I would join the masses in celebrating this wonderful retelling of Episode IV, entitled “Verily, A New Hope,” but I must include a caveat as this book comes with some unintended side effects every reader is in danger of acquiring:
• It serves as a “gateway drug” to reading more Shakespeare. Doescher does more than just re-spin the dialogue of the original Star Wars movie, recreated the Shakespearean script from its set up to its presentation of characters and crafty use of sonnet, chorus, prologue and significant “minor” characters. By weaving Shakespeare’s style into a storyline most fans can narrate in their sleep, it isn’t long before The Bard’s style becomes easier to understand (it is English, after all). Once you enter that realm, you’ll find an alluring world of seduction, murder, betrayal, fantasy adventure, historical drama, redemption and all-out war, which is William Shakespeare.
• It encourages reading out loud and role-playing. I certainly hope high school and college theatre troupe are taking advantage of this “script in hand” to act out sequences of this book at local bookstore readings, library story times or flash mob street performances. Even if reading this book alone, you’ll find yourself with the overwhelming urge to get up and bother the nearest friend, family member or random unsuspecting stranger to share a favorite passage or line. If no one is around, the urge to utter some choice phrases aloud may be overwhelming:
Being 2: “Proceed with care…I have earn’d the penalty of death in many systems….”
Luke: Tut, careful shall I be.
Being 2: — Thou shalt be dead!
Yup, I’ll be saying that last one often.
• It may wean you off your dependency on “effects-driven” cinema. The classic Greek theatre chorus is used heavily…and very effectively…in this book and replaces all the need for special effects, Foley sound and CGI with solid, beautiful picture-painting narration. For, younger readers who may not be familiar with the “chorus” in early theatre this is a great introduction to the importance this group of actors has in moving the plot along smoothly and vividly. For example, we’re taken to a familiar desert planet with this simple lead-in:
And now, dear viewers, shall our play go to
A planet stark and drear for our next scene.
Imagine sand and rocks within thy view.
Prepare thy souls — we fly to Tatooine!
• It will turn you into a “pusher.” I almost guarantee most readers of this book will end up purchasing at least one — or several — extra copies for gift-giving, because everyone knows someone who this would be “perfect” for. Even those who aren’t “worthy of such a gift” will likely get the hard sale book-recommendation. Come to think of it, you might want to get an extra copy for yourself, because I anticipate this volume to be plagued with dog-earred pages, broken spine, worn pages, highlighter-covered and underlined passages and overloaded with random bookmarks.
• It will give you a craving for more of its kind. As with any good book, no matter how familiar the story, you’ll want more. Since Star Wars has already established itself as a multi-story saga, it seems a couple of follow-ups seem in order. I am certainly hoping, verily, Doescher isn’t done with this yet and similar versions of “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” follow. I can just imagine it now:
Leia: Deny me not this declaration, I love you.
Han: Only this, my princess…I know you do.
So it is with a word of caution, I recommend this cleverly arranged collection of words, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Remember: “O, that way madness lies,” but it is a path you will want to follow.