Book Review – Asterix and Caesar’s Gift
The 21st of the Asterix chronicles, the story follows an innkeeper, Orthapedix and his wife and daughter, as they travel to the little Gaulish village we all know and love to claim ownership…how this happens is after the inn-keeper takes the village as payment for a bottle of wine and a meal from a drunken Roman soldier who has had it gifted to him by Caesar for his 20 years loyal service.
This obviously does not sit well with the chief and what is loosely based on democracy the two battle it out to become chief of the village, only to have the Roman soldier come back to claim what is his. When refused he visits the nearest camp and they agree to invade for the pride of the Empire (somewhat hesitatingly) when they suspect there is no magic potion. Of course all hell breaks loose and normal transmission resumes.
This is not a bad book and has some great little snippets with the new ‘villagers’ and parodies the skullduggery and backhanders of modern political battles.
As usual there are some great takes on names including;
- Legionnaire Egganlettus who resigns with the army after finding farming lettuces dull
- Centurion Tonsilittus, commander of the fortified camp of Laudanum
- Angina, wife of the inn-keeper
- Influenza (also referred to as Zaza), the innkeeper’s daughter
- And though I had forgotten it, Bacteria, wife of Unhygenix the fish monger.
Interesting facts from this story include the reference to Zsa Zsa Gabor and in a sword fight between Asterix and the drunk Legionnaire (Tremensdelerius) he carves a “Z” into his shirt which she takes as a sign of his love for her which isn’t clear in the story, however makes reference to the TV series “Zorro” which was playing in Europe at the time of publication. The sword fight also pays reference to Hamlet with prose from the play, although in the French publication is quotes Cyrano de Bergerac. While Asterix always has his sword with him, this is one of only a few scenes he actually uses it.
Cacofonix the Bard is not tied up at the end of this episode, and in fact can be seen chatting to Influenza at the banquet, possibly as they both have an interest in all things from the city (in this book, referring to the city of Lutetia).