Book Review: ‘William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth’

On July 18, 2018, Philadelphia-based Quirk Books published William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth, a non-canonical adaptation of writer-director Rian Johnson’s 2017 film Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Written by Ian Doescher, creator of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series, it retells the events of the second installment of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy in the form of a five-act Elizabethan Era stage play written by none other but William Shakespeare.

(C) 2018 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd. Cover art by Nicolas Delort.

The Force, the Force, my kingdom for the Force!

Is this a lightsaber which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? While valiant Rey entreats Luke Skywalker to take up arms against a sea of troubles, the dreadful First Order pursues the Resistance, full of sound and fury. – From the dust jacket blurb, William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth.

Jedi the Last begins where The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh left off. Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire and the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader at the Battle of Endor, the New Republic faces a new evil that rose from the ashes of the Empire: the First Order.

Led by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke and a retinue that includes General Armitage Hux, Captain Phasma, and Snoke’s ambitious but conflicted Dark Side apprentice, Kylo Ren, formerly known as Ben Solo, the First Order seeks to destroy the Republic and impose a regime based on Palpatine’s Empire on the galaxy.

As in the 2017 film from Lucasfilm, Jedi the Last begins at a dark time for the Resistance led by General Leia Organa Solo. The First Order’s planet-sized Starkiller Base has been destroyed, but the New Republic’s central government is in disarray as a result of the obliteration of the Hosnian Prime system. In the ensuing chaos, Snoke’s heavily armed starfleet and vast armies of stormtroopers have wept across a nearly defenseless galaxy and taken control of many inhabited star systems.

Here’s how Ian Doescher, a Shakespeare buff and Star Wars fan since childhood, reimagines the movie’s title crawl:

Prologue.

Outer space.

Enter CHORUS.

CHORUS: The cruel First Order o’er the stars do reign,

For having set th’ Republic on a pyre.

Vile Snoke sends legions forth, thus to attain

Control throughout the galaxy entire.

Alone, the bold Resistance fighteth still –

With General Organa – ‘gainst the dark.

They trust the Jedi Luke Skywalker will

Glow, bright enow, their dampen’d hopes to spark.

Alas, the small Resistance is expos’d –

First Order speeds toward the Rebel base.

Their evil, though, will not run unoppos’d:

A desperate escape proceeds apace.

In time so long ago begins our play,

In burning galaxy far, far away.[1]

As in the film, Jedi the Last begins with the brave but reckless Poe Dameron – one of the Resistance’s best pilots and Leia’s protégé – as he and his astromech companion, BB-8, lead a force of slow, clumsy bombers and a fighter escort on a do-or-die mission to destroy the First Order’s Dreadnaught, the Fulminatrix, to buy time for the Resistance forces that are evacuating the base on the planet D’Qar.

Disobeying Leia’s orders to pull back and preserve his squadrons, Poe attacks the Fulminatrix with his X-wing fighter and destroys the giant ship’s point defense turbolasers to clear a path for the bombers. He succeeds, but the First Order’s TIE fighters overwhelm the escort fighters and shoot down the Resistance Megafortress bombers. Only the self-sacrifice of gunner Paige Tico prevents the total failure of Poe’s mission: at the cost of her life, Paige releases her bomber’s payload onto the massive Dreadnaught, taking it down as her bomber is blasted into oblivion.

The Fulminatrix’s destruction allows the remnants of the Resistance to escape from D’Qar, but Leia, aghast at the losses of ships and pilots, rebukes Poe:

Enter POE DAMERON. LEIA slaps him immediately.

LEIA: Thou art demoted on the instant, Poe.

POE: How can thou speak so, worthy general?

We have a mighty Dreadnaught taken down.

Pray, hear me, this indeed is life itself.

LEIA: And what the cost – in life? In ships? In hope?

POE: ‘Tis but a basic strategy of war:

Once battle hath begun, continue on –

Go not halfway toward a victory.

For if we do, then surely death doth hold

Illimit’ble dominion over all.

LEIA: Pray, pull thy mind from out thy codpiece, Poe.

Full many problems do exist, that may

Not have solution in the cockpit of

A waiting X-wing fighter, there to make

Explosions of whatever bothers thee –

Thou art so talented a pilot, sirrah,

I would thou learn this necessary lesson.

POE: I tell thee, there were heroes on that mission –

I hear the beating of their glorious hearts.

LEIA: Dead heroes – and no leaders. Think upon’t.

Holdo: Thou bettest the survival of th’Resistance
On bad odds, putting ev’ryone at risk?
There is no time for foolish nonsense, Poe.
(Art by Nicolas Delort for Jedi the Last.)

Meanwhile, Rey, a young woman with a strong aptitude in the Force and natural fighting abilities acquired over a lifetime of scavenging on the desert world of Jakku, is on the oceanic planet of Ach-To, site of the original Jedi Temple and home to the self-exiled Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

Rey was sent to Ach-To by Leia to find Luke and convince him to join the fight against the First Order. However, the galaxy’s sole Jedi Master rebuffs the earnest Rey’s entreaties and tells her in no uncertain terms to let him be:

On Ach-To.

Enter REY and LUKE SKYWALKER.

REY: No light doth remain in Kylo Ren.

He growth stronger, is a larger threat.

The foul First Order soon shall hold control

O’er all the major systems. Dost thou see?

We need thy help, cannot succeed without,

We need the Jedi Order to return,

We need a miracle to win this fight,

We need one single man: Luke Skywalker.

LUKE: Nay, ‘tis not so. Ye need no Luke Skywalker.

REY: Hast thou e’en heard a moment of mine utt’rance?

Mayhap thine ears are just as passing poor

As thine indecent stubbornness is great.

