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William Shakespeare's Star Wars #4

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Humor (2013)

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime 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 fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying... pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare's Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you're looking for.

174 pages, Hardcover

First published July 2, 2013

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About the author

Ian Doescher

37 books685 followers
Ian is the author of the William Shakespeare Star Wars series and the Pop Shakespeare series. He's a Portland native, and lives in Portland with his spouse and children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,479 reviews
Profile Image for M—.
652 reviews112 followers
July 15, 2013
You’re not reading this book for the story. You know the story. If you’re picking up this book, you’ve seen movie – movies – more times than you can count. You’re reading this book for the execution. And let me tell you – the execution is hilaaarious.

Now you might be a little leery, what with George Lucas’ undo preference for a ‘revised’ Star Wars coupled with his tight control over the copyright of the franchise, and fear that not even the language of Shakespeare can make worth entering into that whole mess again, and that’s understandable. But unwarranted. Ian Doescher’s got you covered:
HAN: —Nay, not that:
The day when Jabba taketh my dear ship
Shall be the day you find me a grave man.

GREEDO: Nay oo’chlay nooma. Chespeka noofa
Na cringko kaynko, a nachoskanya!

HAN: Aye, true, I’ll warrant thou has wish’d this day.
[They shoot, Greedo dies.]
[To bartender:] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the mess.
[Aside:] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!
This is brilliant. By god, I hope Quirk publishes more. Five stars.

An ARC book was provided to me by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. Quote pulled from pp. 76-77 of ARC version of ISBN 978-1-59474-637-6. Finished copy may differ in pagecount and wording.

Recommended reviews:
July 15, 2013
Actual rating: 3.5

"C-3PO: Now is the summer of our happiness/
Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!
R2-D2: Beep beep,/
Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, whee!
C-3PO: We’re doomed."

Sometimes the greatest things in life are made better in combination. Chocolate? Yum! Peanut Butter? Yes, please! But a Reese's Peanut Butter cup is quite possibly manna under heaven. Some things, like chocolate and peanut butter, are just meant to be. Others, like David Bowie and Iman, require more of a stretch of the imagination. Even if the combination is obvious, sometimes we don't even know what we're missing until the hole becomes filled. I, like many others, am a fan of Star Wars. I'm not a hardcore fan or anything, I mean, my Wookie is far from fluent, but I never realized what was missing from my fandom: iambic pentameter.

Please do not dismiss this book because you've had your share of parodies such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Those were parodies, whereas this book was written as an extremely well-written, well-researched tribute to both William Shakespeare's works and the Star Wars franchise.

It's a work of art, what can I say. I'm not a fan of Shakespeare, I find the majority of his work irredeemably dull, as critically acclaimed as it may be. However, when his style is adapted to Star Wars...let's just say that I could hardly stop giggling at every other page. The events in Star Wars are faithfully adapted into appropriate verse and Shakespearean language. It's not 100% accurate to the original, for example, there's more than a little dramatic irony, which is actually quite true to Shakespearean works, so we could just attribute it to the author using that literary device as a tribute to Shakespeare. There is actually a great deal more foreshadowing used in this version than there was in the actual Star Wars book.

"Luke: I wonder who she is/
Whoever she may be, whatever is/
Her cause, I shall unto her pleas respond/
Not e'en were she my sister could I know/
A duty of more weight than I feel now."

Oh, Luke, if you only knew!!

Many Shakespearean conventions are in use here, such as the asides and soliloquies used by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and even Han. These gives us a greater insight into the characters' minds and motives, as well as---dare I say it---give the characters more depth and development than their sudden appearance in the films. Even minor characters like the numerous Stormtroopers are given minor roles and lines in this play. There are frequent allusions to other Shakespearean works, such as this famous balcony scene, reinterpreted by Luke:

"Luke: But O, what now?/
What light through yonder flashing sensor breaks?"

Even the technical language of the sci-fi Star Wars universe is given a Shakespearean spin, for example, "th'auxill'ry pow'r. Jabba speaks in corresponding iambic Huttese. Chewbacca and R2-D2 are the few exceptions, whose lines are limited to "Aaugh!" and beeps, squeaks, and whistles. Reading C-3PO's frustration with his partner in archaic speech provided me with a tremendous amount of amusement. After the initial bout of glee and hysterical laughter, the initial euphoria of reading a reinterpreted Star Wars die down and I have to admit, the second half the book went by considerably slower than the first. However, it's still a hilarious and brilliantly written book, with more depth than one would think in a book of this nature. Recommended for Shakespearean (try to hunt down the various allusions!) and Star Wars fans.

This book needs to be turned into a Broadway play, ASAP.
Profile Image for Brina.
904 reviews4 followers
February 28, 2016
Ian Doescher has set Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to Shakespeare's iambic pentameter. As someone who has the entire Star Wars story memorized but isn't the biggest fan of Shakespeare, I found this idea charming. I read the entire play in under two hours and think it would be an asset for high school English classes because it could make Shakespeare relevant to the kids. I am curious to read the other parts of the saga especially the I am your father scene which has the making for classic literature. I am recommending this to Star Wars lovers everywhere even if they don't necessarily enjoy Shakespearean drama
Profile Image for Wee Lassie.
120 reviews59 followers
February 5, 2022
Fantastic - I listened to the audio-book of this and it was brilliant, truly a brilliant blend of the formal speech of Shakespeare and the surreal imagery of Star Wars.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,450 reviews7,564 followers
February 5, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Friends, rebels, Starfighters, lend me your ears.”

