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[A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...]
Events that occur before Episode IV: A New Hope.

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The Rise of the Empire

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Audio Book
Read by Euan Morton.
Published as unabridged audio CD.

[Tarkin - audiobook]

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James Luceno
Del Rey

Story published as:
Hardback Book (2014)
e-Book (2014)
Audio Book (2014)
Paperback Book (2015)

If you have read this book, please rate it:
2 reviews [Review score: 3 / 5]

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.

This story occurs approximately 14 years before Episode IV: A New Hope.

Related Stories (in chronological order):

Review by Darth Kondorr, Poland, 2016:

I really liked the previous books by Luceno. I would even say I loved the heck out of his Darth Plagueis and although Tarkin is mostly a competent book I have rather mixed feelings on it.
Overall it simply was kind of boring. The first third of the book is a mixture of present day Tarkin and flashbacks to him growing up.
These flashbacks are my first problem. I never saw Tarkin as a fighter or pilot. To me he was rather an arrogant military mastermind and a strategist. The problem with most characters in Star Wars fiction is that they excel almost always on piloting, shooting and hand to hand combat. Making Tarkin a non-combatant character in this universe would be much more interesting. The other thing is, I had strong recalls to elements of Herbert's Dune, especially the relationship with Jova seemed kinda like Paul's relationship with Gurney.
And there is a third problem with these flashbacks. Looking back, they seem more like an assorted collection of Tarkin-themed short stories rather than a proper set up for this character. And these stories are seldom interesting, they just fill his backstory rather blandly.
Once the main event began - a mission ordered by Sidious himself - the book did not really get much more interesting. It was a wild goose chase from step "a" to "b" to "c" and so on. From time to time there were scenes with the "rebels" and with the high ups of the Imperials, but those characters never really got enough "screen time" to become compelling. It mostly amounted to a heavy load of name drops. So I did not care for the whole chase, no matter on which side of the conflict we presently were.
The imperial triumvirate of Sidious, Vader and Tarkin was the most competent part about this book, but it also did not add anything to it. The emperor was his usual all-seeing all-scheming evil self, Vader was as intimidating as always and Tarkin was spot on (besides beeing an expert combatant)... well, not always: at the end Tarkin tells Vader of his own little "Lion King" adventure and babbles for maybe 4 pages straight with elaborate descriptions, which seemed to me very un-Tarkin.
On the positive side, there are many interesting tidbits regarding the structure and the power distribution in the empire, these alone make this one a worthy read, but they too are not enough.
In the end it was a pleasant read, but after the amazing Lords of the Sith I am sad to say that this is not something I would recommend (other than to die hard Star Wars fans, that need to devour it all)...

Rating: 2 / 5

Review by Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics, 2014:

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.

Rating: 4 / 5

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