|Point Blanc (novel)|
Point Blanc European and Australian cover
September 3, 2001 (UK); March 31, 2002 (North America)
288 (UK); 215 (USA)
| Preceded by|
| Followed by|
|“||High in the Alps, death waits for Alex Rider||”|
—Point Blanc tagline
The book opens with the death of American billionaire Michael J. Roscoe in New York, arranged by a reputable contract killer known only as The Gentleman. In London, Alex Rider ends up in trouble with the police for causing a large amount of damage to a new police headquarters by exposing a school drug dealer. In exchange for any potential charges being dropped, Alex is assigned by MI6 to investigate the mysterious deaths of Roscoe and another billionaire General Viktor Ivanov on the Black Sea. The only apparent connection between the two men is that they both had a son attending Point Blanc, an academy in the French Alps run by a South African scientist, Dr. Hugo Grief. Alan Blunt, who was contacted by a distressed Roscoe before his death, is suspicious, and so sends Alex to investigate. Alex's cover is that of the son of a supermarket magnate, Sir David Friend. Alex initially spends a week as a member of Friend's family and is required to memorize as much detail as possible about his cover. However, during his stay with the family, he receives a hard time from David's daughter Fiona. Alex even finds himself shot at by Fiona's rich friends when they go out shooting, only for Fiona to claim that it was "just a bit of fun", although Alex gains a small victory by ambushing and frightening one of Fiona's friends before throwing away his gun. The next day, when Alex and Fiona are out horse riding, Fiona falls off her horse in the middle of a railway tunnel. Alex goes back in on his horse and just manages to retrieve Fiona and jump off a bridge into a river before they are run over by a high speed train. Fiona apologises for her harsh behavior, but is then insulted when Alex bluntly refuses to kiss her.
Grief's assistant Mrs. Stellenbosch, arrives at the Friend's house by helicopter. Smithers meets with Alex undercover as a farmer and provides him with some equipment and gadgets (including an electric saw disguised into a Sony Discman, an mini grenade disguised as an ear stud, a bulletproof ski suit, infrared ski goggles, and a single-shot tranquilizer gun disguised as a Harry potter book). Alex is forced to sacrifice his only weapon by tranquilizing Fiona with his book when she threatens to expose him to Stellenbosch out of spite. Alex is taken to a hotel in Paris, where his dinner drink is drugged. His bed is then transported where Mrs. Stellenbosch has Alex stripped completely, photographed, examined, and measured. After the examination, Alex's clothes are put back on and he is returned to his hotel room; Alex awakens knowing only that he has been drugged for some unknown purpose.
Upon arriving at Point Blanc, Alex meets the founder Dr Grief and later a student who goes by the name of James Sprintz as well as a group of other boys he gets to know through the week such as Hugo Vries, Tom McMorin, and Joe Canterbury. James thinks something is wrong with the academy because the other boys were rebellious before and then suddenly became complacent. During his showing Alex around the school, James reveals to him his plan to escape the academy. After sneaking out of his room using the Discman, Alex witnesses a boy being forcibly dragged downstairs and is convinced it is James. Yet Alex later sees James unharmed in his bedroom. The following day at breakfast, James' attitude towards his plan to escape seems to have changed, and Alex realizes he has become exactly like the other students. Alex climbs a chimney to examine the forbidden third and fourth floors. He discovers that the third and fourth floors are accurate replicas of the first and second floors respectively (for instance, replicas of the boys' rooms, with TV screens monitoring their behavior downstairs). Alex signals MI6 using the CD device provided to him by Smithers. This signal is received by the MI6 office, where Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones debate whether to move in on the academy immediately. Blunt decides to prepare a unit on stand by.
