The third book in the Artemis Fowl
series is attractively cased in a metallic blue cover, displaying letters from the fairy
alphabet on various computer chips. Available in stores May 6, 2003
, in hardcover
. If this book sounds interesting, please read Artemis Fowl
and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
first, since even though each book is written in such a way that any volume can stand alone, the later volumes are enhanced greatly in amusement and understanding if the story is followed from the beginning. The book is marketed to children, but it's certainly a good read for any adult
To sum the book up in a short paragraph, here we're dealing with a teenage genius whose plot to make a bajillion dollars goes somewhat wrong. Artemis makes a computer-company owner, Jon Spiro, very angry when he develops the new C Cube (a computer that will render other technology obsolete; it's reverse engineered from fairy technology). Artemis's manservant, Butler, is mortally wounded in a shootout when Spiro loses his temper and steals the Cube, and Artemis is forced to seek fairy assistance in healing his bodyguard. The fairies are already worked up into a frenzy wondering what's setting off their alarms (it's Artemis's C Cube), and they set into a plot to get the Cube back from Spiro. In an unusual partnership between Artemis, the Butler siblings, and the reluctant fairies of the LEP-recon (plus one escaped dwarf convict), they hatch a fantastic plot to get the technology back from the paranoid computer giant.
Following the trend from the last book, Artemis grows even more as a character, and Holly Short, a LEP-recon officer whom Artemis kidnapped in the first book and with whom he later formed a partnership, becomes a little more fond of the boy genius. The plot twists are ingenious, and all the well-loved characters are back: Foaly and his superior attitude, Root and his temper-charged complexion, Mulch the rude dwarf, Holly and her like-hate relationship with Artemis, Juliet the barely legal martial-arts sweetheart, and of course, Artemis Fowl and his faithful manservant Butler. You even get some peeks, through Artemis's journal, into how he feels about his family and his own changing attitude toward crime. It's an engaging read.
The following is a spoiler-ridden exhaustive synopsis, followed by a few amusing quotes from the book. If you don't like having the whole plot outlined for you, pretend this node stops here, as there's plenty above to determine whether you might like the book.
This book opens with an excerpt from Artemis's journal, where he bemoans the fact that having two watchful parents in Fowl Manor is really going to put a kink in his illegal activities, since his parents have decided to swear off being crooks. But before his dad is sent home from the hospital, he determines that he has time for one more job, and since his parents and his fairy friends probably would dislike the idea very much, he doesn't plan to clue them in.
Artemis Fowl has constructed an amazing bit of technology he dubs the C Cube. Thanks to an omni-sensor he's engineered using bits of stolen fairy technology, his new device can read any medium and essentially render all other technology obsolete. The book begins when Artemis and his bodyguard, Butler, arrange to meet a computer giant named Jon Spiro.
In a restaurant, Artemis meets with Spiro (and his bodyguard, Arno Blunt) to offer him a chance to partner with him and sell his own stock in his computer company. (He offers to put off his C Cube's release if Spiro will join forces with the as-yet-unformed "Fowl Industries," but if Spiro refuses, he will just release the Cube immediately.) This deal does not go well, because after a few tests to see what the C Cube can do (such as playing an old VHS tape, hacking into Spiro's encrypted cell phone, and doing a complete surveillance scan), Spiro opts instead to steal the Cube and kill Artemis; the temptation to beat down his rivals in the business is too great. Turns out everyone in the restaurant is part of Spiro's crew. With guns pointed at them, Artemis watches Spiro escape with his cube.
Thanks to a sonic wave bomb Artemis has set off as backup for if the deal went sour, they are able to take out most of Spiro's lackeys (though Artemis and Butler are not hurt because they are wearing sound-sensitive sponge earplugs, more fairy technology). Unfortunately, Arlo Blunt, Spiro's bodyguard, also tends to wear earplugs ("in case of a fire fight"), and he is still conscious after the incident. He aims a gun at Artemis and fires, and Butler is quick enough to jump in front of the bullet.
