Star Wars. You may have seen the Force Awakens teaser trailer released a few days ago to much fanfare, but before that, Disney’s new Expanded Universe started with several writers getting their first taste of exploring the new Star Wars world. Readers also got their first taste of what to expect, and although I’ve only had the chance to read Tarkin so far from this new batch of releases, the new Star Wars universe looks to be in very good hands indeed.

James Luceno is one of my favourite Star Wars authors and I’ve loved his work in the past so it was a no brainer really as to whether or not I’d pick up Tarkin. Like with Darth Plagueis, James Luceno fleshes out a character who isn’t especially developed, and giving him some depth (although not without its problems, which I’ll touch on later) and intrigue of his own in a novel set before the events of A New Hope. It is very much a prequel novel that really works, telling the rise of Wilhuff Tarkin that’s executed in a strong way indeed. If you want to get a sample of what life was like for the Imperials before the completion of the Death Star then Tarkin is something that you’ll want to read, with plenty of interesting scenes that keep the novel feeling mostly fresh and exciting.

Luceno splits the narrative between flashbacks and the present day pretty well. The flashbacks are deployed to great effect and they are used to explore the different timelines strongly and they don’t really feel disjointed when it comes to pacing, and as a result you won’t find one section to be incredibly fast whilst the other is much slower.

The book itself blends the detective style approach with the look at the Empire’s problems after the Clone Wars. There are still Separatists to be dealt with and everything isn’t quite as clean as Tarkin would have liked it to be. Especially as the Death Star itself isn’t quite complete just yet, and it’s interesting to see how the Empire dealt with things before they had their super weapon.

There are a few problems however. As expected in a novel focused on the villains, and therefore you shouldn’t expect to find any sympathetic characters here. Luceno doesn’t make Tarkin someone you want to get behind and there isn’t anyone that developed to get on their side either, but if you can put that aside, then Tarkin is for the most part, very fun. It’s great for those of you who preferred Darth Vader over Luke Skywalker and as a general rule, fans of darker characters will probably get the most out of this book.

The novel is a good, solid read that explores Tarkin and the Empire pretty well. It gives plenty of page time to Darth Vader, and allows a good cop, bad cop kind of approach with both characters making the narrative very interesting indeed. The pace itself is handled very well and there aren’t really any dull moments, and despite the fact that Tarkin himself may or may not be interesting depending on your point of view, the book itself is still very much entertaining.

In short, you could do far worse than Tarkin. It might not be a perfect read but from James Luceno, it’s a damn good one, that aside from one or two problems, doesn’t disappoint.

Profile Image for Phoebe Prince.
Author 2 books53 followers
October 20, 2014
The real joy in this book is learning about Tarkin’s childhood on his home Outer Rim planet of Eriadu; the Tarkins were one of the first settling families of the hostile planet, but grew wealthy after Eriadu became a major exporter of lommite. Tarkin grows up in a wealthy, patrician branch of the family, but he’s not spoiled or treated softly by his parents. His parents tell him that someday, he’ll have to go out to the Carrion Spike, and young Tarkin doesn’t know what this means, but he builds himself a special vest in hopes it’ll help him survive. One day, his uncle Jova, a hunter and frontiers man, comes to take Tarkin to the Carrion, which is a massive mesa/savannah on the vast expanse of Tarkin land on Eriadu. Years later, the final test is for Tarkin to climb and spend a night on top of The Carrion Spike, and the experience is so pivotal to him that he names his ship The Carrion Spike in its memory.

The main plot involves said ship (The Carrion Spike) being stolen by a group of rebel shipjackers; this book is clearly designed to tie into the new Rebels series, and I’m wondering if we won’t see a particular character from the shipjacking crew pop up later. The shipjackers are a sympathetic band of characters, and I found myself genuinely curious to see if they could outwit Tarkin and for how long. Tarkin is a Magnificent Bastard, and the more the shipjackers push him, the more of his cleverness he has to use to subdue them. That means that the real winner in all of this is you, the reader, because the plot becomes seriously fun.

