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Stormbreaker
Stormbreaker 2
Author

Anthony Horowitz

Publisher

Penguin Group (North America)
Walker Books (UK)

Pages

253[citation needed]

Publication order
Preceded by
Russian Roulette
Followed by
Point Blanc


His first assignment may well be his last...

—Stormbreaker tagline

Alex Rider... you're never too young to die

—- Stormbreaker tagline

Stormbreaker is the first book in the Alex Rider series, written by British author Anthony Horowitz.

Summary

They told him his uncle died in an accident. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, they claimed. But when fourteen-year-old Alex finds his uncle's windshield riddled with bullet holes, he knows it was no accident. What he doesn't know yet is that his uncle was killed while on a top-secret mission. But he is about to, and once he does, there is no turning back. Finding himself in the middle of terrorists, Alex must outsmart the people who want him dead. The government has given him the technology, but only he can provide the courage. Should he fail, every child in England will be murdered in cold blood.

Book story

Alex Rider learns his uncle and adopted parent, Ian Rider, has been killed in a car crash. Unbeknownst to Alex and his housekeeper, Jack Starbright, Ian's position as a "banker" was actually a cover for his role as an MI6 agent. Alex becomes suspicious upon being told that Ian had been not wearing his seat belt and discovering that Ian's office has been emptied out. He finds his uncle's car at a wrecking yard, and discovers that his uncle had been murdered. After a near escape from a car crusher, Alex is asked to visit Ian's former employers, a bank called "Royal & General." He breaks into Ian's office, discovering evidence of his uncle's double life before he is knocked out.

Waking up, Alex meets MI6 head Alan Blunt and his deputy, Tulip Jones. They reveal the truth about his uncle's career, and explain that they had sent Ian to investigate Herod Sayle, a wealthy Lebanese businessman who has developed a revolutionary new computer, the Stormbreaker. Sayle plans to give a free Stormbreaker to every secondary school in the United Kingdom, accompanied by a grand activation ceremony in the Science Museum, supposedly as a gesture of thanks for the country taking him in when he was a child. In his last communication with them, Ian had warned MI6 that the Stormbreakers could not be allowed to leave Sayle's manufacturing plant, but before he could explain, he was assassinated by Yassen Gregorovich, a professional killer apparently under Sayle's employ, on the return to London.

Intending to use him to covertly investigate Sayle, MI6 recruits Alex by essentially blackmailing him; if he does not co-operate, Jack will be deported back to America, his house will be sold and he will leave his school and friends for an academy until he is of age. They put him through a grueling SAS training program, before deploying him to Herod Sayle's base in Cornwall, using the alias of another boy, Felix Lester, who won a competition to visit the plant and be the first child to use a Stormbreaker. To aid him in his mission, Alex is given a grappling hook disguised as a yo-yo, acne cream capable of dissolving metal, and a Nintendo Gameboy which functions as a transmitter, smoke screen and bug detector, by MI6 agent Smithers.

Sayle shows Alex around his mansion, which houses a large jellyfish aquarium containing a giant Portuguese Man o' War. Alex also meets Mr. Grin, a henchman whose name derives from his time as a circus performer, catching knives with his teeth. An accident left him without a tongue and two large scars which give him the appearance of constant smiling.

Initially the trip goes well, with Alex finding a cryptic diagram made by his Uncle Ian in the canopy of his bed. However, Sayle grows to dislike Alex, after Alex is discovered in a restricted area of the base, and later defeats Sayle in a game of snooker. While investigating the base at night, Alex sees several of Sayle's agents unloading metal cases with great care from a nuclear submarine, with Yassen supervising. When one of the agents drops a metal case, he is promptly executed by Yassen. The next afternoon, Alex goes to the local library to do further research, but finds himself attacked by a pair of armed guards on quad bikes. He survives by tricking the guards into crashing: one collides with an electric fence while the other falls from a cliff face.

