Better to be spaced than based on Belderone.
So begins the novel Tarkin, written by author James Luceno, who also wrote the novel Darth Plagueis. The story takes place in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, where we find out how Tarkin became in charge of the Death Star and how he can give orders to the evil Darth Vader.
The novel also introduces a band of rebels lead by ex Republic Berch Teller whom creates a stellar plan to overthrow the empire.
Tarkin is a fun read that gives depth and insight to one of Star Wars’ most notorious and menacing villain, Grand Moff Tarkin.
James Luceno has a very distinctive style, in which he does a lot of long paragraphs of description and exposition and often times decides to tell rather than show the reader which can get a bit tiresome and a bit boring to read at times. The novel sometimes doesn’t go along at the most smoothest pacing. There are a lot of slow parts, for example, it takes almost an entire chapter for Tarkin to find the right pair of clothing, and I get that Luceno wanted to show Wilhuf’s love for fashion but some scenes could have been better edited and better paced.
The overall plan that the rebels decide to undertake felt a bit unnecessary and it was almost as if Tarkin and Vader we’re above it. It felt short and a bit uninteresting.
However, the ending, the very last chapter, without giving anything away, was sad, thrilling and ultimately satisfying and intertwined really well in a New Hope.
The characters are merely intact for the most part. You envision the late Peter Crushing as the character of Tarkin throughout the novel and when the character speaks the dialogue feels reminiscent to what the character was while also adding some more layers in the progress. Darth Vader and the Emperor also make appearances, and both of them are almost equally well represented, even if Vader sometimes doesn’t seem as menacing as he did in a New Hope and some of his dialogue didn’t quite seem Vader to me at times, but it was still a good representation of the Dark Lord. The Emperor was the most interesting secondary character by far and the best realized on the page. I wish that Luceno gave more time on Palpatine.
Overall, while the pacing and writing could have been a bit improved and less overbearing, Luceno excels at making intriguing characters and making their personality intact (for the most part aside from Vader) from the movies and keeps things interesting the process, making Tarkin a welcome addition to the new Canon.