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope is exactly what the title says - Star Wars rewritten in iambic pentameter. If you aren’t a Star Wars fan, then what the fuck are you doing reading this???? you’re probably not going to understand why this is the best thing I’ve seen lately. (I’m also fairly certain zombie Shakespeare won’t be returning from the grave anytime soon in order to tell me that I “read wrong,” so that’s another bonus.) Oh, and in case there is any doubt about my nerdery (really? there’s still doubt at this point???) and because Mitchell is a camera whore who gets pissed if he isn’t featured in a review on the regular, here is my Funko Pop! proof that I am indeed a dork . . .

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I really enjoyed reading this. I mean, look what happened . . .

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(Ummmmm, Brigid I’m still waiting for you to supply me with some sexy coffee for my sexy mug)

So many post-its . . . and I probably annoyed a good 78% of the Goodreads population with my non-stop updates. I could post quote upon quote, but is it really even necessary? This story follows the original, only in an olde timey way. The conversations worthy of a quote, however? Those between R2 and C-3PO:

R2-D2: “Squeak, whistle, beep, meep, nee, meep, whistle squeak!”
C-3PO: “Hold thou they cursing and most cursed tongue!”

I giggled every time they bickered.

Bottom line – you just can’t go wrong with a Star Wars parody.

From feature films. . .

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To SNL . . .

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To video games . . .

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To cartoons . . .

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The retelling of Star Wars never gets old. It is indeed a tale for the ages. One that contains action and adventure, good v. evil, and proves that the only love more awkward than insta-love is that of insta-love with your own sister . . .

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And if you play your cards right, being a superfan might even get you out of jury duty . . .

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At bare minimum, Liz Lemon can teach you some kick-ass lyrics to the Cantina band song : )

“Figrin D’an the kloo horn man . . .”

Highly recommended to all and may the force be with you!
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,199 followers
September 10, 2015
4.5/5 Stars
I loved this so so much!
I found the audiobook on Scribd and honestly, it was so much better than reading the physical book. I started the physical book a while back and hadn't finished it, and I thought I loved it, BUT THE AUDIOBOOK MAN. There are tracks from the soundtrack, sound effects, and a full cast doing the voices of all of the characters similar to how they sound in the movie.
Star Wars written as Shakespeare is GENIUS and I am so pumped to read the rest of these. NOW I NEED TO GO REWATCH THE MOVIE.
Profile Image for Ali M..
320 reviews56 followers
August 4, 2016
I'm sorry, five stars is necessary. What could have been an easy joke is instead a wonderful and perfectly hilarious tribute to both Star Wars and Shakespeare, written with care and attention to detail (hey, iambic pentameter ain't easy!). Soliloquies about Fate? Fourth-wall-breaking asides? Omniscient choruses? Idioms galore? Yep, it's all here. Doescher doesn't miss a thing, and the result is a book that can be enjoyed on different levels - whether you crack it open to a random page for sheer amusement ("O jolly droid!"), or read it straight through. Love it. Can't wait for the next two!

(And honestly, somebody needs to put this on as an actual theatrical production. I would pay to see it. Yes I am a giant nerd okay.)
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,863 followers
April 29, 2015
I was raised on Star Wars.

This book is just what it sounds like.

Am I the only one who is really pissed that droids are slaves? They are clearly sentient beings, and should not be sold at slave auctions and be subject to any master who buys them. :( And at the end, how come C-3PO and R2-D2 don't get medals from Princess Leia? This is bad.

R2-D2 can speak perfect Shakespearean English and lets the audience know his innermost thoughts in numerous "asides." I'm not sure I like that.

The author also uses "asides" to have characters angst to the camera for long dialogues. I didn't like this either.

The best parts of this book was reading your favorite scenes and sayings in Shakespearean language. Sometimes this worked out really well:

VADER: I find thy lack of faith disturbing.

LEIA: The desp'rate hour is now upon us - please,
I beg thee, Sir. O help me, Obi-Wan
Kenobi, help. Thou art mine only hope.

LEIA: O but how wrong thou art!
The more that thou dost exercise thy grip,
The more star systems through which that grip shall fall.

But others I thought were a failure:

OBI-WAN: True it is,
That these are not the droids for which thou search'st.
TROOPER 3: Aye, these are not the droids for which we search.
OBI-WAN: And now, the lad may go his merry way.
TROOPER 3: Good lad, I prithee, go thy merry way!
OBI-WAN: Now get thee hence.
TROOPER 4: Now get thee hence, go hence! ...

LEIA: Thou truly art in jest. Art thou not small
Of stature, if thou art a storm trooper?
Does Empire shrink for want of taller troops?
The Empire's evil ways, I'll grant, are grand,
But must its soldiers want for fear of height?

