In the Tarkin novel by James Luceno, Tarkin is the man behind the Death Star, head of the project, manager of everything. There is no mention of any Rogue One characters, like Orson Krennic or Galen Erso. Out of the universe, this is obviously because Tarkin was written a few years ago.

In the movie Rogue One, it looks like Director Orson Krennic actually is the Death Star big boss and not Tarkin. Basically the movie says that

Tarkin had the original idea and Krennic was the architect. Then at last, Tarkin seems to "steal" Krennic's work.

Both materials are canon but they seems to contradict each other. Are Tarkin and Krennic’s roles clearly defined in any other material - like, who's Death Star boss? - and if not, is it an inconsistency between Tarkin and Rogue One?

  • 1
    you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. :). I don't have the canon answer but I imagine point of view matters here.
    – Paul
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 10:53
  • Timeline seems to differ Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 14:19

2 Answers 2


No one, at least initially

One reason that both Tarkin and Krennic appear to be "in charge" roughly contemporaneously is that Palpatine has an actual policy of letting no single person control all the Death Star’s development:

All the same, he had no compelling reason to solve the enigma of the battle station’s beginnings. What bothered him was that, compliant with a strategy that no base commander—Moff, admiral, or general—should have unrestricted access to information regarding shipments, scheduling, or construction progress, no single person was in charge of the project, unless of course the Emperor was considered to be that person.


That said, descriptions of Tarkin’s role in the project from Tarkin and Catalyst broadly align:

And there were rumors to the effect that Tarkin had been instrumental in convincing Palpatine to move forward with the battle station—even that he had had a similar weapon in mind even before the discovery of the Geonosian schematics. Serving nominally as adjutant general for the navy, he was rapidly being brought up to speed on the status of the battle station, and there was talk among the members of the inner circle that Tarkin was being groomed to assume leadership of the entire project.

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

This is broadly consistent with the narrative presented in Tarkin:

If establishing the identity of Sentinel’s enemies was already proving daunting, getting to the truth of the battle station’s origin was nearly impossible. Everyone from celebrated ship designers to gifted engineers wanted to take credit for the superweapon. Tarkin himself had discussed the need for such a weapon with the Emperor long before the end of the Clone Wars. But no one outside the Emperor knew the full history of the moonlet-sized project. Some claimed that it had begun as a Separatist weapon designed by Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser’s hive colony for Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. But if that was the case, the plans had to have somehow fallen into Republic hands before the Clone Wars ended, because the weapon’s spherical shell and laser-focusing dish were already in the works by the time Tarkin first set eyes on it following his promotion to the rank of Moff—escorted to Geonosis in utmost secrecy by the Emperor himself.


Both sources agree that:

  • Tarkin was perhaps “responsible” in the sense that he had brought the idea of a Death-Star type weapon before the rise of the Empire.
  • Tarkin was a major force behind the “mobile battle station.”
  • Tarkin was eventually to assume full leadership of the project.

Catalyst takes place before Tarkin. By the end of Catalyst, Krennic has been taken down a notch, and Tarkin has been granted significantly more authority over the project (the position we find him in in Tarkin):

Krennic snorted. “Is that why Tarkin has been assigned command of the Sentinel bases?”

Amedda spread his large hands. “He is merely there to safeguard against further setbacks. It pleases the Emperor to keep him close to you.”

“That’s Tarkin’s job—to monitor me?”

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

The reason there’s no mention of Krennic or Erso is that there’s not much reason for them to show up. Krennic’s been embarrassed and relegated to a less prestigious position, and isn’t really causing any trouble. Erso’s just a scientist, albeit a high-profile one, and Tarkin probably doesn’t think about him very often.

  • Great answer thanks! But what is still a bit unclear now is their positions during Rogue One. I think both have a bit higher roles than in they have in Tarkin & Catalyst? Tarkin being Grand Moff and having certainly a lot of responsabilities on many topics, and Krennic getting more control on the super laser itself?
    – Neow
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 7:44
  • @Neow - Yes, that seems plausible.
    – Adamant
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 7:45

Can't place where but I vaguely recall when Disney aquired the rights they declared any and all previous content non canon except the movies. If the Tarkin novel was pre-disney therefore its not canon and the new rogue one is the official history (Poor Bothan's lost their one claim to fame). If not well they say history is written by the victors.

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    As I recall, many Bothans died getting the information about the second Death Star.
    – Verdan
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 12:35
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    Tarkin was written post-Disney takeover, so it is indeed canon and not part of the discontinued Legends universe.
    – evilscary
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 12:55
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    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 23:11

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