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Title: Asterix and the Golden Sickle
Series: Asterix #2
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Disaster strikes the Gaulish village when Getafix the druid breaks his golden sickle, as without one, he cannot attend the annual conference of druids, or cut mistletoe for the magic potion which keeps the Roman army at bay. Asterix and Obelix set out for Lutetia (present-day Paris) to buy a new sickle from Obelix’s distant cousin, the sicklesmith Metallurgix.
On the way there, they encounter bandits, but easily defeat them, and learn from a fellow-traveller that “sickles are in short supply in Lutetia”. In the city, they find Metallurgix missing and make inquiries at a local inn, but the landlord professes to know nothing. He later gives a description of Asterix and Obelix to the devious Clovogarlix, who in turn directs them to his superior Navishtrix, who tries to sell them a sickle at an exorbitant price. They refuse, and defeat Navishtrix and his followers, only to be arrested by a Roman patrol. They are released by the Prefect of Lutetia, Surplus Dairyprodus, and learn from a Centurion that Metallurgix may have been kidnapped by sickle traffickers.
From a drunkard imprisoned by Dairyprodus, they learn Navishtrix has a hideout at a portal dolmen in the Boulogne forest. In Navishtrix’s underground store-room, Asterix and Obelix find a hoard of golden sickles, but are attacked by Clovogarlix, Navishtrix and their minions. Upon defeat, Navishtrix escapes, and Asterix and Obelix follow him to Surplus Dairyprodus, who – in front of the Centurion – freely confesses to having sponsored the illegal sickle monopoly for his own amusement. The Centurion releases Metallurgix and imprisons Dairyprodus and Navishtrix; whereafter Metallurgix gratefully gives Asterix and Obelix the best of his sickles. With this, they return to their village and celebrate their achievement.
As fun as this was, I am realizing that it truly is meant for a younger audience. I think that for me to appreciate it to its fullest I’d have to read these just one a year instead of one a month. However, that just isn’t going to happen.
There is a formula to these books that goes something like this: There is a Problem that somehow involves the Gaulish village. Asterix and Obelix get roped into Solving the Problem. Violence and Jokes Ensue, Repeat as Necessary until Solution(s) are reached. Everyone has a Feast at the Village to celebrate. The End.
That formula works and it works well. You simply cannot beat (pun intended) Asterix drinking the magic potion and kerpow’ing scads of roman legionnaires with one punch. And don’t forget the random stranger who gets a swig of the stuff and adds to the chaos. And the banter, don’t forget the banter. It is like combining the Three Stooges with Laurel & Hardy. The problem with a formula is that at some point a reader (ie, me) expects something new and the older you are and the longer you’ve read, the harder it is to find new things. And formula’s aren’t well known for coming up with new things but with successfully re-using items that have worked before.
Of course, it might just be that I’m an old grump (get off my concrete lawn, you stupid kids!) and I want to complain about something and poor little Asterix “won” the lottery. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.