Star Wars: Tarkin (Book Review)

When you watch Star Wars: A New Hope, you are introduced to Grand Moff Tarkin, a man who has no problem putting Darth Vader in his place. You wonder exactly how this man became who he was and how he has no fear of Vader. Thankfully, the creators of the Star Wars Canon Universe had the same questions and thus contracted Star Wars: Darth Plagueis author James Luceno to the task of building Tarkin’s character and filling in his history and relationship with Darth Vader. Luceno does a fantastic job on building up Tarkin, all the while connecting other canon works, such as the amazing The Clone Wars cartoon series. It’s nice to see this universe coming together into a cohesive narrative that has everything connected. Tarkin is yet another novel in the new canon that stands on it’s own and is altogether phenomenal. Read on to see if you agree…

Publication: 2014
Pages: 288

The idea behind Star Wars: Tarkin is a simple one, create a backstory for a character we all have come to love. Peter Cushing was amazing in the role. He brought such a calm menace to Tarkin and seeing him put Vader in his place gave this character a power unlike any other character in the series. It’s a shame he had to go out the way he did. Thankfully though, we get to dive into the life of Tarkin, from childhood all the way up to his time on the Death Star.

Wilhuff Tarkin had an interesting childhood, one that was full of tests and near death experiences. He was thrown into the task of surviving and hunting and all the skills you see him display years after, are because of that challenging upbringing. As he grows older, we follow him into his years in the service of the Republic and his relationship with Palpatine. We also get bits and pieces of more information on exactly what transpired in leading up to his appearances in The Clone Wars cartoon (sadly, we don’t get any Star Wars: Rebels references.) That however isn’t the main story of Tarkin.

Tarkin’s ship, the Carrion Spike has been taken by pirates and he, along with Darth Vader are to work together in getting the ship back. It’s a cat and mouse chase, as we learn more about these pirates and why exactly they have targeted Tarkin. This allows us to see Tarkin’s ability to think ahead and really goes to show how cunning he really is. It also forms the partnership of Vader and Tarkin, although not really friends, Vader becomes very interested in Tarkin’s past and how he became who he is. This lends back to the interaction Anakin had with Tarkin in The Clone Wars, where you could see that Anakin and Tarkin had a very similar mindset on how to deal with enemies of the state. The story of the pirates isn’t the main selling feature of the book of course, but it was nice to see the characters on the stolen ship developed a little bit as well and I’ll admit, I was cheering for them to get back at the evil Empire.

James Luceno has does an amazing job at filling in the blank spots of Tarkin’s character and he has crafted a story that is both interesting and informative. Star Wars: Tarkin is filled with action, drama and massive amounts of character development for our titular baddie. If you ever wanted to know what makes Grand Moff Tarkin tick, this is the novel to pick up. Highly recommended.

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