Artemis Fowl (novel)

This article is about the book. For the series, see Artemis Fowl (series). For the main character, see Artemis Fowl II.

Artemis Fowl

First edition cover
Author Eoin Colfer
Country Ireland
Language English
Series Artemis Fowl series
Genre Young adult, fantasy
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
26 April 2001
Media type Print (hardback & paperback), Audiobook CD
Pages 277
ISBN 0-670-89962-3
OCLC 46493219
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",[1] 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.[2] A film adaptation was reported to be in the writing stage in mid-2008 with Jim Sheridan directing.[3][4]


Artemis Fowl II is the twelve-year-old son of a man who never knew his kid, Artemis Fowl I. He is a child prodigy, who has dedicated his life to 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 Haven city, thousands of feet underground. Assisted by the technically minded centaur Foaly and LEPrecon commander Julius Root, she incapacitates the troll.

Artemis decodes the Book using translating software, and in the process, learns the specifics of the ritual fairies use to replenish their magic: take an acorn from an ancient oak tree near a bend in a river under the full moon and plant it elsewhere. Artemis and Butler track down 129 possible locations for the ritual and start a stakeout, they discover Holly performing the ritual. Butler tranquilizes Holly with a hypodermic dart gun.

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 behavior experts determines that Artemis 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 broken this rule so many times that he 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 accidentally locates a safe containing Artemis' copy of the Book, finally revealing to the fairies the source of Artemis' knowledge, which he had led them to believe he had acquired from a truth serum administered to Holly. 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, finding fresh dirt, 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.

Major characters


Artemis Fowl has a number of underlying themes, but the most essential of these are greed and the conflict between good and evil.[9][10]

Greed is the first main theme that is introduced into the book,[11] 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,[12] 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 utilize a bio-bomb once Holly is out of the mansion to force Artemis into submission.[12]

Critical reception

In general, the book received a very positive critical response – in 2004 it received the Young Reader's Choice Award[13] and Garden State Teen Book Award, among other awards.[14]

The New York Post said "Artemis Fowl is great ... a new thriller fairy tale that will grab your interest, no matter your age."[15] 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."[16] said, "Artemis Fowl is pacy, playful, and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime,"[17] while The New York Times Book Review said that "Colfer has done enormously, explosively well."[18]

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."[19] The 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."[20]

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."[21] 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."[22]


In 2001 plans were announced for a film adaptation of the series.[23] Miramax Films was named as purchasing the film rights, with Lawrence Guterman signed to direct.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26][27] 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.[28]

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is a graphic novel based on the book. Written by Colfer and adapted by Andrew Donkin, the graphic novel was released on 2 October 2007.[29] The plot remains the same as the book's except some minor details.[30] Some characters' appearances differed from their description in the book; Holly Short's hair is longer than described in the book and a darker brown, as opposed to the reddish brown described in the book. Haven City's roof is stalactites and rock as opposed to the computer-generated sky described by the book. The graphic novel does not contain many word balloons, showing each character's story in first-person. Graphic novels for subsequent books in the series were released in 2009, 2013, and 2014.

Publication history



  1. Colfer, Eoin. (2001). Artemis Fowl. Viking Children's Books. Paperback: ISBN 0-670-89962-3


  1. Fran Atkinson (2 October 2005). "A way with the fairies". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  2. "Artemis Fowl Official Site". Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
  3. 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.
  4. "AFC Eoin Colfer Interview (August 17, 2008)". Artemis Fowl Confidential (AFC). Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
  5. Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. pp. 28—29. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
  6. Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
  7. Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
  8. Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
  9. "MonkeyNotes" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  10. "Bookrags". Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  11. Colfer, Eoin (26 April 2001). Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl series. Viking Press. pp. 16—18. ISBN 0-670899623. OCLC 46493219.
  12. 1 2 "Book Notes". Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  13. "YRCA Past Winners". Pacific Northwest Library Association. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  14. "Artemis Fowl Reviews". Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  15. Liz Smith. "New York Post". Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  16. "Artemis Fowl". Media Source Book Verdict. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  17. Shields, Elinor (7 May 2011). "A Magical Myth". Time Magazine. Vol. 157 no. 18. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  18. Maguire, Gregory (17 June 2001). "Children's Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  19. Kellaway, Kate (13 May 2001). "Elf and happiness". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  20. Susan Harrison. "Amazon". Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  21. Gray, Paul (21 May 2001). "A Case of Fowl Play A less magical book tries to horn in on Harry Potter". Time Magazine. Vol. 157 no. 20. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  22. Deirdre Donahue (1 May 2001). "USA Today". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  23. Court, Ayesha (8 August 2002). "Author's 'Fowl' play includes sequel, movie". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  24. "Miramax Has Rights To Make Movie Of Book Artemis Fowl'". Star-News. 19 February 2003. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  25. Goodnow, Cecelia (16 May 2003). "A moment with ... 'Artemis Fowl' author Eoin Colfer". Seattle PI. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  26. "Irish fantasy role raises Saoirse's elf esteem". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  27. "Artemis Fowl Film Attracts Director Jim Sheridan And Star Saoirse Ronan". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  28. Fleming Jr, Mike (29 July 2013). "Hell Freezes Over; Harvey Weinstein Teams With Disney On 'Artemis Fowl'". Deadline. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  29. Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (Artemis Fowl): Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 0786848812.
  30. Blasingame, James (September 2008). "Review for Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano, Paolo Lamanna". Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 52 (1): 87–88. JSTOR 30139659.

External links

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