So I know this is late… probably too late to be referred to as Summer Reads, anyway. But the book we’re looking at today amazing enough to be read at any time of the year: James Luceno’s Tarkin. There’s much to discuss so let’s get goin’!
NOTE: Contains spoilers from Episode I, Episode IV, TCW “Citadel”, “The Wrong Jedi”, “Crystal Crisis” arcs, Freemakers episode The Kyber Saber Crystal Chase, and Tarkin.
(Image credit: Amazon.com)
A long time ago in the same galaxy, I saw Episode IV for the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t grasp it as well as I should have. I understood the basics, but I could not tell you the name of the man we know as Tarkin. Nearly ten years later, countless rewatchings of the film as well as many viewings and re-viewings of The Clone Wars and Rebels truly brought to light this truly amazing and fascinating character. And now, upon reading the book bearing his name, I know him now more than ever. Oh gosh where do I begin? James Luceno covers nearly every angle of Tarkin’s story, from his earliest adventures to the events that bestowed him the title of “Grand Moff”. But not a word of it is unnecessary; every chapter is a piece of what made Tarkin, Tarkin.
Strong, undaunted, articulate, fearless, calculating, and firm in his beliefs, I was re-reminded what an incredible character he is in just about every paragraph. Mr. Luceno wrote so well for him that I often forgot he was supposed to be a villain. But that’s just one of those things that make him such a fascinating character; he so believes in what he considers right, that he’s willing to do whatever it takes. In several situations I could agree with what he was after, but I couldn’t fully agree with his methods to get it. And as we watch him take on a group of less-than-scrupulous rebels, we really get to dig into deep thoughts on the difference between right and wrong… and how easily those lines can be blurred. Dude this book’s got philosophical thoughts for days! It’s amazing stuff!
And there is so much I learned from this novel. Tarkin’s had connections with just about all the big events in SW history in one way or another, and we get to experience those from his unique perspective. Not to mention just the general discussion on SW tech, warfare, and everyday life. There’s something special about knowing the inner workings of these things, even something as seemingly average as a comlink. I also learned quite a few new big words I had no idea existed in the English language, and i consider myself very well-read so it rather took me aback I didn’t know every word 😛 (Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who didn’t know what an “adjutant” was!) The book’s both deep and in-depth, definitely not a beginner’s SW novel, but a truly incredible one nonetheless.
Tarkin’s life story brings both a sense of empowerment as an ordinary guy achieves great status, but also one of sadness as, for all of his intelligence and cunning, he still understood so little of what truly mattered in life. Many times throughout the story that last fateful image of the Grand Moff came to mind. That last shot as he quietly observed the battle, not truly believing anything or anyone could knock down the battle station he put so much faith in. And then he and that battle station were gone in an instant. The book is a powerful reminder to be careful of where the lines blur, and that power gained by wrongdoing ultimately fails us in the end. I’m sorry if I butchered that in any way but ahhhh this book’s so so powerful! Every inch of Mr. Luceno’s story was masterfully written, so much so I can barely put into words how much so it was.
And now, some other thoughts I had while reading the book. Enjoy the randomness (and the occasional moment of deepness).
– Had to read this one slowly. A lot of information, a lot of politics, a lot of stuff to digest.
– Tarkin sounds 100% like I’d expect him to.
– Gets fashion advice from a protocol droid. #Fabulous
– Scars from previous battles? Hmm Tarkin’s had a lot of adventures hasn’t he?
– THE HOLOFASHION MACHINE OMG I NEED THAT.
– What’s a fitness apparatus?? Hah yeah he totally lifts bro.
– Wow such great descriptions…
– Hehe Tarkin was a ginger just like me, has blue eyes too– wait oh dang I hope I don’t look like Tarkin when I’m his age O_O
– Nah I could never match his cheekbone game.
– “Outer Rim” is an accent??? Mind. Blown.
– Wow someone likes looking at himself, don’t he?
