Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Asterix in Britain

Asterix in Britain by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Asterix of Gaul is a famous comic book character, most notable to me because his adventures are available in Latin. His stories are a solace to those students tired of Julius Caesar and Cicero. The story is set during the Roman Empire, so it makes sense to be in Latin.

Asterix is resident of a small Gaullish village. The druid priest of the Village, Getafix, brews a potion that grants superhuman strength. Asterix drinks it now and then and beats up on the Romans while having other adventures. His faithful companion is Obelix, who fell into a vat of the potion as a child and now has permanent superhuman strength. A long series of comics chronicle their adventures in Gaul (France) and abroad.

In this story, Asterix's first cousin, once removed, is named Anticlimax. He lives in a village in Britain. Unfortunately Julius Caesar has invaded and all the towns have surrendered except for his. They are in desperate straights and send Anticlimax to Gaul, hoping to get the potion of superhuman strength so they can win against the Romans (who are led by the Roman Governor Encyclopaedicus Brittannicus).

The story is fairly entertaining and allows the writers to take broad swipes at British culture. Warm beer and boiled meats get the most jokes, though drinking hot water with milk and saying "what" a lot are also running gags. As are the names of the various characters, as you can probably tell from the previous paragraph.

This version is translated into English and they have definitely captured the stereotypical British diction for the British characters ("I say," "what ho," "jolly good," and "old chap" appear plenty of times). It is a fun, light read that I picked up at the local library when I was in the children's section with Jacob and Lucy. If I run across more there I will probably pick them up for some light-hearted fun.


  1. These were very popular with the boys when I was a kid in our school library. I tried a couple but couldn't make heads nor tails of them. They've always looked fun, though. Maybe now I know about Ancient Rome, I'll try one again. I'm an ex-pat Brit so the humour should work on me.

  2. You should give it a try. Even though this is book 8 or 9 in the series, it's pretty easy to jump in to the story.