Asterix and the Magic Carpet
|Asterix and the Magic Carpet
(Astérix chez Rahàzade)
|Date of publication||1987|
|Preceded by||Asterix and Son|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Secret Weapon|
Asterix and the Magic Carpet is the twenty-eighth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was first published in 1987. It is the fourth book to be published after the death of René Goscinny and is thus both written and drawn by Albert Uderzo alone.
The full original French title was Astérix chez Rahàzade ou Le compte des mille et une heures (Asterix meets Orinjade or the 1001 Hours Countdown), a reference to Queen Scheherazade who tells the famous 1001 Arabian Nights collection of stories.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2012)|
Watziznehm arrives in Gaul
In the opening scenes, in the Gaulish village inhabited by Asterix and his friends Chief Vitalstatistix is trying to give a speech, when he is interrupted by the bard Cacofonix, who is testing the acoustics of his new hut. This causes it to rain; a pivotal point in this comic. A small, dark-skinned man, Watziznehm the fakir suddenly falls from the sky. He had been brought off of his flying carpet by Cacofonix' downpour.
Watziznehm explains that he is searching for a way to make it rain in his country, a kingdom in India because if it doesn't rain in 1001 hours, Princess Orinjade, daughter of Rajah Wotzit, will be executed as a sacrifice to the gods. This prophecy is actually part of an evil scheme by Grand Vizier Hoodunnit. Vitalstatistix agrees to send the rain-making Cacofonix to India, accompanied by Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix.
Journey on a Magic Carpet
The group sets out slightly disgruntled, as Cacofonix is not allowed to sing and Obelix isn't allowed to bring a whole cart-load of roasting wild boar with him.
The next day, they encounter the pirates. Obelix throws out all of the ship's booty on the grounds that it is just junk and not food. The captain hurriedly calls for all the food to be brought and the Gauls and the fakir leave with it, paying with just one small coin.
Meanwhile Hoodunnit reveals to his henchman that if it doesn't rain he will have the Rajah executed, and then if it still doesn't rain it won't matter as he will be Rajah himself.
The carpet flies over Rome, where the Gauls say hello to a feverish Julius Caesar, causing him to go into a further delirious state.
Cacofonix insists on singing, to the point that Watziznehm jumps off the carpet in horror. Without a fakir to steer it, the carpet plummets into the sea, where they are picked up by a Greek merchant's ship. Watziznehm has fallen into a jug of wine. To sober him up, Cacofonix sings yet again, causing a storm and grounding the ship on a tiny island but Obelix and Asterix free the ship easily.
After flying over Athens and Tyre, they enter another thunderstorm. A bolt of lightning strikes the carpet and Watziznehm is forced to make an emergency landing in a Persian village, where a carpet seller refuses to fix Watziznehm's or sell one of his own carpets. However, after saving the Persians from Scythian raiders, the Persian gives one of his carpets to the Gauls.
The Gauls arrive in India with exactly 30 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds left in which to save Orinjade, but Cacofonix has lost his voice during the journey and cannot sing. Rajah Wotzit's doctors proclaim that to regain his voice, Cacofonix must take an overnight bath in elephant milk.
The Gauls take Cacofonix to elephant-man Howdoo's home and set up the bath, leaving him to sit in it. The evil Hoodunnit, however, sends his henchmen to kidnap the bard, and take him to an ancient elephant meeting-place and graveyard, and leave him to the elephants.
When Watziznehm, Asterix and Obelix set out to pick up the bard, they are stopped by Owzat, Hoodunnit's fakir sidekick. While Watziznehm and Owzat shoot curses at each other, Asterix and Obelix escape and go to Howdoo's, only to find that he has disappeared.
Dogmatix picks up the smell of elephant milk, and after being held up by tigers, monkeys and a rhinoceros, not to mention Hoodunnit's henchmen, they arrive at the elephant graveyard to find Cacofonix alive and well; his elephant-milk smell led the elephants to believe that he was one of them.
They return quickly with the help of Watziznehm, who has finally defeated Owzat. Asterix sky-punches Orinjade's executioner into the air and saves her in the nick of time. Hoodunnit is defeated. Cacofonix can speak again because of the dose of magic potion he had taken, and sings Singin' in the Rain at the considerable top of his lungs, causing it to rain at last.
At the victory feast in the palace, Obelix muses that now their fellow villagers might be having their traditional banquet, this time without him. And back in the village, some of the Gauls begin to express their desire to have the bard back, since it hasn't been raining for some time now. This includes Fulliautomatix the blacksmith who usually uses his hammer to knock Cacofonix out, but now appears to be missing him.
