Book Review – Tarkin by James Luceno

Summary

Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the imperial ranks, enforcing his authority mercilessly while pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. But insurgency remains a genuine threat. Guerrilla attacks by an elusive band of freedom fighters must be countered with swift and brutal action — a mission the Emperor entrust to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome Sith enforcer, and Tarkin, whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction.

TarkinCover

Tarkin by James Luceno is part of the new Disney canon of Star Wars, after all of the previous extended universe (EU) stories were reduced to “Legends.” I bring this up because Wilhuff Tarkin, the book’s titular character and villain from the original Star Wars film, had an extensive history established in the EU. Some of it has apparently been adapted here, but if you’re invested in those old stories I’m afraid they no longer apply. I’m coming at this book with virtually no knowledge of Tarkin’s history outside of what was established in the films, but I wanted to acknowledge that this isn’t the first time Tarkin has been given more backstory. For better or worse, however, this is now the backstory.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2017/05/24

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Last week I said I wanted to get through a couple of books before Gwendy’s Button Box and Theft By Finding were released on May 30th. As it turns out, I was mistaken about the former’s publication date, which was actually May 16th. So, I quickly bought the book and began reading it.

As it turns out it’s a rather quick read (making the Kindle edition much more attractive than the $30 hardcover), so I’m nearly finished with it. While it is written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, it still reads a lot like a King story to me. It’s an interesting twist on a familiar tale about the effects of power, its influences, and what one should do with unfettered access to it. So far most of the story has felt in service of building toward something, rather than dealing with something. It has been enjoyable thus far, but things have also been a little too nebulous. This needs to amount to something substantial for me, or I will be left a little disappointed.

I’ve also started reading On Writing by Stephen King. I’m only about 40 pages in at the moment, but I’m enjoying it. Thus far he’s talked about his earliest memories growing up, giving a window into the things that shaped him as a writer. It feels like an honest approach to giving advice on the craft, without pretension or inflated self-importance.

Recently Finished

I finished reading Tarkin by James Luceno over the weekend, the new canon Star Wars novel about Grand Moff Tarkin before earning the rank of Grand Moff. I liked it, but with all said and done I’m pretty lukewarm about it. Getting to know some of the Imperial politics was interesting, but the plot was a bit too much concerned with him and Darth Vader chasing shipjackers around the galaxy. Tarkin doesn’t directly involve himself in the action, which is appropriate, but I wish the story had been more about political intrigue than leading pursuits against dissidents. I never got swept up in the mystery, I kind of just felt led along to each reveal. The details of his past were most compelling, giving a bit of a look at people’s lives on a planetary level.

I also read Hellboy in Hell: The Descent, the first of two volumes in that series by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart. It had a rather somber feel to it, his descent into hell dreary and nightmarish, and not bombastically infernal. I really like the depiction of the Abyss, full of gigantic eldritch insects skittering in the pitch black.

Certain plot points related to hell from the main series get tied up here too, which felt a little abrupt, yet still appropriate considering they’re issues that needed to be put to rest. It did a lot to leave me wondering what’s next for Hellboy, some unsettling turns leaving his future in Hell unclear and not at all what I would have expected. With only one volume to follow this one I’m cautiously optimistic of where the story will go. I’m worried it will disappoint me, with only one volume to conclude things.

Reading Next.

Theft By Finding by David Sedaris comes out next week, so I’ll be reading that once I get a hold of my copy. Otherwise, I’ll definitely be opening the next volume of Hellboy in Hell, and Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett looms in my near future too.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/05/17

www_wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I meant to write one of these last week, I really want to start doing them weekly. Sadly, I also do shift work and that Wednesday disappeared in a haze of fatigue. Here’s hoping I can start weekly from here.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m in the middle of reading Tarkin by James Luceno, one of the new canon Star Wars novels. I am enjoying it; this book tells a much more grounded story of Imperial intrigue and squashing dissent and rebellion than Lords of the Sith did, which I’m finding translates better to novel form. However, I wonder if I’m making a mistake by only having read the novels about villains thus far. I like getting into the heads of these characters, but ultimately it is giving the backstory of a man who destroyed an entire planet without batting an eye, because of how much he believes in a strong show of force to eliminate dissenter.

It still presents Tarkin with some interesting dimension, showing that he’s not wickedly cruel and sadistic, but ruthless and committed to his cause all the same. His involvement is a little more nuanced than simply being in on an evil plot to turn the galactic government into a dictatorship. I just can’t get completely behind him because he has no problem enforcing this dictatorship.

I like the book regardless and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. Tarkin and Darth Vader are currently being given a run for their money, which I hope will lead to more interesting developments as they become more compromised. I hope the implied rivalry between him and Vader comes to a head more as well. So far it’s been hinted at, but they’re cooperating just fine.

Recently Finished

Since my last entry I finished The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (review here). I must say, it did make me eat my words a bit. I said that it likely didn’t have any surprises for me, but I was wrong. There weren’t any shocking plot developments, but what I did find was a prominent personal connection with Holden, which made me empathize with him a lot more than I had before. The novel felt bittersweet by the end and I’m happy I read it. I took more away from it than I thought I would.

I also finished reading What If? by Randall Monroe (review here), which was a lot of fun to get through. I treated it like a read I would come back to periodically, but I enjoyed reading a lot of entries at once too. The humour was solid, but what I really took away was how much his explanations of physics and the laws of nature, when answering these absurd questions, actually taught me things I didn’t know before. It was fun and I know more about the world than when I started.

Lastly, I read through The Incredible Hercules: Dark Reign, which is the fifth volume in a Marvel Comics series about Hercules, which were originally published in the late 2000s to early 2010s. Once again I found they blend the mythology of Hercules with the modern, comic book interpretation of him very well, even dealing with how he’s always working toward overcoming the negative aspects of who he was in those old stories. The previous volume dipped a little in quality for me, so it was great to see it pick up again here.

Reading Next

It still feels as if I’ve got endless books to choose from, but I think I’m pretty set on what I’m reading next. I want to start and finish On Writing by Stephen King as well as Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett before the end of May. In terms of comic books, I want to read the two volumes of Hellboy in Hell — having recently acquired volume two — as well as the first volume of Hellboy: Weird Tales and Frankenstein Underground, which I just picked up for great prices used yesterday.

I hope to have all these books done before May 30th, when Stephen King’s new book Gwendy’s Button Box and Devid Sedaris’ new book Theft by Finding both come out. I want to finish those two new books as quickly as I can to get reviews written and posted, sot that I’m not just writing about older books. Looks like it’s going to be a bit more of an exciting few weeks for reading.