William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back, Ian Doescher


—Hath not a Sith eyes?
Hath not a Sith such feelings, heart, and soul,
As any Jedi Knight did e’er possess?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you blast us, shall we not injur’d be? If you
Assault with lightsaber, do we not die?

The title here, I think, speaks for itself. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I feel like you now know everything you need to know about this series.

These books are excellent. The original Star Wars movies are such epic, sweeping tales, full of very Shakespearean themes. Love and family and kingdom and rebellion and religion and progress and grappling with morality and awful truths. There are even some ghosts. And incest! Moulding the plot of those movies into Shakespeare’s five act format is fairly easy, and it works really well. But these books being as enjoyable as they are is only possiblee thanks to some incredible writing on the part of Ian Doescher. It’s more than just getting the iambic pentameter; Doescher captures the feeling of reading a (fairly simple, but still hugely enjoyable) Shakespeare play. I’m a way bigger Shakespeare fan than I am Star Wars fan, so he really had to nail that half of the equation for me to love them as much as I have, and in truth, he succeeds on both halfs.

There’s lots of great Shakespeare jokes in the book, moments where he parodies from specific scenes or speeches. Whereas in the first book, Doescher never breaks the iambic pentameter, this time around he’s already proven he can do it, so he’s more free to play. Boba Fett speaks in prose, as many of Shakespeare’s characters of lower social order often did. And he preserves the spirit of Yoda’s crooked syntax within his world of somewhat bizarre speech (where, he points out, the Shakespearean English already makes most characters sound a tad like Yoda) by having him speak in haiku. There’s also talking wampas and space slugs and, most delightfully, AT-ATs! And all the best Star Wars moments are there too, of course, from the classic “I know” line to this delightful gem:

My feelings? O! Thou arrogant half-wit,
Thou oversizèd child, thou friend of slime,
Thou man of scruffy looks, thou who herd’st nerds,
Thou fool-borne impled roughhewn waste of flesh!

What scruffy? Scruffy how?

I do think my favourite joke, however, is from the beginning of the book while Luke is alone on Hoth, a parody of my absolute favourite Shakespearean stage direction:

[Exit, pursued by a wampa]


Books: 5


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