Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl Summary and Analysis of Chapter 4: Abduction


In Chapter 4, we are back with Artemis, who is trying to find out how to kidnap a fairy. He knows about the Ritual, which every fairy must complete in order to replenish their magic. His plan is to kidnap a fairy while they are in the process of completing the Ritual. He tells Juliet and Butler his plan, and Juliet—who has not been briefed on the mission yet—tells Artemis that fairies aren't real. Artemis simply tells her to assume that they are real for the purposes of this mission and gives her directions to set up a room in the cellar of the manor to house the fairy once they find one. Artemis tells Butler that fairies cannot complete the ritual just anywhere—it must be done at the base of an ancient oak near a river—and gives Butler a list of items that they will need for their stakeout, including two pairs of reflective glasses.

Meanwhile, Holly is traveling to complete the ritual, choosing to fly aboveground (even though it is technically against the rules) rather than traveling underground. Holly flies over mainland Europe towards the British Isles, and toys with the idea of visiting Disneyland Paris before deciding against it. As she crosses the English Channel, she flies low, and shares a few moments with a pod of dolphins. She can see that human pollution is affecting them and feels irritation at the Mud People and all the damage they do to the earth. Finally, Holly makes it to Ireland (she calls it "the old country, Éiriú, the land where time began" on page 67), and she finds a secluded spot to complete the Ritual. Holly uses her locator to check for other lifeforms, but she only sees a cow two fields over. She lands and approaches the ancient oak.

Little does Holly know that Artemis and Butler are hiding near the oak, waiting for Holly's arrival. They have been staking the location out for four months, patiently waiting for a fairy to arrive to complete the ritual. They are hidden under a foil blind which traps their body heat beneath it, meaning that any heat-sensitive sensors cannot detect their presence. Artemis has already sold the patent for this blind to a sporting-goods multinational. Butler is uncomfortable and grumpy after so many months of stakeout, but Artemis maintains that they will eventually find a fairy and has kept the faith. On this night, Butler can tell there is something wrong with Artemis. He asks his employer what is wrong, and Artemis begins to tell him, before Holly interrupts them by arriving at the scene.

Holly takes off her wings and hangs them on a tree branch. She takes off her helmet. She begins the ritual, bending to the ground to pick up a seed. She finds an acorn and prepares her to plant it somewhere else—all she needed to do for her powers to come rushing back. Meanwhile, Artemis and Butler observe Holly. They see that she is "too small for an adult, the wrong proportions for a child"—likely a fairy (72). Artemis and Butler put on their reflective sunglasses and Butler picks up his tranquilizer dart gun. Butler shoots the dart at Holly just as she bends to the earth to pick up the acorn. It whizzes by her head, and she immediately curls into a ball on the ground. Holly takes out her pistol, but Butler deftly disarms her. Artemis asks her if she would be willing to peacefully surrender. Holly threatens him, but Artemis reveals that she knows her magic is depleted. Holly tries using the mesmer on them, but Artemis and Butler's reflective glasses make it ineffective. Butler hits her with a tranquilizer dart. Artemis picks up Holly's helmet from the ground, admiring the fairy technology. Butler stuffs the unconscious Holly into a duffel bag and they take her back to their van.


In Chapter 4, we see Holly's journey to complete the ritual and watch as she is ultimately kidnapped by Artemis and Butler. Holly flies to the site where she can complete the ritual using a set of LEP-issue mechanical wings, which is a modern solution to the fact that the fairies have lost their ability to fly. Holly explains, "according to the Book, [fairies] had once been equipped with wings of their own, but evolution had stripped them of this power. All but the sprites. One school of thought believed that the People were descended from airborne dinosaurs. Possibly pterodactyls. Much of the upper body skeletal structure was the same. This theory would certainly explain the tiny nub of bone on each shoulder blade" (66-7). Like humans, fairies are subject to the power of evolution, and they have changed over the centuries. They use technology to keep up with those changes.

