Sunday, November 11, 2007

2 x Irish fantasy

My sister and her family came over from Ireland for my father's interment, and being a nice and generous person she came bearing gifts. I got agar-agar flakes and ground almonds among other things, and my kids got books. Now, I won't be writing about That's Not My Dinosaur, except to say that it is a riveting read indeed and the recipient of this tome loves it dearly, but about Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. These are both Irish writers, but we must feel kinder towards mr Colfer because apparently he used to be a teacher at my niece's and nephew's school. Please take a look at his web site there and note the expression " In 2001 the first Artemis Fowl book was published and he was able to resign from teaching"... do I detect a note of triumphant joy? Those darn kids.

Anyway, I'd been wanting (albeit in a passive way, which means I went to no great efforts to get the book myself, more let the thought of it idly pass my mind now and then) to read Artemis Fowl for aaaaages because I knew the writer was Irish, and this kindled my Erin-go-bragh (sic! har har) spirit. So I was very pleased to get this at least, the intended recipient hasn't got into the spirit of things at all yet what with being all caught up in Ellis Peters and what-have-you. So I read it. And I think my daughter will enjoy this, because it's clearly aimed at her age group. There's action, and dwarf farts, and a heroine (YAY to that actually!). But a literary masterpiece it certainly is not. It reads a bit as though Colfer really wanted it to be a film script. I don't dispute that it might make a fine film, but novels should be more than strings of dialogue peppered with one-liners. Nonetheless, I'll look for and read the sequels to see if the storytelling improves (after all, there is a huge difference between Harry Potter 1 and 7 for example - not that HP is to be seen as the ultimate good model or anything). And after all, I'm not the target audience, so so what, eh? I do appreciate Colfer's imagination though. To have the Faeries as a technologically advanced underground species is definitely new, and I did love that the police squad is LEPrecon.

Oh, the story is, for those not in the know, that Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old criminal genius hell-bent on restoring the family fortune, and he means to do this by kidnapping a fairy and asking a huge ransom.

The Alchemyst now. Again, my daughter will enjoy this, since she is to young for bookish sophistication. For an adult it's quite a dreary read, re-using mythological characters and stapling events. For someone who watches too much Stargate the approach is less than fresh, unfortunately. The first page or so is great though.... oh God, now the baby is being much too difficult for coherent thought. Idea is, in brief, that the alchemist Nicholas Flamel is still alive with his wife, guarding the Book of Abraham, a powerful spell book. Twins Josh and Sophie are unwittingly drawn into affairs when Flamel's enemy dr John Dee steals the book and kidnaps Perenelle Flamel. Turns out the twins may be the ones referred to in an ancient prophecy, so now they are hunted too by the ancient beings that want to rid the world of humans. And this is my biggest gripe - the prophecy says something about "the two that are one" and twins of different sexes surely have never been one. This also reads like a wanna-be film script, or rather the script to one of those never-ending Aussie youth TV-series.

Oh it's taken me an age to write even this disjointed post (thanks a lot Minimus). Depressing is what it is.

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