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

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