Governor Tarkin sees the Galatic Empire as a machine that needs more centralised oversight. As insurgents perform hit and run attacks against the Empire, Emperor Palpatine orders Tarkin and his apprentice, Darth Vader, to investigate and put a stop to the rebel attacks. It’s a story full of twists and turns, and if you’re familiar with Star Wars, then you know that this is a story told from the perspective of the classic villains of Star Wars: A New Hope. In addition to the main plot, we also get to see important moments in Tarkin’s life that made him into the man that he is. We see his early life that gave him his outlook on life, parts of his early military career, his first meeting with the future Emperor Palpatine, etc. This really is a book about Tarkin, and it is glorious. A proper story for a classic villain; not at all a disappointment.
Tarkin as the main character is a brilliant character because as you learn more about him the more, you understand him, and in understanding him, you are almost convinced by him. He has a very pragmatic outlook on life, and his life is built on maximising his ability to the best utility he can have. Unfortunately, this focus on Tarkin doesn’t come with a compliment of equally interesting support characters. The support characters are good—Vader has a few good moments—but they don’t have the same presence on the page as Tarkin.
The antagonists of the story are a group of rebels that would normally be the protagonists of another Star Wars story. Most of the rebel crew is the usual crew you might expect, but their leader, Captain Teller, has a great moment with Tarkin at the end that I won’t spoil. Teller stands as a fine foil for Tarkin at that moment and serves as a good comparison between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.
I’m not sure how to go on in this review without spoiling anything, so I’ll just say that if you enjoyed Star Wars: Darth Plagueis then you’ll enjoy this just fine. As for me, this was a fantastic read, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading a real villain centred book. Star Wars: Tarkin isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the best books in the new canon that I have read so far.