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The Rise and Fall of Artemis Fowl

Posted by Sumiki , in Writing, Rants, Not Essays! Feb 03 2014 · 159 views

Or: Why The Eternity Code was the best Artemis Fowl book
 
Spoiler warning for ... well, the entire thing. I'm not marking individual spoilers; it's been long enough since the last book was released. Also this is really going to be rambling, I can just sense it. Consider yourself warned.

 
Ever since a friend loaned me the first book in the series, I'm a fan of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series of books. The characters and re-imagined concepts of Colfer's stories captured my imagination.
 
As I caught up - at that point, The Time Paradox was the most recent book in the series - I'd realized that Colfer was a writer with flaws. With the release of The Atlantis Complex and The Last Guardian, I felt as if Colfer's writing had finally jumped the shark, so to speak. His characters and writing style became caricatures of themselves, with an over-reliance on his own tropes.
 
Mulch Diggums saving everyone, side characters with puns for names, recurrence of Opal Koboi as a villain, character such as Butler or № 1 reduced to becoming one-dimensional characters ... these are all devices that occurred more often as the series progressed, and devices that became especially prevalent in the later books.

 
For this reason, The Eternity Code is by far my favorite book in the entire series, because it's different and it avoids the trope traps that Colfer fell into. Artemis is beaten by Spiro, Butler loses a step after his death and subsequent revival, Opal Koboi isn't the villain, and so on. So many things are different about Eternity, and for that I enjoyed it immensely.
 
Another thing that I enjoyed about Eternity was that it was contained most of the moments where Colfer significantly changed something about the Fowl universe. Artemis's mind was wiped, Butler's physicality was questioned. Thereafter, the events of Eternity were hardly mentioned, save for the change in Butler's physical makeup. After a terrifying and distraught Butler scared the snot out of Arno Blunt in Eternity, I thought that it would be a sea-change for Butler's character, but it was not.
 
But back to the story. In the subsequent book, The Opal Deception - the last book where Koboi's appearance actually retains some semblance of novelty - Commander Root is killed. Root's character is not one I particularly ... ahem rooted for in the first three books. While he had his fair share of touching interactions with Holly Short, Root was mainly painted through other characters, and not always in a positive light. Nevertheless, this newfound willingness to change things - permanently - in Colfer's writing was encouraging. Eternity and now this? What would Colfer do in the next book?
 
The Lost Colony saw Artemis in puberty. The way Colfer handled Artemis's interaction with his love interest/unwitting half-villain Minerva Paradizo was not emphasized, nor was Paradizo even so much as given a shout-out in the final three books. Colfer says that Paradizo had lost interest in Artemis after his exile getting back from Limbo and was in the alps somewhere, but this was in a tweet, if I recall correctly. It would have been nice to get some closure on the plot point in one of the three books, even if it was just a throwaway line. Artemis's feelings were also not addressed in the rest of Colony. Despite this, Colony remains my second-favorite book in the series, for its new characters and addition to the Fowl universe.

 
Alright, time for another complaint. Colfer's writing called for a cast of heroes that always showed up. Characters were never split up for long periods of time. Mulch, Holly, and Butler always showed up with Artemis, and there were few extended, important scenes without the entire gang together. Even when it would have been easier to leave out characters - even the lovable dwarf Mulch - Colfer jams them into scenes. It would have been great to see more times where characters not have someone else to fall back on, which brings me to The Time Paradox.
 
​Paradox pulls out all of the proverbial stops, but even so, Colfer's reliance on getting his protagonists out of jams with Mulch Diggums reappears. It would have been great to see Artemis and Holly have to finagle their way out of sticky situations without the assistance of Mulch or Butler, but again, Colfer didn't take advantage of opportunities.
 
The Atlantis Complex is perhaps my least favorite Fowl book. I felt as if the series had come to a nice conclusion with Paradox, but the two Opal Kobois in the timeline meant that a continuation was necessary - and another return for a villainess who became a caricature of herself in each consecutive appearance. But Complex doesn't deal with that - instead, Artemis is now seen with a magic-derived mental disorder. Colfer's pro-environmental sentiment - one which I agree with - reached a level of overt preachiness that I found distracting. The only thing that Complex has going for it is its callback to Deception with the death of Commander Vinyáya. But like Root, Vinyáya was never a major character, and the readers were never emotionally attached to her character.
 
For all of the missed opportunities in his characterizations, Colfer's depiction of Artemis's growth and maturity was excellent. The nearly amoral tween crime lord of the early books changed into a more conscious part-time crime lord. While still not the most upright of character, Artemis's machinations begin to nip at his consciousness in Eternity and eventually lead to his annoyance at his younger self in Paradox and then finally to his plan to save the world in Complex.
 
This is getting really rambling now so I think I'll move on and talk a little bit about the continuity of the series. Complex, despite my dislike, was possibly the most continuity-aware book, with the reappearance of Turnball Root after appearing in a short story years earlier. However, many minor plot points that make their appearances in the books - especially towards their respective ends - are thrown away in subsequent books and never mentioned again. This ranges from the aforementioned Minerva Paradizo to the Doodah Day/Mulch Diggums PI firm.
 
