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King Ottokar's Sceptre

by Hergé

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tintin (8)

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1,384139,967 (4.1)15
Tintin travels to the kingdom of Syldavia to stop a villainous gang from stealing the royal scepter and overthrowing the government.

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» See also 15 mentions

English (10)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Really, Milou alone should be more than enough reason to read this book. And if you're not already inclined to read it, I'm not going to convince you. I'm just going to talk about the few issues I have with it, and with Tintin in general.

The most noticeable issue with most of Hergé's earlier work is the extreme racism and close-mindedness, which is obviously strongly linked to the time during which his works was written. Taking historical context into account, the caricatures and stereotypes are more understandable. The other little issue I have with this book is the same issue I have with most bande-dessinée, comic, or graphic novel books; I have a hard time not reading ahead. Sometimes the text is cumbersome and seems to hinder the flow of the book.

Aside from those issues, this book was quite enjoyable.

And, you know. Milou. ( )
  ctanons | Jan 26, 2021 |
My review, as posted in Tintin Books

I very much enjoyed rereading this album. Herge got the balance right here between real-world politics and the 'lighter' espionage and chase elements of the adventure. The chase sequences don't feel as gratuitous as they did in The Black Island, because they're tied in to the sceptre as the album's overarching plot device. And the realisation of Syldavia is marvelous: as a child, I'm sure I was mistaken into believing these were real countries. The crisply drawn avenues, the rich crowd scenes, the national traditions: all combine to create a truly worrying political situation, which of course was Herge's intention coming as it did in 1938. (The serial's final strip was published less than a month before Hitler invaded Poland)

I'm glad we'll meet Captain Haddock soon, but this album feels perfect as is - it's good to have Tintin and Snowy on the run, being both aided and abetted by those around them. This is probably for me the first 'pinnacle' of the series, as the first five were very much experiments with finding the formula, and numbers six and seven were very well-done but had their fair share of faults. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |

I remembered this fondly from my childhood - it may even have been the first Tintin book I ever read - and very much hoped that it would live up to my memories. I'm glad to say that it did, and if anything it works even better for me now that I have spent several years in the meantime being closely involved with Balkan politics, and also because I now know Brussels rather better than I did when I was 9. (Apparently it was the first Tintin story to be translated into English, though that was some time before I was taking much interest in these matters.)

The story is pretty straightforward - Tintin gets recruited by a Balkan culture expert to travel to the mysterious land of Syldavia, where he crucially averts a plot to deprive the young king of his throne, engineered by an internal revolutionary movement which is a proxy for the neighbouring dictatorship of Borduria. There are lots of lovely Balkan/Slavic touches - although Syldavian spelling is closer to Polish than to the Balkans, the towns clearly have minarets and Cyrillic is used; the landscape and army/police uniforms are clearly drawn from the Balkan kingdoms between the wars. The small countries of south-eastern Europe are an easy target, but sometimes this can be done well.

But in fact the Balkans are mere protective coloration for what Hergé was really writing about. The unusually realistic depictions of the Warandepark and Avenue Louise in the early pages give it away. King Ottokar, running a small democracy in fear of annexation by its authoritarian neighbour through a front organisation, is not (as I have heard some speculate) Michael of Romania, but a slightly romanticised Leopold III of Belgium. The Bordurian plot to invade Syldavia could have been based on the Gleiwitz incident, were it not for the fact that it was published in Le Petit Vingtième in the summer of 1939, shortly before the Gleiwitz incident actually happened. Less than a year after Tintin En Syldavie had finished its original run, Belgium was occupied not by the sinister Bordurian activist Müsstler but by a bloke with a similar name.

And considering the general perception that Hergé was not exactly vigorous in resistance to Nazi occupation, it's a bit redemptive to see this story putting down a marker before it actually happened.

Also, given Tom McCarthy's speculation about Hergé's ancestry, it's amusing that he draws himself into two of the court scenes...

This was a good jumping-off point for my lifelong affection for Tintin, and I think I would still recommend it as a starting point today for people who for whatever reason have never yet tried it. The best of the pre-war albums is The Blue Lotus, but to really enjoy it you have to have read the inferior Cigars of the Pharaoh first. King Ottokar's Sceptre works well as a standalone adventure. (Even without Captain Haddock.) ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 5, 2014 |
good action book ( )
  SchusReadingStars | Jun 12, 2014 |
A fun romp. ( )
  questbird | Apr 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
HergéAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lonsdale-Cooper, LeslieTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, MichaelTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, Edgar-PierreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janzon, Allan B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janzon, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellberg, PerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wahlberg, BjörnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zendrera, ConcepciónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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This is the 1947 redrawn and colourised version of King Ottokar's Sceptre (Le Sceptre d'Ottokar) . Please, do not combine it with the 1939 original black and white version.
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Tintin travels to the kingdom of Syldavia to stop a villainous gang from stealing the royal scepter and overthrowing the government.

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