This above scenes just sound horrible to me. Perhaps because I was raised on Star Wars, and even though I feel like I'm not a geek or a fan of my own choice, from spending a good chunk of my life in my father's house I've become a Star Wars person. It's practically in my blood. From age 0 to age 18 I probably watched the original trilogy over 200 times... I'm not exaggerating. In my house my father controlled what the family watched, and he LOVED Star Wars. And so did everyone else. Whether they loved it right from the get-go or were just brainwashed by repeated watchings - we'll never know. But everyone who grew up in my father's house can quote the movies verbatim and at length. o.O The fact that I know Star Wars pretty thoroughly was through no conscious choice of my own, I can assure you. But of course, I love it so much and it will always hold a very special place in my heart. The music makes me ecstatic and people who quote lines to me from Star Wars endear themselves to me. :) I heart Star Wars!

I never had any use for or love of Episodes 1, 2 or 3, so don't even ask me about that stuff. I'm strictly an original trilogy kind of girl, due to my stern Star Wars upbringing by my purist father. :)

Great illustrations. I love the one of Luke holding up a stormtrooper's helmet as if he were Hamlet gazing into Yorick's eyes.

Overall, really enjoyed the book. Even though I know it's a gag. Like one of those books people give as gifts and never expect the recipient to ever read.

Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,737 reviews649 followers
September 17, 2018
What an amusing and delightful book. You also might find it so, unless you believe that George Lucas came upon this manuscript (credited to the Bard of Avon) and, from it, created Episode IV of the saga we all love.

Aside from the iambic meter of this version, it sticks quite close to the sounds and words and events that illuminate the original screenplay. The one great exception is that this book, instead of giving us just “whirs” and “beeps,” allows us to know the thoughts of the droid, R2-D2, to wit:

“Now are the pieces all arrang’d for me
To make a daring move, and fly this place.
The fool who sets the game in motion shall
Appear unto C-3PO and Luke
No more than if he were an arrant knave.
But hear the voice of R2-D2, all:
My noble purpose I’ll accomplish yet ---
To take to Obi-Wan the princess’ news,
To take my Master Luke away from here,
And, in the end, perhaps more vital still ---
To make connection twixt the two good men.
A foolish thing this flight may seem to thee,
And yet more fine than foolish shall it be."

I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.
Profile Image for J.
275 reviews3 followers
January 25, 2015
This is not a book to give someone who likes Star Wars and needs an introduction to Shakespeare nor is it a good book to give to someone who likes Shakespeare and needs an introduction to Star Wars. First, if you really like your Star Wars, then it may be a novelty item, though more for the adult who can get through the reading than the child who will have no basis for anything as it is written. Second, for me, the author seems to have a base knowledge of Shakespeare, but not quite a complete direction of how to construct the work. There are too many asides by characters, too much interjection of the Chorus to tell random bits of action (generally unnecessary I might add), and words like "troth" are thrown in willy-nilly without proper context/usage. Third and finally, simply adding -th and -st to words does not make them "Shakespearean," nor does constantly using "thee," "thou," and "aye," which get exceedingly tiring to read halfway through act one. (For the latter word's usage, are we in a Johnny Depp pirate movie? No - It's Star Wars which is thankfully Depp free). I will give the author credit where due, though. He does manage to get the iambic pentameter right which is something properly Shakespearean, but that's about the only part that's properly correct.

While I am not averse to the attempt, I just found that the subject in question does not translate overly well to the written Shakespearan page so to speak. Act V was exceedingly tedious due to the fact it was mainly a space battle but simply talked through by the characters since the form itself is somewhat limited. Some things work fine, and the artwork is spectacular throughout, but other sections just fall completely short in my opinion (to which you are allowed to disagree).

Quite possibly my least favorite of all the books I've read so far this year. Give to others, but be aware that not all of us who enjoy Star Wars and Shakespeare will like/appreciate the book as much as those who are in love with it.

Note: free copy received via Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,249 reviews72 followers
January 6, 2020
Sorry, Good Readers, you will have to figure out your feelings on this without benefit of spoilers beyond the title. But it was a best-seller, if that helps. And it is true to both the Bard's tradition and the movies'.

Completes my TBR-17 list as #20, a Best-seller. AND first of my TBR 202o items, since publisher Quirk is small press.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,296 reviews35k followers
November 5, 2017
3.5 stars

"Pray, R2-D2, Where art thou?

Seriously, how awesome is that? This book (or should I say play?)is like a love story between George Lucas' Star Wars and the works of William Shakespeare. I have seen each Star Wars movie more times than I can count and also read a couple of star wars books to the boys along the way....so I am more than familiar with Star Wars and it was fun to read it in iambic pentameter. I thought when I began reading this book, that this book will get old fast for me..but it didn't. It was a fun and clever book. I have to say that my hat is off for the Author. This was probably not an easy feat. I dare say that I am not so clever so I appreciate the skill involved. Plus, did I mention this is done in play form?

“LUKE Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears. Wish not we had a single fighter more, If we are mark’d to die, we are enough To make our planets proud. But should we win, We fewer rebels share the greater fame. We all have sacrific’d unto this cause.”