– So all that stuff on the Imperial uniforms actually has a purpose? Not just greeblies anymore? Cool. Imperial cosplayers take note!
– Pff this is gonna be one of my weirder posts.
– Ehhh not a big fan of Grand-Uncle Jova… but fascinating trying to imagine Tarkin as a small child. I can barely see it.
– BTdubs I imagine a name like “Wilhuff” got him bullied a bit as a kid.
– Whoa dude’s a real multitasker. I never thought I’d say I’d want to be like Tarkin in any way, but I’d sure like to do that.
– YAYY I LOVE A PARADE!! Oh wait it’s full of Imperials bleh XP
– Parking lots are a thing in SW. Good to know.
– I’m really enjoying learning more about how the Empire works. Makes me feel super-smart, too 🙂
– Thing I learned today: “Comm” applies to the hologram communication devices as well as the little microphones they talk with… at least, I think so. I could be reading it wrong…
– Also I realized I think I typically have spelled it “com” with one m. Not feeling quite as smart right now.
– Hmmmm Tarkin’s good. *Nods*
– Can I just say I love learning about SW tech? I know I’ve said it before but it’s still seriously cool.
– Admiral Trench! I knew that guy! I remember that battle!
– OK wow this whole thing with the Droid Gotra. A bunch of battle droids gone rogue! Kind of a scary thought, but also kind of cool to know they had that kind of free will. Think R0-GR ever ran in that crowd?
– Wait I’m confused… Poggle The Lesser didn’t design the Death Star? Or did he? The Death Star’s origins remain a mysteryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy it seems…
– Man it’s kind of amazing how much effort truly went into the Death Star. All these millions of probably decent people contributing to this mysterious ultimate weapon in many ways. It’s astounding, though in a rather sad way.
– Hey look it’s Mas Amedda. Vizier is quite a fancy title. Much better than “secretary” like I was calling him 😛
– Did they seriously just describe him as an “ambitious amphibian”? I mean, that’s really good wordplay, but is his species actually amphibious? Huh the things you learn from SW books!
– Is it wrong I really enjoyed Tarkin and Amedda’s conversation? Hehe so much snarkiness, my goodness!
– Wooo galactic history lesson! I love how this novel was written as if speaking to the everyday citizens of the galaxy, not to us dumb Earth people 😛
– Actually maybe it’s more like a galactic news report than a history lesson.
– The ancestral pioneer Tarkins sound like cool peeps.
– Keep in mind I said “ancestral”. Tarkin’s parents are purty snooty.
– Also if they’re as rich and fancy as they are, why does his dad even consider putting his elbows on the table, even for emphasis? Breakin’ your own rules Mr. Tarkin.
– It’s funny though… little Wilhuff sounds like an adorable kid. I can see it now.
– But seriously still what kind of parenting is this?? “Oh look here come the men to kidnap you for your rite of passage! Have fun honey!”
– Joke’s on them though ’cause little Wilhuff was prepaaaaared.
– Oh hi Grand-Uncle Jova. Ah this explains the “blood” comment. All about the context.
– So far this makes me feel really bad about my lack of survival skills.
– Think using animal interiors (like tauntauns) as shelters was a covered topic? Ew…
– Such a waste of a perfectly good vest. Not to mention the poor critter. But I don’t need to tell you that.
– AHH DANG BRO ATE RAW LIVER. THAT’S GROSS.
– Smol Tarkin has guts. (Absolutely no pun was intended)
– He has GUTS.
– He did some gross stuff out there.
– I couldn’t do what he did.
– At all.
– Wonderful childhood amiright?
– OK Tarkin just figured out that Imp was using spice from a stain on his shoe. Wow he’s good. So so good. Hey, he may be considered a slightly bad dude but at least he expects his crew to be decent!
– Oooh the Carrion Spike is a stealth ship! Very fancay.
– Not sure his uncle gives the best advice still tho.
– Any weird chance this Q’anah girl might be related to Aurra Sing? Or if not, that maybe they hung out on the weekends and talked piratey-bounty-huntery things?