Unfortunately he takes the shot at close enough range that his bullet-proof vest doesn't absorb all the damage, and the wound is fatal. He is conscious long enough to put Blunt out of commission with a bullet clipping his temple, but he is in bad shape as Artemis rushes to his side. Butler dies right after revealing to Artemis that his first name is Domovoi, a touching admission since doing so is considered evidence that he is very attached to his charge.
All thoughts of business driven from his mind at his friend's death, Artemis focuses wholeheartedly on bringing Butler back. Since he counts among his "friends" certain members of the fairy police squad, he decides he only needs to buy himself some time so he can contact the LEP and get someone to heal Butler. He freezes his bodyguard in the restaurant's freezer, and after getting a promise from an Inspector Barre that the investigation team covering the explosion of the restaurant will not investigate there, Artemis makes a deal with a cryogenics firm and manages to get Butler cryogenically frozen.
Meanwhile, the fairies are going about their business. Captain Holly Short is carting some ornery goblins into custody and being annoyed by her passenger, Grub Kelp (Trouble Kelp's little brother), who complains about his hangnail. Everything is going normally until suddenly all their power goes out. Holly rules out the other possible reasons for lockdown (flood, sickness) and determines that humans must have discovered them. After dealing with the goblins trying to burn their way out of the now-unprotected vehicle, she makes her way back to the headquarters and finds out the cause of all the blackouts is that they got pinged. Someone on the surface noticed their surveillance and downloaded information from the fairy computers. Holly helps with the investigation by going to the surface, and while she's there she is informed by Foaly, the technology-expert centaur, that someone has made a suspicious phone call in her area, loaded with keywords that all pertain to the fairy civilization. When Holly goes to check it out, she finds that it was Artemis Fowl himself who made that call; he had been banking on it attracting their attention.
Of course, at this point Artemis presents his situation to Holly: He wants her to help heal Butler. Though she and Foaly are extremely skeptical that anyone short of a team of warlocks could perform a healing on someone who's been dead for so long, she tries anyway, sending Artemis out of the cryogenics van and having Foaly talk her through it. She ends up succeeding in bringing him back to life, but he is still unconscious and it is unsure how his brain will be affected. Also, upsettingly, the process seems to have taken about fifteen years off the bodyguard's life, by his appearance, and because the magic works by replicating nearby molecules, he also has a permanent Kevlar mark on his chest, duplicated from a fragment of his bullet-proof vest that had still been in his wound. Artemis worries about who Butler will be when he wakes up, since his own father's previous healing by the fairies also made changes to his mind.
When Holly tells Artemis that she has to go back to her work tracking down whoever pinged them, Artemis reveals that it was his technology, thereby solving one mystery for the fairies. However, that Cube is now in the hands of Jon Spiro. Holly uses her mechanical wings and shielding technology to take Butler and Artemis to "somewhere private" where they can talk. That turns out to be Fowl Manor. With the centaur listening in, Artemis explains everything, including the fact that the Cube he made is encrypted, so it's unlikely that Spiro will discover the existence of the People unless he can unlock it. But once Spiro gets the news that Artemis is alive, there's no doubt that he will send a team after him, there's no need to try to track Spiro down. Holly says it's a shame that Butler is out of commission since he'd be handy in a situation like this. Artemis tells her there's more than one Butler in the family. Artemis makes a call to try and solicit help from Juliet, Butler's sister, who is currently undergoing a test to determine whether she is ready to graduate from her training. Unfortunately, when we follow her action, she ends up failing her final test, but responds to Artemis's call.
Now we look in on Spiro's meeting with his head scientist, and he receives the bad news that the C Cube is encrypted with an eternity code, and breaking it is only really possible with its creator, since it is synchronized to Artemis's voice patterns. Spiro dismisses his scientist and discusses the situation with Carla Frazetti, who is the go-between for him and his Mob connection. She agrees to get Spiro a team to retrieve Artemis Fowl. The team she gets is made up of a five-foot-tall Irish Chicago Mobster named Loafers McGuire and an even shorter new addition to the Chicago Mob: Mo Digence. Also known as Mulch Diggums, the dwarf who's on the LEP's most wanted list, not that his Mob connections know any of that (including the fact that he's not human). Mulch is a bit disturbed at being asked to kidnap Artemis Fowl, since the young genius has his respect and they call each other friends.
