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Romans invading Britain? I say, old chap, that's just not cricket...
Asterix in Britain - René Goscinny
Member Name: CaptainD
Asterix in Britain - René Goscinny
Date: 16/12/05, updated on 16/12/05 (112 review reads)
Advantages: Great humour if you know British culture...
Disadvantages: ... not as accessible to those who don't (or children), drawings seem a little substandard
The Asterix series of books, created by Goscinny (text) and Uderzo (drawings) and translated by Anthea Bell & Derek Hockbridge, are a light-hearted account of the Roman occupation of Gaul, and particularly one small village of indomitable Gauls. They are indomitable because they have a druid (Getafix) who produces magic potion that gives them super-strength, and two fearless warriors, Asterix and Obelix, the first of whom is cunning while the latter fell into a cauldron of magic potion when he was a baby and thus is incredibly strong. Oh, and Obelix’s little doggy called Dogmatix, too.
Asterix in Britain has a distinct advantage for me in that it includes Britain, and mercilessly makes fun of our silly habits (such as drinking beer warm - ugh) at every opportunity. The story starts out with the Romans realising that the way to defeat the stouthearted British is to “not play cricket”, and fight after 5 and on weekends (what’re they trying to say about the British work ethic!?!?!?). Soon Britain is overrun… all except one small village…
One of their warriors, Anticlimax, is first cousin to Asterix – so naturally enough, he travels to Gaul for help. Along with Asterix and Obelix, his mission is to bring back a magic potion to his village… but the Romans get wind of the plan and, of course, aren’t too keen on the idea…
I’m not sure whether it’s the printing or the original drawings themselves, but the drawings in Asterix in Britain don’t seem quite up to Uderzo’s usual standard, though this doesn’t detract too much from the book. (Part of the reason is that more scenes are in the dark and the fog (English weather!), but that doesn’t completely account for it. However the humour (especially if you’re British) more than makes up for that, though I’m not sure how many of the cultural jokes children would understand, even if they are British! (Incidentally, for those already fans of the series, the encounters with the Phoenician traders in this book are some of the funniest anywhere!)
Because the humour is slanted more towards adults who know something of British culture, it is probably the best Asterix book ever written for that section of the world’s populace. However it’s not worth a full five stars as the very same reason will make it less accessible to children (even though they’ll still enjoy it).
Summary: If you know a bit about the British and like Asterix, this will be perfect for you.
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