Reading classics can either be pleasurable or it can be daunting as they feel dated - mainly due to the language. Other reviews have mentioned this, and I agree 100% with them, that this is a fun way to introduce kids/teens to the works of Shakespeare. True, this is not Shakespeare but perhaps could be used as a gentle introduction to his body of work. As in read this book first, then move on to a real Shakespeare work. I also feel that this book was possibly a labor of love by someone who loves star wars and has a real appreciation for Shakespeare. Plus, I could understand what was going on. I have actually enjoyed most of the Shakespeare's plays I have read, but there have been times when I had to read and re-read sections/passages/pages because I was like "WTF did I just read?" That was not the case here. I also liked the asides...well, maybe I more than liked them..I kinda loved them!

“A plague on 3PO for action slow,/ A plague upon my quest that led us here,/ A plague on both our circuit boards, I say!"

I would never had picked this book up if it weren't for a book challenge. Glad I did. Shakespeare meets science fiction..who knew it could work!

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,194 reviews345 followers
January 16, 2014
This is absolutely a book only for people who love Star Wars. But why would you read it if you didn't? You'd also need to have a certain love, or at least appreciation, for Shakespeare. Sure, it's a niche audience, but I'd bet it's a pretty sizable niche. And, astonishingly, Doescher does an admirable job serving that niche.

What I expected going in was that this would essentially be the script of Star Wars, with a lot of "anon"s and "prithee"s thrown in. I wasn't expecting that Doescher would actually rewrite the entire thing in iambic pentameter, creating new lines, new speaking parts, and new monologues where none existed before. Some of these work amazingly well. Like Leia's aside as she grieves for Alderaan. Or, far more fun, the glimpses he gives into the convoluted thought processes of stormtroopers. And of course, the most quoted lines from Star Wars are represented, in altered form.

But Doescher really should have restrained his impulse to write in pastiches of well-known lines and monologues from Shakespeare. I could have lived a long time without reading, "What light through yonder flashing sensor breaks?" I also felt like there were a few too many "anon"s and "aye"s in places where they seemed like they were being included just for color and to keep the iambic pentameter going. And I bet somebody who has studied more Shakespeare than me could find a lot more fault than that.

But is it enjoyable? Of course. I'd pay cash money to see this performed live. There probably isn't a single good reason for this to exist, but does there really have to be?
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
December 8, 2013
This is amusing as a quick read; I'm contemplating who might enjoy it as a quirky Christmas gift. It'd have to be someone who can appreciate the ridiculous literary touches (like R2D2 beeping in iambic pentameter), and who is a pretty big fan of both Star Wars and Shakespeare, I think. I'm not really enough of a fan of either to truly appreciate this.

I can also imagine that you could be too much of a fan of Shakespeare (or Star Wars) to appreciate this. It's best taken lightly.

Definitely a gift for a geek, anyway. As someone approaching it casually, I could appreciate the ideas and the way some of the lines were rendered, but then the joke wore thin.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,737 reviews37 followers
May 23, 2023
Clever clever. I had so much fun with this--the author wrote it all in iambic pentameter, here and there borrowing from Shakespeare's plays.(Luke started one speech with a nod to Julius Caesar, and by the end had moved on to Henry V). When C-3PO thinks he hasn't turned off the trash compactor soon enough to save Luke and co., he says "A plague on 3PO for action slow, a plague upon my quest that led us here, a plague on both our circuit boards, I say!"

Hee hee.

For people who know the movie by heart, or have at least seen it a few times, the famous lines are still recognizable in their Shakespearean form, often to hilarious effect--when Luke comes to rescue Leia, she says, "Thou truly art in jest. Art thou not small of stature, if thou art a stormtrooper?" The book is filled with gems like this.

The author also came up with some swell plays on words of his own, like Luke's response when Han tells him he won't be fighting in the last big battle. "Then take thou care now, Han, thou Solo act, For certain 'tis the part thou best dost play."

But my favorite thing that Doescher did was to cast R2D2 as the wise fool, making asides to the audience in perfectly good English, while beeping and whirring to everyone else. That R2D2's a sassy bloke.

Very entertaining.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,053 reviews529 followers
September 21, 2020
A chance for new beginnings we have made,
Directing hearts unto the rebels’ cause.
These are the star wars we have fought and won—
For now our battles and our scenes are done.

Review to follow.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,160 reviews387 followers
December 5, 2013
I should begin by saying that I’m going to be grossly unfair and harsh in judging Ian Doescher’s efforts in this book. He comes – at times – to really capturing a Shakespearean flavor and verve but too often appears to believe that he’s channeling the Bard by using “thou” and “prithee” and “anon,” putting verbs at the end of sentences, and stressing past-tense endings (e.g., “banishèd”). That said, this is an enjoyable – if frivolous – diversion, and I would recommend it to the probably-not-quite-as-rare-as-you-think Star Wars nerd/Shakespeare geek (or is that “Star Wars geek/Shakespeare nerd”?).

Doescher is at his best when he gives the “rude mechanicals” voice like the stormtroopers who are searching Mos Eisley for the droids or – my favorite – an extended conversation between the two soldiers guarding the Millennium Falcon after it's captured by the Death Star.

