Artemis Fowl (novel)
First edition cover
|Series||Artemis Fowl series|
|Genre||Young adult, fantasy|
|26 April 2001|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback), Audiobook CD|
|Followed by||The Arctic Incident (2002)|
Artemis Fowl is a young-adult fantasy novel written by Irish author Eoin Colfer. It is the first book in the Artemis Fowl series, followed by Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. Described by its author as "Die Hard with fairies", it follows the adventures of Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, as he kidnaps a fairy for a large ransom of gold.
Throughout the book, the third-person narration switches from following the human characters to following the fairy characters to present underlying themes of greed and conflict. The book received a mostly favourable critical response and several awards.
Artemis Fowl II is the twelve-year-old son of an Irish crime lord, Artemis Fowl I. He is a child prodigy, who has dedicated his life for criminal activities. He leads the Fowl criminal empire, which has been established by his family for generations. After significant research, Artemis believes that he has confirmed the existence of fairies. He tracks down an alcoholic sprite posing as a healer in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and travels there with his bodyguard Butler to obtain from her The Book of the People—the Fairy holy book that is written in Gnommish.
Meanwhile, Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police is tracking a rogue troll that has managed to reach the surface of the Earth from the fairy city, deep underground. Assisted by a technically minded centaur called Foaly and LEPrecon commander Julius Root, she incapacitates the troll. However, this uses the last of her magic, and Commander Root demands that she complete the magic restoring ritual.
Artemis decodes the Book using translating software, and in the process, learns the specifics of the ritual: taking an acorn from an ancient oak tree near a bend in a river under the full moon and planting it elsewhere. Artemis and Butler track down over 100 possible locations for the ritual and start a stakeout; after nearly four months, they discover Holly performing the ritual. Butler tranquillises Holly with a hypodermic syringe.
A LEP retrieval team is sent to scout Fowl Manor. Using their 'shielding' ability, which allows them to vibrate faster than the human eye can follow, the team enters the manor grounds. Artemis had anticipated this, however, and installed a camera with a high frames-per-second rate, allowing him to detect the threat by freezing the image. After Butler incapacitates the intruders, Root decides to lay siege to Fowl Manor using a time-stop and enter negotiations. Artemis reveals the ransom demand: one metric ton of 24-carat gold. Artemis also reveals his knowledge of the time-stop and claims that he can escape it. An analysis by LEP behaviour experts determines that Artemis believes he is telling the truth.
The attempts to gain entry to the manor continue as the LEP recruit an infamous criminal, the kleptomaniac dwarf Mulch Diggums to break in. Fairies are forbidden from entering human dwellings without permission, but Mulch has already broken this rule and is immune to the adverse consequences. He tunnels underground to reach the house while Foaly feeds a loop to the manor surveillance system, allowing Mulch to freely explore. Mulch locates a safe containing Artemis' copy of the Book, finally revealing to the fairies the source of Artemis' knowledge. The Fairy Council, deciding that nothing is working, promotes a lieutenant called Briar Cudgeon to Acting Commander, temporarily usurping Julius Root. Meanwhile, Holly Short cracks through the concrete of her cell using her bed and completes the ritual with a smuggled acorn. Having regained her magic, she escapes into the main house.
Cudgeon decides to release the troll Holly captured earlier into the mansion to force Artemis to allow the fairies to enter and subdue the troll. This backfires, as Butler, aided by Holly's healing powers, defeats the troll. The Fairy Council subsequently strips Cudgeon of his post.
Artemis is finally granted the ransom. The gold is sent in, and Artemis asks Holly for a wish: to cure his mother's insanity — she has been living in her bedroom, driven mad by the loss of her husband. Holly grants the wish at the cost of half the gold. The LEP decides to send in a 'blue rinse' – a biological bomb that kills all organic life — to eliminate Artemis and allow for the retrieval of the gold, but this fails when Artemis escapes the time-stop by drugging himself and his comrades with sleeping pills.
Having survived until the end of the time stop, the LEP is bound by law and leaves the remaining gold and departs. At the end, Butler demands an explanation as to how Artemis came up with the idea of using sleeping pills. Artemis explains that he had gotten the idea from old fairy tales, in which human characters never wake up at an inopportune moment for the fairies, and had guessed that time-stops were the reason. Artemis finds his mother has fully recovered from her insanity thanks to Holly's magic.
- Artemis Fowl II – The protagonist; a 12-year-old genius, he uses his intelligence to break the law to obtain wealth; this stems from his family, who have been criminals for generations. While he seems cold and distant at the beginning of the novel, his character develops throughout, and he shows remorse, guilt, and passion for his family at the end.
- Butler – The Fowl's manservant and Artemis' bodyguard but also Artemis' friend and accomplice. He is only referred to as "Butler," and his first name is not revealed. In Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code, it is revealed as "Domovoi."
- Captain Holly Short – A determined, forthright elf and the first female member of LEPrecon. Compassionate and caring, she goes as far as healing Butler from fatal wounds sustained fighting a troll, even though he has been integral in the plan to hold her hostage—this act goes some way to changing both Artemis' and Butler's views on fairies.
- Commander Julius Root – Known as "Beetroot" by fellow fairies for his characteristic red face, he is Holly Short's superior officer. A father figure to the other fairies, and especially Holly, he is distressed at her disappearance, as seen in his conversation with Artemis in the whaling ship: "If you've harmed one tip of my officer's pointy ears...".
- Foaly – The LEP's technical advisor. Portrayed as brilliant and sarcastic, he is described as "having few friends." He invented the time-stop used in the siege of Fowl Manor and provides the other characters with numerous high-tech gadgets.
