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Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Verily, a New Hope (William Shakespeare's Star Wars #1)

Release Date: July 2, 2013
Author: Ian Doescher
Inspired by: George Lucas's Star Wars & the Writing Style of William Shakespeare
Publisher: Quirk Books
Length: 174 pages

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 fearstome 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.

    




Review:

Prologue: So this is going to be a bit different than my usual book reviews. This will NOT be Spoiler-Free as the story of this book and this trilogy as a whole is very well known, and to give the best review possible I will have to delve further into the trilogy and make references to some very big spoilers. As for the different categories, since I'm sticking more to how this was written and adapted I'm forgoing my usual five points and at the moment sort of winging how I'm going to review it, I hope you enjoy!

Level of Reading Difficulty: At first I didn't know how easy this would be to read. I've read my fair share of Shakespeare, and while I can basically get the gist of the things that are going on, I usually need a modern translation or movie visual to fully understand what's going on. In this instance, I'm not sure if it's the fact that I already knew the story so well, but this adaptation is very easy to read. It's not remedial of course, but it does seem to shy away from overly complex and superfluous confusing speech.

Emulation of Shakespeare's Writing:  Like I said above, this isn't as intense as a classic Shakespearean play, but at the same time it's very apparent that this story was still very much told in a similar way to Shakespeare's own plays. The only problem I had when reading this adaptation was the sheer number of asides. For those who don't know what an aside is, it's a remark or passage by a character in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but unheard by the other characters in the play. While I found some of the asides entertaining, the fact that there were so many just them feel gimmicky or superfluous at times. Some were just so long that I would sometimes even forget I was reading an aside. The soliloquies however were perfect. There weren't all that many and while not part of the source material, which I'll got to later, they did add a great depth to some of the characters and compensated for the lack of visuals.

Accuracy to the Source Material: Immediately after reading this adaptation of A New Hope, I watched the movie (since I hadn't seen it in quite a wile) to see exactly how the book stacked up. I'm pleased to say that it did stick extremely well to the dialogue from the film, though some of the aliens, such a Jabba who didn't speak any English, but had subtitles in the film, had no translation in the book and just looked like utter jibberish, while R2-D2 a droid who has no real speaking parts whatsoever would fairly often have an aside to add in English on top of his beeps and squeaks. Luke's affections for Leia, who is later revealed to be his sister is fairly evident but even knowing that spoiler it doesn't weird me out too much, but with the numerous asides I became pretty uncomfortable reading about how Luke was feeling about his sister. One of the things I did like best of all was that the sci-fi elements from the film were kept in and this was much for a retelling than a reimagining with medieval changes.

Rating:



I loved this adaptation of one the first film in one of my favorite franchises and I think, despite the numerous asides, that it does the movie justice. I'd say that any Star Wars fan who also enjoys some Shakespeare on the side (or vice-versa) would greatly enjoy this mash up of these two great forces.

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