In the first place, you’ll remember that Imperial troops are combing Mos Eisley for C-3PO and R2-D2 and one comes to a locked door, saying “It’s locked. Let’s move on.” (or words to that effect) That scene has always bothered me – why are these thugs letting a locked door deter them? It’s not as if Palpatine’s New Order includes a Bill of Rights. Doescher, however, provides some context when the trooper justifies his action with logic worthy of Dogberry in “Much Ado About Nothing”:

This door is lock’d. And as my father oft / Hath said, a lockèd door no mischief makes. / So sure am I that, thus, behind this door / Cannot be found the droids for which we search. / And thus may we move on with conscience clear. (III.3, p. 79)

In the second place, the tongueless guards from the movie get a chance to voice their thoughts:

GUARD 1: Oi! Didst thou hear that sound?
GUARD 2: – Pray, hear a sound?
GUARD 1: Aye, truly – I quite clearly heard a sound.
GUARD 2: Think ears, mayhap, play tricks on thee, my friend.
GUARD 1: Nay,nay. Dost thou not think this strange?
GUARD 2: – What strange?
GUARD 1: The droids did flee the ship we have attack’d, / And unto Tatooine have gone by pod. / ‘Tis true, thus far?
GUARD 2: – I cannot claim ‘tis false.
GUARD 1: On Tatooine they have been tracèd first / To Jawas vile and then to humans –
GUARD 2: – Dead.
GUARD 1: Aye, dead they are – our men did see to it. / But follow on: the boy who with them liv’d / Hath fled, we knew not where, till he was seen / At yon Mos Eisley with the pair of droids.
GUARD 2: Aye, aye, ‘twas all in last week’s briefing. Pray, / What more of this? Hast thou aught new to say?
GUARD 1: That boy and droids together disappear’d / The very hour the ship – this ship – did fly. / And now, the ship is here, though empty seems.
GUARD 2: Nay, empty ‘tis! The scanning crew doth work / E’en now.
GUARD 1: – Which bringeth me full circle to / The sound I just have heard. Is’t possible, / My friend, that boy and droids and revels all / Have flown within this ship unto this base / And yet – e’en now – whilst thou and I do speak, / Still hide within the ship?
GUARD 2: – I am amaz’d!
GUARD 1: Aye, verily? Think’st thou I may be right?
GUARD 2: I said thou hast amaz’d me, and ‘tis true. / But never did I say I think thee right – / Thou dost amaze by thy o’eractive thoughts! / A hidden boy! The droids within! A fig! / Avaunt, thou silly guard, be not so thick. / They great imagination hath o’erwrought / They better senses. Thinkest thou thy pow’rs / Of judgment far exceed our Masters true? / May’st thou outwit the great Darth Vader or / The cunning of our Gov’nor Tarkin? Nay! / We are but simple guards, our purpose here / Is plain and to the point: we have been task’d / To watch the ship and follow all commands, / And not to prattle on with airy thoughts.
GUARD 1: Aye, thou hast spoke a well-consider’d word. / Thou are a friend, as I have e’er maintain’d, / And thou hast spoken truth and calm’d me quite. / The rebels hide herein! What vain conceit! / That e’er they should the Death Star enter – ha!
GUARD 2: It warms my heart to see thee so restor’d / And back to thine own merry, native self.
HAN: [within] Pray, my we have thy good assistance here?
GUARD 1: [to Guard 2:] So, let us go together, friend. Good / cheer!
[Guards 1 and 2 enter ship and are killed. Exeunt others.] (IV.1, pp. 102-4)

I also like the fact that Doescher gives the story’s characters moments of introspection that are absent from the movie. Another thing that’s always bothered me about A New Hope is Leia’s lack of reaction to Alderaan’s destruction. In William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Doescher remedies that with an internal monolog the princess has when she and Luke are sitting despondent in the Falcon after their escape from the Death Star:

His heart breaks for a person, Obi-Wan – / My heart breaks for a people, Alderaan. / My ship crush’d first, and now my planet too: / Did e’er a person know such grief as ours? ….

My Alderaan I’ve known all my life, / And hold it in my heart in high’st esteem. / So had I hop’d to one day make it home, / When this rebellion all is pass’d away. ….

But now I must some other course adopt / And write my life’s own story without them. / My dreams shall not be realiz’d as I wish’d, / Yet may I dream to see some other Fate. ….

Thus shall I strive to hold my hands outstretch’d / And be a calming presence to this man. / So I’ll in his deep mourning act my role / And show him what a comfort friends may be. (V.1, pp. 136-7)

Elsewhere, Doescher is not quite as successful. I’ll give here but one example – a pastiche of Antony’s funeral speech in Julius Caesar and Henry V’s rallying cry in Henry V – that suffers in comparison with the originals:

