Title: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
Author: Ian Doescher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication date: March 6th 2014
Buy at: BookDepository
Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language—and William Shakespeare—here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.
I’m a Star Wars fan. I know the story. Then why did I pick this up? Simply because I was mightily curious about how the author was going to turn the scifi epic into a Shakespearen tale. How was it? Well… Talk about getting the giggles.
The mixture of the Shakespearean language with a story we have all come to know and love is a wittily amusing one. More than once, I squeaked and pointed as I spotted one of the most famous Star Wars lines, such as
VADER: I find thy lack of faith disturbing.
R2-D2: Beep, meep, hoo, whee?
C-3PO: Nah, I do not believe he liketh thee.
R2-D2: Beep, squeak?
C-3PO: Nah, thee I like not either.
The characters too were very much like the ones we grew to love, but some had tiny twists that made the story all the more enjoyable. R2-D2, for example, played the part of the wise fool, making asides about the others and his plans, whilst squeaking for everyone else. And some of the guards and stormtroopers had lengthy debates about why they did not act in this or that way, which help, for one, explain how everyone made it out of the Death Star alive.
Yes, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope was more amusing than I had expected. But is it flawless? I wouldn’t go so far. After all, there were moments where I felt, well, bored. The space battle at the end was one of such moments, that appeared to have no end and to drone on and on. This might be simply because it is difficult to translate such scenes to the paper, or because I am not accustomed to reading Shakespeare to begin with.
Another problem I had was that some quotes did not work out in Doescher’s version. The simple phrase “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” grew triple its size to:
LEIA: Thou truly art in jest. Art thou not small
Of stature, if thou art a storm trooper?
Does Empire shrink for want of taller troops?
The Empire’s evil ways, I’ll grant, are grand,
But must its soldiers want for fear of height?
I couldn’t help but wonder how they could talk for so long if they were to flee or battle. Nonetheless, it must be extremely difficult to rewrite such famous lines into iambic pentameter. Perfection in such a task is impossible.
On the whole, I did enjoy this book. It was a great, original way to remember the first film without having to watch it. That and it made me laugh more than Star Wars by itself ever did. If that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is. If you enjoy Star Wars, the Bard, or are just curious about how the two fit together, give it a try! It’s not every day that you find a book like this. And if you happen to adapt it onto the stage, I hope you let the rest of us watch.
The book in a quote
“O help/ Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, help. Thou art/ Mine only hope.”