My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had high hopes for this book, since I am a huge Tarkin fan. And for the most part, this book delivered. While technically a follow up to Lords of the Sith (a decidedly less interesting book), Tarkin doesn’t really follow on at all. And to be honest, that is fine considering how lack-luster I found Lords of the Sith.
Tarkin follows follows our favourite sentient pair of cheekbones on a hunt for rebel insurgents. Most of the book follows a bit of a wild goose chase after these rebels, but its more exciting than it sounds. With personal stakes in the rebel’s activities, it is great to finally see a different point of view of the galactic conflict. And Tarkin was the best choice for the point of view, since his collected and sensible view of the war shines a new light on the conflict- one that stirs a bit of pro-Imperial sentiment in the reader.
One of my other favourite aspects is the dynamic between Tarkin and Vader. I was not expecting them to team up, and its not something I knew I wanted until now. When they do, its an amazing combination that unveils a connection, and dare I say it, friendship between the two of them. I thought the reason that Vader follows Tarkin’s orders in a New Hope was born of Tarkin’s high rank, but after reading this you realise that Vader has a great deal of respect for Tarkin and he is probably the closest thing to a friend he has in the galaxy, which makes Tarkin’s eventual death all that more tragic.
However, once at the halfway point, the novel seems to drop off into tedium. That wild goose chase becomes less and less interesting, and actually somewhat harder to follow. A simple premise at the start eventually becomes a little hard to follow as new motivations and plans come to light. The scenes from the rebels point of view were fine, but I felt no connection or sympathy for these characters since it had all been spent on Tarkin and Vader.
There are also a number of scenes detailing Tarkin’s past, and while these were enlightening and interesting for the most part, they eventually overstayed their welcome. Especially a strange scene involving Tarkin facing down a bunch of space gorillas- I’m not even kidding.
While my three star may seem a little harsh, its because the second half of the book suffered from confusion and tedium. The story was not enough to hold me well to the end, but this insight into Tarkin we’ve never seen before was. While not all Star Wars fans may go for this, I would highly recommend it to Tarkin fans, or Empire fans who want to see the Star Wars galaxy from a mostly unexplored Imperial perspective- a perspective that brings up many good points that may change your view of the Rebellion.