Friends, rebels, starfighters, lend me your ears. / Wish not we had a single fighter more, / If we are mark’d to die, we are enough / To make our planets proud. But should we win, / We fewer rebels share the greater fame. / We have all sacrific’d unto this cause. / Ye know well the fam’ly I have lost – / My uncle dear and aunt belov’d, aye both, / And then a mentor great, a pow’rful friend. / As massive is the grief I feel for them, / I know full well they’d not have me back down. / The princess hath a planet lost, with friends / And family alike – how great her pain! / And yet as grave as that emotion is, / She knoweth they would have her lead us still. / And ye, ye goodly men and women too, / Ye have all liv’d and lov’d and lost as well, / Your stories are with mine one and the same. / For all of us have known of grief and joy, / And every one has come unto this day / Not so that we may turn our backs and flee, / But that we may a greater courage show, / Both for ourselves and those we left behind. / So let us not wish further ships were here, / And let us not of tiny holes be fear’d – / Why, I have with a T-16 back home / Gone hunting womp rats scarcely larger than / The target we are call’d upon to strike. / And ye, ye brave souls, have your memories / Of your great exploits in your own homelands, / So think on them and let your valor rise, / For with the Force and bravery we win. / O! Great shall be the triumph of that hour / When Empire haughty, vast and powerful / Is fell’d by simple hands of rebels base, / Is shown the might of our good company! / And citizens in Bespin now abed, / Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here. / For never shall rebellion see a time / More glori’us then our strong attack today! (V.4, pp. 144-5)

Alas and alack, if only I had had this 30 years ago when I was in drama club – I would have loved to have performed some of the scenes found herein!

In the end, I enjoyed reading this book more than I disenjoyed reading it, and come down from the fence on the side of recommending it.
Profile Image for Siobhan Beeman.
Author 2 books1 follower
July 12, 2013
You might dismiss this as a gimmicky joke like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it's actually surprisingly brilliant. Rather than just render the Star Wars screenplay in iambic pentameter, the author fleshes it out into a full Shakespearean play--significantly longer than the movie--complete with a chorus, audience asides and inner monologues. The genius of this is twofold.

First, it enriches Star Wars--for example, R2-D2 becomes an interesting character rather than comic relief; we see more of Obi-Wan's emotions, tying this story back to the prequels; and the lack-witted stormtroopers (who make Dogberry look like Iago) become a hilarious running gag.

Second, by fitting the tropes of Elizabethan theater to a familiar and modern story, it demonstrates just why those things exist. The chorus? That's there to depict action and scenery unavailable on a bare wooden stage. Strange word order and contractions are needed to fit the dialogue to the poetry's meter. Asides and monologues reveal emotions and history too involved to work into the plot directly. It's one thing to have someone tell you why Shakespeare wrote the way he did; it's quite another to see it play out naturally in a familiar context. If I were an English teacher starting a unit on Shakespeare, I would absolutely use a scene or two from this book right at first, to demonstrate the basic concepts before continuing to the Bard's real works.

Even though the idea itself is smart and competently executed, the author could still have gone astray through poor writing. It's no insult to say of someone "he's no Shakespeare"--no one is, except Shakespeare himself. But I'm delighted to say that Doescher is fully up to the task. He deftly renders famous lines--"But unto Tosche Station would I go, And there obtain some pow'r converters. Fie!"--but is also capable of the same clever flights of wordplay found throughout the Works. His six-line play on Vader's "presence of my old master" line is particularly clever and poignant.

There are but two missteps. The first is easily overlooked: The book is littered (and I use the word advisedly) with a few dozen drawings of Star Wars scenes, done in the style of Elizabethan woodcuts. I don't mind the concept, but unlike the author, the artist was not up to his task; these pictures are more honored in the breach than the observance, shall we say. The second flaw is that Doescher sometimes nods to other plays--Luke's "bullseye womp rats back home" line becomes a version of the St. Crispin's Day speech, for example. These winks almost always feel jarring, stilted and unwelcome... but it's a testament to the strength of the book that seeing actual quotes from Shakespeare makes you want to get back to Doescher's writing instead!

But these minor flaws aren't enough to knock off even half a star. Overall, a clever idea lofted to great heights by outstanding execution, heartily recommended to anyone who likes Star Wars or would like to gain a greater appreciation of Shakespeare. Bravo!
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,286 reviews113 followers
April 27, 2014
I love Star Wars - the movies. Like the auther, I have watched them over and over and over. They never get old.

I enjoyed reading this little book of Star Wars verse so much! It was a whole new way to enjoy what I have always enjoyed watching on the screen, plus a new voice for R2-D2. His comments, in English to the audience/reader were wonderful. A couple of asides that were a beautiful addition to the characters thoughts and feelings that we do not get to know when we see them on the screen. One from Luke and two from Darth Vader were a wonderful look into their depths. The CHORUS set the scenes so wonderfully. The pen and ink illustrations by artist Nicholas Delort were beautifully done and added another dimension to the text.

Maybe aside is not the right word. Maybe it is a discourse. Whatever it is, I thought it beautiful.

The scene: Luke has just returned home to find his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru killed by the Storm Troupers searching for the Droids from Leia's ship. He had returned to Obi-Wan and the Droids and announced that he would go with them and learn to be a Jedi.

Adventure have I ask'd for in this life,
And now have I too much of my desire.
My soul within me weeps; my mind, it runs
Unto a thousand thousand varied paths.
My uncle Owen and my aunt Beru,
Have they been cruelly kill'd for what I want?
So shall I never want again if in
The wanting all I love shall be destroy'd.
O fie! Thou knave and adventurer! Evil trick
Of boyhood's mind that ever should one seek
To have adventure when one hath a home--
A family so kind and full of love,
Good, steady work, and vast, abundant crops--
Why would one give all this gentle life
For that one beastly word: adventure? Fie!
But soft, my soul, be patient and be wise.
The sands of time ne'er turned backward yet,
And forward marches Fate, not the reverse.
So while I cannot wish for them to live,
I can my life commit unto their peace.
Thus shall I undertake to do them proud
And take whate'er adventure comes my way.
'Tis now my burden, so I'll wear it well,
And to the great Rebellion give my life.
A Jedi shall I be, in all things brave--
And thus shall they be honor'd in their grave.