- Watziznehm - the fakir
- Wotzit - the rajah
- Orinjade - the princess
- Hoodunnit - the scheming Grand Vizier
- Owzat - Hoodunnit's fakir henchman
- Howdoo - the elephant man
- An audiobook of Asterix and the Magic Carpet adapted by Anthea Bell and narrated by Willie Rushton was released on EMI Records Listen for Pleasure label in 1988.
- This is the first reference to India in an Asterix book. Although some things are depicted in historical fashion (the Rigvedic deities, for example), many of the architectural details and styles of clothing are distinctly Islamic, as is the concept of a fakir. Islam was not brought to India until the late 11th century CE.
- As in Asterix in Switzerland and Asterix and Son, the normal comical nature of this volume has a rare undertone of drama concerning the heroes' need to rescue an innocent from impending death.
- In the original French version the princess is called Rahàzade. The title of the comic is thus; "Astérix chez Rahàzade" ("Asterix meets Rahàzade") a pun on the famous storyteller Scheherazade who told the 1001 Arabian nights stories.
- This marks the first time that we see Cacofonix in battle. While its assumed in all previous villagers vs Romans incidents he was somewhere in the fray, here he is depicted actually taking part in the action. It is the first time we see the bard engaging in violence, the second time being his thumping of Fuliautomatix in Asterix and the Secret Weapon.
- The gag that Cacofonix' singing induces rain was used for the first time in this book. The gag appears later on in Asterix and the Secret Weapon.
- When Cacofonix sings in Vitalstatistix' hut, it begins to rain inside (causing an angry Impedimenta to chase them outside). However, when he first sings in his own hut, it rains all over the village.
- At one point Cacofonix (page 18) starts singing a song "confused with another comic strip", according to the accompanying text. The song is indeed Bianca Castafiore's famous aria from Charles Gounod's Faust, which she sings often in the Belgian comic strip The Adventures of Tintin.
- On page 23 the princess starts asking her handmaiden if she sees anything arriving (they are awaiting Asterix and Obelix' arrival). This a reference to the fairy tale of Bluebeard where Bluebeard's wife asks the same thing of her sister, while waiting for her brothers to rescue her.
- On page 29 Asterix, Obelix and Cacofonix eat caviar, just a meal for "poor people", according to the cooks. This is of course a reference to the fact that nowadays only rich people eat it.
- When Cacofonix sings in his own hut, causing Watziznehm to fall from his carpet due to the racket, the song is Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head by B.J. Thomas.
- Hoodunnit makes a reference to another Goscinny character, Iznogoud, as his cousin and borrows his catchphrase by declaring that he will be Rajah instead of the Rajah. (page 43)
- Upon recovering his voice, Cacofonix sings Singin' in the Rain by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown.
- Orinjade is one of the few to express a liking for Cacofonix's music, the others being Justforkix of Asterix and the Normans and Pepe of Asterix in Spain. Then again it might just be out of gratitude for saving her life.
- When Owzat stops Watziznehm from passing, Obelix says "Not out", a reference to the sport of cricket where bowlers appeal to the umpire. Cricket is extremely popular in India.
- When Orinjade is taken to be executed, the public call out the countdown, and Asterix and co. rescue the princess just in time — when the count reaches zero. A reference to the numeral zero discovered in ancient India.
In other languages
- Ancient Greek: Αστερίκιος παρά Σακχαραζάδι
- Catalan: Astèrix a l'Índia
- Croatian: Asterix i leteći sag
- Czech: Asterix a Rahazáda
- Danish: Asterix i Østens fagre riger
- Dutch: Asterix in Indus-land
- Finnish: Asterix Intiassa - Tuhannen ja yhden tunnin matka (Asterix in India - The Thousand-and-One-Hour Journey)
- German: Asterix im Morgenland
- Greek: Ο Αστερίξ και η Χαλαλίμα
- Indonesian: "Asterix dan Putri Rahazade"
- Italian: Le mille e un'ora di Asterix
- Norwegian: Asterix og det flygende teppet
- Polish: Asteriks u Reszehezady
- Portuguese: As 1001 horas de Astérix
- Russian: Астерикс и Волшебный ковер
- Serbian: Астерикс и летећи ћилим
- Spanish: Astérix en la India
- Swedish: Asterix i Indien
- Astérix chez Rahazade annotations (French)