The Good: An in-depth and compelling background for Tarkin, Tarkin himself is expertly written, Tarkin’s relationships with Vader and, to a lesser extent, the Emperor are intriguing, and an ending that neatly sets-up the Tarkin we see in A New Hope.
The Bad: The plot by the antagonists is needlessly drawn out, the antagonists are underdeveloped and only serve to elevate Tarkin and Vader, and a mish-mash of poorly handled secondary characters that exist just to muddle the plot and add a twist.
The Ugly: Sheev. Why not just go full ham and call him Shiv?
Overall Verdict: As appreciable as the insight into Tarkin was, I feel this would have been better suited as a short story or novella than an entire novel. However, due to the format, its plot was needlessly plodding and mired in a mystery with a couple of twists that feel hollow.
Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino