Book cover - Tarkin: Star Wars - Author James Luceno

Tarkin: Star Wars

Author James Luceno

  • Release Date: 2014-11-04
  • Genre: Science Fiction
Our score: 4.5
From 246 Ratings

Tarkin: Star Wars Summary

Tarkin: Star Wars - A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing the 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.

Praise for Tarkin
Tarkin tells a compelling tale of mystery while revealing much about a character who has fueled debate among fans since 1977, as well as the oppressive regime he represents. [James] Luceno has proven once again that the villains of Star Wars are as much fun as the good guys.”—New York Daily News
“Another home run in the new canon . . . This is the highest and best distillation of Tarkin stories, old and new, we’ve ever been given.”Big Shiny Robot
“A spectacular novel, with the intrigue, action, and profound characterization we have come to expect from the pen of Luceno . . . [Tarkin] provides a nuanced, multi-faceted anti-hero who is captivating, ominous, and calculating; in many ways, this is an origin tale of the Empire [and] a fascinating portrait of one of the more popular characters in the Original Trilogy. It may very well be one my favorite Star Wars novels.”Coffee with Kenobi
“A fascinating look at the pathos of one of the galaxy’s most criminally underused characters.”

Tarkin: Star Wars Review

  • Exceptional Back Story

    By VinceAlaw
    To learn of the back story of such a beloved Star Wars Classic Character on this journey was beyond words. The character development that you'll encounter is second to none.
  • No!

    By Captrip
    This book was horrible. People will read it because "Star Wars" but I hated it. It dragged on and on going back and forth between Tarkins past and present. I know technically it's all the past "a long time ago in galaxy..." But you know what mean. It's very confusing to be reading about Tarkin and Vader, and then the very next sentence Tarkins a boy on his home world. It took me a month to read it because it felt so tedious I just couldn't bring myself to read more than a few pages a day. It's disappointing because I felt like this could have been an interesting story. I'm actually worried about buying anymore of the books from the Disney era of Star Wars.
  • I was completely surprised!

    By Ak Applebury
    I'm not going to lie I didn't want to read this book, but I saw that it was James Luceno and I thought why not he's never disappointed me before. From the start I was pretty much hooked. I have no idea how James does it but he really knows how to bring the whole Star Wars universe together. I would strongly suggest reading this book especially if you enjoyed Darth Plagueis.
  • “Star Wars: Tarkin” – Fear Keeps Them in Line

    By Ferratho
    Like some other recent Star Wars releases from Del Rey, I did not get what I expected from this novel. The hype I’d heard leading up to this release was basically – “Wilhuff Tarkin gets the Darth Plagueis treatment.” I assumed this was more than simply because they had the same author. I was braced for a decades-spanning biographic narrative - similar to Plagueis & Sidious - telling Tarkin’s story from his backwater birth to his meteoric rise within a fledgling Galactic Empire. I did not get that. And, in truth, I got something far better. Wilhuff Tarkin has made enough appearances (in and out of Canon) in the past that there are just too many things to fit in and too many things to exclude. Luceno takes an excellent approach and tells a very narrow tale that spans only a week or two in the span of galactic history. Through that tale, though, he has woven smartly-placed flashbacks showing us Tarkin’s most formative years as an early teen and young adult. He doesn’t spend unnecessary pages on this – just enough to give you an idea, and then it’s back to the story. I found this approach to be very effective and enjoyable. This particular story shows us the mind of Tarkin in sharp detail – his cunning, his analytical process, and his ruthless pursuit of order. Much like in Darth Plagueis, the reader simply can’t help but root for the bad guys. The plight of the “dissidents” in this story doesn’t particularly engender any sympathy in the reader as we might expect. I found myself actually wanting Tarkin and Vader to squash these guys like bugs. Speaking of Vader, he plays a supporting role in this story but an important one. Like in “Lords of the Sith,” we see hints of the humanity that still lurks inside that helmet and armor – not to be confused with sympathy or empathy, but at least the raw emotion that fuels him. There is recognition of his past experiences before the epic duel on Mustafar that claimed his former identity. Make no mistake, this is NOT Anakin Skywalker, but you can see that he once was Anakin, and his memories are carefully dealt with by Luceno. I found some of my favorite moments to be the personal discussions between he and Tarkin – two unlikely partners in the shaping of galactic events. One would never mistake them for friends, but this novel does an excellent job of painting their relationship as one of mutual (if grudging) respect – perhaps even admiration. Ultimately they both want to serve the Emperor, the Empire, and (perhaps most crucially for Tarkin) the establishment of order. This book was a quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were accurately portrayed and my brain couldn’t help but play out the dialogue in my head in the voices of James Earl Jones and Peter Cushing. The Emperor appears slightly more fallible here than we saw him in “Lords of the Sith” but a powerful presence none-the-less. The would-be rebels in the tale are largely forgettable (as perhaps was intended) but the ending leaves open the possibility of at least one of them appearing again – perhaps in the “Rebels” series? Time will tell.
  • Very one-dimensional

    By aA Girlscout
    This is a biography of Tarkin. It's like looking at a blueprint of an X-wing. Interesting, but superficial. An X-Wing zipping through space and blasting away at TIE fighters is much more exciting, and so is a book with some character development. There is no "spoiler alert" because nothing actually HAPPENS in this book. We find out that Tarkin had a childhood and became a man and that his development process involved no higher thought or reasoning process than Pavlovian conditioning. Also, Tarkin worked his way up to Grand Moff. And finally, Tarkin and Vader get together to chase some rebels. The most interesting part of this is that Tarkin suspects Vader was once Anakin. This is like Lois Lane finally suspecting Clark Kent is Superman (except, you know, with a good guy, instead of the dark lord of the sith). The events of this novel have almost nothing to do with the Clone Wars tv series or the movies with the exception of the fact that they fit in the timeline. I could use one fourth of the 5120 characters remaining for this review to summarize the relevant parts of this novel, but I think those characters would be better spent encouraging readers to implore Disney Publishing to commission Timothy Zahn to write novels for the official Star Wars Canon.
  • Very enjoyable!

