Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

In Brief: Adventure with a little agonising by Artemis over the direction he should take.

Cover of Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception

Author: Eoin Colfer

Series: Artemis Fowl

Publisher: Puffin

Published in: 2005

Age Range: Pre Teens+

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Haven, The Lower Elements

Genres:  AdventureFriendshipHumorousMagic


  • Holly Short, an elf. An expert pilot and experienced Police officer, she has a certain reputation for disobeying orders, even though she usually gets the job done.
  • Julius Root Police commander, gruff but fair. Despite giving her a hard time, he's sponsored Holly through her career.
  • Foaly, the highly intelligent and immodest centaur responsible for most of Haven's non-magical technology.
  • Artemis Fowl is a young criminal mastermind who seems to be having second thoughts about his criminal career.
  • Opal Koboi is a Pixie responsible for the failed Goblin rebellion and now in a coma.
  • Butler is Artemis' highly trained manservant-cum-bodyguard.
  • Mulch Diggums is a dwarf with a flair for theft and escapology.


Artemis Fowl steals the world's most sought-after painting, but becomes entangled in a revenge bid by Opal Koboi against those who thwarted her previously. Holly Short races to rescue Artemis but they are captured by Opal and left to die in a troll-infested amusement park. Butler, meanwhile, teams up with Mulch Diggums to rescue them and to defeat Opal.


As Holly notes to herself somewhere in the middle of this book, all her adventures with Artemis Fowl up to now have been happily-ever-after stories: a few people got bruised but everyone lived to tell the tale. Not so this one. In a move which may be inspired by the increasing grittiness of the Harry Potter series, Eoin Colfer has raised the height bar on his most popular series and let loose the gloating and psycopathic figure of Opal Koboi.

However, after the initial tension-filled chapters, he doesn't really retain the pace and for all Holly's musings, the story is really more of the same. Which isn't saying anything too bad: there are still imaginative settings, witty exchanges and carefully-wrought cliffhangers for the good guys to think their way out of. The trouble is that the chemistry between Artemis and Holly is lacking its bite, Foaly and Root are out of the picture for most of the book, and Opal Koboi is a one-note pyscopathic enemy who — after her initial ingenious escape from custody and set-up — descends into comic-book villain mode and never really comes out.

Most trying is the new, softer, Artemis. The author's trying to make a point which I respect very much: that being a good friend, being a good son is more important than being a hyperintelligent super-criminal. I just wish he'd had a slightly defter touch.

There is the usual amount of amusement over Mulch Diggums' rather biological means of tunnelling (in at the front and out at the back) and its side effects (big buildups of gas), just the kind of things kids giggle over in the playground. One of the main characters does die more or less heroically in a trap set by Opal Koboi; there's nothing graphic, but it's unusual enough in a book for this age group that it's worth mentioning should you know anyone more sensitive among the prospective readers. But none of this should prevent anyone enjoying the book which sags only a little in the middle but picks up nicely towards the end

Saturday 20th August 2005