William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back, by Ian Doescher (2014)

William Shakespeare’s

The Empire Striketh Back


Ian Doescher

When first I read Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean twist on the “Star Wars” saga, I spent more time laughing than thinking about why I was laughing. I think it’s because it’s a simple western: good guys beat bad guys, though overmatched and outgunned. It was like a bunch of Gary Coopers in “High Noon.”

Of the first three films released, true “Star Wars” fans usually consider “The Empire Strikes Back” as the best and most intelligent. (nb: I like the first one best, myself) Still, I’ve seen the entire trilogy (meaning the first three films released, technically volumes IV-VI) at least a couple times through, and this time I realized why this series is so damned hilarious: I know exactly what’s going to happen! There are no surprises. Luke doesn’t miss when he blows up the Death Star in the first installment, nor are there any plot changes in “The Empire Striketh Back.” I could picture Billy Dee Williams—fresh from a Colt 45 ad—as Lando of Calrissian. Harrison Ford was still arrogant as Han Solo, even though he fell for princess Leia.

I knew the story! Every plot line, every event, every treachery and heroic act—they were all there.

What makes these books so funny is the language, like when R2D2 gives an aside, saying “I wish that gold menace would shut his pie-hole.” It’s all in iambic pentameter—a truly daunting literary undertaking—but there are a couple of times where characters speak in different rhythms.  The Ugnaughts sing in gleeful, Irish pub style, or like the underpants gnomes in the “South Park” Tweak Coffee ad. Too funny.

So what to do with Yoda. To say Yoda’s speech patterns are already weird is like saying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is tall. Yoda talks 7’4” weird. NORMALLY. So what do you do with him? You clearly can’t put him in iambic pentameter like the rest of the novel, because he was so sui generis in the film.

What Ian Doescher does with Yoda is very funny and very fitting, and I’ll let you discover it yourself.

The biggest complaint I have about this series thus far is that we have to wait till fall for the third installment.

I know Doescher has stayed dead-true to the films thus far, but if he burst a few of those damned Ewoks into flames for no reason, I’d find some way to recommend him further.

Most Highly Recommended

Here’s a trailer for you:

(I received a review copy from the publisher)

About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
This entry was posted in Best Books of the Year, Books, Books Read in 2014, Fantasy or Sci-Fi, Humorous, series. Bookmark the permalink.

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