[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. The story begins with Getafix, the village druid, preparing for a conference. Concerned about his welfare, Asterix and Obelix offer to escort Getafix through the dangerous forests to the entrance of the druidic gathering. Unbeknownst to them, a Gothic commando team has entered Gaul intent on kidnapping the winner of the druids’ magic contest so they can take him back to Germania to help them prepare an invasion of Gaul and Rome (already with the invasion plans, these Germans. Lebensraum indeed). As expected, Getafix wins the competition and he is summarily captured by the Goths. Discovering his disappearance and a Gothic helmet, our heroes correctly deduce that he has been whisked away and set out to retrieve him. The boys discover that the Goths have a penchant for infighting and power-grabbing, a trait which Asterix and Getafix aim to exploit. Needless to say, a lot of fighting and confusion ensue.
Funny Names. Roman General Cantakerous. The Gothic interpreter, Rhetroic. Gothic peasant turned General Electric.
Details of Particular Interest. This is the first book that shows the villagers around a banquet table. It is also a fairly close follow-on from the previous book. The journey to acquire a golden sickle in the prior story culminates in the trip Getafix takes to the druidic conference to use that sickle. While many stories repeat characters and refer back to previous events, this story is the only time an immediate chronological line follows between two books. Given that this story was written and published less than 20 years after the end of WWII, anti-German sentiments still ran high in Europe and correspondingly, some of the traits in the Gothic characters aren’t particularly flattering. In future stories, the Goths are shown in a much better light, although like everyone else, amiable satiric stereotypes persist.
The artwork is similar to the second book. The cleverness in Goscinny’s writing is rewarding. He is very good at weaving us through several twists and turns and it’s amazing how he can put it all together without getting tangled. We also like the depiction of Obelix in this book. His personality is starting to show and while he is still dim, he has a good sense of humor and an amiable demeanor. This period for Obelix is actually our favorite. He is a much simpler character in the early books, content in his supporting role for Asterix. In later stories, he evolves into a bit of a temperamental bore. We really like this book overall. Again, not a perfect score only because we like some of the later ones better.