Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl Summary and Analysis of Chapter 7: Mulch


In an effort to get a step ahead of Artemis, Commander Root recruits the assistance of a criminal: Mulch Diggums, a kleptomaniac dwarf. Like most dwarfs, Mulch is able to build tunnels underground, granting him entry into even the most unimpregnable of places. Mulch is unlike most other dwarfs, however, because he gave up his magical powers a long time ago in favor of a life of crime. Over the course of his several-hundred-year-long life, he has been arrested by LEP officers over twenty times, and when Chapter 7 opens, he is in an LEP holding cell with several angry goblins. There is a long history of tension between the goblin and dwarf communities, and the goblins in Mulch's cell are giving him a hard time. One of the goblins begins to shoot a fireball out of his nose towards Mulch, and Mulch has no choice but to shove his thumbs up the goblin's nose, causing the fireball to ricochet back into the goblin's skull. The other goblins begin caging in Mulch, and he has no choice but to unhinge his jaw and swallow one of them whole. Right at that moment, a group of LEP officers enters the cell. They tell Mulch to spit out the prisoner, put Mulch in handcuffs, and bring him to speak to Commander Root.

When Mulch gets to Root, the Time Stop has been in place for nearly four hours—they have only a few hours left to save Holly. It is obvious to Mulch that they have brought him to Fowl Manor in the hopes that he will tunnel beneath the ground and break in. Mulch tells Root that he has no intention of breaking into Fowl Manor, and Root offers him a reduced sentence in exchange for assisting them with this mission. Mulch agrees. Foaly outfits Mulch with an iris-cam and places a microphone in his ear. Root tells him to tunnel into Fowl Manor and find out how Artemis has so much information on the People. Foaly informs him that the new additions to the manor have been built over a clay foundation and that the wine cellar has a wooden floor—easy entry for someone like Mulch. Mulch enters the ground and hits Foaly in the face with a pile of digested limestone in the process.

As Mulch tunnels underground, he senses the presence of a rabbit den near him. He gives them a wide birth as he continues toward the manor. Mulch can sense the location of the wine cellar; after centuries, wine residue has seeped into the ground, giving the soil a scent of wine. Mulch moves upwards, punching through the floorboards of the wine cellar. He finds himself in a dark and empty room. He puts his ear against the wall, listening to the frequencies of the house. He can also hear footsteps on the third floor and a crashing sound nearby. The steps leading from the wine cellar to the rest of the house are wooden, and Mulch climbs them carefully so as to cause as little sound as possible. At the top of the stairs, the door is locked, but Mulch pulls a piece of hair out of his beard and uses it to easily pick the lock. When he opens the door, he finds a hallway outfitted with security cameras. Foaly hacks into the cameras and feeds them a loop, which allows Mulch to move freely through the house. Mulch makes his way deeper into the house, scaling a set of intricate oak stairs. He can feel his digestive system brewing; the digested limestone was ready to make it way out of his system. Mulch makes his way into the first room he can find and sees several cameras pointed towards a portrait of Artemis Fowl Senior. His instincts tell him there is a safe behind that portrait.

Foaly turns his iris-cam into an x-ray, and Mulch can see the contents of the safe. He deftly opens it, but he can find nothing of importance inside. Through his communication mic, Commander Root tells Mulch to move on to another room, but Mulch's instincts tell him there is something else hiding in the room. He traces a nail along the portrait's frame to reveal another, tiny safe hidden inside. Mulch works on unlocking the safe, and as he does so, he can hear someone approaching down the hall. Mulch carefully works on opening the vault while the footsteps get closer. Finally, it opens, and he finds the Book inside. At the same moment, his bowels decide to release all of the digested dirt that was inside of him. It hits Butler, who was sneaking up on him. Meanwhile, Artemis is watching the monitors. He sees Butler standing at his post outside Holly's cell, which is odd, considering he should be on his rounds by now. He grabs his walkie-talkie and asks Butler his whereabouts. Butler tells him he is on his rounds, cluing Artemis into the fact that his security cameras have been tampered with. He contacts Juliet and tells her to check on Holly. He reboots the surveillance system and sees Holly hitting her bed against the concrete floor again. Suddenly, it is clear to him what she is trying to do, but it is too late. She gets her powers back before he can do anything to stop it. Meanwhile, Butler is incapacitated by Mulch's expulsion.

Juliet walks into Holly's cell after the fairy has gained back her magical power. When Juliet enters the cell, Holly is nowhere to be found. She lifts her sunglasses in the attempt to take a closer look, and Holly uses that moment to drop her shield and use the mesmer on Juliet. Holly asks Juliet how many people are in the house, and because Juliet does not know about Mulch, she tells Holly that only herself, Artemis, and Butler are there. She also tells Holly that Commander Root paid a visit not long ago. Holly tells Juliet to stay in her cell and not to come out. She tricks Juliet into believing there is a TV on the empty wall that is showing wrestling matches. In the same moment, Mulch has finished expelling the earth from his body. Butler has been thrown across the room with the force of the excrement. As Mulch makes his way out of Fowl manor, he sees Holly. They exchange a few words, and Mulch offers to take her with him, but Holly can't leave—she is still forbidden from leaving the house.

