William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope

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




The Star Wars films are iconic the world over. The original film created the modern summer blockbuster and the franchise has earned billions of dollars over the last 30+ years.
When anything becomes as famous as Star Wars it is subjected to countless parodies and adaptations. ‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope’ tells the tale of a galaxy far far away in the voice of a William Shakespeare play. Does it work?


Audie Award Finalist, Multi-Voiced Performance, 2014
Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the audiobook you’re looking for.
©2013 Ian Doescher (P)2013 Random House Audio


If you have already seen Star Wars, then this story is going to be familiar to you. It tells the story of Luke Skywalker and his quest to rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star while taking his first steps toward becoming a Jedi like his father.
What is going to be different is the dialog. This is written in the style of William Shakespeare. That means you are going to hear a lot of the old English phrasing crossed with talk of Light Sabers and Starships. It all comes at you using the Iambic pentameter form that Shakespeare is known for using.
‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope’ is not the first time someone has tried to mix two well established themes together. Other famous examples include: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’, and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’. Yet, this may be the most effective blend of them all.
There is a lot of humor to be found in this version of the Star Wars story. You have characters speaking familiar lines in an unfamiliar way and the work is also sprinkled with a lot of comments that will appeal to anyone with a basic knowledge of the Star Wars saga. You don’t have to be a Star Wars obsessive to pick up on many of the hidden references to other parts of the saga found in the text. Nor do you have to be a fan of the old style of Englished to be able to understand what each character is talking about.


Ian Doescher has a strong command of his subject. The writing is full of references to the works of Shakespeare and Star Wars. The book features references to the other Star Wars films and also makes comments on some of the changes that have been made to the film since the 1977 release. Han Solo will not confess as to whether or not he shot first.
Doescher appears at the end of the book discussing some of the creative decisions he made and the inspirations for the idea as a whole. This is a cool feature and is present in all three parts of the audio trilogy.


This was nominated for an Audie Award in 2014 for best Multi-Voiced Performance and it is well deserved. I have written before of my fondness for all of the narrators that are being used for Star Wars titles. On this performance, many of them are gathered together and it is as good as I could have imagined.
Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis provide a lot of the voice work, reading all of the male roles. Daniel Davis, who may be most well known for his time on ‘The Nannie’, reads the part of the chorus and January LaVoy handles all female roles including Princess Leia.
Davis and Thompson work well together with a lot of funny interplay. A standout scene featuring the two is when they are acting as guards debating whether they heard a sound on the Millennium Falcon. LaVoy gets to show off her singing talent with a ballad lamenting the destruction of Alderaan.
Daniel Davis is only used as the chorus and that is a shame because he is very good. He is the narrator of the highly regarded ‘Darth Plagueis’ novel and it would have been nice for him to be featured more. Given that the chorus is used with less frequency in the next two parts of the trilogy, his role is more expansive here.


As is typical for a Star Wars title, ‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars’ features a full compliment of music and sound effects. The book is divided into five parts with each part given it’s own chapter stop on the track. There are no issues with changing volume levels or with any other skipping.


‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope’ has a lot in common with the film it was based upon. It is a big hit but is eclipsed by what was to come next. This is a quite enjoyable listen but it is not my favorite in the trilogy.
This is a title that was made for an audiobook. I don’t know that I would enjoy this so much if I were just reading words on a page. Hearing the great Star Wars narrators give voice to the performance is what makes this something that all Star Wars fans should go out of their way to check out.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Ian Doescher Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson Random House Audio Science Fiction 10/02/2013 3 hours, 31 minutes 9/10


A copy of ‘book’ was purchased from Audible for review.