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William Shakespeare's Star Wars
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I am both a fan of the great bard William Shakespeare and Star Wars and I was attracted to the title of this book which (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher, Verily, A New Hope) I purchased on Amazon for a bargain price. I have read most of the works of William Shakespeare and what the author of this book has done is to put the Star Wars first movie (Star Wars: A new Hope) into the Shakespearean language and times.

He has used the words and organized the material into five acts exactly like Shakespeare’s plays have been written. If you have seen the first Star Wars movie you will be amused and entertained by this unique book. Act. 1 in this space age tale we have the Empire’s ship attacking the rebel ship and capturing Princess Leia. This act ends with the purchase of the two droids c-3po and R2-D2 from the Jawas.

I never give away too much information when reviewing a novel or story, but if you are a Star Wars fan you might enjoy this unique treatment of the space age tale using the language of Shakespeare. I personally loved it.

Rating: 4 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Tactical Principles of the most effective combative systems).
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VINE VOICEon June 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is just a brilliant adaptation of Star Wars into the style of Shakespeare. Those two things are so different that my first reaction was "This is some kind of joke, right?" But while there's a great deal of humor to be found here, the project is not a parody. Not at all. It's a celebration of two hitherto separate but equally great triumphs of storytelling.

The first step was converting the dialogue of A New Hope into iambic pentameter. This is a great accomplishment in its own right: archaic sixteenth-century grammar and vocabulary are used, giving this writing a very authentically Shakespearean feel; at the same time, Star Wars jargon is faithfully represented: "Now lock thine S foils in attacking mode," for instance, or "E'en now the princess is on Level 5/Detention block of AA-23." Deliberately awkward dialogue from Star Wars is dialed up to eleven, with side-splittingly entertaining results; read the reinterpretation of Han's attempts to convince security that everything is fine in the detention block after his fire fight with the guards there. Unintentionally awkward dialogue, of which Lucas wrote a fair amount, is smoothed over and expanded upon to the point of eloquence; see Wedge's "Look at the size of that thing!" and Red Leader's response of "Cut the chatter." R2-D2's beeps and whistles and untranslated gibberish from alien characters are sometimes used as needed to get a tricky line into blank verse, which didn't bother me any. While contractions like "Millen'um Falcon" and "th'Imper'al Senate" look awful on paper, calling to mind some cotton-mouthed Mississippi redneck, there really is no way around it, given the nature of iambic pentameter.

At any rate, the conversion to blank verse is just the beginning. The dialogue is just so rich. It makes good use of Shakespearean cribs, great and small: During the briefing where the Rebels lay out their plan of attack on the Death Star, Luke gives a paraphrase of Henry V's band of brothers monologue, which includes reference to having hunted wompa rats which are not much more than two meters. One-liners are also in abundance: During the Falcon's desperate flight from Tatooine past a star destroyer, we hear "What light from yonder flashing sensor breaks?/It marks the loss of yon deflector shield." There are also inside jokes for Star Wars lovers; my favorite was Han's rhyming couplet after his confrontation with Greedo: "I pray thee, sir, forgive me for the mess/And whether I shot first, I'll not confess." As for the stormtrooper who, while searching for R2-D2 and C-3P0, ordered his mates "This door's locked, move on to the next one," his one line is transformed into an absurdly grandiose explanation of how his father told him he could be absolutely certain that nothing of interest would ever be found behind a locked door, and he's made that a guiding principle of his life ever since.