Back at Fowl Manor, Butler reawakens and discovers he appears years older. Mulch and Loafers are on their way to the mansion, and Mulch is doing his best to drive Loafers crazy, which is pretty easy. Mulch formulates a plan to make Loafers wait for him outside while he goes in to warn Artemis under pretense of making it easier for Loafers to come in and enforce the kidnapping. By this point Loafers is aggravated by (and grudgingly respectful of) his dwarf partner, and agrees with his plan.
Artemis and Butler talk the situation over while Holly goes to complete the Ritual (the process which restores her magic, a good idea since she used most of hers up on healing Butler). Butler is no longer a good manservant because of his sudden fragility and his new Kevlar chest tissue, which restricts his breathing, but Artemis insists this won't be a problem because in the future he won't need to be guarded so heavily anymore. He's going to "concentrate on his education" like his family wants, though first he has to resolve the Spiro issue. Butler, determined not to underestimate this slimy character, goes to check the grounds to see if they're being staked out yet. There he encounters Mulch making rude gestures at the kitchen camera.
After being let in, Mulch demands a sandwich while he explains everything to Artemis. Unfortunately he accidentally switches on his microphone, and his partner waiting outside hears everything he says, including the information that he is there to save Artemis's life and the fact that he is a "fairy dwarf." (Of course, Loafers doesn't know what that means, and assumes it's a very stupid name for a gang.) He goes in to try and neutralize his "partner" and ends up holding everyone at gunpoint. Luckily, Loafers hasn't figured out a course of action yet when Juliet arrives to beat the crap out of him.
Artemis, Butler, Juliet, Holly, and Mulch end up gathered together in front of security-system screens that have been rigged to handle a conference call from Holly's supervisor, Commander Root, and Foaly, the technology expert. They try to decide what to do about several situations: What to do with Loafers, whether (and how) to get the fairy technology away from Spiro, whether Holly and Mulch will be allowed to help, and what's going to happen to Artemis afterwards. Root is very upset at Holly for not following regulations (for example, she should have refused to do a healing on Butler and just mind-wiped Artemis, but she didn't, taking into account Artemis's and Butler's role in suppressing the goblin uprising in the second book). They agree to dump Loafers off somewhere with a mind-wipe, allow Holly to help Artemis UNTIL another team can assemble (approximately two days' time), allow Mulch to help if he wants to even though he will still be imprisoned later since he's on the most wanted list for stealing gold, and lastly, do a specific mind-wipe on Artemis and his staff, eradicating all his knowledge of the People. Surprisingly, Artemis accepts this last bit, even though he imagines it will be devastating to lose the knowledge he's come to treasure. They simply can't take the chance that Spiro will unlock the secrets and find the People, and Artemis refuses to be responsible for what devastation that would cause to people above and below, and the fairies are tired of Artemis being such a liability. The conference call ends when Mulch moons the camera. Finally, Part One ends with Holly dropping Loafers off in Africa, where he is adopted into a tribe of Swahili-speaking black people who wear Nikes and carry spears and cell phones. Odd.
And yes, now the plot thickens. Artemis begins to plan his counterattack, and comes up with parts for Juliet, Mulch, and Holly, though not a one of them receives the entire plan, just their own parts. For Butler, who will not be going along, Artemis has concocted a mission: Find a way to preserve their information about the People, so that after they submit to mind-wipes, they can re-learn what they forget.
So, Mulch calls his "employer," Spiro, and pretends that he's now holding Artemis hostage but had to take Loafers out of commission for acting crazy with his gun. Mulch actually calls Spiro ON the C Cube, which proves that he has Artemis's cooperation. Artemis puts up a convincing ruse that he is quite scared after what Blunt did to his manservant. Spiro makes a bargain with Artemis that he will come to Chicago (where Spiro lives) and disable the eternity code, or else Mulch will shoot him. Arno Blunt, missing all his teeth, is there to witness the phone call, and gloats about killing Butler.
