William Shakespeare's the Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh by Ian Doescher
|William Shakespeare's the Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh by Ian Doescher|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very clever and droll revisit to the Star Wars universe, with much more Shakespearean styling and riffing than you may have hoped.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: October 2017|
|Publisher: Quirk Books|
|External links: Author's website|
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a man called William Shakespeare, who was able to create a series of dramatic histories full of machinations most foul, rulers most evil and rebellious heroes and heroines most sturdy. You may or may not have noticed the cinematic version of his original stage play for The Force Doth Awaken, but here at last we get the actual script, complete with annoying-in-different-ways-to-before droids anew, returning heroes from elsewhere in his oeuvre, and people keeping it in the family til it hurts. And if you need further encouragement, don't forget his audience only demanded three parts of Henry VI – here the series is so popular we're on to part seven – surely making this over twice as good…
Or, in other words – mash-up, for that is what this book is. It would be impossible for me to summarise the book in the actual style, hence my slapdash flippancy above. Rest assured, however, the book does cover everything you would need from a quick novelisation of The Force Awakens, and in suitably Shakespearean style. Heck, it's even presented with the vintage quirks as if it's the real deal, right down to woodcut illustrations, and that tiny numbering for the lines in each scene.
The book's version of events does at times struggle to get the film on to the page – heck, anything would, and this is a laughably unpresentable play (sample stage direction – Finn shoots and destroys the final TIE fighter. Exeunt.). Rey's opening monologue is clunky and overlong, as she vocalises her lot, of both needing to be a junkyard scavenger and in wait for her missing parents. But the author (who has done this kind of thing six times before now, so surely knows what he's doing) gets above all that. I loved the chap bearing fardels – and no, they're not some of the aliens in this; I certainly did admire the card-themed language FN2187 uses when he fully and finally becomes Finn; and I had noticed the villanelles before the author proves just how clever he's been in his postscript.
It's also clearly done from a position of great knowledge of, and much fondness for, the actual Star Wars films. We get BB8's bleeps and bloops in full Shakespearean meter, we get footnotes that translate Chewbacca's vocalisations, and even the Happabore (that lumpen thing sharing a watering trough with Finn when he reaches Rey's settlement) gets to let us know it's actually a lumpen thing of culture, thank you very much. All that's before some monsters get to sing to us – the approach reminded me of the spirit of Douglas Adams.
What this all means is that this is a really commendable book. I've often seen mash-ups, spoofs and quirky rewrites that try to amalgamate multiple franchises in semi-official ways, but I hardly ever think to keep them on my shelf. This, however, is richer – meeting both bizarrely incongruous styles of writing in a very happy, common ground indeed. Finally, what chutzpah in act four scene four – a veritable delight, that's both scathingly funny and scathingly honest. It's all a very enjoyable, amusing and intelligent little read.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Just as in the real cinematic world, the fourth book, for The Phantom of Menace is concerning the bit of story furthest back in time.
You can read more book reviews or buy William Shakespeare's the Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh by Ian Doescher at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy William Shakespeare's the Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh by Ian Doescher at Amazon.com.
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