William Shakespeare’s Star Wars:
Verily, A New Hope

odd_shakespeare_star_wars (1)Author: Ian Doescher
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source: Quirk Books
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Theatre, Drama, Parody, Humor, Media Tie-In

Rating: ★★★★★
Review Spoilers:  Low
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All right, so, I can’t even with this book right now. Quirk Books knows how to spin a crazy mash up book – just look at the success they’ve seen with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – but their William Shakespeare’s Star Wars mash up is pretty much the best thing ever. Honestly, I can’t believe that this is author Ian Doescher’s first book. I mean, who picks iambic pentameter for their first book?

I’m going to lie and pretend I even know what iambic pentameter means because to me it just means “Shakespeare prose.” Somehow in my high school education I missed that whole concept. I failed every quiz that asked anything about anything related to the actual structure of Shakespearean literature. Iambic pentameter also, incidentally, turns out to be the only writing style that I can’t speed read. So I actually got to really sit down and enjoy this book.

You need this book. Yes, you need this book. Not much of a Shakespeare fan back in high school? Who cares. You read it. We all did. At the very least we all know how Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet go, right? Now imagine that but with more lightsabers, droids, and Death Stars. Tell me that high school you isn’t flipping his or her shit right now.

If you do like Shakespeare, it’s even better! Because then you can actually appreciate the full effect of what the author is doing in this book and also just how dedicated he had to have been to pull it off. You’ll also be better equipped than casual readers when it comes to noticing some of the lines Doescher re-purposes from various Shakespearean plays. I don’t want to give them all way but let’s just say there may be some thumb biting at one point or another…

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars covers the first Star Wars film as should be evident in the subtitle: “Verily, A New Hope.” It begins with a Shakespeare-ized crawl and moves through all the classic scenes. The author even chooses to include some of the added scenes from the remastered trilogy – such as Han’s meeting with Jabba the Hutt before he takes off from Mos Eisley. It’s fantastic – and often hilarious – to read all those scenes and to zip through that well known dialogue and have it completely and totally altered just by the way it’s written. So many classic lines only get better with a dated, theatrical “ne’er” and “aye” thrown in for good measure.

Some of the best scenes, however, are the ones that aren’t quite in the actual movies. There are a lot of asides where characters reveal their inner thoughts. Darth Vader’s inner monologues are interesting to read – though not quite as much so as R2-D2’s asides. That little astromech droid knows a lot more than he’s letting on and you find that out pretty quickly. Though he speaks to everyone in beeps and whistles (cleverly planned to rhyme often times) he tells the reader just what’s on his mind and what he’s planning.

“But hear the voice of R2-D2, all; My noble purpose I’ll accomplish yet – to take to Obi-Wan the princess’ news, to take my Master Luke away from here, and, in the end, perhaps more vital still – to make connection twixt the two good men.”

Another of my favorite scenes was between the two stormtroopers who are guarding the ramp of the Millenium Falcon after the scanning team goes in to try and locate the passengers. The one pieces together basically the entire plot including the droids escaping to Tatooine, their flight from the Millenium Falcon, and even – after hearing a slight noise – deduces that they could all still be hiding on the ship. His partner, of course, tells him he’s crazy. And then they get called up the ramp and taken out. It was just a really funny, drawn out moment. It was also reminiscent of scenes in Shakespearean plays where guards stand watch and prattle on.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is filled with all these incredible moments. I can’t even really find the words to express just how much I enjoyed reading through it. Every familiar scene just came alive. It was like reading a version of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s straight up classic Shakespeare but the presentation makes it a million times better. That’s kind of what reading this book was like but even better. The artwork is pretty cool, too. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Han Solo in Shakespearean garb?

This is one of those books that I have absolutely no problem recommending that everyone read. I mean, people who hate Star Wars and hate Shakespeare aren’t going to enjoy it but those are terrible people and we must not speak of them. You, on the other hand, are awesome. And you will appreciate this book.

Final Thoughts: Pick up this book as soon as you possibly can. Share it with your friends. Buy it for them for Christmas. Do whatever you can to promote this book because it’s fantastic. And if we support it hopefully we’ll get to see The Empire Striketh Back and Return of the Jedi sooner than later. 

Also: there are apparently a lot of people online calling for Quirk Books to find a way to acquire theatre performance rights for the book. Can we take a moment to appreciate how AWESOME that would be?

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