Asterix The Legionary

I am in a reviewathon of a book, with Booky, Alex and Sharon, not sure how that came about, it was a while back, probably I volunteered as I have fond memories of discovering the Asterix stories way back when I was a schoolkid in France. They are picture books, comics I suppose, though much nicer and better quality than paper comics I know of.

Written by René Goscinny and wonderfully illustrated by Albert Uderzo, they are about a village of indominatable Gaulish warriors who adventure around the world and fight the Roman Republic, with the aid of a magic potion, during the era of Julius Caesar, in an ahistorical telling of the time after the Gallic Wars. Asterix de Gaul is a little guy and Obelisk is his rather rotund, big good friend and they are the main stars of the show.

Booky asked us to read No.10 in the series ‘Asterix the Legionary’ and this is the synopsis from wiki- (click on little arrow to see it)

Asterix and Obelisk are setting off for a wild boar hunt when they encounter Panacea, former childhood resident of the village who has since moved to Condatum, and Obelix immediately falls in love with her. Some hours later, Panacea receives word that her fiancé Tragicomix has been conscripted into the Roman army and shipped to North Africa and Obelix, although heartbroken, promises to bring him back. Asterix and Obelix travel to Condatum, where they learn that Tragicomix has already left for Massilia, the mediterranean port from which the soldiers depart, and themselves enlist in the army to follow him, alongside Hemispheric the Goth; Selectivemploymentax the Briton; Gastronomix the Belgian; Neveratalos the Greek; and Ptenisnet, an Egyptian tourist who spends the entire book believing himself to be in a holiday camp. After completing basic training (and repeatedly and comically driving their instructors to the verge of tears), the newly formed unit sets off as reinforcements to Caesar against Scipio, Afranius and King Juba 1 of Numidia, Asterix and Obelix soon find out that Tragicomix has gone missing in action after a skirmish, and raid Scipio’s camp to recover him. This results in the Battle of Thapsus, in which the confusion over the Gauls’ unorthodox assault and the similarity of both armies’ uniforms cause a default victory for Caesar after the frustrated Scipio sounds the retreat. The Gauls are cornered by Caesar after the battle is over; but released and sent home for their assistance in his victory. Asterix and Obelix thereafter celebrate at home, while Panacea and Tragicomix return to Condatum to marry.

The Asterix comic books are great fun to read, for me the best bits are the names that the characters are given. Asterix and Obelisk are always getting the better of the Pesky Romans, two of which have my favourite names in this book, the centurions Nefarius Purpus and Dubius Status! These two are the instructors for the new recruits and are completely bamboozled, out-manouvered and worn out by our heroes.

Obviously there have been a few liberties taken with history in Asterix The Legionary, Caesar won the Battle of Thapsus without the aid of cartoon characters just to be clear 🤣.

Uderzo’s artwork is just excellent, lots of little details to find in the frames that make you smile i.e in the final celebration when our heroes return to the village Cacofonix the Bard is bound and gagged up in a lookout post because no-one likes his singing

and the pictures where the little Asterix and big,fat Obelisk are biffing the stuffing out of the Romans are always funny.

Booky had a few questions for us to answer, which he and Alex did a blinder on, I’ll do my best to add my thoughts..

1) Why aren’t Asterix and Obelix married men? They seem old enough.
Don’t hate me, but one is too short, and the other too chunky. Not your average girls dreamboat, unlike Tragicomix.

2) The Romans just can’t catch a break can they? They try to hide from Obelix and end up trampling on the flowers he wants for Panacea.
No, the Romans are always butt of the joke, and deservedly so for trampling on flowers.

3) Bureaucracy portrayed here, is it any different today? And if we could just biff and bam the parasites who give us the runaround now, would it change anything? Hint, yes!
Nope. The Romans were consummate bureauocrats. Without their record-keeping a lot of history would be lost. Long live the quill pushers!

4) What did you think of Asterix’s insistence on going through the Legion training as quickly as possible?
It had to be done fast so they could rescue Tragi-guy and get back home ASAP, no point in hanging about.

5) Is Tragicomix a pansy? Why didn’t he biff and bam his way out of the Legion like a good Gaul?
He’s not a pansy, he’s a lover not a fighter. And he wouldn’t have wanted to have those boyish good looks damaged.

6) Julius Caesar is always doing favors for Asterix and Obelix.  Should they get a loyalty rewards membership? Save Julius 3 times and get a free attack on a Roman Patrol kind of thing?
I don’t think they want to be in hock to Caesar, the lads have their own agenda, plus a magic potion, so have no need of Caesars prezzies.

