Asterix Omnibus 9 by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

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Asterix Omnibus 9 by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Join Asterix and Obelix on three more timeless quests as they cross the Roman Empire bopping Romans on the head, whilst eating roast boar. Even after 60 years, Asterix and pals have not lost the colour and appeal that have inspired generations.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 152 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781444009668

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If I had to pinpoint when my obsession with reading started, I would say it was when I discovered the adventures of Asterix and his rotund pal Obelix. I would walk down to my local village Library after school and pick up 8 adventures, only to read them overnight and set off the next day for more. The fun visuals, bright colours and daft characters really appealed to me then, but what about the children of today? Is there enough in the, up to, 60 year old adventures to appeal?

Having read my way through the hefty ‘Asterix Omnibus 9’, I would have to say yes. The series of original books have been re-released in this softback format making them available once more to a new audience (and for the old to read again). This collection contains three adventures originally written in the early 80s; ‘Asterix and the Great Divide’, ‘Asterix and the Black Gold’ and ‘Asterix and Son’. These are some of the slightly later Asterix books and actually feel a little more dated than some of his adventures from the 60s as the fashions of the later 70s have somehow creeped into the dress sense and hairstyles of the Gauls.

The story of the Gauls is pretty timeless no matter when they were written; one village holding out against Roman occupation by using the powerful secret potion that gives them super strength. In ‘The Great Divide’, we follow Asterix and Obelix as they help out a fellow Gaul village who are having an internal feud. ‘Black Gold’ sees them coming up against mysteries and greed, whilst ‘Son’ is perhaps one of the sweetest adventures as the duo become unlikely adopted parents to a little baby.

On the face of things, all three adventures are silly and great fun; packed full of daft fighting and fuming Romans. Rene Goscinny's decision to set his books in Roman France was an inspired idea; all the clichés of the era are present and at times it reads like an ‘Allo Allo’ of the era. The bright colours and inspired illustrations of Albert Uderzo work wonderfully with the stories, meaning that this omnibus has been a real hit with the nine year old I know. They are best read by a slightly advanced reader with an enthusiasm for history and a slightly naughty sense of humour – the Asterix books remain perfect for this type of child, as they did for me 20 years ago.

What I enjoyed even more than seeing the next generation Get-there-fix was re-reading the books for myself. It has been many years since I have read the three stories within this omnibus and I was able to discover far more layers. The names of the characters were always great puns, but as an adult you can understand them even better. There is also a lot of subtexts in the books should you want to delve deeper; petty politics is lampooned well in ‘Great Divide’ and the gender roles between Obelix and Asterix in ‘Son’ are very intriguing. There is a richness to be found in the story and illustrations.

It is a shame then that the same richness cannot be said of the print itself. Three books in one is great value and it comes in the traditional A4 all colour format. However, as the book is softback it can become a little battered. I also found that although the colours continued to pop off the page, the text did not. Some of the dialogue is a little worn out in places and hard to read – and I don’t think it was just my ageing eyes.

Despite the small setback in the printing of ‘Asterix Omnibus 9’ itself, this should not put anyone off from buying it. Although these adventures are from the later cannon, there is no reason that you could not start here as the context never really changes throughout the 35 adventures (old and new). I for one plan to keep this at home with the copies of Asterix I bought second hand when my local Library sold them off, in the hopes that they will inspire many more children to love reading. Just like they did for me.

If you want to read more Asterix you can start from the beginning - Asterix the Gaul - or towards the end Asterix and the Picts by Jean-Yves Ferri, Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad.

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