If you get a chance, reader, pick up the book and give it a try. If you love Shakespear and Star Wars, you will love this little book!

Profile Image for Karin.
1,362 reviews9 followers
May 11, 2020

I reread this on kindle--a mistake--my kindle isn't wide enough for the lines to work properly. Also, this is much more enjoyable for me on audio when it is dramatized, but it is still very well done. Even if it were, I hate trying to go back an forth from place to place on a kindle--paper books still rule for me. I am not sure what new I can say over my first review, but to underscore the fact that if you prefer Shakespeare read aloud or dramatized, you will definitely find this much better on the audiobook. If you are able to read it out loud and like doing this and won't disturb anyone, then that is the second choice, IMO. But overall I recommend this for both Shakespeare and Star Wars fans alike.

4.5 stars rounded up

Wow, what can I say Doescher really knows his Star Wars inside out and backward, and he knows his Shakespeare. But the audiobook made it better, and I am sure if I read it it wouldn't have been rated this high. Why? Because there are things you can do there you can't in a print book, such as with music. My son and I listened to the opening music part about 3 or 4 times because, as an aspiring musician, he laughed so hard at that part. But then there is the excellent way the book was introduced with title and author, and the excellent way it was handled when it ended--really well done, and in character, etc.

Plus, we got to hear the inner voices, including R2D2. This made it make comedic sense when some of its sounds were spoken and only a few done as sound effects.

If only I were more familiar with Shakespeare so that I'd catch more of the witty ways lines from that were incorporated and sometimes slightly altered to fit perfectly. Also, I haven't seen the movie for this one (this is the orignal movie) since--wait for it--it first came out in theatres. Yes, I'm that old, doggone it. I have only seen 2 or 3 of the movies, all in that first set, which are movies 406, and was fabulous because, unlike Millennials, we had NO CLUE who Darth Vader was until the big reveal.

Who knew a parody could be so fun?
Profile Image for Martin.
327 reviews137 followers
April 28, 2019
Shakespeare writes Star Wars

All the characters in Star Wars can already be found in the Bard's plays;

The young untried hero, who longs for adventure,
A beautiful princess, who knows her own mind,
Two servants, who comment on everything,
A wizard, who is full of knowledge and magic,
A pirate, who has a heart of gold,
A giant side-kick, who goes into danger to save his friends,
A enemy, who is entirely evil,
Mindless minions, who do his every bidding,
Vast armies, who are poised to attack,

And a mysterious Force!

Lovingly told in iambic pentameter. This tale is simply marvelous as the audio book brings our heros to life.


Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,858 reviews363 followers
December 3, 2018
Audiobook #221

I read a little out of order with The Empire Strikes Back struck off my list first. Star Wars has much more narration and stage direction especially at the beginning. I'm assuming it's because of all of the battle scenes. The best Shakespearean character is Hans Solo believe it or not. His attitude is perfect for the Old English. Also we have the "common man" prose included when soldiers in the Death Star have a conversation. This is a really humorous twist to the Bard.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
July 8, 2013
I got a copy of this book to review from the Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review. When I saw this book was releasing I really wanted to read it, I love Shakespeare and Star Wars and was eager to see what would happen when the two are put together. The result was very pleasant; I enjoyed the dramatic way Star Wars is done in play form and the wonderful illustrations throughout. I really enjoyed reading this.

This book covers Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in a very Shakespearean format. The book is broken down into Acts and Scenes. Each line is prefaced by who is speaking it (just like in a play). There is a Chorus that covers action scenes too. The whole thing is written in very Shakespeare like language. The book is also interspersed with some wonderful drawings of our heros in their Shakespeare-modified gear.

The only bad part about this book is that I already know how the story goes and ends. So given that, there weren’t a lot of surprises here...but there were some. One of my favorite additions were R2D2’s soliloquies. Sure he may speak in squeaks and beeps when others are on stage with him, but as soon as he is alone then the soliloquies start. R2D2 does elaborate asides on C3PO’s annoying personality and on his own sneaky plans. These are hilarious, add a lot of depth to R2D2, and are just perfect for him.

There are some other additions to the story as well. For example in an aside Obi-Wan debates what and what not to tell Luke about his father. These little asides actually add a lot of humor and thoughtfulness to the story. I thought they actually even improved the story some and made it more complex and interesting.

The language is very Shakespearean, but I still found it easy to read. I absolutely love reading Shakespeare and love the way it sounds. As with all Shakespeare it is best if read out loud, or at least out loud in your head. The banter between Han Solo and Princess Leia in this Shakespearean style is especially amusing. The only thing I would caution is that if you have historically really disliked or had trouble reading Shakespeare then you may not enjoy reading this.