I feel like I'm complaining a bit too much about Artemis Fowl to the point where one might think that I'm not actually a fan of it. Yet for its flaws - which I've pointed out here in perhaps the least organized piece of material that I've written in my entire life - I still like the series. I just wish it hadn't petered out towards the end and done more of the things that made The Eternity Code so danged epic.


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:kaukau: I kind of disliked all of the books after the first one.  The first was the only one where Artemis was actually playing chessmaster, and I could see how he was a genius of logic versus just a tech genius.  Otherwise, in most of the later books, his intelligence was an informed ability and I wasn't overly impressed by it.

 

You're right about The Eternity Code being one of the better books, but I feel that his invention of the blue cube in the first place was actually its biggest fault.  I liked Artemis as a schemer, not as a mad scientist.  Nevertheless, is was entertaining, for all the reasons you mentioned.

 

This informed mad-scientist genius was particularly egregious in The Lost Colony, because he could apparently calculate when a bullet would be picked up by a random time vortex that would take it to the past to shoot a demon just in time to save Holly Short.  There were many ridiculous things in the books, but that was probably the worst.  That being said, I liked Minerva, especially since her name, physical description, and aspects of her personality were similar to someone I knew personally and had briefly been attracted to.  It was still a rather ridiculous trope to pull out, though, to give Artemis Fowl a distaff counterpart.  It felt too typical, though sometimes I can roll with typical if it's pulled off well.  Minerva, however, was immediately dropped and the status quo among the cast of characters preserved, which was annoying.  A girlfriend, even one as coincidental and convenient as Minerva who could have only existed by the divine guidance of a writer's hand, would have been an interesting and fun development in the Artemis Fowl stories.

 

After that, I didn't read any further.  The first chapter of The Time Paradox forced me to put the book down and quit the series.  I was aware that none of them clicked with me quite as well as the first one, but I didn't form the opinion that they were getting worse as they went along until The Opal Incident marked a definite downhill trend.  After that book, I figured it was only a matter of time before one of the books was bad enough that it would end the series for me.  That was The Time Paradox, at which point the caricatures present in the first chapters alone proved that the series was not going to get better and would only disappoint me if I continued.  I commend you for continuing the whole way through, being more dedicated than I am, and putting up this review.  I find myself essentially agreeing with everything, with the exception that the first was my favorite with The Eternity Code being the high point among the sequels.

 

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I kind of disliked all of the books after the first one.  The first was the only one where Artemis was actually playing chessmaster, and I could see how he was a genius of logic versus just a tech genius.  Otherwise, in most of the later books, his intelligence was an informed ability and I wasn't overly impressed by it.

 

 

I'd argue there's a chessmaster aspect to Eternity Code as well, with Artemis pulling the strings on the operation with Spiro. I'd also argue that the reason for the decrease in reliance on logic could be seen as a symptom of him becoming reformed and more human, rather than just a grand shadowy puppetmaster.

 

I'd have to agree with you, Sumiki, on Eternity Cube being the peak of the series, though the later books were still enjoyable to me, if only because I loved seeing the universe expand. (I haven't read the last one, though. I'm guessing it continued the trend of Koboi being the antagonist in the even-numbered books, yes?)

 

Looking back, yes, the reliance on Diggums was a pretty major flaw in the series. He had to pull some madcap escapes for no other reason than Colfer needing him in a set place at a set time. He pulled it off well enough that I didn't question it when I was younger, but it does require a certain suspension of disbelief.

 

(Also don't even mention the kiss in Time Paradox. Even younger me questioned how on earth that was necessary.)

 

Overall, one thing I loved about the series was that I was never quite sure if it was fantasy or science fiction. Yes, it's got elves, and magic, and centaurs, but they're all sort of scientific. The magic is restrained by rules of nature, the magical creatures have scientific explanations, and yet it still manages to be mystical.

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After that, I didn't read any further.  The first chapter of The Time Paradox forced me to put the book down and quit the series.  I was aware that none of them clicked with me quite as well as the first one, but I didn't form the opinion that they were getting worse as they went along until The Opal Incident marked a definite downhill trend.  After that book, I figured it was only a matter of time before one of the books was bad enough that it would end the series for me.  That was The Time Paradox, at which point the caricatures present in the first chapters alone proved that the series was not going to get better and would only disappoint me if I continued.

 

I'm not going to pretend that Paradox wasn't flawed, but I'll give Colfer credit for going outside of his comfort zone. It was the last really innovative book in the series and shows some different sides to Artemis, even if the romance was unnecessary and actually pretty creepy to boot.

 

I'd argue there's a chessmaster aspect to Eternity Code as well, with Artemis pulling the strings on the operation with Spiro. I'd also argue that the reason for the decrease in reliance on logic could be seen as a symptom of him becoming reformed and more human, rather than just a grand shadowy puppetmaster.

 

There was a great quote from one of the books about Artemis going to track down the people who deserved to be dropped in the rainforest with nothing but a spoon. I thought he'd still retain his string-pulling and elaborate scheme planning, but he was never really portrayed in that light after Eternity Code.

