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The Opal Deception    by Eoin Colfer order for
Opal Deception
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In the 3rd in this volcanic series, The Eternity Code, Artemis Fowl saved the fairy race and developed the beginnings of a conscience. But his and his bodyguard Butler's memories of the civilization under our feet were mind-wiped at the end of that episode.

The Opal Deception opens with a well-planned prison break by genius billionairess pixie villainess Opal Koboi - Artemis and LEP Captain Holly Short brought her down in The Arctic Incident and she's been in a coma at the J. Argon Clinic for two years. Indeed her jailbreak is so well planned (involving a clone, janitor pixies, and plastic surgery) that no-one realizes it's happened. Opal has stored up a deep thirst for revenge, and soon sets long laid plans in motion to eliminate her enemies and reveal fairy civilization to the Mud Men.

Artemis is going about his regular life - skipping school to engineer a brilliant heist with Butler's help - when Opal's first attack zooms in. In the Lower Elements, Commander Root and Captain Short walk into a trap, one that sends Holly on the run from her people, who have been convinced by Opal's machinations that she's a traitor. Holly rescues Artemis and the duo is closely pursued by the evil Opal who eventually dumps them in a troll habitat, once a fairy theme park showcasing 'The Eleven Wonders of the Human World'. How can our hero and heroine possibly escape a multitude of 'crazed carnivores'?

Another favorite character, dwarf Mulch Diggums, also engineers a jailbreak, blasting his way backwards out of confinement, and spitting out new talents along the way. Mulch helps Butler recall what he's forgotten, and they pair up to seek Holly and Artemis. The series of narrow, cliff-hanging escapes that follows continues to the very end of the book. Of course, Opal's nefarious scheme is stopped (this time). I especially enjoyed the flatulent dwarf's increased role in this episode, as well as the fact that the pixie's ultimate downfall came about through her addiction to chocolate truffles.

As The Opal Deception ends, Holly has made a major life-affecting decision, and Artemis Fowl seems to be turning away from his 'solitary life of crime'; is he (gasp) growing up? As always, I can't wait for more.

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