The illustrations throughout added a lot to the story too. Some of them are pretty funny, for example Jabba the Hut in an Elizabethan Collar...or the picture on the back of the book where Vader realizes the Death Star has been blown up. I enjoyed the etch-like quality to them and thought they matched the tone of the story well.

Overall I approached this genre mish-mash with skepticism and a bit of tentative excitement and ended up very pleasantly surprised. I loved the way this was put together and thought it was incredibly well done. Doescher does an excellent job of blending the drama and wonder of Star Wars with the dramatic qualities of a good Shakespearean play. In fact Star Wars kind of lends itself to this type of reinvention. The additions Doescher have made (such as R2D2’s asides) have added a lot of depth and interest to the story as well. Highly recommended to Star Wars fans...and especially Star Wars fans who love Shakespeare.
Profile Image for Brandon.
902 reviews233 followers
May 6, 2014
That William Shakespeare sure wrote a lot of plays, eh? Unfortunately for us, he had to go and die some three hundred and fifty years before George Lucas created Star Wars – talk about your bad timing! Luckily, author Ian Doescher has studied the immortal work of the Bard and has rewritten the classic sci-fi script in iambic pentameter.

I received a free copy from the fine folks at Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sure, you could look at this book as a joke but the truth is, Doescher puts an interesting spin on the events that unfurled a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Not only has he reworded several of the great quotable lines to fit within the language of Shakespeare’s era but he’s also added several asides creating additional insight into each character’s motivations and thoughts.

It should be worth mentioning that artwork is also inserted depicting characters re-imagined in outfits befitting of a Shakespeare play. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jaba the Hut draped in Elizabethan garb.

I had a great time reading this book but I felt it worked best in small doses. I couldn't read more than a few scenes in one sitting. This isn't exactly a knock at the book per se, just my own preference in terms of taking in the material.

"I pray thee, sir, forgive me for the mess / And whether I shot first, I’ll not confess!"
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,691 followers
October 2, 2021
My teenage son and I listened to the audio performance of Verily, A New Hope over the course of this week. We listened to one act a night while we shot pool. We were treated to a fantastic surprise.

It made me cry, made him choke up, made us both laugh out loud, occasionally groan and roll our eyes, and sent us into post-listening discussions about our dream cast (of all the actors we know and have worked with) for a real life staging that Miloš wants to mount in Prince Edward Island sometime soon. We talked about how to make the FX work onstage, we imagined how to incorporate the Shakespearean monologues and soliloquys, we walked around quoting Ian Doescher's adapted lines. We had a blast.

But most importantly, Verily, A New Hope reminded us both how magical both the original Star Wars movie and Shakespeare are: even if The Empire Strikes Back is a better film and our favourite playwrights aren't Shakespeare (Miloš' is Neil Simon); mine is [author:George Bernard Shaw), Star Wars can always make me smile, and Shakespeare can always make me shiver. Those are some of the things we all go to films and plays to experience, so when someone reminds me to love and appreciate those works we take for granted, I just want to give that writer a hug.

Since I can't do that, though, I'll simply say thanks to the author: "Thank you, Ian. You've done a marvellous thing with your adaptations, and we love you for it!"
Profile Image for Mark my words.
11 reviews14 followers
October 14, 2016
Star Wars and Shakespeare, together at last. It was bound to happen. If they can wedge Les Misérables onto a stage, or add zombies to Jane Austen, they can clothe Luke Skywalker in 16th century tights and a ruff. Aye, verily!

It has good points and bad points. The asides are quite funny and informative. They tell a little more about what the characters were thinking than the movie ever did. Although R2-D2’s whistles and beeps, funny at first, became pointless and irritating after a while. And why can’t all the characters speak the same language? I don’t speak what ever language Jabba, or Greedo, or whoever, speaks. Even the movie had subtitles. Though if I ever get round to reading The Empire Striketh Back, then I’m sure Yoda will fit right in. The book also paraphrases Shakespeare’s most famous lines on occasion. I’ll let you find them. Though, to me, they had a plentiful lack of wit. Be that as it may I do have an urge to read more Shakespeare now.

And re-watch Star Wars.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
August 17, 2020
If only I were a playwright I would put have put this review in verse, but alas I am not.

For those who have been following me and my reviews for a while - I like to go and see Shakespeare plays performed (I haven't read so many out of school and I rather not be spoiled when I go to see a performance). I have also watched the Star Wars movies (only once though). I thought this was a fun idea, so of course I started with Verily, A New Hope.

And it was a very nice read. It might seem very gimmicky and effortless, and the story is already all there, but I don't think it is such an easy job to put everything in iambic pentameter. It reads quite easily so it makes a quick read, but I think much of the fun will get lost if you haven't seen Star Wars or don't care about it at all.

Find this and other reviews on my blog https://www.urlphantomhive.com
Profile Image for Sara.
564 reviews170 followers
January 5, 2017
Second Reading: January 2017

This is genius. It is brilliantly done. Iambic Pentameter. A clear connection to WS's greatest plays. Faithful to Star Wars.

I had no idea that George Lucas studied Hamlet when writing SW in order to massage the best of the Shakespearean archetypes into his SW story. Hearing SW in this verse, it is obvious. And amazing.

First Reading February 2015:

So smart. So well done. Truly inspired!
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