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[ Star Wars Books & Comics ]
Staff Review.


Author: James Luceno
Published: 2014

Reviewer: Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics
Reviewed: 2014
Review rating: 4 / 5

Spoilers are kept to minimum however cannot guarantee spoiler-free.

Although publisher supplied copy for review purposes, all opinions are those of reviewer.

Publisher's Summary:
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.

Following the success of Darth Plagueis, James Luceno returns with another character study: that of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin. Whereas his Plagueis novel was almost a complete biography of a character that only had the briefest of mentions in one of the six films, in this book Luceno focuses on a character we are more familiar with and explores his motives, drive and reasoning. In short, this is an explanation why this character was so ruthless in Episode IV when he ordered the destruction of a planet and the deaths of millions of beings without even batting an eyelid.
Luceno's explanation is a combination of both nurture and nature: even though Tarkin is born into a powerful dynastic family, it is his family's conviction that every family member must learn the lessons of ultimate survival before they have earned any right to govern. Those lessons consist of a series of evermore dangerous trials - trials that will pit him against the worst (and best) that nature has to offer. For the young Wilhuff Tarkin, the lessons he learns are simple enough: the importance of law and order (in both the natural and synthetic worlds) and the utmost belief to rule by fear.
Moreover, the main plot of this story is an examination of the relationship between Tarkin and Vader as Luceno has the pair sent on a mission for Palpatine. This is a mission that begins with Vader almost resenting the fact that Tarkin must accompany him, but he will obey his master; while Tarkin obeys his Emperor's request without question. By the end of the mission and the story, Luceno has someway explained the mutual respect between the pair we see in Episode IV.
Underlying Luceno's story is a discussion of loyalty, especially given that this story is set approximately five years after Palpatine's declaration of the first Galactic Empire, it is an era where loyalty is primarily through fear. So Luceno takes time to examine what it means to be loyal to either a person, such as Vader's devotion to his master's will; or to an ideal like Tarkin's support of Palpatine's new Galactic Order; or to a cause, which in this story is the dissidents loyalty to their own cause.
Even though a more concise character study than Plagueis was, Tarkin is still a strong offering from Luceno and his examination of this particular character's motivations.

Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno is available now in hardback from Century in the UK and Ballantine in the US.


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