– Yay he caught the pirates. But yikes the way he did ’em in… that’s all I got: YIKES.
– OMG Palpatine’s living in the former Jedi Temple?? UGH YOU SCUMBAG.
– Sorry that might’ve sounded mean but it’s kinda true.
– EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP IMPERIAL GUAAAAAARDS!!! ❤ ❤
– *Is punched for that brief fangirly outburst*
– New thing I learned: Coruscant natives are referred to as "Coruscanti".
– AHHH TEACH ME YOUR STAR WARS WRITING WAYS, MR. LUCENO!
– Pff the Emperor is such a diva.
– Well actually he's just a very very busy man with his Death Star and stuff… oh who am I kidding he's still a diva XD
– If you think that's scary, wait 'til they hear about the Palaptine Museum they're building!
– Anyway, it's nice to know Wilhuff had a friend or two. He doesn't typically seem like the social type.
– Maybe if he used a different cologne. Whatever it is, it's not a scent that the Rebels care for. *Tomatoed*
– Oh yeah I remember the Citadel escape! That was fun 🙂
– *Cough not for most everybody tho cough*
– Hehe the looks Ahsoka gave him were well-deserved, but priceless XD
– And I'm getting off-track again.
– Whaaaat Palpatine was a ginger too?? So when we see him in Episode I, that blonde hair of his is fake? Haha he really is a diva.
– DON'T FORCE-CHOKE ME EMPEROR SIR.
– Hehe Tarkin's absolutely fanboying getting to meet the good Senator here.
– And by "teacher" you mean Plagueis, right?
– *Is punched for stating the obvious*
– Yeesh stop punching and tomatoing me already dude!
– Wow Palpatine is so good at being bad.
– Tarkin's entrance game is 110% on-point. I wish I could rock that confidence.
– *Stupidly imagines Tarkin as Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove* BOOM BABYYY!
– Get it? Because his entrance game was on-point…?
– Just… trust me on this. It’s hilarious.
– Lol haters gonna hate, Wilhuff. Just shake it off.
– *Ducks from tomato and fist*
– Hmm bro was a bit of a bad boy in the academy. Who’da thunk?
– THEY’RE JUST JEALOUS ‘CAUSE YOU’RE SO FABULOUS AND CLASSY.
– “Lightsaber diplomacy”… I like it. Or as some call it, “aggressive negotiations”!
– My first instinct is to assume Tarkin’s reading into the Jedi all wrong, but who knows? They’re might’ve been some snobby ones back in the day.
– Tarkin’s survival skills are also 110% on-point.
– If you ignore the fact it was an act of survival, it sounds like Tarkin could host the best campouts ever!
– …no, not really.
– AHHHHHH VADERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!
– Also boo Tarkin you were such a jerk to Ahsoka.
– But whatever it’s VADERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!
– Yep that’s Vader. Still as scary and awesome as ever.
– Though yikes the way he killed that guy…
– Please Amedda, Darth don’t care about your dumb rules.
– “I will give the matter some thought…” translation: not ever.
– The fact they literally have to designate where and when he executes people really says something about where the Dark Lord is right now.
– He powerful and he angryyyyy.
– Fascinating seeing the mutual respect Tarkin and Vader have for one another. Seriously.
– Oh wow Tarkin figured it out. Bro’s smart.
– It’s kind of freaky seeing the two Empire big-shots engaging in some casual small talk. Aside from the Lego one-liners, what must it’ve sounded like to hear Lord Vader just talk casually without intending to strike fear into someone? Can he even do that??
– Uh-oh did they end up finding that massive kyber for the thing?? How??
– Man they put so much work into that Death Star. How did they forget that one teeny little hole…?
– Only Tarkin could tell the Emperor “I like what you’ve done with the place”, and not be severely Force-lightninged.
– Somehow I’m not surprised Palpatine’s proud of his decor.
– Seriously Tarkin’s theories are right again! Mostly.
