Book Review: Tarkin by Luceno (3 Stars)

Tarkin by James Luceno

3 out of 5 stars

Read in October 2014

Releases November 4, 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

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.  That he was a contemporary of Palpatine was no surprise.  In fact, we learn Palpatine’s first name about midway through the novel due to Tarkin’s close association with the Emperor.

I’ve only read three Star Wars novels in my life:

  • Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Foster (read way back in 1978 soon after seeing the original Star Wars film)
  • Heir to the Empire by Zahn (read in the mid 1990s)
  • Tarkin by Luceno

Comparatively speaking, I loved Alan Dean Foster’s novel and wish fervently it had been made into a film.  I also really liked Timothy Zahn’s novel and should probably finish reading the rest of that series.  Luceno’s Tarkin trails in a distant third behind the other two.  Not a bad read, just not a great one.

My thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read the eARC of this novel, available Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at your favorite book retailer.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Tarkin by Luceno (3 Stars)”

  1. Yes, you should read the rest of the Zahn books.

    I didn’t care that much for the Foster book then, and we were all slavering for anything Star Wars.

    I may try Tarkin.


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