Artemis Fowl and The Lost Colony
By Eoin Colfer


Review of Book
What a totally natural (and distinctively Irish!) storyteller Eoin Colfer is. He weaves his wonderful imagination, humour and development of ideas with modern-day parlance and all manner of techie 'stuff'. Not forgetting his astute observations of people who just happen to cross his path! And his writing is nothing if not educational. I now know what a muumuu is… and how a mass damper works. Although I did have to get a friendly and patient scientist to explain the 'Murray Gell-Mann kidnapping a quark' joke…

It was, however, with some reservation that I opened up this, the fifth book in the saga, after what he put us through in the previous tale. I needn't have worried though, because by page 1, paragraph 3 I knew we were back on track - pure delightful fantasy and believably unbelievable escapades. The humour is back. The banter is back. The tone lighter, the tempo quicker and I'm laughing out loud from the outset - a good sign surely.

And the gang's all here - hooray! Butler is back on full bodyguard duties. Mulch is there from the beginning (instead of us having to wait half-way through for his antics, as usual) and Artemis is faced with "blasted puberty." In fact, puberty (human and fairy), its trials, tribulations and vagaries are a common theme throughout the story. And as if that wasn't enough for him to contend with, Arty is shocked to discover he has an equal - a female equal.

Now if, like me, you don't do quantum physics, all the unravelling of time tunnels, dimension-jumping and, as Mulch would have it, "inter-dimensional lunar attraction baloney", may be a little taxing. As the narrative helpfully offers, "Time quandaries such as these should be forgotten for the sake of sanity." You're telling me!

And with one of the fairy families, exiled for 10,000 years, threatening to return to Earth with force and thereby exposing the entire fairy race to human exploitation, everyone looks to Artemis to come up with yet another audacious plan.

Artemis: How'd you like the plan so far?

Number One: Well I don't like the first bit…. And I don't know the last bit.
So I'm really hoping the middle bit is exceptional.

Artemis: Don't worry, it is..


Several successfully negotiated twists, turns, deep holes and tight corners later, the adventure all seems tied up nicely, as if this were to be the very last. Then in the closing sentences Eoin Colfer has done it again! The man's a genius!! If you do read the book before listening to Nat's audio, I strongly advise against taking a naughty peek to the end of the book, because you will most definitely spoil for yourselves what, in my opinion, is the best Artemis ending, ever…


Review of Nat's Reading
There is a unique pleasure in reading a new Artemis Fowl instalment before listening to the audio. The sheer joy of finding out what Eoin Colfer has come up with this time is only enhanced by the blissful anticipation of just how Nat is going to bring it all to life. To be able to 'hear' Nat's voice in your head as you read, typically giving emphasis to certain descriptive verbs and adjectives, to phrases and sentences calling for subtle emotion, drama, just the right hint of irony or sarcasm or placing a pause perfectly… is only achievable by the truly dependent.

And we are never disappointed. How could we be when as well as all the above and after beginning with the most wonderful chilled-out style of narration so that you immediately relax, Nat adds lots of extra, not-in-the-text, sneering chortles or the delightfully increasing occurrences in his work of "Eh..?", as if to add weight to the argument.

Then he demonstrates the kind of attention to detail that makes his audios such exquisite pleasure in the way he has Foaly (with the 'cockney' accent he has given him) pronouncing French place names - as in sounding the 'p' in Tourrettes sur Loup, or Vence like 'fence' - exactly as such a person might, rather than as do all the other characters who know better!

As to new accents, Nat tries out Brazilian French.. and Taiwanese - including the high-pitched, harried exhibition curator in Taipei, talking into his Bluetooth headset. He makes Mr Lin so exceptionally funny you just have to replay it… several times.

"No, no. salmon is not good enough. Squid and lobster are what we ordered.
You have them here by eight o'clock or
I will come down there, slice you up and serve you as sushi instead!"


There is however, one voice that I really don't like at all. It's a kind of Monty Python meets Punch and Judy, in the shape of the pixie Doodah Day. It really grates on me and no amount of trying to de-sensitise myself has worked.. I hate it!

That over and done with, two new characters stood out for me for very different reasons as I first read the book; Demon pride leader, Leon Abbott and adolescent demon, Number One, respectively. With Abbott Nat surprised me completely.

I heard it said recently that actors are queuing up to do audiobooks because of the sheer scope of playing so many different roles. I could imagine Nat opening up the envelope containing the manuscript, doing a quick scan and upon reaching Abbott's part exclaiming "Wow!", then leaping gleefully down his 5 flights (or whatever) of stairs, whooping with delight!

His relish at being able to expand Abbott's persona instead of making him simply the nasty piece of work he is, is plain to see. With a voice that cannot be ignored, he infuses him with a delicious regal scheming haughtiness, posturing and strutting as if he were a visual role, so much so that I actually rather liked him at the finish! Just fabulous!

"I have no idea what actually will happen.
All I know is that for as long as we're here, I intend to be in charge."


Number One, on the other hand, Nat portrayed to perfection exactly as I imagined him. From the beginning, while reading the book before the audio arrived, I fell in love with this little fellow, such is the power of Eoin Colfer! And such is the power of Nat's interpretation that he makes him into a living, breathing 'reality'.

In Nat's hands the somewhat diffident, polite and sometimes humorous Number One became an absolute sweetheart. Several times I found myself clutching a hand to my chest and proclaiming "Awww!"

"Did I go? Am I back?" "He called me a warlock…. I'm not alone.."


And on the occasions when he turns into a walking, talking thesaurus Nat makes him hilarious.

"Terrified: Freaking. Planking. Up the creek"

"Conscience: What a lovely word - the *shhhh* in the middle!"

"Pink! It's such a relief to be able to say Pink!"



Oh and I almost forgot to mention… Nat sings. Again. Uh! In the fairy equivalent of Country and Western, it goes something like this…

When my lucky numbers run out of luck,
When I'm stuck in the hole I tumbled into.
When my favourite dawg gets squashed by a truck,
That's when I think me some thoughts of you.


Maybe one day Nat will be able to refine and display this area of his talent. Having heard him sing for a few seconds only in several audios and radio plays, he does have the most beautiful singing voice - no surprises there!

The first Artemis Fowl of the series has always been rather special. It introduced me to the innocence, charm, humour, characters and just plain 'magic' of Eoin Colfer's writing, captured so memorably and endearingly by Nat's interpretation and performance of it.

But 5 years on, with Eoin Colfer regaining those elements with this book, (even the dust-jacket will make you chuckle) and with Nat's voice becoming ever deeper and richer (and my perspective receding ever further into the distance in proportion..!), this story and audio takes first place for me. With the number of times I laughed out loud, either at the writing alone or Nat's treatment of it, and with one of his best audio characterisations ever, how could it be otherwise?!


Published by
Random House Inc/Listening Library
September 2006
CD - ISBN 0739336800
Unabridged




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