Star Wars: Tarkin, the second novel in the new Star Wars canon, will be released today. Written by Star Wars expanded universe veteran James Luceno, the novel is set five years after Revenge of the Sith and three years before A New Dawn, and was written with knowledge of the events to be depicted in Rebels. (It really seems as if Rebels is central to Lucasfilm’s marketing strategy at this point.)
A fascinating interview with Luceno can be found at SciFiNow, but if you want a taste of what’s to come, read on…
Firstly, here are the first 50 pages. Below are several mini-excerpts.
The opening crawl (via Star Wars Underworld)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….
Five standard years have passed since Darth Sidious proclaimed himself galactic Emperor. The brutal Clone Wars are a memory, and the Emperor’s apprentice, Darth Vader, has succeeded in hunting down most of the Jedi who survived dreaded Order 66. On Coruscant a servile Senate applauds the Emperor’s every decree, and the populations of the Core Worlds bask in a sense of renewed prosperity.
In the Outer Rim, meanwhile, the myriad species of former Separatist worlds find themselves no better off than they were before the civil war. Stripped of weaponry and resources, they have been left to fend for themselves in an Empire that has largely turned its back on them.
Where resentment has boiled over into acts of sedition, the Empire has been quick to mete out punishment. But as confident as he is in his own and Vader’s dark side powers, the Emperor understands that only a supreme military, overseen by a commander with the will to be as merciless as he is, can secure an Empire that will endure for a thousand generations….
He turned his clean-shaven face to both sides and lifted his chin. He folded his arms across his chest, then stood with his hands clasped behind his back, and finally posed akimbo, with his fists planted on his hips. Drawing himself up to his full height, which was just above human average, he adopted a serious expression, cradling his chin in his right hand.
There were few beings to whom he needed to offer salute, though there was one to whom he was obliged to bow, and so he did, straight-backed but not so low as to appear sycophantic.
“Eliminate the top line collars on the boots, and lower the heels,” he told the droid.
“Of course, sir. Standard duranium shank and toes for the boots?”
Stepping down from the platform, out from inside the cage of laser tracers, he began to walk circles around the hologram, appraising it from all sides. During the war, the belted tunic, when closed, had extended across the chest on one side and across the midsection on the other; now the line was vertical, which appealed to Tarkin’s taste for symmetry. Just below each shoulder were narrow pockets designed to accommodate short cylinders that contained coded information about the wearer. A rank insignia plaque made up of two rows of small colored squares was affixed to the tunic’s left breast.
Tarkin shook his head in aggravation. In part, the deep-space mobile battle station was meant to put an end to harassments of any sort, whether driven by greed, political dissent, or revenge for acts committed during the Clone Wars or since. Once everyone in the galaxy grasped the weapon’s capabilities, once the fear of Imperial reprisal took hold, discontent would cease to be a problem.
But just now—and notwithstanding the covert nature of the Geonosis project—the Imperial Security Bureau and Naval Intelligence were continually trying to quash rumors and prevent information leaks. In the three years Tarkin had been commanding Sentinel and hundreds of nearby supply and sentry outposts, as well as administering a vast slice of the Outer Rim, no group had been successful in penetrating Geonosis space.
The chance that that could change shook him to the core.
“Governor, your presence is required on Coruscant,” Amedda said after a moment. Tarkin moved to his desk and sat down, centering himself for the holocam. “I’ll certainly try to make time for a visit, Vizier.”
“Permit me, Governor, but that will not suffice. Perhaps I should have said that your presence is urgently required.” Tarkin waved a hand in dismissal. “I’m sorry, Vizier, but that doesn’t alter the fact that I have my priorities.”
“Priorities of what sort?”
Tarkin returned Amedda’s mirthless smile. There was probably no harm in sharing with Amedda information about the expected shipments of matériel from Desolation Station to Geonosis—including vital components for the battle station’s complex hyperdrive generator—but he was under no obligation to do so.
“I’m afraid my priorities are on a need-to-know basis.”
“Indeed. Then you are refusing the request?”
Tarkin glimpsed something in the thick-skulled Chagrian’s pink-rimmed cerulean eyes that gave him pause. “Let’s say that I’m reluctant to abandon my post at this time, Vizier. If you wish, I’ll provide the Emperor with my reasons personally.”
“That’s not possible, Governor. The Emperor is presently engaged.”
Tarkin leaned toward the cam. “So engaged that he can’t speak briefly with one of his Moffs?”
Amedda affected a bored tone. “That’s not for me to say, Governor. The Emperor’s concerns are on a need-to-know basis.”
“Whatever you deem necessary, my lord. Force is the only real and unanswerable power. Oftentimes, beings who haven’t been duly punished cannot be reasoned with or edified.”
The Emperor repeated the words to himself, then said, “That has the ring of a parental lesson, Governor Tarkin.”
Tarkin laughed pleasantly. “So it was, my lord—though applied in a more personal manner.”
The Emperor swiveled his chair toward the light, and Tarkin glimpsed his sepulchral visage; the molten skin beneath his eyes, the bulging forehead. After all these years, he was still not accustomed to it.
“When one consorts with vipers, one runs the risk of being struck,” the Emperor had told Tarkin following the attack on him by a quartet of Jedi Masters.
There were many stories about what had occurred that day in the chancellor’s office. The official explanation was that members of the Jedi Order had turned up to arrest Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and a ferocious duel had ensued. The matter of precisely how the Jedi had been killed or the Emperor’s face deformed had never been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, and so Tarkin had his private thoughts about the Emperor, as well. That he and Vader were kindred spirits suggested that both of them might be Sith.
Tarkin often wondered if that wasn’t the actual reason Palpatine had been targeted for arrest or assassination by the Jedi. It wasn’t so much that the Order wished to take charge of the Republic; it was that the Jedi couldn’t abide the idea of a member of the ancient Order they opposed and abhorred emerging as the hero of the Clone Wars and assuming the mantle of Emperor.