– Like I said earlier, watching Tarkin having pleasant conversations with the Darths is amazing. Just the fact that either of the darksiders could ever act like a decent human being is fascinating and really cool.
– Tarkin does freelance writing in his spare time. Who knew? Maybe he runs a holoblog? I’d read that. “Talkin’ Tarkin: Thoughts Of An Imperial Governor” or maybe “Keep Calm And Carrion Spike: A Governor’s Life”?
– THAT MOMENT WHEN IT SUDDENLY OCCURS TO YOU YOU KNOW WHO NILS TENANT IS AND YOU FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT FOR NOT RECOGNIZING HIM.
– Hi Yularen! Fun fact I seriously didn’t realize he was in Episode IV up until a few months ago.
– Took a minute to look up Janus Greejatus in the starwars.com databanks just out of curiosity and boy is he scary-looking.
– Interesting stuff happens when all the big-shot Imps get together in one room…
– It’s fascinating watching Sidious and Vader interact one-on-one… and quite chilling.
– Wow Tarkin and Palpatine knew each other on a first-name basis. Practically BFFs.
– Lol not really. OK maybe a little.
– Whoa a clone-turned-storm. I feel kinda bad for this Sergeant Crest.
– Really interesting seeing what Tarkin understood about the Jedi from his side of the story. What difference would it have made if he’d known the truth about the Clone Wars and the role the Jedi played in it? I’m gonna shoot looks at him like Ahsoka did though XP
– Oooh a little Dooku backstory! This novel literally has everything!
– Seems he made a different kind of spark of rebellion, huh? Not the good kind, but still veryyyyyyyyyy interesting…
– I want a book on Dooku’s life story now, OK? That would be awesome.
– Tarkin and Dooku in the same room but on opposing sides! Great stuff!
– Sidious’s droid is Plagueis’s old droid. Goodness, he must be an old thing.
– Oh wow I read into that wrong. Vader might have some respect for Tarkin, but apparently he’s been a little sore with him since the Ahsoka incident. Heh I know I would.
– When you read a SW book you learn something new just about every page! It’s seriously amazing.
– So the Emperor’s plan: let’s stick the two on a mission together and see what happens! Great idea! This won’t end badly at all!
– Well I guess it actually might not and they’ll become buddies up until the Death Star goes boom.
– Just have to see I do suppose.
– AHHH WOW SIDIOUS IS TERRIFYING. HE KNOWS EVVVVERYYYYYYYYYYYTHINGGGGGGGGGGGGG.
– “Chapter Ten: A Better Womp Rat Trap”. These chapter titles are amazing btw.
– He literally just compared the smell to rancid cheese. I like Mr. Luceno’s style. Serious, but completely honest 🙂
– Wheeeee we’re takin’ a ride in an old-school gunship!
– Koorivar have a single cranial horn… so they’re unicorns then??? *SHOT*
– *Twilight wracks her brain trying to recall where she last heard the name “Crymorah” in SW*
– Uh-oh there went the Carrion Spike.
– And Tarkin ain’t a fan of none of this.
– He got some doubts.
– Vader’s patience with him is impressive.
– Oh yeahhhh I remember the Sugi now. From back on Anakin and Obi-Wan’s crystal misadventures!
– That’s probably where I remembered the Crymorah from too.
– OK so that clears that up.
– Note to self: it’s spelled “gotal” not “gothal”. *Sigh* now I gotta fix the tags again…
– Wow a whole paragraph just talking about different varieties of body odor. Lovely.
– Again, love this book.
– Zygerrians have some fur. I did not know this.
– The fancy royal ones in TCW probably just shave it.
– The things ya learn!
– Pirates they may be but I like ’em. They’re the cool crew.
– DUDE DON’T TELL VADER HOW TO DRIVE. HE’S GOT THIS.
– AND DON’T QUESTION VADER’S PLANS. HE’S GOT THIS.
– Whoops. Nevermind they’re gone.
– Noooope Vader’s stillll got this bro.