More seriously, the use of Shakespearean conventions adds so much texture to this version of the story. Liberal use of asides which create original dialogue not based on anything from Lucas's text give characterization to characters whose motives are a bit obscure in A New Hope: Obi-Wan alludes to the events of Revenge of the Sith and explains why he is concealing most of the truth from Luke at this point. He also indicates that he anticipates and is prepared to accept his fate. Darth Vader, meanwhile, uses his asides to acknowledge the bitterness and resentment which cuts so deep to his core and continues to corrupt Anakin Skywalker (without ever acknowledging that he is Anakin, of course). The combination of these two side-characterizations gives the duel between Vader and Obi-Wan the sense of being a climactic showdown many years in the making that it deserves. (In A New Hope proper, I've always thought it felt terribly anti-climactic, even more so after seeing the circumstances under which the two men had previously parted ways.) Han Solo uses his frequent asides to paint himself as a man who feels drawn to a nobler existence than his life of ruthless self-interest has provided, but who cannot heed that internal calling because of the burden of his debt to Jabba the Hutt. In the culmination of this journey he walks us through his decision to join the attack on the Death Star and save Luke from Vader's TIE fighter, rather than just showing up out of nowhere as he does in the movie.

R2-D2 also gets plenty of asides, and they are intelligible; in the first of these he explains to the audience that he only beeps and whistles where other characters can hear him because he's decided to play the fool so no one will suspect he knows more about the situation than he's letting on. This is a stroke of genius; I'm certain that that is exactly what Shakespeare would have done with the character. Subsequent asides are used to provide exposition to the audience.

Asides also give development to characters who are just nameless extras in the movie, mostly stormtroopers reflecting on their station before getting shot. And of course the asides provide humor: After being interrupted by C-3P0, Obi-wan asks in annoyance "Why speaks't he here when 'tis my time to speak?/These droids of protocol are e'er uncouth/Of etiquette they know but little, troth!"

One small complaint I have about the asides is that the word "aside" is often misused in the text, identifying as an aside a line that is directed at another character, or being absent from a line that should be described as such. Hopefully that's one of those typos that crops up in an uncorrected proof and will be caught before the finished product goes to print.

Another smart innovation is the use of a chorus to advance the action. They recite the famous trapezoidal crawl of text at the beginning of the movie--recast as a sonnet--then crop up throughout the book to provide linking narration between scenes or within a scene via rhyming quatrains. Mostly they're describing or summarizing scenes which in the movie were shown entirely by visual effects, effects which could not possibly be duplicated in a stage production. They really come into their own during the climactic Rebel attack on the Death Star, explaining what's going on while the various characters supply dialogue. In the Globe Theater this is how it would have to be done; it would not be practical to have the pilots give elaborate descriptions of what they're supposed to be seeing. (By the way, the chorus opens that scene with an appeal to the audience to use their imaginations to picture what's described rather than to insist on having everything presented as sensory stimuli. I couldn't help wondering if this was a gentle mockery of the special effects saturation of the prequel trilogy and recent rereleases of the original trilogy.) Not many Shakespearean plays include a chorus, but it's necessary here and really is the best way to reconcile elements of a story written for a visual medium with the new literary medium in which it's being recast.

One final feature which makes this book even more enjoyable is the illustrations. They're no masterpieces, to be sure, but there's a real level of enjoyment to see familiar characters represented via sixteenth century drawing methods, including some very stylized costumes which give recognizably science fiction outfits an Elizabethan flair.

All in all, what sounds like an amusing gag gift when you read the product description turns out to be a very sophisticated merging of two great storytelling styles. I do hope that this is not a one-time thing; I hope it's a great success that inspires the adaptation of the other Star Wars films in the same style, and similar projects for Doctor Who or Harry Potter or whatever. It's intelligent, it's enjoyable on countless levels, and its brilliance cannot be overstated.
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on May 4, 2015
Combine my favorite writer with just about anything and the results will generally be favorable. Combine my favorite writer with Ian Doescher and the results will be amazing! I picked up "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" on a whim. I now own all four books, have one on the "I want a copy as soon as it's ready" list and will keep an eye out for the sixth. A close friend of mine, who doesn't read hard-copy much due to vision issues also has all four books - because of the style of the paper cover, the "old look" of the hard cover and the layout which is very easy on even the tiredest eyes. The text is amazing. Ian does an exceptional job with the process. It is even possible to see more deeply into both Shakespeare's style and the Star Wars story line - as with Weird Al Yankovic's using "American Pie" to lay out the story of "The Phantom Menace". One reviewer called the first book a wonderful Shakespeare parody. It isn't a parody, in my humble opinion, but an imagining of how the folio for Star Wars would read, had The Bard written it.
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on September 25, 2017
I loved this book!