Upon further investigation, Alex finds some boys locked in a basement jail, including James and the son of Michael J. Roscoe, Paul. Alex learns that James was indeed dragged downstairs and was replaced by a replica. Alex reveals the truth to James and Paul, his identity and the reason why he was sent to Point Blanc. Mrs. Stellenbosch is told of this after someone overhears it via a bug planted in the cell and knocks Alex unconscious, has him handcuffed to a chair, and turns him over to Dr. Grief, who then reveals his plan to take over the world, named "Project Gemini".
In the 1980s, Grief cloned sixteen copies of himself in his home country of South Africa (where he greatly supported the apartheid regime). While the real boys are at Point Blanc, a plastic surgeon named Baxter surgically alters Grief's 14-year-old clones to resemble them. Soon, the clone and the real boy are swapped. The replica rooms are used by the clones to imitate the boys' behavior so the parents will not notice that they have been swapped. When the parents die and pass on their inheritance, Dr. Grief will take the assets from the clones. Eventually, he will be the most powerful man in the world, and reinstate apartheid globally. The parents Roscoe and Ivanov were both killed because they became suspicious of their "sons'" behavior.
Grief imprisons Alex, planning to dissect him alive the next day for a biology class. Alex uses his exploding ear-stud to escape his cage. He improvises a snowboard (using an ironing-board) to escape, but Grief sends his guards on snowmobiles with machine guns to take him down. During the pursuit, one snowmobile crashes into a tree because it could not fit through a small gap that Alex squeezed through. Another guard is knocked in the head by Alex's "snowboard" and ultimately falls. Alex almost makes it to the bottom of the mountain but a machine gunner previously prepared by Grief is waiting for him. Just as the man is about to fire, a train approaches in the way. Alex jumps on top of it but loses his balance, falls and passes out.
Alex is taken to a hospital in Grenoble, where a visiting Mrs Stellenbosch is told that Alex has died. However, it is revealed that Alex is alive, and MI6 then sends him out again with a team of SAS soldiers (among them is Wolf, an SAS soldier introduced in Stormbreaker) to help liberate the school. In the school, the SAS team take out several guards and go down to the basement to save the imprisoned boys. An on-going fire-fight ensues as the team encounter more guards. Wolf demands Alex to stay back. Alex goes into the dining room and sees Dr Grief about to escape in a helicopter. However, Mrs Stellenbosch appears who is surprised and disappointed that Alex is still alive. Despite Alex's efforts to fend her off, she overpowers him and pins him against a wall. She pulls out a gun and just as she points it at Alex, Wolf appears. Wolf is shot three times by Mrs Stellenbosch but manages to shoot the woman himself with his machine gun. Mrs Stellenbosch falls out a window, but manages to wound Wolf. Alex prevents Dr. Grief escaping by driving a snowmobile up a ramp and crashing it into Grief's helicopter, jumping off at the last second.
Alex is debriefed by MI6 and Mrs Jones tells him that all fifteen clones have been arrested. Alex later goes home where Jack Starbright informs him that his school headteacher wanted to see him. Alex goes to his school and to the headteachers office and is startled to find the sixteenth clone, who resembles Alex, and avoided capture and escaped to England. The clone tries to shoot Alex, causing a fire in a laboratory. Alex runs up to the roof, only to be followed by the clone. The two fight ending with one of them falling into a hole in the roof following an explosion. It is later implied in Skeleton Key and confirmed in Scorpia Rising that it was the clone who fell.
Alex Rider is at school and witnesses a man called Skoda selling drugs to some of his classmates. Alex follows him to his home, situated on a barge, but is caught by the police after using a crane to lift the barge out of the water. He accidentally drops it in a police conference center rather than a nearby car park, as he intended. But the police arrest the man.
Fortunately, no one is killed, but Alex’s real identity is revealed when he’s taken back to the station. MI6 then blackmail Alex into investigating the deaths of Roscoe and Viktor Ivanov, a high-ranking Russian official. The only thing linking these deaths are their rebellious sons’ attendance at the Point Blanc Academy in the French Alps.
