Book Box Set Review: ‘William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set’

Promotional photo of Quirk Books’ William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set. (C) 2014 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

On October 28, 2014, Philadelphia-based Quirk Books (home of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) released William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set, a collection of author Ian Doescher’s best-selling mashup of the works of George Lucas and William Shakespeare.

Comprised of Doescher’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth, and The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth, The Royal Imperial Boxed Set presents one-third of the popular space-fantasy series known collectively as the Skywalker Saga with a twist: What if the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO during the Rebellion against the evil Empire led by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader were written in the Elizabethan era by the greatest dramatist in the English language?

Experience the Star Wars saga reimagined as an Elizabethan drama penned by William Shakespeare himself, complete with authentic meter and verse, and theatrical monologues and dialogue by everyone from Darth Vader to R2D2. – Publisher’s blurb, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set

The Packaging

Promotional photo of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set. (C) 2014 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

The Royal Imperial Boxed Set consists of a sturdy paperboard slipcover measuring 5.78 x 2.5 x 8.6 inches to hold three slim hardcover books, one for each play in the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy series, as well as an 8-by-34-inch color poster illustrated by series artist Nicolas Delort. The slipcover art is a detail of this poster and features some of the trilogy’s heroes and villains, including Luke, Leia, Han, Jedi Master Yoda, Nien Numb, the droids, and – of course, Imperial baddies such as Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, and the scheming, cadaverous Palpatine, Dark Lord of the Sith and supreme Emperor of the strife-torn galaxy.

This Royal Imperial Boxed Set includes all three volumes in the original trilogy: Verily, A New Hope; The Empire Striketh Back; and The Jedi Doth Return. Also included is an 8-by-34-inch full-color poster illustrating the complete cast and company of this glorious production. – Publisher’s blurb, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set

Although the beautifully designed slipcover contains three hardcovers with a combined total of 520 pages, The Royal Imperial Boxed Set only weighs 2.2 lbs. and doesn’t take up much room on a bookshelf. Additionally, the enclosed poster can be unfolded and framed; it makes a fine and charming decoration for fans of either Shakespeare or the Star Wars franchise.

My Take

The Force.

The Force doth give a Jedi all his pow’r,

And ‘tis a field of energy that doth

Surround and bind all things

Together, here within our galaxy.  – Obi-Wan Kenobi, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, Act II, Scene 2

I purchased William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set five years ago. I was still living in Miami and taking care of my mother, who was suffering from a combination of health issues – including dementia – and was steadily fading away. I was also working as a contributor for the now-defunct website, where I was its Miami-based Examiner in three categories: Books, Blu-ray & DVD, and Star Wars.

I don’t recall what prompted me to buy this set in April of 2015; although I have seen a few filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays and studied Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew as a high school senior, I’m not a constant reader of the Bard of Avon’s canon. As I wrote in my review of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope:

Still, the notion of Star Wars reimagined as a 16th Century stage play intrigued me, and I definitely needed something to lighten my mood (the books are catalogued in the Humor genre, after all), so I bought the box set. I had a feeling that I would enjoy Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope, so I might as well get the entire trilogy while I was at it. 

I mean, seriously. If you are a writer (or a lover of the written word, for that matter) and a Star Wars fan, how can you refuse when you stumble across a book that’s described thusly?

Authentic meter, stage directions, reimagined movie scenes and dialogue, and hidden Easter eggs throughout will entertain and impress fans of Star Wars and Shakespeare alike. Every scene and character from the film appears in the play, along with twenty woodcut-style illustrations that depict an Elizabethan version of the Star Wars galaxy. – Publisher’s blurb, Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope

I didn’t have much time or energy to read any of the three slim volumes in this set thoroughly back in 2015; before mid-July of that year I was up to my eyeballs with caregiving and home-owning challenges. Even when my mother still lived, I was the de facto – if not de jure – head of the household, so I faced one crisis after another and didn’t have much leisure time in which I could read a book. My mother’s death on July 19, 2015 didn’t change this reality much; if anything, dealing with my difficult and greedy half-sister and the struggles to readjust to a new life as a homeowner took a lot of my time and energy. The most I could do at the time was to skim through the books; I basically read enough of each “play” in order to review them for Examiner, but no more than that.

In the five years since my mother’s passing, I eventually made the time to dive deeply into the books contained in William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set, as well as these follow-on works by Ian Doescher:

  • William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First
  • William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part the Second
  • William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third
  • William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh
  • William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth

And, of course, I look forward to reading Ian Doescher’s final book in his series of Shakespeare/Lucasfilm Ltd. works: William Shakespeare’s The Merry Rise of Skywalker: Star Wars Part the Ninth.

If flurries be the food of quests, snow on. – Luke Skywalker. Act I, Scene 1, William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth

Obviously, the Force, er, the verse, is with Quirk Books’ original William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set. Shakespeare aficionados will appreciate the wordplay and ingenious use of iambic pentameter, prose, songs, sonnets, and even haiku (the last being the form Doescher uses for Yoda’s lines) to pull off the illusion that the Bard wrote the Skywalker Saga. And Star Wars fans who aren’t necessarily into Elizabethan dramas, especially those by Shakespeare, might find new meaning in George Lucas’s films through the prism of these plays.

The Royal Imperial Boxed Set itself is an attractive addition to any book collection. Not only is the slipcover well designed and sturdy, but it’s also a joy to look at. The illustration by Nicolas Delort is not only humorous, but it also gives readers some idea of how the iconic Star Wars characters might have looked if Shakespeare had created the saga in his lifetime. I liked the cover illustration so much that I had it framed and now it hangs on a wall in my writing room.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi might have said, “This is the book box set you’re looking for.”

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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