While searching the library, Alex finds a map in a book about tin mining which matches the diagram left by Ian. He also learns that Ian had borrowed several books about viruses, and assumes that Sayle plans to use the Stormbreaker network to release a computer virus. Alex investigates the mine and, following the path left by his uncle, discovers a large computer manufacturing facility, where the Stormbreaker computers are being filled with a strange fluid. Alex realises that the 'viruses' being investigated by Ian were not computer viruses, but biological weapons. Alex is detected, and nearly escapes but is eventually caught and tranquilised. When he comes to, Herod explains to Alex his plan.

When Sayle attended school, he was bullied because of his accent and skin colour. The worst bully was none other than the future Prime Minister, leading him to despise English children in general. As a result, Sayle plans to take revenge on the Prime Minister and Britain with his "April Fools Joke"; when the computers are activated by the Prime Minister, the virus, a potent strain of smallpox, will be released into every school in the country, killing every schoolchild and teacher in England as well as those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Alex is then left handcuffed to a chair, until Nadia Vole, an assistant of Sayle's, frees him, claiming that she is a fellow spy who worked with Ian Rider. However, as they head to find a mobile phone to call MI6 and inform them of Sayle's plan, she triggers a trapdoor which drops Alex into the jellyfish tank and stays behind to watch him die. Alex eventually escapes using the acne cream gadget to damage the tank's supporting iron girders, causing it to rupture and sending thousands of gallons of water crashing into the room. As for Vole, she was directly in front of the tank when it burst, releasing the immense jellyfish and causing it to land right on her, killing her Snatching up a harpoon gun, Alex rushes outside to find that Sayle's private helicopter has already left, leaving only a cargo plane on the tarmac. Using the handle of the harpoon gun, Alex knocks out a guard, hijacking his jeep and pistol. As he starts the jeep, several other jeeps start to pursue him as the cargo plane starts to take off. Through some fancy driving and good fortune, Alex manages to cause the destruction of the hostile jeeps. Tying the nylon cord of the yo-yo gadget to the harpoon with the yo-yo clipped to his belt, Alex shoots the harpoon which catches on the underbelly of the airborne plane. Using the gadget, he gets himself on to the plane where he confronts the pilot, who is none other than Mr. Grin. Alex warns Mr. Grin to fly to London by threatening him with the pistol.

When they are finally over London, Alex realises that there is not much time left before noon. He spots several parachutes and uses one to jump off the plane. Mr. Grin turns the plane around hoping to ram into Alex. Alex pulls out the Game Boy Color and activates a cartridge disguised as a game called "Bomber Boy", which activates a smoke bomb. Unable to see, Mr. Grin loses control of the plane and fatally crashes into a dock near the River Thames. Alex crashes through the roof of the Science Museum and dangles from his parachute which had gotten caught on a beam. He draws the gun he took from a guard back at Sayle's mansion and fires blindly at the Stormbreaker computer, one accidentally hitting the Prime Minister and Sayle himself being struck by two more, though he inexplicably vanishes. Mrs. Jones saves Alex's life by ordering security not to open fire on him. MI6 immediately recalls all the computers, citing "safety issues".

Later, after a debriefing by Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones, Alex enters a taxi. The driver is none other than Sayle who holds Alex at gunpoint. He leads Alex to the top of a building where he is about to shoot Alex, but is himself killed by Yassen Gregorovich, who lands in a helicopter. When Alex questions Yassen about why he shot Sayle, Yassen explains that Sayle had become an embarrassment to the people he (Yassen) worked for, so he had to be eliminated. Knowing that he is facing his uncle's killer, Alex tells Yassen he will one day kill him, but Yassen brushes aside the comment and advises Alex to drop the spy business and become a normal schoolboy again, before leaving in the helicopter.

Movie version

Alex Rider is a 14-year-old schoolboy who lives with his uncle Ian and their housekeeper Jack Starbright. Ian is supposedly a bank manager and is, much to Alex's regret, often away from home. One day, Alex is told that his uncle has died in a car crash, but quickly discovers that his uncle was in fact a spy working for MI6 and was murdered.

