Asterix Books List: Which are the Best?

by SusanM

Recommended Asterix books not to miss and extra tips on choosing a great Asterix book.

It seems like Asterix books are meant for children to read because they are comics. But the complexity of these books would be missed by most children.

The subtle references to historical happenings, parody and underlying meanings of the characters' names all require an understanding and general knowledge that's more suited to adults. This makes the Asterix books an excellent and entertaining read for adults too.

Asterix Books - The Early 1960s Titles

When choosing an Asterix book to read you can't go wrong with the early books from the 1960s and 70s. The quality in these early Asterix books is consistently high with the merging of the two talents of René Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator).

The 1960s saw the creation of the first Asterix comic - Asterix the Gaul in 1961. This was followed by at least one new Asterix comic every year - Asterix and the Golden Sickle (1962), Asterix and the Goths (1963), Asterix the Gladiator (1964), Asterix and the Banquet (1965) and Asterix and Cleopatra (1965). 

Although the 1961 to 1965 books, especially from the second book onwards are all excellent I would like to recommend one specific book Asterix and Cleopatra - which has been a personal favorite of mine since childhood, as well as being of interest to book reviewers.

Pictured: Asterix the Gladiator (1964)

Asterix and Cleopatra


This sixth book in the Asterix series has a historical depth with many humorous parodies of modern and ancient history. For example, the whole comic is a parody of the film Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (1963). We are also provided with a humorous explanation for how the Great Sphinx of Giza lost its nose. Asterix and Cleopatra is also the first time Dogmatix takes a significant role in the story - this makes the book one of the more child-friendly titles in the series.

The Translations of Asterix

Asterix has been translated into more than 100 languages. The original books were written in French and have been translated into English.

The majority of Asterix books have also been translated into Basque, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croation, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Galician, German, Greek (Modern), Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Welsh.

A smaller number have also been translated into Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Esperanto, Frisian, Greek (Ancient), Hebrew, Hindu, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Romansch, Singhalese, Scots Gaelic and Vietnamese.

In a few countries such as France, Greece, Italy and Germany some of the books have even been  translated into regional languages (dialects), such as Corsican and Bavarian.

Asterix Books - The Late 1960s Titles

The late 1960s saw 8 new Asterix books published. In 1966 Asterix and the Big Fight, Asterix in Britain and Asterix and the Normans were created. Asterix the Legionary in 1967. Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield and Asterix at the Olympic Games in 1968 and Asterix and the Cauldron and Asterix in Spain in 1969.

 I'd like to recommend Asterix the Legionary. It's another personal favorite, even at 9 years old, and one that has widespread popularity with readers and reviewers.

Asterix the Legionary


This is the 10th book and considered the funniest book in the Asterix series. It's actually a love story (of sorts) with Obelix falling for a girl in the village. Yet in usual Asterix style it leads to a quest - this time Asterix and Obelix must join the Roman Army.

For anyone familiar with Asterix, it's easy to understand why their role as legionaries in the Roman Army produces such humor (much of this is based on stereotypes but it's all in good fun).


Meet Some of the Gauls

Much of the humor in Asterix comes from the interesting Gaulish characters who have clever underlying meanings to their names:

  • The bard's name - Cacofonix comes from the word cacophony which means a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds. A very accurate description of the bard's musical talent.
  • The name for Psychoanalytix (an expert druid in psychology) comes from the word psychoanalysis, which is a type of psychological therapy created by Sigmund Freud.
  • Geriatrix, the senior citizen in this village of Gauls, has a name that's based on the word geriatrics which is an area of medicine that relates to old age.
  • Dogmatix, Obelix's little canine friend, has a name which has an obvious background.

Asterix Books - The Early 1970s Titles

These early 1970s Asterix books were the last to be written together by Uderzo and Goscinny. As a result they are probably the last of the Asterix titles to have a consistency high standard. 

The early 1970s Asterix books are Asterix and the Roman Agent (1970), Asterix in Switzerland (1970), The Mansions of the Gods (1971), Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (1972), Asterix and the Soothsayer (1972), Asterix in Corsica (1973), Asterix and Caesar's Gift (1974), Asterix and the Great Crossing (1975) and Obelix and Co (1976). Making a minimum of one comic per year.

The recommended book for this period Asterix and the Roman Agent. Yes it's also another favorite of mine as well as an interesting and amusing story of human behavior.

Pictured: Asterix and the Great Crossing (1975)

Asterix and the Roman Agent


An interesting Asterix book which explores a breakdown of loyalty and trust among the usually close knit villagers. it looks at the damage gossip can create. Done in full Asterix style the authors even use speech bubbles painted in an increasingly dark shade of dark green to demonstrate the worsening relations between the villagers. An excellent example of the Asterix books. 

