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Title: Asterix and the Banquet
Series: Asterix #5
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Inspector General Overanxius arrives in the fortified Roman camp of Compendium on a mission from Julius Caesar to lead the local garrison against the village of indomitable Gauls. Centurion Lotuseatus warns him the Gauls are dangerous, but the attack goes ahead, only to be soundly repelled. Undeterred, Overanxius erects a stockade around the village to prevent the inhabitants from spreading their rebellious ideas through Gaul.
Asterix bets that he and Obelix will escape the village and go on a tour of Gaul, collecting regional culinary specialties for a banquet upon their return. Overanxius promises to raise the stockade if they succeed. Asterix maps out a route, while Obelix fetches a large bag to hold their shopping. The two break through the stockade, while the other villagers create a diversion by attacking the barricade on another front. Overanxius has a rider despatched to alert the entire occupation army to be on the lookout for the pair.
Rotomagus (Rouen): Asterix and Obelix make their way to the Normandy region, where a Roman patrol recognizes them. They flee and escape via a wealthy Roman couple’s yacht up the Seine, while the patrol is stymied by the unhelpfully vague responses of local residents.
Lutetia (Paris): Upon arrival, Asterix and Obelix negotiate the traffic jams and buy a ham from a pork butcher shop, where from this point on, Dogmatix (unnamed until the next adventure) follows the duo through Gaul. Fearing detection by a Roman patrol, they purchase a gleaming used chariot and handsome horse from a dishonest salesman to make their escape. They soon discover the horse is slow and was only painted black, while the chariot loses its lustre and a wheel. The duo gets back on track by knocking out the driver of a Roman breakdown chariot and stealing his vehicle.
Camaracum (Cambrai): The Gauls stop in a humbug shop to buy boiled sweets, but are spotted by a Roman patrol, which they beat up, trashing the shop in the process. Unfazed by the damage, the shopkeeper says Gauls are aware of the bet and then demonstrates his solidarity by knocking out the patrol leader. Back on the road, Asterix and Obelix get past another patrol by posing as breakdown men, towing a legionary, Spongefingus, in his damaged chariot, only to then cast him aside on the road.
Rheims (Reims): Asterix and Obelix abandon the breakdown chariot and buy some wines. They are found by Spongefingus, who has recovered from his “accident,” but Asterix knocks him down by using a cork exploding from an amphora.
Divodurum (Metz): Leaving Rheims, the pair detours into a forest, where the scent of roast boar leads them to the house of Unpatriotix, who feeds and then betrays them. Roman soldiers come to the house but capture only Asterix, as Obelix is out hunting boar. When Obelix discovers the ruse, he knocks out a legionary to get imprisoned too and rescues Asterix. After beating up the Romans at the prison, Asterix declares it is too late to buy any of Divodurum’s specialties and decides to buy some in Lugdunum. As they leave, the Gauls commandeer a Roman postal cart.
Lugdunum (Lyon): The two Gauls abandon the postal cart and, after crashing through a Roman blockade, meet Jellibabix, head of the resistance movement. He pretends to betray the Gauls to Prefect Poisonous Fungus, but lures the Romans into a maze of back alleys, where the legionaries become hopelessly lost (the prefect’s plan to leave behind a trail of pebbles to find his way out backfires when a legionary picks up the pebbles). Jellibabix gives the duo a parcel of sausages and meatballs, and arranges a chariot for them.
Nicae (Nice): En route to Nicae, Asterix and Obelix become stuck in holiday traffic bound for the Gaulish Riviera and stop at an inn for lunch. In Nicae, they buy salad and are once again spotted by a Roman patrol. They escape by sea and commandeer a vacationing Lutetian’s rowboat.
Massilia (Marseille): The Gauls stop at Cesar Drinklikafix’s inn where, aside from having goat’s milk and boar, they buy fish stew. Again, the pair makes a premature departure when a boy warns of approaching Romans, but Drinklikafix and his friends stall the soldiers by blocking the road with a game of pétanque.
Tolosa (Toulouse): En route to Tolosa, Asterix and Obelix stop for the night, unaware they are in a Roman camp. Next morning, they beat up the Romans, but then surrender after learning the centurion intended to take them to Tolosa by cart. The Gauls are chained up, but repeatedly break their chains, much to the blacksmith’s dismay. Out on the road, the centurion rides on ahead to bring over the prefect, but in his absence, Asterix and Obelix beat up the Romans again, make off with the cart, and buy sausages in Tolosa.
Aginum (Agen): The Romans announce a 50,000 sestertii reward for information leading to the arrest of Asterix and Obelix. An unscrupulous innkeeper, Uptotrix, invites the two Gauls to his inn, where he gives them a bag of prunes and serves them drugged boar. Suspecting betrayal, Asterix orders Uptotrix to taste the boar, which causes him to fall unconscious, although Obelix is unaffected despite eating the rest of the boar. The pair leaves the cart in Aginum and takes the horses, one of which collapses under the combined weight of Obelix and the shopping bag.
Burdigala (Bordeaux): En route, the Gauls rest for the night by a roadside, where their bag is stolen by two Roman highwaymen, Villanus and Unscrupulus. The next morning, Asterix and Obelix pursue the thieves, who are caught by a Roman patrol and mistaken them for the Gauls. In the town square of Burdigala, General Motus shows the “Gaulish outlaws” to the public, only to realize he has the wrong men when Asterix and Obelix arrive to reclaim their bag. The public attacks General Motus and his men while the heroes regain their bag and buy oysters and white wine.
Gesocribatum (Le Conquet): Before leaving Burdigala, Asterix and Obelix spy a ship offloading menhirs and meet Captain Seniorservix, who is honored to let them aboard as Obelix helps unload the menhirs before the ship’s departure. At sea, the ship runs into the recurring pirates, whose own ship is sunk by the Gauls. On arrival in Gesocribatum, Seniorservix smuggles the Gauls ashore in sacks. Asterix and Obelix get out when a Roman patrol is passing by, but they beat up the Romans and escape.
Eventually, Asterix and Obelix reach the stockade outside their village and, after beating up the Romans yet again, give them a message to tell Overanxius they have won their side of the bet. That night, Asterix shows the food and wine to Overanxius and Lotuseatus, before demonstrating the village’s specialty, ‘the uppercut’, which knocks out Overanxius. Moments before the punch, Dogmatix barks for the first time, making Obelix notice him. Dogmatix is given a bone and the villagers enjoy their banquet.
I think I have settled into the rhythm of this comic. Considering that each comic tells one story, that’s a good thing. I’m not looking for anything deeper now, just brawling Gauls having fun 🙂
That is all that there is to this. I think that is the secret to its staying power too. It’s not complicated, it isn’t based on any politics or ideas of the day (which age books and stories extremely fast), it is just Asterix having light hearted adventures with his best friend Obelix. In one of the earlier reviews I mentioned the formula for these books. As long as I don’t pay attention, that formula works perfectly.
What that does mean though is that pretty soon, my “reviews” are going to consist of the synopsis and me saying something like “Yep, I liked it” and that’s it. I’m not looking forward to that time I have to admit. I like to be able to write something about each book I read, to make it stand apart from the thousands of others I’ve read but some times that desire meets the cold cruel wall of reality head on.