He is then forcibly recruited by his uncle's former employers, Alan Blunt and Mrs. Jones of the Special Operations Division of MI6, who explain to Alex that his uncle has been training him as a spy. Alex initially refuses to cooperate but agrees when they threaten to not renew the visa and deport Jack as a result of her visa running out seven years prior. Alex is then sent to a military training camp near Credenhill, the home of the Special Air Service. At first, his fellow trainees look down on him because of his age, but he soon gains their respect for his capabilities.

He sets off on his first mission, aided by gadgets from Smithers. Billionaire Darrius Sayle is donating free high-powered computer systems codenamed Stormbreaker to every school in the United Kingdom. MI6 are suspicious of his seemingly generous plans and send Alex undercover as a competition winner to investigate. There, he meets Sayle himself and his two accomplices, Mr. Grin and Nadia Vole, and is shown the Stormbreaker computer in action. Later, while Alex is having dinner with Sayle, the suspicious Vole steals Alex's phone and tracks the SIM card to his house in Chelsea. She goes there and finds Alex's true identity; while there, she is disturbed by and consequently fights Jack. Despite being outclassed, Jack wins with the help of a blowfish, leaving Nadia to flee the scene. That night, Alex sneaks out of his bedroom window to observe a midnight delivery of mysterious containers to Sayle's lair.

The next day, Alex finds himself in trouble when his cover is blown. After attempting to escape from the facility, he is captured, and Sayle explains his true reasons behind Stormbreaker – each system contains a modified version of the smallpox virus which, upon activation in the Stormbreaker release, will kill all of the country's schoolchildren. Sayle leaves Alex tied up and departs for the London Science Museum. Nadia drops Alex into a water-tank to be killed by a giant Portuguese Man o' War, but he escapes using the metal-disintegrating spot cream supplied by Smithers, rupturing the tank and killing Nadia when the jellyfish hits her. Alex then hitches a ride on a Mil Mi-8 helicopter piloted by Mr. Grin, using a sodium pentothal arrow to gain Mr. Grin's obedience. Alex parachutes out of the helicopter and lands just as the Prime Minister is about to press the button which will activate the computers. Alex uses a carbine to shoot the podium, which destroys the button, and ruins Sayle's plan.

Furious, Sayle leaves to carry out his secondary plan, and Alex, with the help of school friend Sabina Pleasure pursues Sayle through the streets of London. Fifty floors up on one of Sayle's skyscrapers, Alex reaches him and unplugs his backup transmitter. Sayle chases him out onto the roof and pushes both the kids off the roof, leaving them hanging by a dislodged cable. Suddenly, Yassen arrives unexpected in a helicopter and kills Sayle (in the same manner he did Ian) before rescuing Alex. Yassen then tells Alex that Sayle had become an embarrassment to his employers, and that Alex should forget about him, but Alex refuses saying that the killing of Ian means they are still enemies.

Alex returns to school; he and Sabina are talking about what happened and he says that it will never happen again. The film ends with someone observing Alex from a distance. He notices it and realizes that it's not the end.

Awards

  • Stockport Schools' Book Award
  • Red House Children's Book Award

Trivia

  • Stormbreaker was the only book so far in the series that didn't end with a pitched, climatic battle at the climax of the story.
  • It is also one of the two books where Alex is debriefed even when the antagonist is still alive, the second being Point Blanc.
  • A missing chapter was released on the internet for the Stormbreaker book. It features Alex and K-Unit during RTI (Resistance to Interrogation) training exercise while at Brecon Beacons. It can be found here. A similar idea was used in the "Stormbreaker" movie too but Alex had to exit the gaol through a chimneyplace.

Useful Links


Stormbreaker Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderAlan BluntTulip JonesJack StarbrightHerod SayleYassen Gregorovich
Other Key Characters
Ian RiderSmithersNadia VoleMr. GrinWolfJohn Crawley

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