William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher is the sequel to William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, a retelling of George Lucas’s space saga in the style of William Shakespeare. I would strongly recommend picking this up as an audiobook rather than ebook or hard copy – Random House Audio’s production is top notch with an excellent cast. It is far more like a radio play than an audiobook and the excellent cast does a wonderful job of telling the story.
What I liked
The source material. The original Star Wars trilogy is a darn good story. It contains a lot of strong themes which would have been as relevant in Shakespeare’s time as today: love, betrayal, youthful impetuousness, struggle against tyranny. Doescher therefore has a strong base on which to base his adaptation. It also isn’t too jarring, for example, when Han rails against Lando’s betrayal in Shakespearean language as it is a theme and emotion found in many of Shakespeare’s works.
Yoda. On my first listen through I was a little disappointed that Yoda didn’t sound too different from the other characters. In the movies, he has a unique speech pattern and I was hoping that this would be reflected in Empire Striketh Back. It was only on reading Doescher’s commentary that I realised Yoda was speaking in haiku! Darn I wished I’d picked that up first time. This is intended to reflect Yoda’s role as Luke’s master – or sensei – in the mystical force giving an eastern feel to it. Brilliant. Appropriate and brilliant.
The production. Random House Audio has gone full out to make this a radio play rather than an audiobook. We have a strong cast, sound effects (including the iconic swish of the lightsabres) as well as snippets of John Williams’ memorable soundtrack. It all combines to make it a wonderful listen.
Doescher’s Notes and Commentary. I the ebook edition I also possess, Doescher adds some commentary explaining some of the creative decisions he made while writing Empire. This, combined with the teachers notes provides a fascinating new insight into the book.
What I didn’t like
There was nothing, I tell you, nothing i disliked about The Empire Striketh Back. I already have The Jedi Doth Return on pre-order. As the trailer says “these are the books you have been looking for.”