Del Rey’s Star Wars Facebook page has posted a glimpse of what to expect from James Luceno’s upcoming novel Tarkin:
…James Luceno beautifully amalgamates the classic trilogy incarnations of Vader and the Emperor with their prequel era counterparts: The Emperor exhibits the reptilian charm of Chancellor Palpatine, and while Vader feels like Vader, there are tangible shades of Anakin Skywalker as well.
If I had to guess, I’d say Tarkin takes place over the course of the construction of the first Death Star, starting with Tarkin being tasked with overseeing the operation and following right into the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. The effect is that it’ll be framed as providing backstory for what we see in the very first Star Wars film while also tying it to Tarkin’s appearances in The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith.
It also seems we’ll get an accompanying short story:
Alex Freed also submitted the manuscript for a new short story for Star Wars Insider… a refreshing yet gritty take on the destruction of Alderaan.
I’d prefer not to hear the adjective “gritty” ever again, but I’ll assume that’s marketing-speak. In any case, this gives us another clue as to the focus of the actual novel—the Death Star itself.