So I've been playing catch-up with Star Wars novels for quite a while now. I've still got a lot left to read, but I decided I have a few that could use a re-read too. So, I found myself reading Tarkin again. And honestly, I think I appreciated it a lot more than my fifteen year-old self did. Also, I read it over the course of a week rather than the way I read it the first time, which was to read a chapter or two at a time and then not pick it up again for like three months. So that probably helped too. I did like it, it's certainly a very interesting character study on the infamous Grand Moff. It gives us some good insight into him and his background, and why he makes the decisions he does.
Spoilers ahead for Tarkin by James Luceno!
We learn a lot about Tarkin's backstory in this book. Some about his history throughout the Republic and his service to the military and politics of course, but what was most interesting was before that, when he was a child on his homeworld of Eriadu. Tarkin grew up with a pretty cushy life, considering that the Tarkins were the most powerful family on the planet. However, he undergoes tests of strength in Eriadu's wilderness, where he must face all sorts of challenges and near-death experiences, often without much equipment to defend himself with. These experiences shape him though, and a really cool part of the book is how often Tarkin's internal monologue has him comparing the group of rebels he's hunting that stole his ship (named the Carrion Spike after a place on Eriadu where he faced his greatest trial) to the creatures that he would hunt on Eriadu, and how he used that knowledge to predict their behavior and effectively strategize against them. His cutthroat tactics against rebels in other Star Wars media really make sense when analyzed through this lens of Tarkin acting as a hunter at the core of everything he does.
The other part of the book that intrigued me a lot was the story of the rebel shipjackers who found themselves running away with Tarkin's ship, which is a marvel of design more powerful than anything else of the Imperial fleet. They use it to attack various Imperial bases and installments, though they're very closely followed by Tarkin and Vader. While eventually they're caught and of course, executed, they put up quite the fight and are very resourceful. My favorite of the crew was Anora Fair, a journalist who had previously been very vocal about her disdain for the Empire and Palpatine. She had a bit of an attitude, but was directed to the cause and could be caring for her teammates. She stuck out the most to me from the crew.
Finally, another thing I just really liked was all the references to The Clone Wars. Tarkin has no hesitation when it comes to referencing the Citadel episodes (multiple times), or his role in the trial of Ahsoka in the Wrong Jedi arc. It's always nice to see references to Star Wars animation, and I really appreciate it and get super excited every time. Like "hey, they're talking about that thing from that thing I like!!!" Never gets old.