Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield (French: Le bouclier arverne) is the eleventh volume in the Asterix series, written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo. It was originally published as a serial in Pilote issues 399-421 in 1967.
The book is inspired by the battle of Alesia, where the Gaulish warrior chief Vercingetorix surrendered to Julius Caesar. However, only the very end of the actual battle appears in the book - the main plot concerns what happened after the battle.
This episode, like Asterix and the Cauldron, is plotted like a detective novel, with a mystery to be solved at the very end.
The book begins with Vercingetorix conceding his defeat to Julius Caesar. He throws his weapons at Caesar's feet — or rather, on Caesar's feet. In pain, Caesar hops away to the infirmary while Vercingetorix is arrested. The weapons remain where they were thrown, for several hours, until a curious, somewhat greedy Roman legionary sees that no one's looking, and steals Vercingetorix's famous shield. He then loses the shield in a game of dice to another legionary, who is himself out of camp without a pass. He is spotted by a drunken centurion, who confiscates the shield. The centurion himself uses the shield to pay for a jar of wine at a nearby Gaulish inn; later on the shield is given by the innkeeper to a survivor of the Battle of Alesia, who wanders off into the night...
Then begins the actual story. Chief Vitalstatistix is horribly ill with a sore liver (to the point that any contact with his belly causes him to scream in agony). The druid Getafix diagnoses that this is the result of too much roast wild boar, greasy, spicy sauces and beer. He sends Vitalstatistix off to a health spa in Arverne to be cured. Asterix and Obelix (with Dogmatix) go as his escort.
When they arrive, they at first all stay there together, but because Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix are perfectly healthy and in no need of special diets, they feast on wild boar and beer while everyone else eats only health food. This, and other incidents, seriously annoy Vitalstatistix and the other patients, putting pressure on the management. Vitalstatistix advises his men to tour the countryside of Arverne, visiting such beautiful places as Gergovia. Asterix asks about Alesia, but Vitalstatistix angrily shouts that he doesn't know where Alesia is. (The exact location of Alesia was unknown for centuries, including when this book was published. It also seems to be a sore point for people like Winesandspirix and Vitalstatistix who were there.)
Along the way, the Gauls are met by special Roman envoy, Noxius Vapus. A fight ensues, with obvious results: the Romans are left beaten up, with their weapons broken, while the Gauls proceed merrily on their way. In the aftermath Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix meet an old Gaul called Winesandspirix, who has set up shop as a wine and charcoal salesman in Gergovia. Winesandspirix takes the Gauls to his home as his friends.
Meanwhile, when Noxius Vapus makes his report to Caesar in Rome. Caesar decides that the Gauls must be taught a lesson. He plans a triumph on Vercingetorix's shield, only there's one small problem — he doesn't have the shield any more. Caesar orders Vapus to send search parties to Arverne, looking for it.
Soon the Roman search parties arrive at Winesandspirix's shop. They find nothing, but Asterix's curiosity is piqued. The Romans send a spy to find out more but, on drinking too much wine at Winesandspirix's tavern, he accidentally discloses the plan. In order to thwart it, Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix set off in search of the shield themselves. The spy actually knows about the legionary who originally took the shield, but being an idiot he fails to inform his superiors and only tells the Gauls while drunk.
They follow the shield's trail, meeting those who possessed it before it disappeared, and fighting the Roman search parties who are following the same trail. It eventually leads them back to Winesandspirix — for he was the tavern keeper the Roman centurion originally gave the shield to.
Winesandspirix confesses he doesn't have the shield any more, as he gave it as a comfort to a Gaulish warrior who was trying to drown his sorrows in wine after having witnessed Vercingetorix's defeat. This Gaulish warrior actually turns out to be chief Vitalstatistix, who — as it turns out — has had the shield with him all along!
Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix, Vitalstatistix and Winesandspirix organise a Gaulish (instead of Roman) triumph on Vercingetorix's shield, much to the surprise of Vapus and his troops. As a further twist of fate, Caesar himself arrives to check on Vapus's progress, and seeing the results, he punishes Vapus by sending him and his troops to Numidia. Caesar then lets the matter rest. The Gauls return to their village and have their traditional, huge feast — without Vitalstatistix this time, however, for his wife has something to say about his intention to eat well again and put the shield to an offensive rather than defensive use!
- A running gag in this book is various Gaulish people claiming “I don't know where Alesia is! No one knows where Alesia is!”. The reason for this seems to be their Gaulish pride preventing them from mentioning Vercingetorix's defeat. Actually, knowledge of where Alesia is has been lost for a long period of time and its likely location has only been rediscovered in the late 20th century — after this book was published.
- This book establishes the origin of Vitalstatistix' famous round, blue shield with a white five-pointed star pattern as being Vercingetorix'.
- This is one among a minority of Asterix books where the bard Cacofonix is not tied up and gagged at the feast. He joins in to eat and drink like everyone else — instead, it's chief Vitalstatistix who has to miss the feast, as he is kept home by his wife, who threatens to put the shield to an offensive as opposed to a defensive use.
- This is the first album where Vitalstatistix's wife Impedimenta is named.
- In the Asterix books there is a map of Gaul with the caption that by 50 BC all Gaul was occupied by the Romans, but it does not necessarily mean that the Asterix stories themselves are set at that time. The historical battle of Alesia took place in about the year 52 BC. It is treated as having occurred at least 15 years before the time this story is set in, making the Asterix era as being based in the mid-30s BC (though the real-life Julius Caesar had been murdered long before then).
- This book serves as a loose basis for the Sega Mega Drive video game 'Asterix and the Power of the Gods'.
Asterix the Gaul · Asterix and the Golden Sickle · Asterix and the Goths · Asterix the Gladiator · Asterix and the Banquet · Asterix and Cleopatra · Asterix and the Big Fight · Asterix in Britain · Asterix and the Normans · Asterix the Legionary · Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield · Asterix at the Olympic Games · Asterix and the Cauldron · Asterix in Spain · Asterix and the Roman Agent · Asterix in Switzerland · The Mansions of the Gods · Asterix and the Laurel Wreath · Asterix and the Soothsayer · Asterix in Corsica · Asterix and Caesar's Gift · Asterix and the Great Crossing · Asterix Conquers Rome · Obelix and Co. · Asterix in Belgium · Asterix and the Class Act · Asterix and Obelix's Birthday: The Golden Book ·
|Uderzo||Asterix and the Great Divide ·|
|Jean-Yves Ferri/Didier Conrad|