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 penultimate, 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 requests that Scorpia return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. Kurst is promised €40 million, half in advance. A mole offered a new identity has tipped off MI6 about the visit, and agents tail Kurst from the moment he lands on British soil. However, Scorpia agents in the museum disguised as visitors help Kurst to escape. He 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 come up with a measurable unit for pain through torture experiments, with a particular interest in acquiring a teenager for his studies. Razim suggests blackmail, attempting to almost ruin the British reputation with the rest of the world. The plan requires Scorpia to build up a file, secretly named Horseman, on Alex Rider's role as an agent for MI6. Razim intends to force MI6 to send Alex on a mission, kill the boy 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, ruining Britain's reputation, unless the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece.
In a secret prison in Gibraltar for those criminals 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 operatives hide a gun in the library for Julius along with instructions, enabling him to get out of the gates by taking his psychiatrist hostage. His death is faked with a remote-controlled car, a duplicate of the one he was driving which contains a dummy in the front, being sent over a cliff which is released from a barn soon after he drives into it. Scorpia also decides that the best way to set events in motion would be for a body to turn up in London that will lead MI6 to Cairo, where Razim will be pulling the strings. Kurst decides the body will be that of the veteran Scorpia board member, the rebellious Israeli Levi Kroll, who is promptly shot in the neck by a sniper, and placed in cold storage, before being transported and dumped in the River Thames. When the MI6 scientists find Kroll, obejects of his person lead them to suspect an attack at the 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 in the arm with his second shot. Alex follows the sniper and is able to send the helicopter and the sniper who is escaping in it crashing into the Thames. With Alex still in potential danger, Alan Blunt uses the attack as opportunity to send Alex 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. Unlike in most other missions, 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 a mysterious group, 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, who is planning to make an anti-British speech in order to draw international attention to herself, and the CIA have been called to provide security.
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, ranging from itching powder to a doormat which leads to the Cairo sewers, subdue several would-be assassins, Alex and Smithers barely escape with their lives. Knowing that he is the target of the attack, Smithers reveals his last gadget to Alex - 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 is ordering him to get 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 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. However, Razim's plan requires that Alex's body must not be marked in any way. So Razim instead decides to use the opportunity to subject him to emotional pain. He strips Alex down to his boxers, ties him up, and attaches several emotion-recording devices to him. Razim pretends to allow Jack to escape from her cell by making sure one of the bars is weak enough to be removed with a knife Jack has stolen, knock out a guard and drive off in an old Land Rover. Unbeknownst to her, the Land Rover has 30 kilograms of 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 anti-British 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, threatening to expose their file on MI6's use of a schoolboy as an assassin unless the Elgin Marbles are returned. As a last request, Alex asks for a cigarette, and as Gunter opens the packet, an irate scorpion inside the packet, hidden previously 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 and kill the Secretary of State. However, Alex distracts Julius just in the nick of time, so a shot is fired, alerting everyone to the presence of a sniper, and only a CIA operative is killed by Julius as he escapes into the crowd, 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 in the desert. Alex insists on coming with them so as to avoid suspicion when landing. After the pilot is tortured to into revealing the code word Selket, the signal to land when approaching the fort, the helicopter flies to Razim's fort, where Alex poses as Julius when arriving. However, 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 grusome death of Razim, and the murder of his best friend have left him broken, and Mrs. Jones vows never to repeat the experiment of using a teenage spy. Mrs. Jones then reveals she knows Blunt hired the sniper to fire at Alex's school, which means that he is also partly responsible for Jack's death. Alex then sets off for America with Edward, Sabina Pleasure's father, who has adopted him, escaping from MI6 and the world of spying once and for all.
- Horowitz, Anthony (December 2, 2010). "Scorpia Rising – Trade Advertising". Retrieved 31 March 2011.