Novel Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope


Time doth learned I of
Shakespeare’s Star Wars
Verily, jest I thought thusly
Now, merry for more
Thusly I am

Okay, I can’t write this entire review in iambic pentameter (which the above might not even all be), but it’s rhythmic and booming pulse stays with you long after you’ve finished a piece of literature written in it. In fact, I haven’t read any Shakespeare since my high school days some 8 years ago, but reading it again felt like slipping on a well-worn shoe. My British Literature teacher would’ve loved to have something as accessible as Star Wars to help get us students into Shakespeare instead of the macabre Macbeth, but I’m sure she never guessed there’d actually be a William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. However, we live in a world where it does exist and Verily, A New Hope, scribed by Ian Doescher, is a refreshingly fun, exciting, and hilarious take on Ep. IV.

Amazingly, Verily, A New Hope is almost literally a line for line adaptation of the film. While the dialogue is changed so that it can be Shakespearian in nature, iambic pentameter, the fun is in recognizing classic lines in their new forms. From Obi-Wan’s question about who’s the more foolish, to Han’s boring conversation on the comms in the detention center, or Leia’s quips about a walking carpet, each memorable quote finds new life here. Some lines are even better here than their movie counterparts, I felt, and seeing how dialogue is changed to be Shakespearian alone is a good enough reason for any Star Wars fan to pick this up.

William Shakespeares Star WarsBut the real icing on the cake are the asides and monologues, presenting an even deeper look at character motivations and feelings. Most people pick up novelizations for the inner-monologue and character POVs missing in the films, but with Verily, A New Hope, you get the best of both galaxies. The asides in this novel are used primarily for comedic affect, giving R2-D2 his chance to finally talk or Han telling us his reasoning for quipping with Luke or Leia occasionally. Each major character receives a chance to have a lengthy monologue, as befitting a Shakespearian play, and provides a surprisingly insightful way to understanding their actions. It wouldn’t be crazy to say reading this book actually enhances your next Ep. IV viewing experience, thanks to the asides and monologues.

What I might have lacked to mention is just how much fun Verily, A New Hope is to read. The beating drum of iambic pentameter glides you across the pages and the odd, but pleasant thrill of seeing the dialogue changes keeps you hungry for more. Much like watching the film, it wouldn’t be hard to sit down and engulf the entire book in one sitting. It’s totally worth it too.

Let me just say, it’s hard to really find much fault with the book. My only issue stemmed from the fact that it follows the dialogue so closely, I occasionally read it like it would’ve been said in the movie, forcing me to reread sections here and there. But this likely won’t happen to everyone, especially since it’s more a personal problem than anything wrong with the book, and I even hesitated to mention it in this review.

Whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare’s works, be they modern retellings, plays, or the original works, or haven’t somehow read anything of his yet (how’d you manage that?!?) recommending William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope almost goes without saying. For Star Wars fans, this is one should already be on your bookshelf, having already gained the real wear and tear the faux old-timey cover under the jacket has built into it.

Also, who wants to make this actually happen as a play? Oh wait, it actually did happen! I hope more people go ahead and make this a play because I know I can’t be the only one who’d go see it. And if you need someone, I could play a mean Stormtrooper #4.

+ Easy and fun to read

+ Asides and monologues

+ More great artwork, please!

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth.

The Empire Striketh Back