July 27th, 2014

Review: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back
by Ian Doescher


Sequel to William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

After destroying the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the rebels hide on the frozen ice planet of Hoth, plotting their next move. Darth Vadar and his armies search relentlessly for Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and the others. As the Empire closes in, Luke receives a ghostly message from his former mentor to seek a new Jedi master. Far off in the remote Dagobah system, Luke is forced to choose between completing his training or returning to save his friends from the carefully-laid trap set by the Empire.

This series is so much fun. It mimics the style of Shakespeare convincingly enough that one could almost believe his ghost was involved in the writing – but then Doescher slips in a couple of classic Star Wars quotes and you remember the modern origin of the story. It’s clearly a labor of love, though. It’s interesting to see how Doescher adapted some of the movie’s characters to suit the new medium. After all, Yoda’s unusual manner of speaking is already somewhat Shakespearean, so how can you convey the difference in this new play-version of the story? I won’t ruin the surprise, but I think Doescher found a very effective way of keeping Yoda unique.

I also really enjoy the way that non-speaking characters can be given new life via the Shakespearean soliloquy. In the film, R2-D2 can’t talk save for a series of whistles and beeps, but here he’s free to vent frustrations or rhapsodize with joy. Even minor characters, like the wampa that attacks Luke Skywalker at the beginning of the story, can be made sympathetic:

Pray know that I a wampa simple am,
And take no pleasure in my angry mood.
Though with great force this young one’s face I slam,
I prithee know I strike but for my food.


Scattered throughout the book are etching-like illustrations that mashup Star Wars and Elizabethan culture. Ever wanted to see Yoda in a great ruff collar? Here it is. You’re welcome.

Fans of the first book will eat this right up and jump right on to The Jedi Doth Return. If you haven’t yet given the series a try, go for it. It’s a lot of fun and you won’t regret it.


4 out of 5 stars


To read more about The Empire Striketh Back, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.





Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: News: Jane Austen to be face of 10 pound note
2012: The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World edited by Brian Fagan
2011: Tail of the Moon, Vol. 1 by Rinko Ueda
2010: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
2009: Giveaway #9: Three Chinese Stories
2008: Rahab’s Story by Ann Burton