William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

Source: Quirk Books
Hardcover, 174 pages
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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher is another entertaining mix of classics and modern pop culture, combining the iambic pentameter and language of Shakespeare with the modern pomp of science fiction movies by George Lucas.  Doescher uses the plot and characters of the original Star Wars movie with an inventive and lyrical play format from Shakespeare.  He combines his knowledge of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and other plays with the pop culture of space travel.

“”O gods above, why have I once again
Been short with R2, sending him away?
I trust he knoweth well I hold him dear,
Though in his presence oft my speech is cruel.
‘Tis words that do betray my better self
When harshly they express my droidly rage.'” (page 21)

What’s most interesting is how he translates R2-D2’s beeps and ticks into thoughts and statements to C-3PO and the other characters.  These droids garner more human-like qualities through the Shakespearean language. Complete with asides and soliloquy, Doescher clearly has studied not only Star Wars but also Shakespeare’s plays and methods. In the back of the book, he talks about the similarities between the two greats and the influence of classic myths and archetypes that came before them.  And like any mesh of pop culture and classics, this novel includes more modern language and drawings to illustrate what would occur on stage.  In some cases, a Greek play-like chorus is used to narrate the action.  One of the best scenes happens when Luke Skywalker, like Hamlet, speaks to the helmet of a stormtrooper as if it were Poor Yorick.

“Forsooth, a great disturbance in the Force
Have I just felt. ‘Twas like a million mouths
Cried out in fear at once, and then were gone,
All hush’d and quiet–silent to the last.
I fear a stroke of evil hath occurr’d.” (page 88-9)

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher is just the first installment in another line of Quirk Books that is bound to find a willing audience.  This action-packed retelling does not stray far from George Lucas’ creation, but what’s intriguing is how Doescher uses Shakespearean language to spice up the drama.  It’s witty and fun, though the term “verily” seems a bit overused.  At any rate, an entertaining novel to spend a rainy afternoon or snowed in evening with.

About the Author:

Ian Doescher has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars Episode IV was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his spouse Jennifer and two sons. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is his first book. Visit Ian online at www.iandoescher.com. [Photo by Shan Applegate]

8th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.


  1. I think it sounds really neat, but you know I’m not into Star Wars. I’ve passed these books onto The Girl. Maybe once she has some Shakespeare under her belt, she’ll be able to appreciate them more than I would.

  2. I thought this was pretty clever too. I may have missed some of the more subtle stuff but I’ve read enough Shakespeare to ‘get it’.

  3. Just stopping by to say thanks for doing Mailbox Monday!

  4. These books are so clever. It must take a lot of talent to write them.

  5. I tried to read this but Shakespeare is so beautiful I decided I couldn’t take any changes to his words! :–)