Wednesday, April 23

The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received a review copy of this title from the publisher. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Quirk Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.

The rebellion hath smote the Death Star, yet the foul Darth Vader stalks the galaxy still.

Our heroes are divided, on their paths and in their hearts. Han and Leia do quip and quarrel, while Luke seeketh the last Jedi master to train him in the ancient ways.

There is a sense of foreboding in the Force, looming o'er the stars. E'en friends and foes may not yet be establishèd.

What is established is that my attempt to emulate the language of the Bard is laughable. I marvel at Doesher's skill in taking both a well known style and story, and melding them so seamlessly.

'The Empire Striketh Back' measures up to the previous episode, and expands on it. Han and Leia's relationship is developed, not only through their banter but in their soliloquies. One of my personal favourites was Leia's from Act I Scene II, particularly the latter half. "For O, how thou dost needle, jest, and prick when thou dost think thy pride is at the stake."

I do think that C-3P0 and R2-D2 could give Leia and Han a run for a conflicting, yet magnetic, relationship. Their bromance was never so evident to me until I read the snides and soliloquies of 'Verily, A New Hope.'

One interesting factor is how Doescher deals with characters and creatures who do not speak in English. Those who are comprehensible to other characters - such as Chewbacca or Jabba - have their language untranslated, whereas presumed unintelligible beasts - the Wampa and the Exogorth - are given their own soliloquies and songs. It gave some depth to otherwise dismissible, yet crucial, roles.

Something I was particularly curious to see handled was Yoda's speech. He has a very particular phrasing in the films, yet in Shakespearean Star Wars inverted speech is quite commonplace. Doescher therefore set Yoda apart by writing all of his lines in haiku. It was a clever way to heighten the impact of his words, while still remaining true to his character.

Doescher also strays outside of the script and subtext of the film to add commentary on the actualities of the Star Wars universe. One of my favourite moments in the play is in Act IV Scene IV, where two guards discuss the Empire's bizarre architecture, and the prominent existence of random rooms with chasms and narrow walkways. It was a hilarious scene and highlighted some of the absurd cinematographic conveniences of the Star Wars battle scenes.

Nicolas Delort once again provided brilliant illustrations for 'The Empire Striketh Back.' My favourites are Luke training with Yoda, and every appearance of Lando's fabulous moustache.

Doescher executes more Shakespearean styles and references than I can hope to recognise, let alone mention. One of my absolute favourites, which I would not be able to name without the knowledge gained from the educator's guide is the stichomythia between Luke and Vader. The tone and style compliments the battle aftermath so well and makes for a strong, yet poetic, impact.

I enthusiastically await Part the Sixth of Shakespeare's Star Wars, 'The Jedi Doth Return.'

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