Jean-Yves Ferri (writer), Didier Conrad (illustrator), Matthew Fitt (Scots translator) - Asterix and the Pechts (3 stars)

The Scots translation of the diminutive Gaul's latest adventure has a sense of cheeky fun and energy

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Jean-Yves Ferri (writer), Didier Conrad (illustrator), Matthew Fitt (Scots translator) - Asterix and the Pechts

(Itchy Coo / Black & White Publishing)

There is a noticeable drop in quality in the Asterix adventures released since the death of original writer Rene Goscinny, and Asterix and the Picts, at least in its English translation, is one of the most disappointing to date: a dreary, laugh-free voyage to ancient Scotland that has little to recommend it beyond the excellent artwork.

This Scots translation, however, is inspired. Translator Matthew Fitt adds jokes, improves the wordplay and injects a sense of cheeky fun and energy that is sorely lacking in the English version. Doric really suits the inhabitants of the wee Gaulish clachan we ken sae weel, and though it does slightly undermine the culture-clash elements of the story when the Gauls and Romans are all speaking like Caledonians, somehow it works.

There's not much Fitt can do about the stale plot, in which Asterix and Obelix have to return a Pict to his homeland and help him rescue his woman from the clutches of a rival clan. Nevertheless, Asterix and the Pechts is truer to the spirit of Goscinny's Asterix than the franchise has been for a long time.

A Chat with Matthew Fitt

Chat and blether with Scottish children’s writer Matthew Fitt. Matt is co-founder of Itchy Coo press and author of ‘The Eejits’, ‘Bletherton Braes’, ‘Katie’s Moose’ and 'Katie’s Coo’. He has travelled hither and yon encouraging children in using the Scots language.

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