Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (2003) – Eoin Colfer

The third entry into Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, The Eternity Code, holds a special place in my heart because it was the first book of the series that I read as a child. Out of order, yes, but I went back and read the first two immediately after.

(it stands to reason that you shouldn’t read this if you haven’t read the previous two books in the series; mild spoilers ahead)

The Eternity Code follows the sequence that Colfer has set up for us so far. In the first book, Artemis and the People are enemies. In the second, Artemis helps the People. And now, in the third, the People help Artemis. The relationships between the characters have matured more and more, and Artemis especially is different than the 12-year-old boy who we first met; he now doubts his criminal behavior and realizes exactly how important all of these people in his life are to him. Though he is disconcerted by his father’s reappearance and apparent shift in morals, Artemis knows that he can’t continue his criminal lifestyle any longer.

Colfer continues transmitting moral messages in this book, with a new theme this time, introduced by none other than Artemis Fowl Senior. This time, though, the focus is less on environmental concerns and more on how unimportant gold is in the grand scheme of themes. Mr. Fowl imparts this message to his son:

“…I thought about my life, how I had wasted it gathering riches whatever the cost to my family and others around me. In a man’s life, he gets few chances to make a difference. To do the right thing. To be a hero, if you will. I intend to become involved in that struggle.” (p. 156, US 1st ed. paperback)

Money is nothing…family and relationships are everything. Bless you, Mr. Colfer!

A complaint that I had voiced in my review of the final book in the series, The Last Guardian, was that Colfer tends to explain things that don’t need to be explained to someone who has read the previous books in the series. But it dawned on me while reading The Eternity Code today – that’s the point! Colfer does a splendid job with writing each book with the intent that anyone, even someone new to the series, can pick up any book in any order and still get plenty of enjoyment out of it. Sure, picking it up midway through the series doesn’t give you all the details and whatnot, but that won’t stop someone new to the series from really enjoying the book.

The Eternity Code is as smart and funny as ever, and it even has a sort of Mission Impossible feel to it. The characters are great and the dialogue is snappy. I feel no guilt at all in giving this book top marks along with the first two of the series. Bring on the graphic novel!

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

-Chad

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