Butler drives the crew to the airport to pick up Artemis's jet. He says his fond farewells to Juliet and Artemis, and everyone boards the plane. When Holly fits Artemis with his throat mike and iris cam, a problem makes itself known: The camera is made to blend in with Holly's eyes, which are hazel, while Artemis's eyes are blue. They just have to hope Spiro won't notice. Artemis and Mulch reminisce about their "fun" times together, and Holly reflects sadly on the fact that she won't be able to send a cool video to Juliet since they're all supposed to be mind-wiped after the operation.
Once they arrive to meet Spiro and Blunt, Artemis has to switch to playing the scared hostage and Mulch turns into the stupid Mob thug. Not wanting to underestimate Artemis, they check the plane (finding only Juliet pretending to be the flight attendant), and then they escort Artemis and Mulch to the Spiro Needle. There, Spiro has Mulch taken away to be "buried" just in case he knows something, passing on a message that he will compensate Carla Frazetti's group for her two missing goons. Artemis, incidentally, had specifically planned for that to happen. Spiro takes Artemis into the inner sanctum, showing off all the security measures as he goes. Artemis, still pretending to be beaten, just cooperates. One security scan reveals that he is carrying a micro bug. Fortunately for Artemis, that is just his decoy; the fairy technology passes through without setting off the scanners. In the room that houses the all-important C Cube, there are no air ducts, making it impossible to sneak in through ventilation systems and making it necessary to give the live guards a supply of oxygen to keep them going. Through a sarcastic comment, Artemis tricks Spiro into inviting his fairy friends into the building, which is an important loophole since fairies cannot enter a dwelling without permission unless they want to forfeit their magic powers. (Mulch forfeited his long ago by becoming a burglar, but Holly certainly still cares.) Spiro threatens Artemis that he must break the code on the Cube and unlock it for him.
So, Mulch's captors, thinking they're doing something despicable, punish him by burying him alive. Of course, being a dwarf, he is in his element at that point, and tunnels through the soil until he's safe. Holly picks him up at that point, shields them both, and takes him away on her mechanical wings. Meanwhile, Blunt escorts Artemis to his holding cell (which is rather comfortable), and Artemis threatens Blunt that Butler is coming for him, and though Blunt doesn't believe Butler is alive, he is spooked by that. While Artemis takes a shower and reports his situation to his friends through his throat microphone, Juliet kicks butt on the thugs who buried Mulch so that they can be planted with post-hypnotic suggestions via Holly's power of mesmer. And Holly, hovering shielded above the Needle, asks Foaly to disobey his orders and help them crack the security to get in. He agrees, pretending to be reluctant, but pleased at the challenge and the compliment. They banter about how Artemis is always getting them into some crazy plot. He asks Holly if she'll miss Artemis after his mind-wipe, and she lies that she won't.
The plan begins. Juliet and Mulch are Team One, Holly plans to be Team Two with Artemis once she gets inside. They do a briefing about their ideas; Team One is to get in the building and take out the security, while Team Two goes after the Cube. Juliet doesn't like being teamed with Mulch since she'd rather be near Artemis (she feels responsible for him as her surrogate Principal), but she realizes Holly is right when she says one fairy should be on each team. There's one reason Artemis didn't tell them the whole plan; Juliet would never have agreed to be separated from Artemis if there was a chance to be by his side. So Juliet and Mulch climb up the building and get in a room by burning through the window. Next order of business is to attach a gizmo that will give Foaly control of the visual security system; he can project whatever he wants AND use it to gather information, once the device is in place. Unfortunately, the positioning is all wrong to GET the device in place, but Mulch sends the camera spinning by launching a ball of gas at it, straight from his rear end as only a dwarf can. They get the video clip on the wire and Foaly warns them never to stop moving, even if it's just a little finger, or else they will be picked up as part of the background and incorporated into the advanced video loop he's creating for anyone monitoring the cameras. Then, finally, Juliet is able to sneak over to the oxygen canisters that are kept for the guards of the airtight room, and switch them with canisters of something that is not oxygen.