 

(I haven't read the last one, though. I'm guessing it continued the trend of Koboi being the antagonist in the even-numbered books, yes?)

 

Yes. If Colfer had stuck to The Arctic Incident and The Time Paradox as Koboi stories, the series would be improved. It's almost like he relied on Koboi as a villainess as much as he relied on Mulch Diggums as an ally, although non-Koboi stories are, in my opinion, infinitely more creative.

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:kaukau: Yeah, Artemis was still a bit of a schemer in the second and third books.  I guess I just liked it most when he was the amoral villain protagonist, which was when he relied on it the most.  It felt like a caricature once he also developed mad-scientist abilities.  And even though he was still a schemer in the third book, he had more allies and advantages in The Eternity Code than he did in the first book, where it was just him and two henchmen against an advanced civilization, where it was pretty brilliant that he managed to pull off his scheme.  At least, that's how it seems to me.  As you said, he's still quite a schemer in the third book; it just comes off in a different way, and at that point it all comes down to personal preference.

 

But anyway, all this talk of Opal Koboi reminds me: other than her name, I remember almost nothing about her.  Wasn't she sort of intelligent but bratty, with a sense of entitlement?  I can't remember.  She had literally no presence whatsoever, as far as I was concerned.  Villain for a book or two?  Acceptable.  But a recurring villain?  I don't think she had what it took.

 

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Sumiki, you've put into writing all of my incoherent opinions on Eternity Code. bless this post

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Aanchir: Rachira of Time
Feb 04 2014 05:14 PM
I have never been good at picking favorites, but I certainly don't feel like the writing got weaker in later books. The Time Paradox was one of my personal favorites, as was The Last Guardian. Though you're definitely right that The Eternity Code might be the strongest story in the series.

I was not too thrilled with The Lost Colony the first time reading it, perhaps in part because it established a whole new fairy culture with its own unique magic, rules, and customs. That emotional attachment that I got from the adventures and heists of the established characters was not nearly as present with the demon characters on Hybras, at least not until re-reading the story at a later date.

Mulch Diggums' frequent appearances didn't bother me, and in fact I think that I would have missed him if he didn't manage to come to the rescue at least once in each book, against all odds. If there's one thing to be said for the character, it's that he's reliable... both as an ally to the heroes and as a source of comic relief for the reader.

Here's hoping the Artemis Fowl movie turns out good enough to launch a whole series. Movie adaptations of books are kind of hit-and-miss, sometimes... some are not successful enough to get more than one or two films, while others are so wildly successful that the studios go to great lengths to squeeze two or three movies out of a single book. The Artemis Fowl series definitely has a cinematic quality that would make it well suited to the screen, but that doesn't mean its success in the box office is guaranteed.
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But anyway, all this talk of Opal Koboi reminds me: other than her name, I remember almost nothing about her.  Wasn't she sort of intelligent but bratty, with a sense of entitlement?  I can't remember.  She had literally no presence whatsoever, as far as I was concerned.  Villain for a book or two?  Acceptable.  But a recurring villain?  I don't think she had what it took.

 

Koboi suffered greatly from the kind of caricaturing that got ahold of Colfer in the later books. Her character wasn't nuanced enough for exploration in four different books.
 


I have never been good at picking favorites, but I certainly don't feel like the writing got weaker in later books. The Time Paradox was one of my personal favorites, as was The Last Guardian. Though you're definitely right that The Eternity Code might be the strongest story in the series.

 

I wouldn't say that Colfer's writing in the last few books was objectively bad, so to speak, but there was a definite change on that front that I didn't care for. In the end, I suppose it comes down to which Colfer you liked more - the one that started the series, or the one that ended it.

 

I was not too thrilled with The Lost Colony the first time reading it, perhaps in part because it established a whole new fairy culture with its own unique magic, rules, and customs. That emotional attachment that I got from the adventures and heists of the established characters was not nearly as present with the demon characters on Hybras, at least not until re-reading the story at a later date.

 

I was initially a little skeptical about Colony as well, but I think it comes closest to recapturing what I loved about The Eternity Code. After four books, it was good to see some fresh faces.

 

Mulch Diggums' frequent appearances didn't bother me, and in fact I think that I would have missed him if he didn't manage to come to the rescue at least once in each book, against all odds. If there's one thing to be said for the character, it's that he's reliable... both as an ally to the heroes and as a source of comic relief for the reader.

 

I think Mulch is one of the most lovable characters from the series and I loved him in every book. He went through character development similar to Artemis but still retained his outlaw streak. I really don't have a problem with Mulch's appearance in any particular book, but his out-of-the-blue introductions to the plot sometimes felt forced.

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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo

 

"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker

Ah, Sumiki. - Electric Turahk

 

LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie

 

Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva

 

BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex

 

What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus

 

I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh

 

EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru

 

Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok

 

Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker

 

He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist

 

I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens

 

I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig

 

I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk

 

I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome

 

Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex

 

Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz

Sumiki
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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/12 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle
 
so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra

 


 


 


You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.
 
It's a long story.

 

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