As Holly flies over Europe to make it to Ireland from Italy, she revels in the natural beauty surrounding her: "once across the Channel, Holly flew low, skipping over the white-crested waves. She called out to the dolphins and they rose to the surface, leaping from the water to match her pace. She could see the pollution in them, bleaching their skin white and giving them red sores on their backs. And although she smiled, her heart was breaking. Mud People had a lot to answer for" (67). In this passage, we again see the theme of environmentalism at work. Holly cannot fathom how humanity has abused nature in the pursuit of economic gain. For fairies, nature is sacred. This is a fundamental difference between the fairy and human races. When Holly makes it to Ireland, she marvels at the beautiful scene in front of her: "Holly paused for a minute to admire the view. Ireland certainly was picturesque. Even the Mud People hadn't been able to destroy that. Not yet anyway . . . Give them another century or two. The river was folding gently before her like a silver snake, hissing as the water tumbled across a stony bend. The oak tree crackled overhead, its branches rasping together in the bracing breeze" (71). Beneath Holly's admiration of the scene is the threat that humans will eventually destroy the natural beauty before her. Holly, and the rest of the fairies, hold a fundamental distrust of the Mud People which spans centuries and will not easily be breached. For this reason, you might find yourself on Holly and the fairies' side throughout the novel. Colfer sets it up so that the fairies are much more sympathetic than the humans within Artemis Fowl. Don't be fooled into thinking that the fairies are only the "good guys," though—like in real life, in Artemis Fowl there are good individuals and bad individuals on either side of the conflict.

As Holly travels to Ireland, Colfer alludes to ancient Celtic mythology and weaves it together with fairy history. First, Holly calls Ireland "Éiriú, the land where time began" (67). Éiriú is an ancient Irish goddess who was the matron goddess of Ireland. In fact, Ireland's name comes from "Éiriú" and "land." To Holly, Ireland is "the most magical place on the planet" because according to fairy history, their race began there (67). She recounts, "It was here, ten thousand years ago, that the ancient fairy race, the Dé Danann, had battled against the demon Fomorians, carving the famous Giants' Causeway with the strength of their magical blasts. It was here that the Lia Fáil stood, the rock at the center of the universe, where the fairy kings and later the human Ard Rí were crowned" (67). "Dé Danann" is an ancient fairy race from Irish mythology, and the "Fomorians" were their traditional enemies. According to fairy folklore, the Giants' Causeway (a geological formation which can be found in modern-day Northern Ireland) was carved by the wars between these ancient groups. The "Lia Fáil" can be found in modern-day Northern Ireland; it is an ancient stone where it is believed that the first Irish kings were coronated. According to the People's mythology, the original kings of Ireland were fairies, until Ard Rí was crowned as the first human king. Ard Rí is a real historical figure who was known as the first king of Ireland.

Holly explains that because of the ancient history that originated in Ireland, the Irish people are much more in tune with magic than anywhere else in the world: "and it was also here, unfortunately, that the Mud People were most in tune with magic, which resulted in a far higher People-sighting rate than you got anywhere on the planet. Thankfully the rest of the world assumed that the Irish were crazy, a theory which the Irish themselves did nothing to debunk. They had somehow got it into their heads that each fairy lugged around a pot of gold with him wherever he went . . . But in spite of all that, if there was one race the People felt an affinity for it was the Irish. Perhaps it was their eccentricity, perhaps their dedication to the craic, as they called it. And if the People were actually related to humans, as another theory had it, odds were that the Emerald Isle was where it started" (68). It is important that Artemis and Holly come together at this sacred site, where human and fairy histories go back for centuries. However, Holly is completely caught off guard when Artemis appears out of the darkness and threatens her. It is inconceivable up until this moment that a human would know the real truth about the fairy world: "Holly was dumbfounded. There was a human before her, casually spouting sacred secrets. This was disastrous. Catastrophic. It could mean the end of generations of peace. If the humans were aware of a fairy subculture, it was only a matter of time before the species went to war" (74).

As we know, the human and fairy races do not go to war, at least not during the course of this novel. However, the fact that Artemis discovers the existence of the fairies is a ticking time bomb for the fairy people, who have gone to great lengths to keep their existence secret from humans. It also places Holly in immediate and grave danger, as Butler quickly sedates her and kidnaps her for Artemis. This moment is a win for Artemis, but a huge loss for Holly, who has no magical ability and is now subject to Artemis's every whim. The moment that Butler shoots Holly with a tranquilizer gun might be shocking to some readers who were still holding out hope that Artemis is a worthy protagonist. Artemis does feel a slight twinge of guilt at this moment, but this does not stop him from following through on his plan: "Artemis saw the pain in the creature's eyes as the hollow hypodermic plunged into her body. And for a moment he experienced misgivings. A female. He hadn't expected that. A female, like Juliet, or Mother. Then the moment passed and he was himself again" (75).