Star Wars: Tarkin is the second canon novel to be released. Written by James Luceno this novel focuses on Tarkin as the title indicates.
WARNING SPOILERS (if you haven’t read it)
This novel is a must-read for The Clone Wars fans as it contains many references from the Emmy-Award-winning TV series. Some of the references feature obviously The Citadel arc in which Tarkin was a major character and also the final Ahsoka S5 arc in which Tarkin has also an important role. James Luceno also talks about the battle of Christophsis and Admiral Trench in this novel and one of the characters ( Berch Teller) goes to Christophsis! We also see the Jedi Temple on Coruscant even if this Temple is very much different from the time of the war. We also learn that Tarkin was part of the battle of Kamino! We can also notice the presence of Wulff Yularen. Mas Amedda is still there and he is now the Vizier of the Empire. We also see some Separatists ships! So the fans of the series will definitely be happy to read Tarkin novel as it features so much elements from The Clone Wars.
As this novel takes place five years after Revenge of the Sith, we also get a lot of references from the Original Trilogy and many characters from the Trilogy return in this novel – Wulff Yularen, Darth Vader, Cassio Tagge, Ozzel, Antonio Motti, Jerjerrod. It’s a lot of Empire officers that every fans know.
This novel gives a lot of information about the Empire. The Imperial Palace on Coruscant is the Jedi Temple that Sheev (yes, this is the first name of Palpatine and this is revealed in this novel!) transformed into his palace. We see the chamber in which Ahsoka’s Jedi trial took place and in the Empire era, this chamber is an audience chamber for the Empire officers. We also know that many agencies have been created in this era like COMPNOR, Imperial Security Bureau, Military Intelligence, Imperial Ruling Council, Naval Intelligence Agency. It’s a lot of agencies for the Empire. Yularen is one of the leaders of the Naval Intelligence Agency. The Imperial Security Bureau is also featured in Star Wars Rebels. In these first years of the Empire, there are still Venator Cruisers from the Republic. The Imperial Star Destroyers and Tie Fighter begins to appear and Darth Vader doesn’t have his Advanced Tie Fighter yet, he has an ETA-2 interceptor painted in Black. We learn that below the Jedi Temple there was a very powerful Sith Shrine hidden, a Shrine in which Palpatine is very interested (it seems it has to do about his quest for immortality).
We learn a lot about Tarkin’s past. We even get scenes when Tarkin was just a young boy and was learning the hard reality of life on Eriadu, his home planet. His boyhood is one of the good explanation why Tarkin is this man hungry of power. He has been raised the hard way facing the Carrion Plateau and the harsh lands of Eriadu. We can truly experience his rise of power from the boy who was fighting on the Carrion Plateau to the Emperor’s right hand. Tarkin had an exceptional career. He faced so many events and made his way to become one of the most powerful people of the Galaxy. The Emperor, Vader and Tarkin ARE the Empire. This novel also develops the early friendship of Palpatine and Tarkin when Palpatine discovered Tarkin’s talent (thanks to his ‘secret contacts’ who was at the time at school to become a pilot. These contacts of Palpatine makes things very mysterious because we never see them and we don’t get their names, there is still this entire mystery about Palpatine’s rise to politics but we know Darth Plagueis his former master has to do something in it. Tarkin also turned to politics to become the leader of Eriadu and it’s before the clone wars that he met Count Dooku who tried to convince him to join the Separatists Confederacy and at this time Tarkin was already feeling war was coming. Obviously the war came and it was Tarkin’s occasion to rise to the top and at the end of the war he becomes Moff and Governor. He became in charge of the supervision of the construction of the Death Star near Geonosis. At the end of the novel he becomes Grand Moff, the Emperor’s right-hand which means one of the most powerful people of the Galaxy.
The main plot of the novel is Tarkin and Darth Vader investigating a rebel cell. As we can see there were rebels before the characters of Star Wars Rebels and Berch Teller was one of these rebels, a former agent of the Republic. This Tarkin and Vader’s quest lead them to Murkhana a former Separatists planet on which Tarkin fought when the Separatists had attacked the Republic’s Holonet network. As you know the stormtroopers are not clones but some clones became stormtroopers and one of them is under Vader’s command and this clone is with Tarkin and Vader on Murkhana. After Tarkin’s ship the Carrion Spike (named after the Carrion Plateau) got stolen by the rebels cell, our villains lead us to some Sugi pirates ( the Sugi species were first introduced in The Clone Wars with the story reel Utapau arc). The poor Sugi have a bad time with Darth Vader who executes them and takes their ship to pursue the rebels. Berch Teller is the only rebel of this cell that survives in the end and I think it could be Fulcrum from Star Wars Rebels if the creators of the series don’t go with a famous character for Fulcrum. This rebel cell even if they are destroyed at the end of the novel made some damage and almost got in trouble the construction of the Death Star but as Tarkin is a great strategist he was able to save the day for the Empire. This novel also develops the chemistry between Tarkin and Vader, if we can call this a chemistry. These two characters met during the clone wars even if the citizens of the Galaxy don’t know Vader is Anakin, Tarkin suspected and was almost sure Vader was Anakin. Tarkin has a very good sense of feeling things. He was aware that the so-called Jedi’s betrayal was because the Jedi discovered Palpatine was a Sith Lord and failed to stop him to rule over the Galaxy. Tarkin and Vader even though often worked together do not appreciate each other. Vader doesn’t understand why Tarkin is one of the three heads of the Empire but these two make a pretty powerful team.
8/10 This novel contains both action-packed moments and slow dark moments both in the present and in the past which gives a great rhythm to the story and it always makes you want to know what happens in the next page. It’s clearly one of the great Star Wars novel! Great job to James Luceno and I loved all these The Clone Wars references.