Alex undergoes a dramatic physical change and takes the identity of Alex Friend, the son of billionaire David Friend. He stays with the family for a week in preparation for his infiltration of the academy. Alex is later picked up by Eva Stellenbosch, who takes him to the De Mondu hotel in Paris. That night, his beverage at dinner is drugged, and while he is unconscious every inch of his body is photographed for unknown reasons at this point in the plot. In th novel it is said that Alex does not recall this experience in the morning; if he had he would've tried to ecape at this point.
Alex arrives at the academy and strikes a friendship with James Sprintz, another pupil at the academy who was asked by asked to show Alex around. James explains that something weird goes on in the academy; the other rebellious, disrespectful students each underwent a sudden overnight change and become the perfect pupils. Alex investigates over a number of days, and one night after sneaking out, sees James being dragged from his room by several men and Stellenbosch. The next morning James acts strangely, and Alex investigates further, before contacting MI6 via a device given to him by Smithers.
Alan Blunt and Tulip Jones decide not to send immediate help, and Alex searches the academy’s basement, where he finds James and the other students, who explain that Doctor Grief, head of the academy, has made clones of them. Alex goes to leave to bring help, but Stellenbosch knocks him unconscious before he can.
Grief explains to Alex about his plans; in the 1990s, he made sixteen clones of himself, and is now using a plastic surgeon to alter their appearances to resemble the sons of rich and influential people, as a means to eventually have his clones inherit the assets of these individuals and become one of the most powerful men in the world. He warns that Alex will be killed the next morning through a live dissection, and imprisons him. Alex, using one of Smithers' devices, escapes and snowboards down the mountain the academy is situated on using an ironing board. While escaping his pursuers, Alex is hospitalized when the force of a nearby train throws him into a fence.
When Stellenbosch visits him in hospital, planning on finishing him off, she is told that he is dead. This is false however, and Mrs Jones convinces Alex to return to the academy with an SAS squad, led by Wolf, in order to rescue the students.
While storming the school, Alex is attacked by Stellenbosch, who is shot dead by Wolf just before she could kill Alex. However, Wolf is also shot in the process, driving Alex to rush out the building in anger to see Grief about to leave via helicopter. In a desperate bid to stop him, Alex uses a snowmobile to drive forward and smash into the helicopter, leaping off just before it hit. Grief is killed when it blows up, and Alex returns home. Mrs Jones tells Alex in a debriefing that the rescue mission was a success and that all fifteen clones were disposed of. Alex then receives a call informing him to visit the head teacher of his school, Mr Bray. When he arrives and finds a clone of himself, he recalls Mrs Jones’ words and realized that one clone – his own – had escaped. Alex then fights his clone in the school, and one of the two fall to their death from the roof of the school. It is left ambiguous which Alex survives, though one stands up and walks away as the emergency services arrive.
- Galaxy British Book Awards: The Children's Book of the Year
- Lancashire Children's Book of the Year
- Blue Peter Book Awards: The Book I Couldn't Put Down
- Askews Torchlight Children's Book Award
- The book Alex Rider: The Mission Files claims that Anthony Horowitz was inspired by the first successful clone, Dolly the sheep. Horowitz read about it in a newspaper one day, and this inspired the book Point Blanc.
- Skoda's real name is rumored to be Jake.
- It was mentioned in a supplement that a third person was killed by the Gentleman before Alex's mission in Point Blanc; the man killed was named Robert Merrick.
- It is the second book where Alex is debriefed when the antagonist is not yet dead. The first is Stormbreaker.
- Point Blanc (graphic novel)
- Point Blanc - Walker Books (UK)
- Point Blanc Mission - Alex Rider official Website
|Point Blanc Characters|
|Alex Rider • Alan Blunt • Tulip Jones • Jack Starbright • Hugo Grief • Eva Stellenbosch|
|Other Key Characters|
|David Friend • Smithers • James Sprintz • Michael J. Roscoe • Wolf • John Crawley • Fiona Friend • Julius Grief|