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William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Ian Doescher
Quirk Books
Published as:
Hardback Book (2014)
e-Book (2014)
Digital Audio Book (2014)

If you have read this book, please rate it:
1 review

Book Description:
Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter.

Other books by this author:

Review by Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics, 2014:

"Doescher's Shakespearean adaptation of A New Hope was perhaps the most unusual Star Wars book of recent years - rewriting the screenplay of the most iconic film story of modern times into Shakespearean iambic pentameter - yet, surprisingly it worked. So Doescher returns with his next project: an obvious sequel - adapting The Empire Strikes Back. In many ways The Empire Strikes Back works much better as a Shakespearean play than A New Hope as it contains all the themes of a good Shakespearean drama: comedy, love, betrayal, fights and of course tragedy.
"Empire features some of the most memorable Star Wars quotes: "No. I am your father", "Try not! Do, or do not, there is no try", "I love you. I know" - all of these and more have entered the social consciousness. I suspect for most people reading this book the first thing they will do would be to look up their favourite quote and see how Doescher handled translating it into Elizabethan English - I know I did! I wont spoil how Doescher handled them - you'll have to read the book for yourself.
"Empire is famous, even infamous, for limelighting a funny-speaking, small, green, muppet-styled character for whom, I imagine, at least everyone who has seen the film, has at one time or another tried to imitate. Given Yoda's unique speaking style, the question is how would Doescher handle Yoda's lines? Doescher admits that "[t]his was the question that gnawed at [him]" when writing this book and his solution may appear unorthodox, using haiku verse, but it works. With Luke speaking in iambic pentameter, Yoda's haiku maintains a sense of the inverted phrase order unique to Yoda: "Looking, are you, hmm? Found someone you have, it seems! Is that not correct?"
"One striking thing is that Doescher adds a level of comedy to his Shakespearean adaptation that Empire simply, possibly thankfully, did not have. On Bespin we have singing Ugnaughts (!) - reminiscent of Oz's Munchkins or Wonka's Ooompa Loompas. In another scene two Stormtroopers discuss why Imperial edicts state that all major structures must include "at least one chasm that's deep and long and dark" - with one guard commenting on how easy it would be for someone to fall down such a chasm - so why build them? A question asked by many a Star Wars fan!
"Fans of Shakespeare will love finding references to other works by the Bard, even the occasional nod to one of his characters, in this adaptation. Empire is well known for its love interest between Han Solo and Princess Leia but it is Lando Calrissian whom Doescher imbues with Romeo: "O, what light doth break upon mine eyes? What beauty's this?" Lando might be the smoothest man in the galaxy but he was caught between a rock and a hard place in Empire. Doescher expands this character further than the movies ever achieved with some wonderful soliloquies that convey the inner turmoil he must have experienced between betraying his friends and protecting his staff. Empire also gave us the second-most iconic Star Wars villain - Boba Fett - and for this character Doescher quite rightly forces him to speak in prose. A Shakespearean trick to separate the lower classes, in this case Fett, from the upper echelons of society - everyone else!
"Ultimately Empire is Luke's tragedy and this is never forgotten by Doescher in his adaptation. While we are keenly aware of Luke's destiny in Empire, Doescher has created some truly beautiful soliloquies for Luke that only further dramatise his predicament: "Yes, now am I in Bespin - more fool I, for though my feelings say this is the place, I know not yet for certain if it be [...] And yet the Force doth call in clearest tones, as if to say: 'Here lies thy destiny!'" Luke's journey in Empire is comparable to any one of the Bard's tragic figures.
"Empire is regarded by most fans (and non-fans alike) as the best of the six Star Wars films for its dark themes of loss, betrayal and tragedy and Doescher's treatment in rewriting it in the style of the Bard has lost none of these themes. Doescher's aim in adapting the Star Wars films is to attract more people, especially younger people, to the works of the Bard and with this, his second adaptation, I really do hope that Doescher is successful in achieving his objectives. As someone who never got to study Shakespeare at school (it wasn't part of the English language curriculum when I was at school in the 1980s), I know that Doescher has more than piqued my interest in either reading or even watching one or more of Shakespeare's play.
"If you got a kick from Doescher's Verily, A New Hope then The Empire Striketh Back is a worthy successor. And with Doescher now confirmed as writing an adaptation of Return of the Jedi all that remains would be for a company to produce all three books onto the stage."

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