An excellent addition to the new Star Wars canon, and a great exploration of the previously mostly untouched backstory of one of the franchise’s most loved villains, Wilhuff Tarkin.
Why I chose to read it?
I love Star Wars novels when they are done well as they add greater depth to an already vast narrative universe and can even give me greater enjoyment in watching the films as I watch them again with the characters backstories as established in the novels in mind. Again, I feel this is the case when the novels are written well and realistically expand on the characters and events as this book does so very well.
The plot follows Tarkin’s career some years after the Clone Wars and shortly before the events of the Galactic Civil War (the original trilogy time period) and ends with his promotion to Grand Moff. We are also provided with interesting flashbacks to his years as a younger man living on his home planet of Eriadu. Alongside this is a subplot following a small group who we assume to be a part of the early Rebel Alliance or at least a group with sympathies for their cause, although the exact nature of who they are is never explicitly stated.
Despite his important presence in A New Hope and the adoration that fans have for his character, there has previously not been a great deal of exploration into the character of Tarkin outside of the single film (apart from some small appearances in Clone Wars and Rebels) and even in A New Hope his backstory was not explored. However, this novel provides a realistic, interesting and compelling backstory for Tarkin while keeping enough hidden to maintain some of the mystery of his origins. We discover the nature of his family’s social status and how that influenced his career path and are shown how from a young age certain expectations were placed before him by family and gender conventions. Another interesting aspect of this book is the exploration of the relationship Tarkin’s character has with Darth Vader as they spend much time together in the plot of this novel. The way this is executed is realistic and compelling, they start off very official and business like and casually turn to very occasional bursts of small-talk although it is handled realistically in how little of it there is and how the characters are not shown to be entirely comfortable with non-official conversation, particularly when Vader asks about Tarkin’s youth.
– Excellent characterisation and realistic backstory
– Well paced
– Consistently engaging
– Ties content of prequels and original trilogy together very well
– Nothing comes to mind
My score: 9/10
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