With Foaly's help, Holly gets into the roof elevator and descends to Artemis's floor. She gets in through the ceiling and rescues Artemis, while Foaly patches in a video simulation of him still in his room. They go off to collect the special iris-scan and thumbprint of Spiro, so they can fool the security system, and Holly senses from Artemis's expression that there's something he's not saying. Ignoring that, Holly uses fairy technology to make Spiro retain the same brain-wave pattern he has at the moment they activated it; i.e., he stays asleep while they do their dirty work. They get the iris scan fine, but it turns out Artemis had purposely built a flaw into his own plan; the way they're going to collect the thumbprint won't work, because it will make an exact backwards model of Spiro's thumb. For it work, it has to actually be his thumb, so Artemis suggests they just cut it off and use magic to reattach it later. Under the time and stress pressure, Holly has to agree it's the only way, though if she had been told beforehand that this was the only way, she never would have agreed to the plan. (Another smart move by Artemis, not giving away the whole plan.) So Holly laser-beams the thumb off (and Spiro stays asleep). Artemis notices something weird behind Spiro's ears, but doesn't mention it to Holly, and they go to the business of unlocking the vault.
The two goons Juliet squashed before were due to be on the guard shift for the floor, but Holly used the fairy power of mesmer to program them to be unable to notice anyone out of the ordinary on their floor, and as an added bonus they don't remember being put out of action. Outside the door, Artemis and Holly wait for these two guys to be the ones in eyeshot of the door, and then they make their move. The iris print copy is accepted by the computer. The recording of Spiro's voice reciting the password fools the voice activation. And the thumb, being the real thumb, passes with flying colors. But the door doesn't open. Luckily, it's only because the pad they're standing on is weight-sensitive, and Artemis's weight combined with Holly's is enough to fool the mechanical device. Into the room Artemis goes, with Holly hurrying back to reattach Spiro's thumb before it's too late. The guards are paralyzed by the gas that was in their "oxygen" tanks, and Foaly feeds Artemis the code for unlocking the Cube.
When Holly goes to reattach Spiro's thumb, she realizes that her magic clears up a couple of scars behind his ears. Uh-oh . . . he had plastic surgery. This isn't really Spiro, apparently. Holly panics to convey the information to Artemis, but it is too late. Back in the vault, Artemis is facing the real Spiro and his manservant Blunt, inches away from grabbing his Cube. He is unsurprised by this, having anticipated it, but he pretends he's totally been beaten down, this time for real. Spiro orders him to crack that Cube right away, and he opens it up and removes the LEP-blocking wire that was originally put in there to stop the LEP from deactivating his technology if they ever detected it. Through that loophole, Foaly pretends to be the voice of the Cube. Gloating, Spiro wonders what he should do, and then all of a sudden his goons suggest that he use his new technology to take down a technological rival called Phonetix. He thinks this is a great idea, so he asks the Cube to take out the firm's security systems remotely, and it claims to have done so (even sleeping-gassing all the guards), but hits a roadblock where it actually has to have its omni-sensor in contact with the computer it's hacking. Spiro, lusting after the plans for Phonetix's upcoming releases, takes the bait and carts the Cube over there, taking Artemis with them for security. Little do they know, this is the illustrious Plan B, and Holly and Juliet are on their way to Phonetix as well.
Foaly responds to everything Spiro orders, pretending to obey him as they break into Phonetix. Instead, the whole break-in is being recorded, with Artemis notably removed from all the images by Foaly. And of course it's fed into the security system of Phonetix. Juliet had been posing as a sleeping guard, and she "awakens" and calls the police. Spiro notices Artemis's iris cam and realizes he's in trouble. He realizes that even more so when images of their criminal behavior start showing up on the monitors, and they can clearly see the Chicago SWAT team coming down the hall on a TV screen.
