William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First – Ian Doescher



O Threepio,Threepio,
Wherefore art thou,Threepio?

Join us good gentles, for a merry imagining of Star Wars: Episode I as only Shakespeare could have written it. The entire saga starts here, with a thrilling tale featuring a disguised queen, a young hero, and two fearless knights facing a hidden, vengeful enemy.

‘Tis a true Shakespearean drama, filled with sword fights, soliloquies, and doomed romance…all in glorious iambic pentameter and coupled with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations. Hold on to your midi-chlorians: the play’s the thing, wherein you’ll catch the rise of Anakin!


There can be something refreshing when the book is exactly as described on the tin: this is exactly what it sounds like, a Shakespearean retelling of The Phantom Menace.

Without question, this is probably the best version of this story you’re going to see: Doescher unquestionably has a better ear for dialogue that Lucas does, and everyone’s inner voice is a better actor than Jake Lloyd which immediately makes Anakin more likable. Plus, Doescher manages to find a way to give Jar Jar Binks, a character created to be denied dignity, some dignity. The illustrations in the book are a nice little bonus and do a good job of blending the feel of the characters while giving them a 15th century twist.

That being said: this is still The Phantom Menace. You can only do so much with a story that has some serious inherent weaknesses. Even with improvements to Jar Jar, he’s still ultimately Jar Jar. He and all the Gungans still ultimately sounds like they did in the movie and are still inherently annoying, so it is something to keep in mind.

Ultimately as good as this book is (and he has done a great job), I still do feel that this is a niche title: one that I see only really appealing to Star Wars fans and Shakespeare. For the latter, you might well be better served by checking out the books he’s done for episodes IV, V and Vi – they’re just better stories. For the former, if you’re someone whose idea of enjoying Shakespeare is either watching an adaptation (like Empire or Ten Things I Hate About You) or you insisted on getting the copies of the plays that updated the vernacular to modern English, you may want to borrow this instead, because if you aren’t a fan of the poetry, the fact that it is Star Wars might not be enough to win you over. It’s something to keep in mind.

Verdict: Unless you’re a die hard fan of both Shakespeare and Star Wars, Borrow It

Available: April 7th


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