Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher (Shakespeare’s Star Wars #1)


Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language—and William Shakespeare—here is an officially licensed 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—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.

Alas, what a book! Ever since I first heard someone talk about this book, I’ve marked it as one of those which I want to read. I thought the idea sounded very interesting, and though I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, I thought I would enjoy this. Thus when Quirk Books was looking for book bloggers to review the series, I thought: “Why not?”

To begin, I’ll recap the plot to those who (like me) are not familiar with the storyline of Star Wars. Verily, A New Hope is based on the movie Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). The story begins when a space station is attacked by the Empire, and Princess Leia is taken into custody. The Princess is one of the leaders in a revolution against the cruel Empire. However, two droids escape the space station and land to a planet Tatooine, where they meet Luke, a young farm boy who dreams of adventures. Luke sets to help these droids to find a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi, and upon meeting him hears that his destiny is tied to this strange man.

Verily, A New Hope is science fiction written in Shakespearean language. The book is written in iambic pentameter with a lot of references to Shakespeare’s own works, such as Hamlet (see quote below). Along the text are beautiful illustrations of the characters as well as some of the scenes. Science fiction is a genre that I’ve read very little and find hard to get into. This also goes for movies, and the only Star Wars movie I’ve ever seen is Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). I know these movies (especially the early series 4-6) are cult classics, and referenced often in popular culture. In fact, reading the book inspired me to plan a Star Wars movie marathon once I’ve read the next books in the series, The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return (out in July). Call it edutainment.

What I loved in Verily, A New Hope was the language, puns and all the Shakespeare references. (Side note: A study guide explaining these references can be found on Quirk Books website.) The movie has been adapted into a play, with only little description of surroundings and a chorus narration. Although this works well for most of the story, there are some scenes which are hard to grasp without previous knowledge of the story. For example, building the tension fell flat in some scenes and especially with “gibberish languages” it was hard to figure out whether the character was playful, sad or furious. Putting that aside, I must praise the effort that Doescher has put into transforming the story into its Shakespearean form.

Overall, Verily, A New Hope was a very enjoyable read. A must read for fans of the series, but recommendable also to others who are interested in reading how science fiction would have been written by the greatest writer of the English language. I have the next episode sitting on my bookshelves, waiting for me to continue the journey.


Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not,
yet have I taken both uniform and life
From thee. What manner of a man wert thou?
A man of inf’nite jest or cruelty?
A man with helpmate and with children too?
A man who hath his Empire serv’d with pride?
A man, perhaps, who wish’d for perfect peace?
What’er thou wert, goodman, thy pardon grant
Unto the one who took thy place: e’en me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

My review of The Empire Striketh Back (#2), The Jedi Doth Return (#3) AND The Phantom of Menace (#4).


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