Book Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope

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

Ian Doescher

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 fearstome 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.

This book was… interesting.  Yeah, that’s the word I’ll go with.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is a retelling of Episode 4 as a Shakespearian play.  It was really hit and miss.

I would rate it rather high based solely on the skill of the writing.  To take a movie and rewrite the whole damn thing in iambic pentameter (and make it readable) takes some serious skill.  However, it was really not much more than a creative novelization of a movie.

I did enjoy reading this and I felt I got a better understanding of Star Wars (as there were some things I just didn’t get from watching it), but at the same time I was irritated by some of the Star Wars / Shakespeare mash-up.  Sprinkled throughout the book are soliloquies that take a famous soliloquy from a Shakespeare play and rewritten with Star Wars stuff.  That’s the kind of thing I remember doing in high school for homework — not Star Wars, but we had to take a soliloquy and rewrite to be about something like, I don’t know, homework.  So, yeah, I didn’t enjoy that part so much.

Not being a true Star Wars fan, though, I am confuddled by this whole argument over who shot first, Han or Greedo.  From my understanding, the original film depicted it one way, and a George Lucas tinkering recently switched who shot first in the cantina.  I was at a Timothy Zahn reading a while back and he read from Scoundrels.  He made some reference in his novel to who shot first, and the whole crowd burst out in laughter.  (I though it was a super lame joke and I had to explain it to my partner since he had no clue what it was about.)  The reason I bring this up is because Doescher is deliberately vague as to who shot first — Han actually tells the audience he’ll never tell who shot first.  It’s become almost like an inside joke in the Star Wars fandom, I think.  I don’t really get it.  (Well, I get it, I just don’t get the humour.)

Anyway, tangent aside, this book was… interesting.

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