Tarkin is one of those figures in Star Wars that always left a big impression on me. He may have only featured in Episode IV and as a CGI character in Rogue One (and The Clone Wars series), but there was something about Peter Cushing that just made a big impression. He portrayed a ruthless character who showed no mercy to Princess Leia when he obliterated an entire planet with the Death Star, just to get his message across to her.
I picked up this novel to learn more about Wilhuff Tarkin, because I thought there would be a good story in it. There is, but I’m afraid it gets weighed down in a few ways that I’m going to elaborate in this review, without spoiling anything plot-wise.
When you look at this novel in its entirety, you get a very good idea of the life Tarkin lived and how he got to become Grand Moff, in charge of the Death Star, the Empire’s most fearsome weapon. You will understand why he was such a merciless character. Luceno tells this story by using a massive amount of flashbacks in the early part of the book. The start of the story also suffers from quite some extensive info dumps, which made it feel as if I was reading a wookieepedia article. It’s not that I wasn’t entertained by them, it’s just that they distracted me too much from the main story that Luceno is trying to tell.
In one chapter this was taken to an extreme when Tarkin arrives on Coruscant. This chapter features three flashbacks, and all Tarkin does in the chapter in the present is travel from the entrance to the top of the Imperial palace. This felt a bit forced. I personally think it would have been much better to write this novel as a biography and just start at the beginning.
Once Luceno is done filling in Tarkin’s childhood and young adult life, the main story finally blasts off with an amazing plot, and a mission he is sent on to stop a group of dissidents with the Dark Lord, Darth Vader, himself. We get to see the chemistry between these two big players, and a mutual respect for one another that is hard earned.
All in all this was an enjoyable read, but I’d preferred if the main story hadn’t been dragged down so much by flashbacks and info dumps. On the other hand, this book reads fast and the writing style of Luceno is clean and smooth. I really enjoyed reading this, and it is a good story. Just not as great as it could have been.
Still a recommended read for all Star Wars fans with an appetite to get into the Dark Side more. 😉