Scorpia Rising cover
|Series||Alex Rider series|
|Genre||Adventure, spy novel|
31 March 2011
|Preceded by||Crocodile Tears|
|Followed by||Russian Roulette|
Scorpia Rising, the ninth and final chronological novel in the Alex Rider series, was released in March 2011. In the book, Scorpia is hired to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Their plan includes the laying of a false trail to Cairo, Egypt, killing Alex Rider, and blackmailing London into returning the Marbles. MI6 falls for the trap and Alex is sent to Cairo, where, unbeknownst to Alex, Scorpia is pulling the strings. Anthony Horowitz (the author of the series) has said, in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, that another novel, based on Yassen Gregorovich's life, will be written, the final book.
The novel starts with Zeljan Kurst, leader of Scorpia, arriving at the British Museum to meet Yannis Ariston Xenopolos, a Greek billionaire terminally ill with cancer, who pays Scorpia €40 million to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Kurst assigns the mission to the newest Scorpia board member, the emotionless Abdul-Aziz Al-Rashim, known as Razim, a former member of the Jihaz Al-Mukhabarat Al-A'ma, Iraq's intelligence service, and one-time operative for al-Qaeda, now based in Cairo, where he is attempting to devise a measurable unit for pain through torture experiments.
Razim suggests blackmail, attempting to almost ruin the British reputation with the rest of the world. His plan, named "Operation Horseman", will have him manipulate MI6 into sending Alex on a mission, building up a file on Alex and his previous work for MI6, kill him after making it appear that he was involved in an act that will receive universal condemnation, and then threaten to make the Horseman file public unless the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece. Levi Kroll, a longtime member of Scorpia refuses to agree to the idea of taking on Alex for a third time, and is killed when he tries to leave the organization.
In a secret prison in Gibraltar for those too dangerous to be kept on British soil, Scorpia manages to free Julius Grief, the clone of Hugo Grief from Point Blanc who underwent plastic surgery to look exactly like Alex Rider. Julius is now completely insane, hellbent on taking revenge on Alex for the death of his father. Scorpia hide a gun in the library for Julius along with instructions, enabling him to escape the prison in a Suzuki Jimny planted nearby. An elaborate ruse involving a duplicate Jimny allows him to fake his death. Following the escape, Scorpia set events in motion by arranging for Kroll's body to turn up in London. When the MI6 scientists find Kroll, objects on his person lead them to suspect an attack at the fictional Cairo International College of Arts and Education, where many wealthy children are sent.
At school, Alex is attacked by a sniper who wounds his friend Tom Harris with his second shot. Alex follows the sniper and is able to send his helicopter crashing into the Thames. With Alex still in potential danger, Alan Blunt uses the opportunity to send him on a mission to Cairo International College to investigate the new head of security Erik Gunter, believing he might have something to do with Scorpia. Alex's friend and guardian Jack Starbright demands to come along to keep an eye on him, while Mrs. Jones insists on sending Derek Smithers to co-ordinate the mission.
Alex's investigation leads to a floating jewelry shop, the House of Gold, where he finds the body of a weapons dealer who has just been shot by Gunter after selling him a sniper rifle. The shop is blown up whilst Alex is on board, and after escaping by jumping into the River Nile, he is kidnapped by several agents, who take him to a room where he is waterboarded for information. However, this is quickly stopped by Joe Byrne, revealing that the mysterious group are the CIA, who have recognized Alex as an MI6 spy and believe he is there as an assassin. After furiously dismissing the interrogators, Byrne explains that they are in Cairo to protect the American Secretary of State (implied to be Hillary Clinton), who is planning to denounce Britain's status as a world power in a speech, in order to draw international attention to herself.
Having warned Byrne of the danger posed by Erik Gunter, Alex agrees with Jack that it is time to leave Cairo, and so goes to Smithers' safehouse to inform him of his escapades before heading to the airport. However, the safehouse comes under attack from Scorpia, and although multiple booby traps devised by Smithers subdue several would-be assassins, Alex and Smithers barely escape with their lives. Knowing that he is being targeted, Smithers reveals his last gadget – a fat suit which he has been wearing since the moment Alex met him – and Alex discovers that Smithers is really a skinny Irishman in his late thirties.
While Smithers goes to ground, Alex returns home to find Jack has been kidnapped and a note ordering him to a tomb in the City of the Dead, or she will die. Alex arrives at the cemetery, where he is kidnapped by Julius and Gunter, and ordered to hold the sniper rifle that Gunter collected from the House of Gold. Both Alex and Jack are taken to Razim's fort in the Sahara Desert, where Alex is to be Razim's next subject. As Alex's body must not be marked in any way, Razim decides to subject him to emotional pain. Razim pretends to allow Jack to escape, knock out a guard and drive off in an old Land Rover. Unbeknownst to her, the Land Rover has explosives connected to it and, with Alex watching live on a screen, Julius detonates the bomb, killing her instantly. Alex's grief is too much for him to handle and he blacks out.
