Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review--William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

Ian Doescher hath strucketh again! 

I finally got around to reading his book  William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back, which my wife bought me for Christmas.

This time, The Empire Strikes Back gets the Shakespearian-spin treatment.

To which my feelings for Doescher's latest pastiche mirror my initial feelings towards William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope.

Illustrations by Nicolas Delort abound.

(Image from The Empire Striketh Back, page 152)

However, the author incorporated some changes in Striketh since Verily was published. 

The first change is, the role of the Chorus is reduced in favor of the panoramic action being described by one of the main characters in soliloquy form. 

The second is speaking roles were given to non-speaking "characters," primarily the Wampa, the Exogorth and yes, even the AT-ATs.

I actually learned something from this aspect of the story:  I didn't know what the giant, asteroid-dwelling space worm was called until I read this book.

The final change is the deviation from iambic pentameter by some of the characters.  Specifically, Boba Fett speaks in prose, reflecting Shakespeare's technique of representing the low-born. To reflect Yoda's speech pattern, the author utilized Haiku

The Empire Striketh Back is available on, where it's earned an average 4.7 out of 5-stars.  Since I like this book as much as I did Verily, A New Hope, I'll give this one a 4-star rating.

However, I'm not well-versed in Shakespearian verse, beyond the smattering of plays we read in high school.  So the longest 3-star rating by Phil Keeling caught my attention.  While Phil liked the book, he felt the author spent too much prose in a "did-you-get-this-Shakespearian-reference" manner.

The Empire Striketh Back also gets favorable reviews on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble.

One of the problems I had reading Shakespeare was having to flip through the plethora of footnotes explaining all the obscure facts, customs and references.  I had no such problem reading The Empire Striketh Back, because I've seen the original movie numerous times which made it easy for me to mentally visualize the story.

So this book would make a good gift to Star Wars fan familiar with Shakespeare, or a Shakespeare fan familiar with Star Wars

The full line of Shakespearian Star Wars books are, or will be, available through Quirk Books.

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