This has all the Classical (geddit?!) elements of an Asterix story; violence, boar, pirates, Caesar's latest plan to conquer the last outpost of Gaul that still resists the Empire and so forth. It also shows the more whimsical tone and more meandering plotting evident in the other volumes written by Uderzo. Feminism comes to ancient Gaul in the form of a female bard who wears breeches and teaches the women of the village to question accepted gender roles. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensues, and that's before Caesar's Secret Weapon arrives to add to the mayhem!
This isn't out there in the stellar regions with Asterix in Britain, Asterix in Corsica or Obelix and Co. but it's still funny and full of surprises.
The best things about Tintin are:
2. Captain Haddock's cursing and insults.
3. Total preposterousness.
The worst things about Tintin are:
1. Patronising/offensive racial stereotyping.
2. Patronising/offensive national stereotyping.
3. Annoying cliff-hangers at the end of books.
The above are all present and correct in this volume but since the cliffhanger ending is in the Seven Crystal Balls one can move straight on and find out what is going on in Prisoners of the Sun. The solution came as a big surprise!
Snowy, besides being cute, interestingly, also: is helpful; tries to be helpful but actually makes things worse; gets in deep trouble; causes completely irrelevant mayhem. The best character by miles. Haddock's alliterative curses and insane malapropism-insults are on excellent form here. Billions of blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon! You belemnite!
As for total preposterousness, Tintin is a globe trotting 13 yo reporter who can drive, shoot pistols and rifles and, after the first couple of books, never seems to actually hand in a story. 'Nuff said - but one could go on forever.
Interestingly, that other famous kids' comic, Asterix, also features copious quantities of national stereotyping - but it's hilarious rather than distasteful. Why? I think precisely because in the case of Asterix, it's obviously a joke and the authors are as happy to poke fun at France and the French (i.e. themselves) as they are any and every other nation on Earth.