phantom of menace book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is the fourth book from Ian Doescher and Episode 1 in the Star Wars series. Doescher is really getting the hang of turning movies into Shakespearean plays. Unfortunately, the material he had to transform was weak so while the form and execution of the translation was much better than the New Hope, the story itself still lacked despite the author’s valiant attempt to make it more entertaining.

The greedy trade federation is a tool of the evil Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. They are attempting to blockade and force terms upon the peaceful and quiet planet of Naboo. Heroic Knights are dispatched forthwith to attempt to free the poor Naboo from the villainous clutches of the Trade Federation.

The Jedi are forced to flee and hide among the troops transported down to the surface, in preparation for an assault against the populace. The Queen, being a headstrong young person, accepts the Jedi Knights’ offer of passage to the capital city to plead her case.

Escaping the blockade, their ship is damaged and they need to find a port to make repairs. Tatooine happens to be the closest one not in their enemies control. So land there they must. Paper of the realm is no good out here and gold speaks for all. Games of chance seem to be the only means available to our heroes. The Force is on their side–it brought them here with more in mind than just finding parts to repair the ship. A small slave holds in his little hands the fate of them all, and the fate of the Galaxy, though no ne may know.

The Phantom of Menace was a fun book. The author tried something different with Jar Jar Binks, making him to be a genius playing a simpleton in order to manipulate people. I personally think this is going to bite him later on when he gets to the later books. I do think he did an excellent job writing about the pod race. He mentioned he used a Shakespearian trick of having actors run off the stage and come back to report what is going on. This one was more evenly written and I enjoyed it.

Descher’s books are all fairly short, making them easy to read without getting too bogged down in the details. I still need to read two of the others that are already out!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Quirk Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.