Russian Roulette
Russian Roulette
Release date




Publication order
Preceded by
Scorpia Rising
Followed by
"Alex Rider 11" "Never Say Die "

What does it take to make a killer?

—Russian Roulette tagline

Russian Roulette is a novel in the Alex Rider series, written by Anthony Horowitz.

It serves as a prequel or spin-off to the Alex Rider series, but it will mainly focus on the childhood of the assassin that appears in many of the books, Yassen Gregorovich.

The release date (September 2013) and title (Russian Roulette) have been announced via Twitter.

"YASSEN. That’s not the title – I’m still working on it. But I hope to head off to Russia later this year to research Alex 8." -- In a general blog post

Anthony stated in his blog that he had yet to create a concrete title, but has been referring to this project as "Russian Roulette."


Yasha (Yassen's given name) was born in a city known as Estrov to parents who worked in a chemicals factory. Yassen lived a simple life until a deadly variant of anthrax went out of control and was leaked in Estrov, forcing his parents to slip out of the facility, with his father seriously wounded after being chased by the police. They injected an antidote to young Yasha and ordered him to go to Moscow. His friend Leo dies on the way to Moscow because of the anthrax. Upon arriving in the city of Moscow, Yasha's miserable life begins.

Many parts are copied from Oliver Twist, Yasha is alone in the city meets an older boy who intduces him to Fagin, the head thief and Yasha has to squeeze through a window of a rich house and let the others in to steal. After that Yasha is caught by the owner of the house, a Russian head gangster. When Yasha confronts the gangster again, he has broken jaw causing him to mispronounce his name. Instead of Yasha the gangster thinks that he said "Yassen," a highly unusual name in Russia that means ash tree.


Originally, "Yassen" was to follow Snakehead as the eighth book in the series, and would be the final Alex Rider novel, though Horowitz rethought this idea following negative responses during school visits.

Regarding the eighth book, Horowitz stated in 2008: "I've had second thoughts about telling Yassen’s story, which was going to be the subject of this book. I’m thinking of leaving that to number nine. Instead, I’ve got the beginnings of an idea set partly in the UK and partly in Africa."

Eventually, Horowitz decided to write the final Alex Rider novel Scorpia Rising first, and decided to write "Yassen" sometime after that.

Anthony Horowitz says on his blog

"...I’ve finally started work on the eighth novel although I don’t think it’ll be out for quite a while. After much thought, I’ve decided to leave YASSEN (the book I was planning) to the very end of the series. This follows a whole series of school visits where people have been a bit half-hearted about the idea…and I do try to listen to what my readers say! So instead, I’m going to write a full-blooded Alex adventure which begins straight after SNAKEHEAD...-- In a general post
" ...(Well, I’m still going to write about Yassen and I do have one surprise up my sleeve, several years down the line – but this is the last in the series.) I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out. I think it’s the best of the lot – perhaps the best book I’ve ever written." -- In a post on Scorpia Rising

Expected Reception

Fans of the Alex Rider series are eager for the arrival of this book, Yassen Gregorovich becoming and remaining one of the most popular characters in the series since his first appearance in Stormbreaker. It will come out in the U.S. during October 1, 2013. 


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