Asterix helps out a tax collector

Asterix in Switzerland - René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo

It all starts out when Chief Vitalstatistix's shield bearers stuff up one last time. Vitalstatistix says that it is a beautiful day, so his shield bearers look up and next thing we know is that they have been sacked (most likely because, once again, he has found himself flat on his back looking up at the sky and hoping that it doesn't fall on him). However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the album, except to throw in a few laughs at the beginning, namely because the real reason that Asterix and Obelix go on the adventure is to find a rare flower to save the life of a Roman Quaestor.

Basically this Roman governor is collecting taxes from his province (of which Rennes is the capital) and keeping a bulk of it for himself and giving only a small portion (three sesteries) to Rome. A little suspicious, Ceaser decides to send a Quaestor to the province to do an audit (though the Quaestors were more like the members of the Federal Reserve than just simple accountants), and the Quaestor immediately walks in on an orgy (which is a little anachronistic since the orgies didn't actually start until a lot later – basically when the top position is filled with an emperor for life, who then fills all of the positions with his favourites, the best that a wealthy Roman can do is get drunk and have lots of sex).

This is one of the better of the Asterix albums, and it is also poking fun at the Swiss, with their banks, their cleanliness, and the ability to be able to tell the time (though they don't have cuckoo clocks yet, just somebody running around crying out cuckoo so that everybody knows that it is time to turn their hour glasses over, even if it is the middle of the night). Also, we have the precursor to the United Nations, which is a collection of chieftains sleeping while somebody is rambling on about how peace with the Romans is actually a good thing. We also that the Roman Road (which is actually the motorway, or Autoroute as they say in France, and if you have been to France and driven on their motorways, you will have an idea of what I am on about).

In the end, a pretty good album, and not repetitive as some have suggested. Anyway, considering one can probably read this album (or in fact any Asterix album) in a space of about 15 to 45 minutes, then I do not see why one should not actually read it before commenting on it (its not like reading a Robert Jordan Wheel of Time book a second time, unless of course you like his work).