The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.
I was both excited and a little worried about the prospect of this book. Excited because Tarkin is a character that I have wanted to know more about since first watching A New Hope many years ago. But the worry stemmed from my experience with some of the more recent Star Wars novels and how they just didn’t stand up to the high expectations I have come to expect from this large and expansive series. This would also be my first time reading a book written by James Luceno and I was not sure if he would be one of the really good Star Wars writers or fall into the shame pile among the other bar Star Wars authors. I am happy to report than once I started to read this book I realized I had little to fear, because this book was fantastic.
The writing style is very pleasing in this book. James Luceno clearly has a way with words and this allowed the story to flow smoothly throughout the pages. As the story progressed events that were occurring in the present would reflect something that Tarkin had experienced in the past, and seeing this relation explained in a smooth and solid way truly made this book.
I really enjoyed seeing Tarkin’s past and what he went through, both as a boy and a young man, that truly shaped who he would become and the path that he would take. Getting to see the planet he was raised on, how the family dynamic worked, the tests he was put through really gave the reader a solid understanding of his character. With such little known about Tarkin before this book it was certainly refreshing to see exactly who he was before the Death Star happened. This book also explains his rise among the Republic as well as his transition to the Empire. It shows how he first became to be known to Palpatine and Darth Vader, how those two had vital roles in his life even if it wasn’t immediately known to Tarkin how much they would shape what he would do and who he was to become.
One of my favorite parts is seeing Tarkin in action. Not just during a battle but seeing how his tactical mind worked when trying to face an unknown enemy, to sort out who they were, where they would strike next and why they were doing these attacks. Though he can certainly work by himself, commanding those under him with great efficiency, getting to see him work with Vader was another great addition to the book. The knowledge that Tarkin isn’t all that certain about Vader to begin with certainly puts an interesting twist on things, as for those who have seen A New Hope can only assume those two work well together because of how they interact within the movie. The book also explains how he became promoted to the rank of Moff and eventually Grand Moff. I also must admit that one of my other favorite moments in this book is when Tarkin’s first name is given, it’s Wilhuff, and yes, it made me laugh.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy Star Wars books, but those who enjoy Sci-Fi will enjoy this as well. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books written by James Luceno, not just Star Wars books either, and will be adding them to my to-read list because he is a fantastic author.