Audiobook short: Tarkin (a new Star Wars canon novel)

To hear me read this review, check out episode 499 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 13:50.

A little while ago I took some very tentative steps into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, starting with the Darth Plagueis audiobook. Tentatively, because I didn’t want to commit, since the Lucasfilm Story Group banished the entire EU, once official canon lore, to the realm of what they now call Legends.

Of course I lost that not-very-hard-fought battle and am now swimming neck-deep in the entire original EU (now: Legends), so audiobooks, novels, comics and even game plot summaries.

However, I did want to try the new canonical continuity and tried two of the new novels in audiobook format. The first one is Tarkin, written by James Luceno and read by Euan Morton. Length: 9 hrs, 27 min.

Publisher’s summary

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Best-selling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hopeto full, fascinating life.

He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly….and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel – by intimidation…or annihilation.

Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin – whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction.

©2014 James Luceno (P)2014 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Not enough action, too little suspense”

Although well-read by Morton, this is definitely not my favorite Star Wars novel. I was curious what nuggets of new SW lore this novel would offer, but for me it fell flat. The story built too slowly, there was hardly any suspense and in my opinion it could have been at least 30% shorter.
And most importantly, it did not succeed in making me care for any of its characters, nor the main plot line, the problem that needs solving by Tarkin. Except, of course for Darth Vader and the Emperor – who are not nearly enough in it. Narrator Morton does a great Vader by the way, very well done considering nobody can really come close to James Earl Jones.

I’m a big fan of Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, which I highly, highly recommend to any SW fan, so I had hoped for a bit of that same quality of storytelling that kept me glued to my couch even though it was an audiobook, but alas. Perhaps Luceno had to make the most of a pre-outlined plot, or perhaps he just doesn’t ‘feel’ the new SW universe anymore, like he did so well with Darth Plagueis.

There are of course the usual SW audio effects, which I like. For instance, when Vader’s in a scene, we hear him breathing through his apparatus.

All in all a disappointment. I finished this audiobook anyway, out of a sense of completism for the new Star Wars universe. Which is about the only reason you should buy it.

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply bookmark my Listerner page once you’ve found me)

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Audiobook Short: Darth Plagueis

Hey all! It’s taken me a while to get back here, what can I say, life is busy and often beautiful 🙂 But, here I am and with a new habit of geeky content consumption: audiobooks. Audiobooks are the ideal way to combine reading a novel while doing other stuff (like living life, busy and beautiful) and ever since I discovered the sheer endless well of narrated titles I dove in and started swimming.

And to help you swim along, if so inclined, I’ll share my audiobook reviews with you. My intent is to keep them concise and mostly just about my experiences with the books, without doing a fullblown review. This will keep it easy to get a feel for what a book might bring you without having to spend too much time reading each post – hence the name of this category: Audiobook Shorts. I will start each review with the publisher’s summary so you get a feel for the story, then add my own thoughts. I’ll also rate them according to the Audible.com rating categories of Story, Performance and Overall, with 5 stars as the highest score.

As a bonus, and in the audio spirit of things 😉 , I’ll post a link to a spoken (by me) version of my Audiobook Shorts series whenever one is available on the Spiritblade podcast. Like this one, my first 🙂 :

Spiritblade podcast episode 455, go to timestamp 2:54.

My first Audiobook Short is about a Star Wars novel from the so-called Expanded Universe: Darth Plagueis, written by James Luceno and narrated by Daniel Davis. Length: 14 hrs and 49 mins.

Publisher’s summary

He was the most powerful Sith lord who ever lived… but could he be the only one who never died?

“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” -Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Darth Plagueis: one of the most brilliant Sith Lords who ever lived. Possessing power is all he desires. Losing it is the only thing he fears. As an apprentice, he embraces the ruthless ways of the Sith. And when the time is right, he destroys his Master – but vows never to suffer the same fate. For like no other disciple of the dark side, Darth Plagueis learns to command the ultimate power… over life and death.

Darth Sidious: Plagueis’s chosen apprentice. Under the guidance of his Master, he secretly studies the ways of the Sith, while publicly rising to power in the galactic government, first as Senator, then as Chancellor, and eventually as Emperor.

Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious, Master and acolyte, target the galaxy for domination – and the Jedi Order for annihilation. But can they defy the merciless Sith tradition? Or will the desire of one to rule supreme, and the dream of the other to live forever, sow the seeds of their destruction?

From the Hardcover edition.

©2012 James Luceno (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Fantastic Star Wars lore!”

Captivating story, brilliant reading performance by Daniel Davis, awesome audio effects & SW music. This is precisely why I love audio books so much!

The story clarifies a lot of Darth Sidious’s background and of course tells the story of Darth Plagueis, the main character. We also learn intriguing things about the Dark Side of the Force, and the order of the Sith.

To me this audiobook captured a real Star Wars atmosphere, it made me want to listen to it 24/7 and I wish the novel had lasted at least twice as long.
Because of it, I wanted to watch SW Episode I immediately following it, which to some would be a great feat in and of itself 😉
It also made me want to look into the Expanded Universe, which up until now I had always studiously avoided because – knowing myself – I would probably want to read everything, books, comics, audiobooks. Which would be 1. an enormous time hog and 2. frustrating since Marvel & Disney have declared the entire EU non-canonical, so, why bother. However, this first toe-dip left me wanting more and while still avoiding a full dive, I decided to go for a careful swim. So I bought the Darth Bane trilogy, about which you can read more in my next 😉

In short, I highly recommend Darth Plagueis and give it 5 stars for story, 5 stars for performance and 5 stars overall!

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply bookmark my Listerner page once you’ve found me)

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