Book Review: “Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident” by Eoin Colfer

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Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
by Eoin Colfer

The sequel to Artemis Fowl reunites old enemies: the thirteen-year-old master criminal of the title and his Vin Diesel-like bodyguard, Butler; elf cop Holly Short and her commander, Julius Root; and Foaly, the centaur techno-geek, who works for LEP (the Lower Elements Police). Only this time, the old enemies are on the same side.

A year has passed since young Artemis did the seemingly impossible, getting away with a fortune in fairy gold. Since then he has used his ill-gotten gains to continue searching for his father, missing and presumed dead since an incident in the Gulf of Kola, off the coast of Northern Russia. Now the kidnappers have gotten in touch, and Artemis and Butler are about to attempt to rescue his father from the Mafiya who would otherwise, almost certainly, kill him.

But at the same time, down in the underground city of Haven populated by the fairy People (elves, pixies, centaurs, gnomes, dwarves, etc.), Captain Holly Short finds herself on the trail of a crime ring involving way-too-organized goblins, banned weapons, and human technology. Naturally she suspects Artemis Fowl. But when she brings him and Butler in for questioning, it turns out he’s innocent. And now it seems Fowl and LEP need each other’s help. So, against all odds, they agree to work together.

The real culprit — and there’s no point in keeping it a secret — is a disgruntled LEP officer, conspiring with one of Foaly’s technological rivals to rub out Root, take over LEP, and finally get rid of the “Mud People” — that is, the human race. Briar Cudgeon wants fairies to rule the world again, and he wants to rule the fairies.

So before they know what is really going on, Holly and Fowl and friends are cut off from Haven, harried by hit-goblins, facing unheard-of dangers, and forced to turn to another master-criminal for help. Meanwhile, LEP is surrounded by heavily-armed goblins, and powerless to defend itself… and Foaly, trapped inside his own secure laboratory, is the one everyone blames for the betrayal and the revolt. And somewhere in the frozen Arctic regions, on a rusted-out nuclear sub, Artemis Fowl Senior is being held by thugs who have no intention of letting him or his son walk away from a ransom drop.

In the spirited manner of the original book, The Arctic Incident delivers an adventure full of thrills, suspense, laugh-aloud humor, and a quirky blend of high technology and fairy-tale magic. Also, it shows our gifted young crook developing into more of a human being, though he sometimes tries to rebel against the flashes of decency that flare up within him. After all, he spends the whole book fighting crime, rather than committing it. But for you aspiring young felons out there, the criminal activities of a flatulent dwarf named Mulch will bring great satisfaction.

I enjoyed the story greatly, though I sometimes wondered whether Colfer thought he was writing a screenplay. The chapter titles were like cracked movie titles, and the text was liberally seasoned with section titles stating the location of a given passage, more like a script than a book. Nevertheless I don’t have the quibble I had months and months ago when I read Artemis Fowl. I can see that the title character is developing in interesting directions. And I can also see that the characters themselves are becoming more concerned about the difference between right and wrong– and try to make up for the wrongs they have done each other.

A third book has already joined the series, entitled Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code.

To visit a site for Artemis Fowl fans, click here or go to