[Very important note: all of the reviews will be based on the English language publications researched and painstakingly translated by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.]
Synopsis. Trouble is bound to happen when a Roman high officer sticks his political head into a volatile situation. As with Asterix the Gladiator, an official shows up at Camp Compendium and pushes the soldiers to attack the village. We all know how that ends. The Inspector General decides to contain the Gauls and builds a wall around the village to help avoid the disease of defiance from infecting other parts of Gaul. Asterix scoffs at what he decries as a feeble effort and makes a bet with the Roman official that he and Obelix will break out and go on a tour of Gaul during which they will acquire samples of the unique specialties of the towns they visit. Asterix tells the IG that he will bring these items back for a special banquet and invites the Roman to attend. So, the race is on. Asterix and Obelix visit regions all over France, and the adventure and comedy of the chase travel with them. The sport gains fame and locals in the various localities offer their support and encouragement.
Funny Names. Inspector Overanxious. Centurian Goldenslumbus. Quisling Unpatriotix. Prefect Poisonus Fungus.
Details of Particular Interest. Dogmatix is introduced in Asterix and the Banquet. It wasn’t Goscinny’s intent to make him a regular. He was actually introduced as a gag: a dog follows the adventurers around all of Gaul and isn’t noticed until the very last page. But, as a concept he had potential so he stuck. For most of the series, Dogmatix was enough of a story contributor to give some added dimension, so we are grateful he made the cut.
Obelix starts to become very sensitive about his weight in this book. It’s funny in the earlier books, but the gag wears thin as the series rolls on.
To be honest, this book bores us a bit. It was fun to see the various places in Gaul and learn a bit about them, but the adventure feels rushed and the details a bit thin (kind of like our reviews …). Still, lots of good jokes and, as we’ve stated in other posts, the stereotypes are one of the key features of the humor in the Asterix series, and in this book Goscinny and Uderzo take ample pokes at the various cultural differences in the Gaulish nation.