Read if: You like your Star Wars villains. The book does reference The Clone Wars a lot, but I’m fine with this because Clone Wars is my favorite piece of Star Wars media. It’s a smart move for this story to cling so closely to it and the characterizations developed there. Tarkin’s life philosophy is well-done, too, and the hunt for the shipjackers is exciting.

Read the full review at Throw This Book at Me
Profile Image for Thomas.
244 reviews12 followers
October 29, 2021
After a very entertaining experience with Light of the Jedi earlier this year, I was excited to engage with a darker outlook on some Star Wars reading. I thought James Luceno’s Tarkin would do the job nicely. Since the character is one of my favourite antagonists from the Saga, I was expecting something quite special. My reading experience has left me with mixed feelings though.

Luceno’s novel delves into the backstory of the cold, calculating Imperial Governor and how he came to be the sinister Grand Moff we encounter in Episode 4 of the Skywalker Saga. The story is packed with politics, survival, thrilling space battles and lots of dark side drama.

Since this was quite a short novel, I finished it relatively quickly. The writing quality I found to be quite inconsistent throughout though. My favourite passages were those centred on Tarkin himself and Darth Vader. The partnership that blossomed between them was a cornerstone of the novel, especially later on.

I was surprised by my disappointment when I came to read some of the The Emperor’s sections. I think this was due to the somewhat lacklustre characters he was surrounded by most of the time though. I’m sad to say that I couldn’t connect with any of the supporting cast either and found myself bored when reading passages that didn’t contain Tarkin or the two Sith Lords.

Not my best Star Wars experience thus far, but there were some very entertaining sequences on occasion. I think 3 stars is a fair rating for Tarkin and I’m convinced Luceno has the talent to write stronger novels going forward.
Profile Image for Dimitrios.
2,877 reviews
November 9, 2014
I ended up enjoying it, but there are a couple rough spots that almost brought my rating down to 3.5. There is a throw away plot about rebels doing rebellious things, and our plucky hero, Tarkin, must stop them from succeeding. It had something to do with Tarkin's old ship that the Empire had to get back, for some reason. Enter Tarkin & Vader bromance (so not kidding...and, oddly, it worked). The scenes with these two were gold and fun as hell. Vader was a highlight of the story. By far the most interesting Vader I've read. Not whiny, Backstreet Boy Vader or mindless smash puny rebels Vader. This iteration actually had character and a personality that felt very A-New-Hope-ish but more well-rounded and intriguing. This is one of Luceno's strength. He really takes you into characters and fleshes them out. So in ways it was fitting the plot was a bit generic--the book's not called Throw Away Rebel Plot, it's called frickin' Tarkin. Although Tarkin & Vader: BFFs would also have fit.

*side-note: if you're one of those, "curse you, Disney, for killing my EU and ruining my childhood" types who have sworn off any new Star Wars stories of any kind, start your boycott after this book. Luceno is a walking EU dictionary, and it all still exists in this story. Promise. Now get over it. #bringbackfirefly

PS--if Goodreads eats this, I swear the next thing I'll do is delete my account.
Profile Image for Paul Brooker.
3 reviews
October 5, 2014
Star Wars fans rejoice, the second novel in the post Lucas era of Star Wars is here. Tarkin tells the story of one of the grandest of Grand Moffs, Willhuff Tarkin. Leceno easily delivers a novel that easily will satisfy the multitudes of fans of the EU, while still laying the groundwork for the new canon.

Set five years after Darth Sidious became Emperor, Tarkin blends the coming of age story of a young Willhuff with the seeds of growing dissent in the post clone wars universe of the new Empire. The rebellion hasn't begun yet, but the idea and purpose behind it is growing among the citizens of the Empire. Tarkin is drawn into the conflict after an attack on a top secret base he is in command of. This leads him across the galaxy, tasked by the Emperor, along with Darth Vader, to track down the dissidents and bring them to justice, with the ultimate goal of reinforcing the hold that Sidious has on the galaxy.

James Leceno builds a compelling, exciting framework that truly does justice to a such a legend as Grand Moff Tarkin, as well as lay a solid foundation for the future of the Star Wars universe.

I received an advance version of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.com
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