Artemis watches all of this commotion from upstairs in the surveillance room. As Mulch makes his way back out of the manor, he chooses a new route from the one he had dug before. Before he can fully escape, however, Butler's fingers clamp around his ankle. Mulch expels more dirt from his rear end, causing Butler to release his grip. Once Mulch is clear of the manor, he implements his escape plan. He chews his way toward the rabbit den he had seen earlier. He grabs a rabbit and begins to scream for help, feigning a cave-in. He places the iris cam Foaly gave him on the rabbit's eye. As the rabbit dies, Mulch unhinges his jaw and heads off towards freedom.


In Chapter 7, we get to know a character who we only saw in passing before: Mulch Diggums. He is a kleptomaniac dwarf with a long history of criminal activity which has resulted in the loss of his magical powers. Root recruits Mulch when it becomes clear that he's going to have to resort to some unorthodox action in order to get a step ahead of Artemis. Because Mulch has lost his magical ability, he is not limited by the rules that normally govern fairies. Notably, he will be able to enter Artemis's house without an invitation and won't be subject to following Artemis's every command. We have already seen in the Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis section how Commander Root is Artemis' foil, because they are essentially opposites of each other. In a similar vein, Mulch is Artemis's mirror. Even though they appear to be very different on the surface, they share very important qualities. Like Artemis, Mulch has devoted his efforts to crime. Also, like Artemis, he does not see himself as part of a community and is only interested in individual gain. For example, when Root is recruiting Mulch, Root tries to appeal to him by saying that the entire fairy race is at risk. He asks Mulch, "'don't you have any civic pride? Our entire way of life is on the line here'" (164). To this, Mulch responds, "'Not my way of life. Fairy prison, human prison. It's all the same to me'" (164). This passage recalls the interaction between Holly and Artemis in the previous chapter, when Artemis tells Holly that he does not care about the fate of humans or fairies—he only cares about himself.

Like the rest of the fairies, Mulch has an affinity towards nature. While he is tunneling underground, he can sense the presence of a pod of rabbits: "Mulch felt a vibration cluster to his left. Rabbits. The dwarf fixed the location in his internal compass. Always useful to know where the local wildlife hung out" (167). In this scene, the rabbits help Mulch's sense of direction underground. Despite Mulch's connection with nature, however, he kills two animals over the course of this chapter. First, he kills a spider by accident when he makes it into the Fowl cellar: "Something skittered past his foot. Mulch squashed it instinctively. It was a spider. Just a spider. 'Sorry, little friend,' he said to the gray smear. 'I'm a bit on the jittery side'" (168). Second, he kills one of the rabbits that he sensed on the way towards the manor on his way out and places his iris cam on the rabbit so that Foaly and Root think he has died. Like with the spider, Mulch apologizes to the rabbit: "Sorry, friend, thought the dwarf. If there was any other way. . ." (192). What these examples tell us is that the People's harmonious relationship with nature is not always without faults. There are still fairies that can do individual harm and will do so for their own personal gain.

In Chapter 7, we see the narrative building towards the climax of Artemis Fowl. For the first time, the fairies have outsmarted Artemis by feeding a video loop through his security cameras. When he discovers this, he is shocked: "Artemis glanced at the landing cameras. Deserted. From every angle. Definitely no waving manservant. He studied the monitors, counting under his breath . . . There! Every ten seconds, a slight jump. On every screen . . . Artemis's stomach dropped into a queasy hell. Duped! He, Artemis Fowl, had been duped, even though he'd known it was coming. Inconceivable" (179). At this moment of trouble, Artemis blames himself: "It was arrogance that had done it. His own blinding arrogance, and now the entire plan could collapse around his ears" (179). As they lurch forward on the page, the short sentences formally mirror Artemis's troubled mental state. There is a tension building within the very words of the novel itself. When Artemis discovers that Holly's powers have been returned to her, the narrative breaks up into a series of ellipses which create even more tension: "Artemis switched his attention to Holly. The elf was back to bed banging. Slamming the frame down over and over again, as though she could . . . It hit Artemis then, like a blast from a water cannon. If Holly had somehow smuggled an acorn in here, then one square centimeter of ground would be enough. If Juliet left that door open . . ." (181). The ellipses in this passage simulate Artemis's internal panic as he watches his plan come to pieces over the monitors. Finally, we build to the climax of the novel, where we shift between many POVs at once and everything comes together. Holly is given her powers back right at the same moment when Butler is hit by an avalanche of Mulch's excrement.

This moment of panic does not last long, however. Artemis ultimately talks himself down to a calm head: "After several moments' contemplation, he realized that these factors meant little to the overall strategies of both sides. Captain Short was still trapped in the manor. And the time-stoppage period was running out. Soon the LEP would have no option but to launch their bio-bomb, and that was when Artemis Fowl would unveil his coup de grâce. Of course, the whole thing depended on Commander Root. If Root was as intellectually challenged as he looked, it was quite possible the entire scheme would collapse around his ears. Artemis hoped fervently that someone on the fairy team had the wit to spot the blunder he'd made during the negotiation session" (189). If you are confused about what Artemis means when he brings up the "blunder" he had made during the negotiation, you aren't the only one. However, if you go back to the conversation between Artemis and Root at the end of Chapter 6, you will see that Artemis says this important phrase: "'You do that. But remember this, none of your race has permission to enter here while I am alive'" (151). As Root will soon discover—and as Artemis intended—there is a loophole contained within Artemis's threat. If Artemis were to die, then the fairies would be allowed to enter the manor and retrieve the ransom gold. The LEP's next steps seem to be clear: give Artemis the ransom in return for releasing Holly, detonate a blue rinse on Fowl manor, and enter the manor after Artemis has died to retrieve the gold.