LUKE: What is it thou imaginest, pray tell?

I shall walk thither with a laser sword

And face the whole First Order where it stands?

What didst thou hope would happen when thou

                                                                                cam’st?

Belike in thine odd, folly-fallen brain

Thou thinkest I did come to this, the most

Unfindable location anywhere,

Sans reason, purpose, or consideration?

Go hence.

From the Publisher’s Website

The Star Wars saga continues, with [the] Bard of Avon providing some of the biggest shocks yet! Alack, the valiant Resistance must flee from the scoundrels of the First Order, and it falls to Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, and BB-8 to take up arms against a sea of troubles. Can they bring Snoke’s schemes to woe, destruction, ruin, and decay? Will Luke Skywalker take the stage once more, and aid General Leia in the winter of her discontent?

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. 

The Saga Continues!

(C) 2018 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.


In Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth, Ian Doescher (the geeky, witty, and talented author of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series) takes readers on a delightful journey to the space-fantasy universe created over 40 years ago by writer-director George Lucas – with a twist that is in turn radical and logical.

In a slim 176-page book, Doescher takes a 21st Century film – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and presents it as an Elizabethan age stage production from the quill of the Bard of Avon, rendered in authentic iambic pentameter and, in the case of Yoda’s famously inverted dialogue, haikus.

As he has done in the previous seven parts of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars cycle[2], Doescher painstakingly recreates the 2017 Lucasfilm production scene by scene, from the traditional title crawl – presented here as a Prologue spoken by a Shakespearean-style Chorus – all the way to The Last Jedi’s moving (and controversial) denouement on the remote ocean world of Ahch-to.

Jedi the Last is written mostly in iambic pentameter, which was the style used by Shakespeare in his tragedies and comedies for the Elizabethan Era’s stage. Like the Bard, Doescher relies on dialog and soliloquies and only uses sparse stage directions. There are no detailed “action” directions as in a modern stage play or screenplay, just short directions along the lines of Enter REY and LUKE or Luke begins walking away.

But Doescher does more than write modern prose in iambic pentameter. As the author explains in his afterword to Jedi the Last, he uses various techniques to give each character distinctive traits in his, her, or its dialogue:


William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last 
sticks to the character-specific dialogue conventions that loyal readers have come to expect: Finn using F’s and N’s in each of his lines, Poe’s Edgar Allan Poe’s references, acrostics in Rey’s longer speeches, Yoda speaking in haiku, villains reciting villanelles, R2’s asides to the audience, BB-8’s skip code, Admiral Ackbar’s words ending in -apCaptain Phasma’s words of steel, and even the AT-M6 and AT-AT walkers’ murderers’ scenes. (This time, I borrowed from the murderers’ dialogue in Richard III.  In The Empire Striketh Back, the AT-ATs’ dialogue was borrowed from the murderers in Macbeth. 

The box set that started it all for me in 2014. (C) 2013 Quirk Books and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Born 45 days after the premiere of Star Wars (aka Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, Ian Doescher is a Portland (Oregon) writer. He became a fan of George Lucas’s space fantasy saga set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” when he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of six.

Doescher also fell in love with the works of Shakespeare as a teen in middle school. He began adapting the original Star Wars trilogy several years ago – having been inspired by watching The Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa at a Shakespeare festival in Oregon, as well as Quirk Books Jane Austen/zombie mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth is a delightful and thought-provoking homage not just to the eighth installment of the “main Saga” created four decades ago by George Lucas and continued by his creative heirs at Lucasfilm, but also to the works of William Shakespeare,  a playwright, poet, and actor who enriched the English language with his comedies, tragedies, histories, and sonnets 400 years ago.

As a writer, reader, and Star Wars fan, I recommend this book to any Star Wars fan or William Shakespeare aficionado who is willing to enjoy this funny but often moving tribute to two different styles of storytelling.  Jedi the Last is truly a wonderful work of literary art.  Though it’s billed as a parody, Doescher’s “mashup” takes the task of adapting Rian Johnson’s screenplay into a 17th Century stage production seriously…but not too seriously. There are plenty of funny lines to lighten up this darkest of the Sequel Trilogy dramas, and artist Nicolas Delort’s woodcut-like cover art and interior illustrations are outstanding, both in their overall quality and their quirky anachronistic charm. 

Product Details

  • Hardcover ISBN: 9781683690870
  • e-Book ISBN: 9781683690887
  • Page Count: 176
  • Release Date: July 10, 2018
  • 18 and up

[1] Here is the original version of the film’s title crawl as written by Rian Johnson:

Episode VIII

THE LAST JEDI

The FIRST ORDER reigns.

Having decimated the peaceful

Republic, Supreme Leader Snoke

now deploys his merciless

legions to seize military

control of the galaxy.

Only General Leia Organa’s

band of RESISTANCE fighters

stand against the rising

tyranny, certain that Jedi

Master Luke Skywalker will

return and restore a spark of

hope to the fight.

But the Resistance has been

exposed. As the First Order

speeds toward the Rebel base,

the brave heroes mount a

desperate escape….

[2] In 2020, Doescher completed the Skywalker Saga’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars cycle with The Merry Rise of Skywalker: Star Wars Part the Ninth.

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.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth’

  1. I love these books! I’ve only read the Episode One and Episode Two versions, but I’d like to read them all someday. They’re fun and interesting in their own right. I’ve always thought Star Wars is Shakespeare in space, so these are great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m on – you guessed it – The Merry Rise of Skywalker.

      All I can say about this series, beyond what I’ve written in the reviews, is this: If somebody had done books like this when we did the “Shakespeare Unit” in 12th grade English class, I might have been perkier about studying the works of the Bard.

      Liked by 1 person

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