William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars
by Ian Doescher

Take two things I love, but never thought would collide and you’ve got this book. As an unashamed nerd I can quote lines from Star Wars like nobody’s business. I was raised by my Dad to embrace Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and all the sci-fi and fantasy nerdiness in between. At the same time I am a huge fan of the Bard. I took a class in college solely devoted to his works. I have slowly been working my way towards reading and then seeing every single one of his plays performed. So this unique combination of Jedi lore and iambic pentameter was impossible to resist.

This is a retelling of the first (technically fourth) Star Wars movie in Shakespearean style. My favorite parts are the characters’ inner monologues. Shakespeare uses that trick constantly to introduce audiences to a new character and it translates well in the Star Wars plots. The R2-D2 monologue was absolutely hilarious. He has an eloquent monologue and then aloud he says, “Meep beep bop meep.”

The language is really well done, embracing Shakespeare’s style without losing any of the Star Wars story or even really making it too ridiculous. There were so many parts that just cracked me up. There are also couple great illustrations throughout the book that add to the fun.

BOTTOM LINE: This book is geared to a VERY specific niche group. I happen to be the target audience, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone. If you love both Shakespeare and Star Wars then get thee to a galactic bookstore immediately!

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back
by Ian Doescher

The second installment in the Star War’s Shakespeare trilogy is just as good as the first, though it loses just a tiny bit because readers now know what to expect. The well-known plot follows Luke as he is trained by Yoda and Han and Leia as they travel to Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City.

In this book Leia and Han’s antagonistic romance heats up with some cutting Shakespearean insults…

“My feelings? O! Thou arrogant half-wit,
Thou oversized child, thou friend of slime,
Thou man of scruffy looks, thou who herd’st nerfs,
Thou fool-born wimpled roughhewn waste of flesh!”

Once again we get to enjoy R2-D2’s eloquent asides and the Shakespeare-themed illustrations. We get to see Han grow as a character as he struggles to overcome his past misdeeds and work for the rebel alliance. He’s never chosen others’ needs above his own and the book allows us to hear some of his inner-monologue that the films gloss over. The same is true for Lando, a character that’s barely in the second film. The book gives a little more insight into his decisions.

The novelty of the concept certainly doesn’t grow old in this book. It feels just as fresh and original as the first one. The author manages to stick perfectly to the plot while also adding some depth.

BOTTOM LINE: As the author reminds us in the Afterword “Remember, this isn’t scholarship; it’s fun.” Reading it should be exactly that: fun! It’s more than entertaining and I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy to be released.

*I received a review copy of The Empire Striketh Back from Quirk Books*


Jillian said...

I saw this at Target and a coworker basically handed it to me and told me it'd be perfect for me. I love it, it really is fun and eloquent at that!

Anonymous said...

FUn! I thought of you the other day; I was subbing for a Sophomore English class and got to watch the last third of Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando. That movie didn't stay true to Will's words but I mostly was able to follow along. Not sure the kids appreciated it but I enjoyed it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jillian - It really is! I can't wait for the third one.

bkclubcare - Oh fun! I didn't know you subbed. I love Brando's monologue at the end of that one.

Brooke said...

I'm at a loss as to why I don't own these already. Man, I bet I could even get my husband to read them. Maybe. It's worth a shot, at least.

Kailana said...

I have the second book so I just need to get around to getting a copy of the first book. Should do that soon!

Jeanne said...

I have actually purchased both of these books, but haven't gotten a turn at them yet; Walker has them at Oberlin!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brooke - That's how I felt. They are just so fun!

Kailana - I got a review copy of the second book, so I rushed to the library to borrow the first one.

Jeanne - You have to steal them back!