Artemis reveals that the Cube was working for him, and reclaims it when Spiro angrily throws it to the ground. Then Artemis gives Holly the verbal signal to get him out of there, and she uses her Moonbelt and shielding technology to make it look like Artemis totally disappeared, even though he's now hanging above all the crooks. (She was able to get "permission" for entering the dwelling when Juliet had called in to ask about tours and requested permission to bring her "invisible friend," to which the tour guide laughingly agreed. They tend to get by on technicalities in situations like this.) Spiro (and his goons) get frustrated and start shooting up the lab, and Holly can't stun them because Spiro has to be conscious when the SWAT team arrives or he can claim he was framed. She just scorches the bodyguards' hands instead. Juliet comes down an elevator shaft to the rescue, knocking out the bodyguards with a post-hypnotic command they were programmed to respond to when Holly mesmerized them. Artemis, invisible above the action, takes a moment to clear out Spiro's bank accounts (though he only takes ten percent for himself and gives the rest to Amnesty International). He also alters Mulch Diggums's police record so that the original search warrant that got him arrested is now dated the day after his arrest, which would technically make all his subsequent offenses go off the books. Artemis does that because he feels he owes Mulch a favor.
Finally the cops show up to arrest Spiro, who's gibbering insanely by now, over the edge with confusion, jealousy, and rage. Holly and Artemis, shielded, make it to the elevator with Juliet, and they leave quietly, escaping in Mulch's getaway car.
A couple of epilogues now. Butler wants to even the score with the man who shot him, so he puts out the word to some of his friends and Blunt, on account of his unusual description, is taken into custody trying to get through an airport, running away from the cops. Butler uses camouflage foil and Foaly's camera-wiping technique to stay off the police records while he sneaks into Blunt's holding cell and gives him a giant scare, making him promise to tell the truth to the cops or else he'll suffer a horrible punishment after he dies. Blunt, believing Butler to be a ghost since he appeared from thin air, is quite convinced.
Finally, Butler, Juliet, and Artemis are subjected to the mind-wipes. Artemis has a few backup plans to retaining his fairy knowledge: A time capsule buried in his maze, some computer files in an e-mail, another account online. All of these are found by the fairies, foiling Artemis's connections to the past. However, he does have one backup they don't find; encrypted fairy files stored on a medallion he gives to Mulch, pretending it's just a nice token of thanks. After explaining to Butler that they'll give him a treatment to make him look as young as he's supposed to (so he doesn't wonder what happened after he wakes up), they ponder whether taking away Artemis's fairy memories would make him revert to being as cold as he was in the beginning. Holly checks Artemis, using the mesmer, asking him if he has hidden anything from them that he can find later to restore his memory. He has planned for this by making mirrored contact lenses to render the mesmer useless, though he pretends it is working when Holly tries to get the truth out. He only admits the backup plans they already found. Despite all doubts, the fairies end up following orders anyway, and erasing everyone's memories. Mulch, in his prison cell, ends up reading a note Artemis left him, tipping him to have a lawyer check that warrant next time it comes up for review, and when he gets out, to bring the medallion to him so they can be "unstoppable."
In a final diary entry, Artemis writes from the point of view of one with no memory of the fairy events, annoyed at his parents for steering away from crime, curious about why Butler has turned slow, and resolving to find out what conspiracy caused these odd tinted lenses to be found in his eyes. He is now inexplicably drawn to art depicting the fairies, but determined nonetheless to continue his life of crime.
Notable amusing quotes:
Artemis, in answer to a waitress: "No, mademoiselle, I would not like to see the children's menu. I have no doubt that the children's menu itself tastes better than the meals on it. I would like to order à la carte. Or don't you serve fish to minors?"
Artemis, in answer to being patronized because he is a child: "No sugar, obviously. It might make me hyperactive."
Inspector, when viewing Butler's wound: "Any surgeon who could fix this would have to be a real magician."
Artemis: "That's the plan, Inspector Barre. That's the plan."
Irish airport security: "Oh, really?"
Mulch: "O'Reilly, actually. But what's a vowel between friends?"
Mulch: "Glad to see you're alive by the way, big man. There was a rumor going round the underworld that you were dead."
Butler: "I was. But I'm better now."
Artemis: "Really, Spiro. Did you think I would attempt a break-in? Perhaps you thought I would fly in here with my fairy friends and magic your box away?"
Spiro: "You can bring all the fairy friends you like, Arty-boy. Short of a miracle that Cube is staying right where it is."
Others in the series: Artemis Fowl * Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident * Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception * Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony * Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox * The Artemis Fowl Files