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The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar's Sceptre (Adventures of Tintin (Paperback)) Paperback – 30 Jun 1974
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About the Author
Hergé, one of the most famous Belgians in the world, was a comics writer and artist. The internationally successful Adventures of Tintin are his most well-known and beloved works. They have been translated into 38 different languages and have inspired such legends as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. He wrote and illustrated for The Adventures of Tintin until his death in 1983.
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Now in my late 20's, I have decided to purchase all the Tintin books so that when my 2 year old is a bit older, I can share the world of Tintin with him :-D
This time the intrepid one finds himself in the fictitious eastern European country of Syldavia, and we get an amusing overview of the country, courtesy of the brochure Tintin reads on the plane over, which is well done.
And who says you never learn anything from Tintin books. I for one found out that apparently Sigillography, is the study of seals. This story runs along typical Tintin lines with the usual combination of outrageous fortune, perennial suspicion and multiple coincidences driving the action forward.
This was an enjoyable enough read, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly great, for my money of the first eight books, “Cigars of The Pharaoh” would still be my favourite, probably followed by “The Blue Lotus”.
The story doesn't skimp on action and intrigue either, Tintin's investigative nose getting him into a lot of trouble when he refuses to take the hint and mind his own business. Returning a lost briefcase found in a park to a professor in the study of ancient seals, Tintin gets wind of something suspicious going on related to Syldavia and volunteers to accompany the professor on his visit there acting as his assistant. Even Professor Alembick starts behaving strangely as the trip commences, but before he can act on his suspicions, Tintin finds himself ejected from the small aircraft while they are on their way to the capital Klow.
The story's plot to overthrow the King of Syldavia is a product of the time of its writing, King Ottokar's sceptre being originally serialised in the Petit Vingtième from August 1938 to August 1939, the situation between Syldavia and Borduria reflecting the Anschluss of Austria by German forces in March 1938. It's no coincidence then that the name of the author of this plot, Müsstler, is made up of a combination of Mussolini and Hitler.
As one of Tintin's earlier adventures, the artwork here isn't always as slick and polished as it is in some of the later books, (often done in collaboration with the assistants at Hergé's studios), although when redrawn for collected publication in this edition, Edgar P. Jacobs (Blake and Mortimer) was employed to redesign Syldavian costumes, work on new backgrounds and the recolouring of the story, adding considerably to the whole feel of the work. The sense of pacing here however is pure Hergé and classic Tintin, purposefully driving the story forward, leaving little visual clues and puzzles to be worked out. The story achieves a wonderful balance then between action and intrigue, with every page revealing another little twist or amusement (including the first appearance from our diva Bianca Castafiore) as the story gains momentum.
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