Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: William Shakespeare's Star Wars

Actually this book was written by Ian Doescher, illustrated by Nicolas Delort and published by Quirk Books.  

It's a re-telling of Star Wars, Episode IV A New Hope in Shakespearean iambic pentameter, like this:

On the surface, the idea of merging Shakespeare and sci-fi sounds preposterous, but as the author pointed out in his afterward, both George Lucas (at least for the first three Star Wars movies) and William Shakespeare understood dramatic story structure.  

I found Shakespeare's Star Wars enjoyable and actually easy to read.  I don't know whether it was because I was so familiar with the movie, or that I understand Old English better than I did in high school, when I had to read Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet and Othello. (In writing this review I discovered my daughter had to read these very same plays when she was in high school). 

Nicolas Delort's "woodcut style" illustrations added to the drama...

...for the most part.  Some images were...well...

...a bit too Shakespearean.  

Since this book was written as if it were an actual play, complete with a chorus and soliloquies, a couple of theater groups have actually performed it.

So don't be surprised if you find Star Wars cosplayers (costume players) attending--or even performing--at your community's next Shakespeare-in-the-Park festival.  

Published in July of last year, William Shakespeare's Star Wars is available in various formats through  

At this time, there are 254 reviews of this book, an overwhelming number of them positive (181 x 5-stars and 42 x 4-stars).  Twenty three reviewers thought the work to be so-so, more of a geeky novelty than a serious work of genre fiction.

Eight reviewers (5 x 2-stars and 3 x 1-stars) thought whatever novelty there was in Ian Doescher's debut novel quickly wore off.  Some thought his work was merely cheesy faux-Shakespeare, while one reviewer's complaint was with the formatting of the Kindle edition.

I don't own a Kindle and I can't tell an iambic from a pentameter, so I can't give you any advice in these particular categories.  Overall though, I'll give it a 4-star rating.  "Shakespeare's" Star Wars, is something of a gimmicky novelty, but a clever one that's a quick and pleasurable diversion.  

Some of the less-than-sterling reviewers did make a good point though: This would be a suitable gift for someone who loves, likes, or at least appreciates Star Wars AND Shakespeare.  Otherwise, the book would be a slog for them to read.

For those of you who are Shakespearean Star Wars fans, The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return will soon be available March 18th and July 1st.  

I guess Quirk Books doesn't want to tempt fate and release a pastiche book on Ides of March...


commissarmoody said...

Seems like an interesting concept.

Ted Henkle said...

While it's not an original storyline, this book does put a unique spin on the Star Wars saga. It also gives theater groups & cosplayers something they may be able to produce and perform.