- Mulch Diggums – A criminal dwarf whom the LEP recruits to gain access to Fowl Manor during the siege. Having already entered other dwellings without permission, he is unaffected by the effects the other fairies suffer.
Greed is the first main theme that is introduced into the book, and specifically the desire to obtain gold. In a similar manner to other themes in the book, it changes throughout, becoming less of a focus near to the end of the novel, where Artemis is willing to part with a large sum of money to help someone else.
The idea of conflict between good and evil is one that is touched upon in the book in a light hearted manner. Although Artemis sees himself as an evil genius at the beginning of the book, and is portrayed as such, the end of the story contradicts this image when he pays the fairies to help his mother. Artemis' enemies, the fairies, would be "the good side", but their actions call this view into question—they are as determined as Artemis is, to achieve their goals, and while only some of them are willing to ruthlessly deploy a troll, regardless of the possible danger to life, all are willing to utilise a bio-bomb once Holly is out of the mansion to force Artemis into submission.
A string of Gnommish symbols appears at the bottom of each page. They comprise a substitution cipher which can be deciphered using sections of the book's text displayed in Gnommish, together with their English translations. A complete Gnommish cipher key can be found in The Artemis Fowl Files.
The New York Post said "Artemis Fowl is great ... a new thriller fairy tale that will grab your interest, no matter your age." and the Library Journal said "Fun to read, full of action and humour, this is recommended for all public libraries and to readers of all ages." Time.com said, "Artemis Fowl is pacy, playful, and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime," while The New York Times Book Review said that "Colfer has done enormously, explosively well."
Kate Kellaway of The Observer called the book "a smart, amusing one-off. It flashes with hi-tech invention – as if Colfer were as much an inspired boffin as a writer." The Amazon.com official review highly complimented the book, saying "Fantastic stuff from beginning to end, Artemis Fowl is a rip-roaring, 21st century romp of the highest order."
However, another Time Magazine review criticized the "abysmal" writing and the characterization, calling Artemis' character "repellent in almost every regard." It concluded that Artemis Fowl is "an awkward, calculated, humorless and mean-spirited book." USA Today's review concluded: "All the familiar action-flick clichés are trotted out: the backstabbing, politically astute subordinate; the seemingly loony but loyal computer expert; the dabs of family loyalty; the requisite happy ending; the utterly unsubtle plugs for the sequel; the big action scenes. ... Resist the hype, parents, booksellers and librarians. This is not the new Harry Potter, nor is it a good children's book."
In 2001 plans were announced for a film adaptation of the series. Miramax Films was named as purchasing the film rights, with Lawrence Guterman signed to direct. In 2003 Colfer stated that a screenplay had been finalized and that casting was due to start the same year, but expressed scepticism over whether or not this would come to pass. The film remained in development and was assumed to be in development hell until 2011, when it was reported that Jim Sheridan was interested in directing the movie. In July 2013, it was announced that Disney and Harvey Weinstein are developing a project based on the first and second installment of the Artemis Fowl series. Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal will be the executive producers.
- Artemis Fowl (Hardcover). USA: Miramax. 2001. ISBN 0-7868-0801-2.
- Artemis Fowl (Hardcover). England and Ireland: Viking Children's Books – Viking Press. 2001. ISBN 0-670-89962-3.
- Artemis Fowl (Paperback). England and Ireland: Puffin Books. 2002. ISBN 0-14-131212-2.
- Artemis Fowl (Paperback). USA: Miramax. 2002. ISBN 0-7868-1707-0.
- Artemis Fowl (Paperback). USA: Miramax. 2006. ISBN 1-4231-0515-X.
- Colfer, Eoin. (2001). Artemis Fowl. Viking Children's Books. Paperback: ISBN 0-670-89962-3
- Fran Atkinson (2 October 2005). "A way with the fairies". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- "Artemis Fowl Official Site". Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- Al's Book Club for Kids: Author Eoin Colfer Discusses "Artemis Fowl" (Television production). Today New York Studio: NBC news. 1 August 2008. Event occurs at 03:20. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "AFC Eoin Colfer Interview (August 17, 2008)". Artemis Fowl Confidential (AFC). Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
- Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. pp. 28—29. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
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- Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
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- "MonkeyNotes" (PDF). Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- "Bookrags". Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. pp. 16—18. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
- "Book Notes". Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- Colfer, Eoin (4 October 2004). The Artemis Fowl Files. Artemis Fowl series. Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-786856394. OCLC 55981971.
- "YRCA Past Winners". Pacific Northwest Library Association. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
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- Shields, Elinor (7 May 2011). "A Magical Myth". Time Magazine 157 (18). Retrieved 24 March 2012.
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- Kellaway, Kate (13 May 2001). "Elf and happiness". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- Susan Harrison. "Amazon". Retrieved 1 September 2008.
- Gray, Paul (21 May 2001). "A Case of Fowl Play A less magical book tries to horn in on Harry Potter". Time Magazine 157 (20). Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- Deirdre Donahue (1 May 2001). "USA Today". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Court, Ayesha (8 August 2002). "Author's 'Fowl' play includes sequel, movie". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Miramax Has Rights To Make Movie Of Book Artemis Fowl'". Star-News. Feb 19, 2003. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Goodnow, Cecelia (16 May 2003). "A moment with ... 'Artemis Fowl' author Eoin Colfer". Seattle PI. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Irish fantasy role raises Saoirse's elf esteem". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Artemis Fowl Film Attracts Director Jim Sheridan And Star Saoirse Ronan". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (July 29, 2013). "Hell Freezes Over; Harvey Weinstein Teams With Disney On ‘Artemis Fowl’". Deadline. Retrieved July 30, 2013.