7) Finally, just where DOES Tragicomic pin that clasp for his cape?
His cape just has a clasp that fastens the two sides together!! I am thinking Booky wasn’t too keen on Tragicomix! 🤣

It was fab to go back in time, and I’ll be sharing this and the other Asterix books I have, with my grandkids.

Booky’s review:~ Click HERE

Alex’s review :~ HERE

Sharon’s review:~ HERE

Civil Wars by Clare Scott

I don’t do book reviews so have no idea what the format is. Never mind, Here I am just telling y’all about a special book written by my pal Clare Scott, whomst I became friends with here on WordPress gawd knows how long ago. Clare is both artist and authoress and top of her game in both genres.

Back in August 2017 Clare started a blog called From Dublin to Russia and Return Journey, based on an old notebook written by her Grandad, William Gerald Forbes Scott (1899-1977). Every week she would post an excerpt from his diary, and had researched the heck out of the times he went through and the places he visited, with the intention of collating her posts in to book form when she had finished.

I read every chapter along the way, completely enthralled with William, the history, Clare’s interpretations and also her amazingly poignant artwork that accompanied the posts.

When Churchill sent troops to help the Bolsheviks in 1919, William joined the British Army and was sent along with it to Russia, via France, Malta, Greece and Istanbul, crossing the Black Sea and ending up in  Novorossiysk where his unit stayed for many months assisting in evacuations before returning to England via Egypt. On his return William became a member of the Free State Army and later the Garda Siochana, throughout the south-east of Ireland.

I received a copy of the book a couple of weeks ago and it’s been an absolute joy to re-read it, there is so much information made interesting by Clare’s re-telling of her Grandads exciting journey and what it entailed. In the very first introduction on her blog she writes –

Some of the things you can expect to read about will include ships names and histories, the players in the Russian a civil war, a Russian Princess, duck hunting, diving in Malta, Churchill’s motives, whales, rest camps, kit, dervishes, Mount Etna, The Hagia Sophia, the 1916 Rising, The Irish Civil War, plague, quarantine, a funeral and a wedding, sharks and the Bay of Biscay. A little bit of everything.

and she did not disappoint.

I encourage anyone with a love of History and an interest in personal accounts of Civil Wars, to visit that first post by Clare, and read a longer introduction to the book, as she writes better than I can! Also there’s a link to purchase the book.

CLARE’S FIRST POST LINK

NEVER MIND THAT JUST GET ON AND BUY THE BOOK LINK

Day 334

Had a lovely surprise today, a parcel was delivered to me, and it wasn’t from Amazon so had no idea what it was, exciting! On opening it I found a book, Road Trip, which was written and illustrated by my pal Clare, an exceptionally gifted writer and artist who lives in Ireland. Clare went on a months road trip through the American South West, on her own, and the book is a recounting of her thoughts and adventures along the way. Clare took pictures along the way, and when she returned home, made a series of oil paintings based on those, and her own observations. I first saw the pictures and read about this journey on one of Clares blogs as it was serialised, and fell in love with the paintings and the commentary, so I am chuffed as a chuffed thing on a chuffed day as all the paintings are in the book, and it is just as funny and thought provoking as it was the first time. I know as I read it all this afternoon! 🙂

Day 334 ~ Road Trip

Clares blogs are worth following, for the wit, the art, the history and the intelligence.

https://mermaidspurse.wordpress.com/ An artist writing about life by the sea in South East Ireland and some other bits and pieces, beautiful art work.

https://monsterinthenextroom.wordpress.com/ Cartoons, sketches, operas (OK only one opera) on everything from dead rabbits, private investigative bread and pergolas to musical deep-sea creatures, contrary cowboy vegetables and barren bees. And funny as fek!

https://southrussiadiary.wordpress.com/ Anatomy of a Soldiers Journey a must read for anyone interested in the British Armys involvement in the civil war against the Bolsheviks between 1919 and 1920, as we follow Clares Grandad from Dublin to South Russia and home again..

https://cowboybuilding.wordpress.com/ where Clare talks about all things art!

