For Ciaran, who will hear many rugby stories
PROLOGUE ARTEMIS FOWL:
SO FAR, SO BAD
ARTEMIS was once an Irish boy who longed to know everything there was to know, so he read book after book until his brain swelled with astronomy, calculus, quantum physics, romantic poets, forensic science, and anthropology, among a hundred other subjects. But his favorite book was a slim volume that he’d never once read himself. It was an old hardback that his father often chose as a bedtime tale, entitled The Crock of Gold, which told the story of a greedy bucko who captured a leprechaun in a vain effort to steal the creature’s gold.
When the father had finished reading the last word on the last page, which was Fin, he would close the worn leather-bound cover, smile down at his son, and say, “That boy had the right idea. A little more planning and he would have pulled it off,” which was an unusual opinion for a father to voice. A responsible father, at any rate. But this was not a typically responsible parent – this was Artemis Fowl Senior, the kingpin of one of the world’s largest criminal empires. The son was not so typical either. He was Artemis Fowl II, soon to become a formidable individual in his own right, both in the world of man and the fairy world beneath it.
A little more planning, Artemis Junior often thought as his father kissed his forehead. Just a little more planning.
And he would fall asleep and dream of gold.
As young Artemis grew older, he often thought about The Crock of Gold. He even went so far as to do a little research during schooltime and was surprised to find a lot of credible evidence for the existence of the fairy folk. These hours of study and planning were nothing but lighthearted distractions for the boy until the day his father disappeared in the Arctic following a misunderstanding with the Russian Mafiya. The Fowl empire quickly disintegrated, with
creditors crawling out of the woodwork and debtors burrowing into it.
It is up to me, Artemis realized. To rebuild our fortune and find Father.
So he dusted off the leprechaun folder. He would catch a fairy and ransom it back to its own people for gold.
Only a juvenile genius could make this plan a success, Artemis correctly concluded. Someone old enough to grasp the principles of commerce, yet young enough to believe in magic.
With the help of his more than capable bodyguard, Butler, twelve-year-old Artemis actually succeeded in capturing a leprechaun and holding it captive in Fowl Manor’s reinforced basement. But this leprechaun was a she not an it. And remarkably humanoid with it. What Artemis had previously thought of as temporarily detaining a lesser creature now seemed uncomfortably like abducting a girl.
There were other complications too: these leprechauns were not the hokey fairies of storybooks. They were high-tech creatures with attitude, members of an elite fairy police squad: the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit, or LEPrecon, to use their acronym. And Artemis had kidnapped Holly Short, the first female captain in the unit’s history. An act that had not endeared him to the well-armed fairy underworld.
But in spite of a niggling conscience and LEP attempts to derail his plan, Artemis managed to take delivery of his ill-gotten gold, and in return he released the elfin captain.
So, all’s well that ends well?