I know almost nothing about Shakespeare, so I can't comment on how well Ian Doescher captures his style, but he does a great job writing in iambic pentameter. I found it very easy to read.

This is my favorite in the (currently) 6-book series. He wrote the books corresponding to the original trilogy before the prequel trilogy, and there's a clear difference in his style. They're all still worth reading, but the prequel books flow more smoothly than the original trilogy books. This is also the book I found funniest. There are all sorts of jokes in his books, including lots of references to pop culture. Some are references to other movies the movie actors were in, and others are more general references to pop culture. You don't need to pick up on these in order to enjoy the book, but it adds a lot to the experience.

Ian Doescher makes some changes to one of the characters in this book. I won't mention the name to keep my review spoil-free, but it's obvious to anyone who's seen the movie. This added an interesting dimension to the story. It's another reason this book is my favorite of the first six.
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on February 27, 2018
For yea verily and forsooth there cometh this book from the original texts of Master Shakespeare. Little doth those of fandom knoweth that the Lucas of George had, in a moment of envious wrath 'gainst the Bard, did copy wordeth for wordeth the working scripts used to perform this tale of responsibility and spirits within the genes of men for her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth herself. Lo, readeth thee about yon exploits of young Anakin, Walker of the Skye as he prevails in the races of sloops, fights 'gainst the Federation of Trade, and learneth of the ways of the Knights of Jedi. Marvel thee at the melee duel 'tween the Jon of Qui-gon, the Kenobi of Obiwan and the most vile rapscallion the lord Malice of Darth. This is well worth your seven pence and you should purchase it forthwith.
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on September 4, 2014
As an unabashed lover of both Star Wars and the Bard, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to read a mash-up of the two. Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is great fun to read. The author manages to capture the quintessential myths underpinning Star Wars and make them over using an Elizabethan idea of drama. All of the elements of good Shakespearian drama are present and Doescher uses the medium to explore the characters in new ways.

Shakespearian plays are the settings of high drama, regardless of genre. This version of Star Wars manages to bridge the gap between the Flash Gordon-inspired films and Shakespeare’s sensibilities regarding destiny, power, and the struggle between good and evil. If you’re a writer and you haven’t borrowed an archetype or two from the Bard, you’re not doing it right. Even Lucas drew from the same well of myths as Shakespeare, which he discovered through the writings of the late Joseph Campbell. Doescher makes every effort to reconcile these two threads. The dialogue is clunky at times (even by Shakespearian standards). It’s difficult to picture the more fantastical elements (such as Vader’s duel with Kenobi or the Death Star trench run) working on stage.
The characters we know and adore take center stage in this adaptation. Doescher allows his chosen form to reveal character traits through asides and soliloquies, much like Shakespeare did. Each of the main characters gets their chance to stand center stage and reveal their desires, their fears, and their doubts to the reader (as they would on stage). There are moments, like with Obi-wan contemplating telling Luke about Vader’s identity, which were only told through expressions and body language in the film.
The writing takes prominence in this book. Doescher uses iambic pentameter effectively most of the time. Given the constraints of merging Elizabethan phrasing with technobabble, Doescher does an excellent job. The information is conveyed in such a way through the text that a reader could grasp what the characters are trying to say. Doescher also manages to find interesting ways to throw in the most memorable lines from the film into the dialogue. The downside of iambie pentameter (aside from it not being a familiar cadence for modern readers) is the often indirect ways something has to be said. There are times the dialogue is spotty or more of a mouthful than would be comfortable. Sometimes the dialogue meanders its way to where it needs to go, which can be a problem for those not familiar with Shakespeare’s plays. The first two acts are quick reads, as is the fifth act. The third and fourth are the most problematic in terms of writing and feel like they drag on and on. These acts are incidentally the escape from the Death Star sequence.