Day 238 & tales from Fraggle Towers

Phew it’s a hotty today! The weather forecast says we’re at 24 degC today (75.2F) but the thermometer in the garden is showing 34C (93.2F) at 1pm, so of course that’s the perfect temp and time for mad dogs and Englishmen to go out in the midday sun. Or in this case just a mad Englishman (the one I’m married to at this time).

thwarting the Monster Jasmine
Day 238 ~ wrangling the lawn

He was jolly fast though, all done in 20 mins flat! It’s been good to have some much needed sunshine even though I have on occasion moaned about the heat 🙄. The McFatface is just about better so I can go to work tomorrow and not scare my clients. On Thursday night we got a glimpse of our visiting hedgehog, and finally saw his face, very cute. He/she’s been visiting most nights and we know this as we bought some hedgehog biscuits that we leave in a dish for it. And now ta da….

apeman trail camera

we bought a trail camera from Amazon. It’s what you’ve probably seen in wildlife programmes when they’re trying to catch sight of rare tigers and the like, though I am thinking we’re more likely to see the neighbourhood cats. Hopefully though we’ll get some footage of the ‘hog. It can take videos of varying lengths and quality settings, sound, stills and is quite easy to set up. We put it out all night last night and I was excited to see all the biscuits were gone this morning, so checked the camera and found I hadn’t actually switched it to the ‘on’ position. Doh! 🙄 Hopefully tonight will have a better result!

For my 60th birthday present Phil and I are off on a trip, a week in Tuscany, Italy, staying at a converted Medici palace and I’m really looking forward to it, but not for a couple of weeks yet, we like to wait til the kids are back to school and everyone else has gone back to work 🙂

I have found my 70th though, I found a link to this amazing train journey around the world in 56 days, this is a dream trip for a person with a camera! See it HERE.

I can’t remember which of my bloggypals put me on to the author Gregg Dunnet and a book called The Things You Find in Rock Pools, which was a great story about a young lad who is more or less a child prodigy, and ends up turning detective when a young girl he likes goes missing. It’s a fab read and easy but quite dark sometimes. I’ve somehow got onto his email list and got offered a free copy of his latest The Glass Tower which I’ve also read but didn’t really like overmuch. The main character is not likeable, nor are any of the supporting cast, and the story itself is too bonkers to believe in even a little bit.

Another author I’m on the email list of is Manda Scott, who couldn’t write a bad book if she tried. One of her latest emails recommended an author called N.K.Jenson and her trilogy called The Broken Earth. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s set very far in the future and the world has been in turmoil for a very long time. The world-building is quite astounding, and the characters are rounded and beautifully rendered. It isn’t an easy read as there’s a lot to take in and think about, so if you are a read–a-book-a-day type of person who doesn’t need to think too much, it’s not for you, but if you like books with depth and resonance, this would move and stir you.

It’s been quite a Marvel-ous week (see what I did there? 😂 ) film wise as it’s been my birthday week and I got to choose. I have decided to do the whole of the MCU movies in order so this week have seen Iron Man (1) and The Incredible Hulk played by Edward Norton before Mark Ruffalo took on the role in the rest of the movies. I didn’t think Norton did a bad job at all, and the pathos of his character was well defined and acted, but I still prefer Ruffalo. Luckily Iron Man and The Hulk are Phil’s favourite characters (he’s not a superhero fanboy at all really) though I’m going to pay for all this with grim Russian war movies. 😂

Tales from Fraggle Towers

It’s being a quiet weekend here at Fraggle Towers. The Hub is on nightshift Friday, Saturday and Sunday so he is asleep all day. This is one of those pro’s and con’s situations. A con is that I miss talking to my best buddy, a pro is I can’t do much housework as it’s too noisy. A con is we don’t get to do movie night, a pro is I’m in charge of the remote control. A con is we don’t do stuff together, a pro is I get to read a book in the day, a lot!  

One of the nice things that happened that I didn’t realise would when I started blogging, is ‘meeting’ people who review books, and music, and movies.

I’ve seen movies I’d never have seen if it wasn’t for Jay & Sean and Vinnie and Pete , read books I would never have known about if it wasn’t for Nicole (thank you for Christopher Moore) Kim (thank you for Carlos Ruiz Zafon) and Dani  . 

I am also privileged to have proper writers in my little universe, Pete is a master of short stories and serials, Theo writes detective novellas incorporating time travel and alternative universes, April who writes medieval historical fiction and posts her fascinating research, as does M.B Henry, with her adventures tracking US Military history.  It’s a joy to read their blog posts. 