Alex is then taken to Cairo, where he is told what will face him by Gunter: when the American Secretary of State decries the United Kingdom and gives her speech, Julius (posing as Alex on a school trip) will assassinate her with the sniper rifle, and in the clamor that follows, Alex's body will be found nearby, along with the discarded gun that already has his fingerprints on it. This will allow Alex to be framed, and Scorpia will be able to blackmail the British Government. As a last request, Alex asks for a cigarette from a packet he stole from Razim, and as Gunter opens it, an irate scorpion hidden by Alex stings him. This immobilizes Gunter enough for Alex to steal his gun and break his nose; Gunter dies when his head smashes against the van door. Alex then rushes inside, just at the time when Julius is sneaking away in order to go to his hidden sniper rifle. Alex distracts Julius just in the nick of time, alerting everyone to the presence of a sniper, and only a CIA operative is killed by Julius as he escapes, having stolen a handgun from a policeman.
Alex chases Julius through the streets of Cairo, arriving at a grassy verge by the side of a road, where Julius has collapsed after being hit by a car. He claims that Alex wouldn't dare kill him, but as Alex turns away, he shoots in self-defence when Julius goes for his gun. He then meets up with the CIA, who are forming a joint taskforce with the Egyptians in order to take out Razim. Alex insists on coming with them so as to avoid suspicion when landing. After the pilot is tortured into revealing the signal to land, the helicopter flies to Razim's fort, where Alex poses as Julius when arriving. Razim sees through this, but not before Alex is able to evade capture, and destroy the building operating the fortress's security with a hand grenade, allowing the taskforce to join the battle. Razim then confronts Alex on a rope bridge over a pile of salt and sand, but a CIA operative on the ground intervenes, using his machine gun to break the bridge in half. While Alex manages to get a hold on the bridge and survive, Razim falls into the salt and disintegrates.
After this incident, the remaining Scorpia members are arrested including Kurst. Back in England, Blunt is retiring and will leave his job to Mrs. Jones. Before Blunt says goodbye, Mrs. Jones discusses the psychological damage Alex's last assignment has inflicted – the killing of Julius, the gruesome death of Razim, and the murder of his best friend have left him broken, and Mrs. Jones vows never to repeat the experiment of a teenage spy. She then reveals that she knows Blunt hired the sniper to fire at Alex's school, meaning Blunt is also partly responsible for Jack's death. Alex, meanwhile, sets off for the United States with Edward Pleasure, Sabina Pleasure's father, who has become his guardian, escaping from MI6 and the world of spying once and for all.
- Alex Rider - The main protagonist, Alex Rider is an incredibly skilled teenage spy. Throughout the series, Alex's mentality or body is damaged in some way after each mission, but after this one he is marred forever.
- Jack Starbright - Alex's housekeeper and mother figure, Jack is fiercely protective over Alex. Ultimately, her love for Alex proves to be both their downfalls.
- Alan Blunt - The utterly ruthless Head of MI6, Alan Blunt is threatened with losing his job after the events of Eagle Strike, but his threat finally becomes real at the end of Scorpia Rising.
- Mrs. Jones - Alan Blunt's empathetic, but equally ruthless Deputy Head and the only one of the two who is on good speaking terms with Alex Rider. She becomes the Head of MI6 after the events of the book.
- Derek Smithers - The incredibly warm-hearted quartermaster of MI6. It appears that his greatest gadget of all is his own skin: He looks fat, but that is just a disguise. He is very different underneath.
- Razim - The main antagonist of Scorpia Rising, Razim is the ultimate sociopath who intends to create an unit of measurement for pain. Despite his intelligence, he is shown to be almost completely incapable of emotion.
- Julius Grief - A clone of Dr Hugo Grief - From the book Point Blanc - who received plastic surgery that made him completely identical to Alex Rider. Throughout the books, he shows signs of having a borderline personality disorder. He is a sadistic and vengeful psychopath who is obsessed with killing Alex Rider.
- Erik Gunter - A war hero from Afghanistan, who betrays his country to work for Scorpia.
- Zeljan Kurst - The Head of the Executive Board of Scorpia. Kurst is arrested at the end of the book.
- Yannis Ariston Xenopolos - Who hires Scorpia to make the British return the Elgin Marbles to their rightful owners