    By Mcjtorres
    This was a great read, I loved the depth added to Tarkin. I also enjoyed the subtle tie-ins to Luceno's Plagueis. It was nice to see familiar characters from that novel continued in this effort. And cannon confirmation that Plagueis was master to and killed by Sidious.
  • Great

    By Ggggfffddsaggh
    Great book, especially since it is a part of the new Star Wars canon. Makes you wish Tarkin didn't die in a New Hope.
  • Tarkin Review

    By lskywlkr44aby
    James Luceno delivers again, and while I loved this book, I do think nothing really stood out about it or broke new ground. It is a story that is definitely worth a read or listen but to me nothing was really memorable about it.
  • Riveting

    By jaynfendrick
    After reading this, Tarkin may very well be one of my favorite characters in Star Wars lore.
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn meets Darth Plagueis

    By ShrikeOne
    Tarkin by James Luceno follows the life of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin from his upbringing in a noble house on Eriadu through his mission with none other than Darth Vader to quell a group of rebels opposing the rule of the newly-established Galactic Empire. Maybe the word “rebels” has too many positive connotations, especially in regards to the Star Wars universe. Better words to describe them would be “dissidents” or “terrorists” as they go on a reign of terror destroying Imperial strongholds, killing innocent citizens, and spreading anti-Imperial propaganda to incite fear in the echelons of the Imperial government. Believing in the glory of the Empire’s cause, Tarkin is eager to work with the Emperor’s personal executioner to end this threat once and for all. Tarkin may be my favorite Star Wars antihero novel to date. This is because, unlike many other Star Wars books I’ve read, this book doesn’t have to rely solely on huge space battles, lightsaber duels, or crazy force powers to tell a consistent narrative, though there is some great action in this book. Instead much of the story is told through more subtle modes of storytelling: dialogue and narration. This helps to streamline the story by focusing it on the development of Wilhuff Tarkin which is absolutely necessary for antihero stories. Without this focus antiheroes simply become unlikable protagonists. No matter what scene he’s in, Tarkin always comes off as a precise, disciplined, and pragmatic individual. Simply from the way he acts to the way he speaks, more can be said about Tarkin’s character in a few pages than has been said about Luke, Leia, and Han over several books. It was also fascinating to read how other characters react to Tarkin, some with disgust, others with awe. This really helped to add additional depth to Tarkin’s character. Additionally the progression of the story in regards to Tarkin’s character is extremely well done. Although he comes from a noble household on Eriadu, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While it is definitely one of the more civilized planets of the galaxy, it still rests in the Outer Rim. As such Tarkin had to grow up experiencing both upper class life and the wilds of the galactic outskirts. This logically caused him to develop into a disciplined, efficient, man unafraid to be ruthless when necessary. When he finally grows up to be the man we all know in A New Hope, it is not only appropriate, but also inspiring given the trials he faces. Other interesting characters include the dissidents themselves who act as great foils to Tarkin. Luceno makes it no secret that the tactics they use aren’t too different from those of Tarkin’s. The Moff’s quote from Episode 4, “Fear will keep the local systems in line”, most certainly applies to the actions of the terrorists, only instead, they use fear to keep the Empire in line. (The definition of terrorist is “One who uses violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” Doesn’t that make Tarkin a terrorist too? Hmm…) This really helps to make a black-and-white Star Wars concept, Empire vs. Rebels, into something most definitely wishy-washy grey and provokes the reader to ask the question of who is actually in the right. On top of using fear, both sides play mind games against the other by trying to predict the actions of the other. As expected from any good game of cat-and-mouse, these predictions don’t always ring true. This gives a Moriarty to Tarkin’s Holmes or perhaps a Superman to Tarkin’s Lex Luthor if you prefer. When this book was first announced I came in expecting Darth Plagueis meets Grand Admiral Thrawn and boy was I not disappointed! Just like Thrawn, James Luceno has crafted an extremely complex antihero who believes in order above all else and frequently has us rooting for him when the chips are down. In the end, if you can’t sympathize with Tarkin as a character, at the very least you will most definitely respect him. Though we may never get the Thrawn origin story fans so desperately want (between the Disney acquisition and the fact that Timothy Zahn is pretty tight-lipped about Thrawn’s past) I truly believe this makes up for it. ALTERNATE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: How about a few other great anti-hero stories in the Star Wars universe? I recommend Darth Plagueis also by James Luceno, Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover, and Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn. These books follow the lives of Darth Plagueis (and Palpatine), Mace Windu, and Darth Bane respectively. Additionally while Path of Destruction is the first of the Darth Bane trilogy it still serves as a standalone story so reading the second and third books is entirely optional.