– “DARTH SIDIOUS WAS ANNOYED…” What else is new? XD
– More cool SW tech terminology: “holocams”!
– These rebel-sorts are gooooooood.
– Governor Motti’s first name is “Antonio”. Fabulous name bro.
– Pooooor sleepy Tarkin…
– But he’s still sharp as ever when figuring out the rebs’ next move.
– Interesting looking at the opposing angles of Teller and Hask’s thoughts on innocents in the Empire. These rebs work well together and that’s likeable, but they’re not quite the rebs you wanna cheer on. They’re not the Ghost crew, who try to keep from killing people they don’t have to. These piratey rebs don’t seem to care who gets caught in their crossfire, with the exception of Hask, it seems. Seriously this concept is genius. They make you subliminally root for who we usually know as the “bad guys”. Wow. first time seeing some actual depth in these observations of mine in a long while.
– Oooooh Tarkin isn’t gonna be too happy when he gets a load of all that damage done to his ship…
– Y’know is it just me or does it seem that Teller doesn’t like Tarkin? /sarc/
– OMG HASK IS RIGHT. HASK IS SO RIGHT.
– When lines get blurred… stuff happens. Not good stuff usually.
– Ahh wow this book!
– “Magnetically sensitive”? Is that normal for all gotals or just Salikk?
– Sounds like Salikk leads a hard life.
– I’m sorry I’m not saying more right now but there’s so much to wrap my mind around OMG.
– Yep you can still tell that’s Anakin in there. Just as impatient as ever…
– Ohhh it’s read as OneOne-FourDee not Eleven-FourDee I feel dumb.
– SW computers are cool. It’s fascinating how they work and what they’re capable of compared to our technology.
– It’s too bad, Tarkin could’ve been a great wildlife journalist (or whatever you’d call it) had he not ended up in the Empire.
– That and the fact he didn’t bat an eyelash at killing anything he deemed dangerous or edible.
– Vader is so terrifyingly good.
– “Moff Tarkin sends his regards” *Drops the mic*
– “…Race to the light of the lasers!” might be the coolest line in the whole book.
– Coruscant has weather control waaaaat??
– They seem to consider “humanoids” and “nonhumans” two different things. Wonder why?
– Guess maybe humanoids have mostly human anatomy, while nonhumans have more “alien” anatomy.
– Tarkin is absolutely all smugness right now.
– Anora deserves a medal for that beautifully poetic burn.
– Tarkin don’t care tho he jus’ gonna shake it off, shake it off.
– But seriously she is 110% right.
– So right it’s scary.
– Hey hey everybody there’s a new GRAND MOFF in town!
– It somehow never occurred to me what a big deal being grand moff is until this moment.
– And then I only now realized this story takes place after Rebels. At least, I think so. In Rebels he was only governor and I don’t think the Death Star was quite under construction yet.
– It only took me nearly the entire novel to figure that out!
– Orrrrrrrrrr maybe not?? Apparently he still goes by “governor” in most circles. So maybe this was before and the Death Star was just well-hidden when the Ghost crew passed by Geonosis?
– IDK man it’s all a mystery to me.
– Wow the Tark is some celebrity. Have to wonder if people still thought that after the Death Star went up in flames…
– How is it that Tarkin’s connection to the Carrion Spike inspires in me both a feeling of warmth and unease?
– Oh hey Jova how ya doin’? And hey Teller– wait waht?? How’d he get here?
– Kind of hilarious watching Tarkin and Jova just catching up like nothing’s weird while the dork reb is stuck in a trap below them.
– I’d wish Teller good luck but I don’t think he deserves it.
– THERE ARE HEROES ON BOTH SIDES AND EVIL IS EVERYWHERE!
– Oh yeah and THA DEATH STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!! Or at least the BABY DEATH STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!
– It’s sad to think that this battle station he loves so much will one day be the death of him.
– Though I’m not gonna lie. When it first moved… I got chills, too.
And so that concludes the final SW Summer Read of the year. So glad you all got to read along with me!
Keep The Peace,