Despite the sometimes laborious sections, I heartily recommend this book for Star Wars fans and fans of the Bard’s great works. It isn’t often that I’m surprised by a book but this book accomplished that feat.
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on April 16, 2015
Twins, separated at birth, brought together by fate to fight a war for the good of all, pitted unknowingly against their own father. With combat, subplots with comic relief, a ghost, and an antihero on the side, sounds like a pretty good Shakespeare play to me.

But really, it's the plot of "Star Wars." So why does it sound so much like an Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy? Because George Lucas based his screenplay on the same literary archetypes and structures Shakespeare used (and is often credited for creating) in his writing.

Now Ian Doescher has taken these two icons and brought them together in "William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope". This script, for it is written in script format, follows scene by scene "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" but is completely in Iambic Pentameter, with the added flourish of some Elizabethan Early Modern English.

Fans of the Bard and Star Wars will find plenty of in-jokes throughout the text that are not directly from "A New Hope". For example, Luke has a rousing speech that references both "Julius Caesar" and "Henry V", and Han Solo waxes sentimental about his days as a nerf herder. For those who are fans of only one or the other, many jokes may go by unnoticed. For those unfamiliar with both source materials, this is unlikely to be a book of any interest.

There is a scholarly element to this book for those who wish to look for it, but all in all, it's just a lot of fun. I laughed out loud at moments (not something I'm apt to do when reading), and as a theatre artist, found myself thinking of possible staging solutions for battles in space. And there are illustrations, some of which I would happily frame and hang on my wall.

There are some flaws, of course, mostly in structure. Shakespeare was a wordsmith and very spare with stage directions; it was all about the language. And "Star Wars" tells a lot of story visually. As a result, Doescher employs a Chorus to deal with much of the action, and said Chorus is perhaps a bit too present within scenes. Also, as previously mentioned, the entire thing is written in Iambic Pentameter. Although this was the primary verse form in which Shakespeare wrote, nowhere in his work is any play written ENTIRELY in Iambic Pentameter. He would use prose or another form of verse to identify class, relationship, and even social situations. The TYPE of verse, or prose, was just as important in Shakespeare's writing and it seems Doescher missed that element of the Bard's style. But then again, this is the nit-picky, scholarly bits.

I'll just bring it back to this: If you are a fan of Shakespeare and "Star Wars" read this book. Enjoy it. Have fun. Laugh. And if anyone has plans to mount a stage production, call me. (Review also posted on Goodreads.com)
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on May 31, 2015
With the challenge of a more detailed and graphic movie to narrate a la Shakespeare, the challenge is certainly large. However it all comes together masterfully in this, the next installment of the William Shakespeare's Star Wars. The narrative even goes so far as to explain some otherwise unknown things about the story, or subtle points that audiences might have missed.
For me, the character creation and recreation has been exceptionally interesting. I cannot say anything without revealing the plot, however it will indeed bring the internal narrative of characters to a greater light than what is on screen. Unrealistic some might say, but that makes it more fun.
In the end, this ahs been a wonderful read and I look forward to the next installment.
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on December 14, 2017
I purchased this, and the other Star Wars Shakespeare books for my 14 year old son who he loves them and is being hopeful for them being published for the next trilogy and Rogue One. This past semester he studied Romeo and Juliet in English and recently told me he did better than most of his class and credited these books for helping him comprehend Shakespeare. He showed several to his teacher and she was delighted and agreed that they assisted his understanding of the Bard. I highly recommend.
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on January 15, 2018
Ian Doescher does it again! These books are a work of brilliance, and ultimate fandom. If you are a Star Wars fan, and have any interest in Shakespeare at all, you need to read these books. In this one, he does an especially impressive job of translating Jar Jar into iambic pentameter, and gives him a great soliloquy that shows his interior motives. These books are great!
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