Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare's Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. These two plays offer essential listening for all ages. Something Wookiee this way comes!
Read by Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, Jeff Gurner, January LaVoy, and Marc Thompson.
©2014 Random House Audio; 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.
"Liked the first one? You'll love the sequel."
I had a blast with Verily, A New Hope, and multiple listens gave me something new to appreciate in that venerable old tale. I'm guessing you did too, otherwise why would you be seeking this one out? The Empire Striketh Back proves to hit the same marks. On the surface, it's just fun. The actors clearly had as much fun performing it as I did listening. Combine that with the John Williams music and the classic sound effects, it's hard not to love this. Where else will you hear dialogue for a wampa, a space slug, and an AT-AT walker?
As with the original, I want very much to see this performed on a stage in an all-out production. A work like this just demands the full treatment.
"Shakespeare: Meant to be Listened To"
Do you like Shakespeare, particularly when performed? Do you like Star Wars? Then pick up this dramatization already!
While the 'Shakespeare's Star Wars' series is definitely Shakespeare-Lite (it's got the right form and syntax, but is missing much of the bard's metaphoric language that makes his work both so rich, and so frustrating!), it's clear the author is an expert on the subject matter. It's the kind of thing you listen to because it keeps you laughing - many parts are just downright goofy (for example, the space slug's soliloquy), and clearly not meant to be taken seriously. If you don't like Shakespeare the gimmick will likely wear out its welcome, but with few exceptions I found it kept me grinning until the last minute.
A final note: the voice actors were perfect for their roles. I read the first play in this trilogy, and I must say - audiobook is absolutely the way to go. Fifteen bucks well spent.
"These are the books you've been looking for"
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.”
"Even better this time."
This one was even more brilliant than the last. The wampa, AT-ATs, and Ugnaughts had me in tears of laughter. The climax of the film is done well and is still captivating in this format. If you made it through the first one and enjoyed the experience this one won't disappoint. Again, you MUST listen to the audiobook. It's wizard.
"If You Loved the First One"
Yes, I would because it is written as a play and therefore, is better when performed (either on stage or in audio form).
The things that were singing in Cloud City. I don't know what they were called but it was great.
I was totally taken by surprised by the singing and had to stifle my laughter because we were listening to this while I waited for my daughters to go to sleep.
"Yoda was built for this! Plus a little hint..."
Every play a Beatles album backwards? Here's a trick I did with this and the following story. Read the author's note at the end of the book first and then read the book knowing what the other is trying to depict with each character and scene. The series is truly quirky yet flawless and has a great flow that will make you want to listen to all three books.
"What I didn't like: NOTHING"
Even though I am a huge Star Wars fan (and have six different Star Wars costumes in my closet to prove it) and also love Shakespeare, I approached this mashup with trepidation. I thought, well, I’ll get the first one because my geek cred will suffer if I don’t check this out. But the audio version of “Verily, A New Hope” was so damned good that I immediately downloaded the other two installments and ended up binge-listening to all three in less than a week.
What I liked:
Soliloquys that reveal the characters’ inner thoughts (especially the space slug!!)
Storm Troopers as comic relief (particularly one section where they sound like two geeky fanboys as they speculate about the possible reasons why every structure the Empire builds has a huge chasm next to the pedestrian walkways)
C3PO’s “Seven stages of war” speech (an alternate take on the “seven ages of man” speech from As You Like It)
The voices of the actors, each perfectly suited to the characters, but particularly Obi-wan
Han and Leia as Romeo and Juliet
What I didn’t like: NOTHING!
"Awesome idea. "
Fans of both The Bard & Lucas will enjoy. well done. Hope to see it as a play. More than worth the purchase.
"Just as good as the first!"
These are so fun to listen to. They follow the movie almost line for line and I find myself waiting to hear the popular quote. With what cleverness and wit these are writ. Love them!
"Gave me a better understanding of Star Wars"
Being able to listen to this performance of Star Wars and hear some inner monologue gave me a better understanding of Star Wars
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