Star Wars: Tarkin

Star Wars: Tarkin

‘STAR WARS: TARKIN’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

“Stealth, speed, power, that is Tarkin.”

– Teller


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Best-selling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.
He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly….and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.
Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel – by intimidation…or annihilation.
Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin – whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction.
©2014 James Luceno (P)2014 Random House Audio


THE PLOT:

Wilhuff Tarkin is an interesting character within the Star Wars universe. When it comes to the original Star Wars film, it is Tarkin who is the primary villain. When you take that into account, it is a little surprising that Tarkin didn’t already have a novel devoted to him.
The story is part character biography and part quest. We learn a good deal about Tarkin’s early life and trials on his home world of Eriadu. Chronicled as well are his rise through the republic ranks and his friendship with Senator turned Emperor Palpatine. The quest portion of the novel begins about five years after the events of ‘Revenge of the Sith’.
The conspiracy starts with a fony attack on the base where Tarkin is overseeing the construction of the first Death Star. While investigating this with Darth Vader, Tarkin’s personal ship, the Carrion Spike, is stolen. Tarkin and Vader must figure out who these people are, what their motivations are, who within the inner-circle of Imperial authority is assisting them and where they will strike against the Empire next.
The developing relationship between Tarkin and Vader was the highlight of the novel for me. The interaction between the two in the original movie has always been interesting and I feel like this novel enhances that to a great degree. Vader and Tarkin are not friends but each of them shows more respect to the other than they do for most anyone else that they encounter.


THE AUTHOR:

James Luceno has carved out a nice niche for himself in the Star Wars universe. He has previously written interesting character profiles of both the Millennium Falcon and Darth Plagueis. It is now apparent that if you want a character developed in a galaxy far far away, Luceno is the amn to call.
I can’t say that the Millennium Falcon novel is one of my favorites but it does have some nice moments. On the other hand, Darth Plagueis is an outstanding novel that I would recommend to anyone. I put this one comfortably between the other two in terms of quality. My issues with the Millennium Falcon novel revolve around one character who is obviously not included in ‘Tarkin’. But it isn’t quite the storytelling masterpiece of Plagueis either.
The way Luceno handled the six ship thieves ended up being interesting. At first I didn’t really find any of those characters particularly interesting and thought that only a couple of them had definable personalities. We didn’t know a lot about their backgrounds or motivations. But that ended up paying off for me because we got the big reveal the same time that Tarkin pieced it all together and so it ended up working out. A little more character development would have been nice, however. It has only been a few days since I concluded the story and outside of Teller there is not much I could tell you about the rest of the conspirators.


THE NARRATION:

This is not Euan Morton‘s introduction to the Star Wars universe but it is the first audiobook he has narrated. He has previously provided voice work for the ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ MMORPG. He had a strong performance, particularly giving voice to Tarkin.
I have previously made the statement that the Star Wars audiobook franchise is blessed with a strong stable of narrators. It is to Morton’s credit that I did not find myself wishing it had been Jonathan Davis or one of the other established narrators who received this assignment. He gives a real strong voice to the main character and that is ultimately going to be how his performance is judged.


THE PRODUCTION:

I often say the same thing about audio tracks. It is easy for me to tell you what I consider to be a good track. If the sound levels stay consistent throughout, if chapter spots are in the right places and if there are no other obvious glitches, then it is a good track. In 2014 there is no reason that every audiobook recording should not be excellent.
Given that this is a Star Wars book we also have music and sound effects on the track. Neither of these things is much of a distraction although the musical cues to begin the chapters might have been shortened up slightly.
The problem with the track I heard was that it did contain a glitch. When playing chapter 7 it played normally for about 4 minutes and then skipped back to the beginning of the chapter and started over. I have alerted Audible to the issue and it should not be a difficult thing for them to fix or get a fixed track from Random House. Update, the issue has been fixed!


FINAL THOUGHTS:

‘Tarkin’ is a very enjoyable piece of storytelling and is definitely worthy of inclusion in the Star Wars saga. There is more that I could say about the future of Star Wars storytelling in this form but that discussion does not need to be tied to this novel specifically.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Star Wars: Tarkin James Luceno Euan Morton Random House Audio Science Fiction 11/04/2014 9 hours, 28 minutes 7.75/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘Star Wars: Tarkin’ was purchased from Audible.com for review.

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