Meet Some of the Romans

The Roman Army in Asterix features a large and humorous selection of names based on medical words such as:

  • Arteriosclerosus from arteriosclerosis which is a stiffening of the arteries (blood vessels)
  • Fibrositus from fibrositis (another word for Fibromyalgia) which is a disease
  • Gastroenteritus from gastroenteritis which is commonly known as a stomach bug or gastro
  • Gluteus Maximus is the exact medical spelling for the largest muscle in the *ahem*... butt.

Names based upon personality traits are also common among the Romans like:

  • Cantankerus from cantankerous -  being argumentive, bad-tempered and uncooperative
  • Unscrupulus from unscrupulous - being immoral and dishonest and
  • Overanxius from overanxious - being excessively worried

There are also the silly names like Odius Asparagus (which can be translated as smelly asparagus) and Raucus Hallelujachorus (translated as a disturbingly loud rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus).

Asterix Books - After Goscinny's Death

Goscinny died in 1977, the year after Obelix and Co was published. After Goscinny's death Uderzo adding writing the series (in addition to illustrating them) to his tasks to keep up the publication of new Asterix books. Between 1977 and 1979 only one Asterix book was written Asterix in Belgium (1979).

With Uderzo both writing and illustrating the Asterix books fewer new titles were published compared to the days before Goscinny's death. During the 1980s Asterix and the Great Divide (1980), Asterix and the Black Gold (1981), Asterix and Son (1983) and Asterix and the Magic Carpet (1987) were created. Only two new books were published during the 1990s, Asterix and the Secret Weapon (1991) and Asterix and Obelix All at Sea (1996).The final books were written during the 2000s - Asterix and the Actress (2001), Asterix and the Class Act (2003), Asterix and the Falling Sky (2005) and Asterix and Obelix's Birthday: The Golden Book (2009).

Unfortunately these 11 Asterix books written solely by Uderzo didn't receive the same acclaim as the earlier books. The story lines have enough interest but although the word play humor is still evident it does not have the wicked cleverness of Goscinny's writing.

I wouldn't recommend any specific books from this time because of this, although I encourage readers to choose the book that appeals to them the most and make up their own mind about the quality of these later Asterix books.

Asterix in Academic Writings

The Asterix books have such importance to literature they are frequently discussed in academic writings (professional journals). This includes areas such as medicine, education, literature and language.

Some of these article titles include:

  • Names and Their Substitutes: Onomastic Observations on Astérix and Its Translations
  • The Comic Book's Soundtrack: Visual Sound Effects in Asterix
  • Myths and Stereotypes in "Asterix le Gaulois"
  • Traumatic brain injuries in illustrated literature: Experience from a series of over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comic books

Asterix Books at Ebay

When Did You Start Reading Asterix?

Introducing Asterix to Kids

The Asterix books have a fairly advanced reading level so they are usually not suitable for children under 9 or 10 years of age, although some of the books would be fine as a read aloud story.

Asterix in Spain (1969) is probably the easiest Asterix book for children to enjoy. This is because it's the only Asterix book that Goscinny and Uderzo created that has a child as one of the main characters. Pepe - who is not always a well-behaved child will have kids giggling. Dogmatix (Obelix's dog) is also a main character in this story which will appeal to children.

Finally many of the jokes, although clever, are of a type that can be understood by children. One of the main Romans in this story, for example is named Spurius Brontosaurus - as many kids love dinosaurs they think this name is hilarious.

For those of you thay may be wondering if this was the first Asterix book I was introduced to (as a read aloud story) - yes it was.

More Asterix at Ebay

Updated: 09/13/2012, SusanM
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SusanM on 05/01/2012

Oh gosh what a shame about your Asterix. I had to restock my collection because when my older brother moved out he took all the Asterix with him. I did forgive him tho :) I've never read Lucky Luke. You've made me curious. I'll have to track one down to read.

wordsareharmless on 04/30/2012

Wow, amazing article! I haven't read these comics since... long long time ago... But they were my favorite. I had the whole collection published in Serbian language (I think there were 27 books). Back then (late 90s in Serbia) they cost fortune so I kept them as some kind of treasure... Unfortunately, when I grew up, my parents put all the comics in a basement where humidity ruined them... Lucky Luke was also amazing. I think it's written by the author of Asterix!

SusanM on 04/21/2012

Oh boy I had forgotten about Boneywasawarriorwayayix LOL

nickupton on 04/21/2012

Asterix is great. Boneywasawarriorwayayix from Asterix in Corsica was my favourite character just because of his ridiculous name.

SusanM on 02/26/2012

Gosh that sounds brilliant Sam :D

Sam on 02/26/2012

When we went to Corsica for holidays, we actually bought Asterix on Corsica, it was great fun reading and comparing it to the Corsica we saw around as ;-)

SusanM on 02/22/2012

I've come across people from so many countries who love Asterix. The series is a true classic :)

chefkeem on 02/22/2012

My all-time favorite comics! I devoured them as a German youngster in the 60s.
Grrrrreat articulus!

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