The premise is simple, if painstakingly difficult to execute. Doescher took one of Hollywood’s most-beloved film series, and wrote it as William Shakespeare would have.
Well, or might have, if The Bard knew anything about Death Stars and androids.
All three films are reimagined in beautiful Shakespearean language. This takes some serious skill on the author’s part. Not only did he need a firm grounding in William Shakespeare’s writing style, he also needed an expert knowledge of the Star Wars saga.
“The Jedi Doth Return” is the third installment, and it’s a good one. We follow Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia–and loyal droids C3PO and R2D2–as they battle “Jabba of the Hutt” for their freedom. Then it’s off to the forest moon of Endor, where they have to disable the newly renovated Death Super Star’s energy shield, in order that the rebellion can destroy it. Then–huzzah!–peace will reign throughout the Universe.
Ah, if only it were that easy. The evil Emperor Palpatine and his dark henchman, Darth Vader, have other plans. The forest moon housing the energy shield generator is full of Imperial troops. Forsooth! The Rebels were tricked! Thus, Han, Leia, Chewy, and the droids have to team up with small, teddy bearesque creatures called Ewoks to defeat the Imperial troops and disable the shield.
Even worse, Luke Skywalker is bound to face off with Darth Vader, who we know from “The Empire Striketh Back” is actually Luke’s father. Luke’s plan is to turn his father back from the Dark Side, and restore him to his destined place as a Jedi Knight.
If you’re one of the three or four dozen people on Earth who hasn’t seen “The Return of The Jedi,” I won’t spoil the story.
All I can do is tell you that this installment of “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” is an amazing ride.
One small note, though. I think the first two episodes translated slightly better to the Shakespearean treatment, for they worked better at conveying the visual aspects of each film. The entire scenes on the forest moon, Endor, were harder for me to imagine strictly based on the description. I don’t think this was any fault of Ian Doescher’s at all, just that “The Return of The Jedi” had settings far different from the more easily described space sets in the first two. (Even the desert scenes in the first novel were more readily translated to prose)
I remember feeling the same way watching “Return of The Jedi” in the cinema. When it got to the forest moon, I shook my head: What the hell is THIS doing out in space? It was like Star Wars had moved to a redwood forest.
That small observation aside, reading “The Jedi Doth Return” kept a smile on my face, just as the first two installments did. The stories are so familiar to me–and, I imagine, to literally millions of others–that this revisiting was a joy to read.
If you hated the Star Wars films, I doubt you’ll like this book. If you loved Star Wars, but you’re iffy on Shakespearean prose, you might still like it. The language here is not as foreboding and impenetrable as much of Shakespeare’s work, and the narrative construction often cracked me up.
For example, R2D2’s dialogue is, true to the film, a bunch of beeps and blaps and whistles. However, when R2 speaks to the audience in an aside, he’s surprisingly sarcastic and funny.
All in all, Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” series is a joy to read, a true tour de force of writing skill. More importantly, though, it’s an inspired piece of storytelling from an author who’s also–quite obviously–a huge fan of these epic tales.