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Title: Asterix in Britain
Series: Asterix #8
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Julius Caesar has invaded Britain and succeeded in his conquest; but a single Gaulish village in Kent remains independent. One member of the village, Anticlimax, is dispatched to Asterix’s village to enlist the help of Getafix the druid in providing magic potion for the British rebels. It is decided that Asterix (Anticlimax’s first cousin once removed) and Obelix should accompany him, to help transport a barrel of the potion; but while beating up a Roman galley in the English Channel, Obelix mentions the mission, which is reported to the Roman high command in Britain.
In Britain, the barrel containing the potion is confiscated from a pub cellar owned by Dipsomaniax, along with all the barreled “warm beer” (bitter) and wine in Londinium, by the Romans, who set about tasting the barrels to find the right one. Soon the whole unit assigned to the testing is hopelessly drunk; whereupon Asterix and Obelix steal all the barrels labelled with Dipsomaniax’s name, but Obelix is himself drunk and starts a fight with some passing Roman soldiers. During the commotion a thief steals the cart with the barrels. Anticlimax and Asterix leave Obelix at Dipsomaniax’s pub to sleep off his hangover; but while Anticlimax and Asterix go in search of the thief, the Romans capture the sleeping Obelix and Dipsomaniax, and raze the pub.
In the Tower of Londinium, Obelix wakes up and frees himself and Dipsomaniax out of the jail, and the three heroes, after a search, find the potion in use as a pick-me-up for a rugby team. After this team wins their game, the protagonists seize the potion and escape on the river Thames, where the Romans destroy the barrel and release the potion into the water. At the independent village, Asterix eases the Britons’ disappointment by feigning to remake the potion, with herbs Asterix got from Getafix (later revealed to be tea). With a psychological boost, the village prevails against the Romans, and Asterix and Obelix return home to celebrate.
This was a lot of fun. English, Irish and Scottish people are made fun of quite a bit and I laughed my head off. There is one scene where Asterix, Obelix and Asterix’s cousin order ONE cup of wine to see if it is wine or the missing magic potion. The innkeeper assumes they are Caledonians (scots) because they are so cheap. I roared with laughter. Since this was written well before the movie Braveheart was made, I knew there weren’t going to be any blue bottoms being flashed.
Then you have a scene where Obelix gets drunk testing out all the wine barrels and he turns into a sloppy, sentimental drunk who is afraid that Asterix won’t be his friend anymore. And then jumps a whole patrol of romans because he thinks they are gong to take Asterix away. Once again, I laughed out loud.
I don’t know if this book was actually funnier than previous ones or if the subject of making fun of the English just hit the right note, but my goodness, I was smiling through the whole story. And the whole “how the english became tea drinkers” was great!