This past week I’ve been reading books by a lovely blogger, Teagan , who’s blog I’ve been following a while now.  Teagans imagination is bonkers, and she writes steampunk, she writes magic, she writes about the roaring twenties.  Her stories are compelling and her characters memorable. I was so enamored of her blog serials that I decided to try her Atonement in Tennessee novel, and really loved it. I don’t do book reviews so no spoilers here, all I’ll say is Teagan takes a chunk of ancient Welsh mythology, and weaves it into the modern day, with a few diverse nods to Jewish mysticism, Shakespeare, and Batman!  The cherry on the icing is that a fair bit of the story is seen through the eyes of a calico cat called Lilith, and I’m a sucker for clever cats. The story doesn’t end at the end of the book, so on I went to the second novel in the series, Atonement in Bloom, which, in spite of not having my favourite character in it, does have magic pigs. Magic pigs are not anything I ever considered myself reading about, but the whimsy here is quite addictive. I can only hope there’ll be a third installment as I’m very hooked. In the meantime I saw that there’s an accompanying short story collection set in Atonement, so I got that too, and it is a must-have if you are contemplating entering the completely batshit world of Atonement, Tennessee. I would love to photograph that place! 

As well as being as quiet as a mouse reading Teagan’s books, I’ve also been doing some macro photography, for the Monday Macro group I’m in. The theme is ‘soft’ so I decided to use my feathery stuff, but I can’t decide which one to use,

Whaddya think? 

I want to mention a film I saw in the week, it’s called, They Shall Not Grow Old, it’s the reality of WW1, and was made by Peter Jackson, he of Lord of the Rings fame. I hope Pete reviews it at some point, as I know I cannot do it justice, but there’s an explanation here  that’s worth reading.

Finally (yay) we had a gorgeous sunset one night this week, I forget which one in particular, and that’s a nice way to end this post.

Tuesday Tome

Well not really a tome, but book doesn’t begin with ‘T’ 🙂

My first ever book review is on a novella written by Cindy Bruchman, a fellow blogger who’s entertaining blog can be followed by clicking through her name.

NO SPOILERS

Cindy’s debut novella is called The Knife with the Ivory Handle.

Set in Cindy’s home state of Illinois in the 1900’s, the story follows the lives of two young orphans ~ Annette, a solitary girl with a talent for healing, and her younger brother Jonathon, an empathetic lad with a passion for painting. The children have been expelled from their orphanage in Brooklyn and are travelling by train to start a new life on a farm owned by a couple looking to adopt.  Their interactions with Casper, a wounded, fugitive black man who has killed the son of a Sherrif, resulting in half his tongue being chopped off, and Father Kelly, a rather selfish and immature priest charged with getting the orphans to their new home are the basis for the story, which is underpinned with accurate historical knowledge.

The story moves at a good pace and Cindy has a lyrical way with words that has you envisioning the scenes set before you,

Excerpt 1

He applied squirts of color on his wooden pallet and swirled forest green and cobalt with white. The stretched muslin disappeared behind thick applications of paint. He felt the sun should shine next to the stormy clouds, so he picked up another clean brush and mixed ocher with mustard. This he applied in circular motions to the upper right of the canvas. The storm clouds wrestled with the sunny brightness. Jonathan shut his eyes and waited for the peculiar magic to happen.

Excerpt 2

A chilly gust rose up behind him from the creek and it blew on the back of his neck. He shuddered. He turned around and faced the coolness. He imagined himself sliding down the embankment and dunking his face in the flowing water. He concentrated on the ripples that caressed the rocks and it triggered a memory of when Father Kelly recited a poem to him about the beauty of dappled things like speckled fish and spotted cows.

I really enjoyed reading this story, I read a lot of historical fiction and Illinois in the 1900’s is a new era for me. Part of the story involves the Spring Valley Race Riot of 1903 which I hadn’t known about and led me to further reading. The places covered in the novella are all real, and it’s obvious Cindy is passionate about her homeland and it’s history. But it is the characters who really drive this story. Each of the main character’s persona is well rounded, their weaknesses  and strengths given equal billing, and as the situations they find themselves in change, we feel how they are affected, how they grow, cheer for them when they prevail, and sympathise with them when they sometimes fail. Secondary characters are not glossed over and are given distinct personalities and depth. There are some surprising turns in the story that I won’t spoil here.

I noticed on another review of the book that someone had pointed out there were errors in the writing that ruined the story, and whilst I did notice a couple of things that could easily have been rectified by a proof reader/editor, for me at least it didn’t spoil the overall great experience of reading this sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting, always immersive story.

This book can be purchased at the following links.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA