Scorpia (novel)

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First edition cover
Author Anthony Horowitz
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Alex Rider series
Genre Adventure, Spy novel, thriller
Publisher Walker Books (UK)
Publication date
1 April 2004
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 369 pg. (first edition, paperback) 388 pg. (second edition, paperback) 312 pg. (third edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-7445-8323-3 (first edition, paperback) ISBN 0-399-24151-5 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 54824099
LC Class PZ7.H7875 Sc 2004
Preceded by Eagle Strike
Followed by Ark Angel

Scorpia is the fifth book in the Alex Rider series (stories about the adventures of Alex Rider a 14–15-year-old spy), written by British author Anthony Horowitz. It begins several weeks after the events of fourth book, Eagle Strike, and up to nine days before the sixth, Ark Angel.

The book concerns the plans of a criminal organisation attempting to disrupt UK/US relations by murdering schoolchildren. Alex thwarts them by infiltrating the organisation but at the end is shot by a Scorpia sniper, leaving his fate unknown.

It was released in the United Kingdom on 1 April 2004 and in the United States on 17 March 2005.


Alex Rider goes on a school trip to Venice in order to investigate Scorpia (an acronym for "Sabotage, CORruPtion, Intelligence and Assassination"), an organization that carries out acts of terrorism for money, having been told to do so by Yassen Gregorovitch if he wished to learn about his father. With the help of his best friend Tom Harris, Alex manages to sneak into a party hosted by Julia Rothman, an executive member of Scorpia, and discovers evidence linking the organization to a pharmaceutical company called Consanto Enterprises. Before Alex can learn more, he is confronted by a Scorpia agent named Nile, who overpowers him and locks him in a room that will flood as the Venice tide increases, drowning him. Alex manages to escape into the Grand Canal.

With the help of Tom's brother Jerry, Alex BASE jumps into Consanto Enterprises, and is eventually confronted by Dr. Liebermann, the head of the organization. Nile shows up, but much to Alex's surprise, he kills Liebermann and offers to take Alex to see Rothman. While having dinner with her, Alex is told that his father was a Scorpia agent, and was not killed in a plane crash as MI6 claimed, but was in fact murdered by them while being exchanged for one of Scorpia's hostages, on the orders of Mrs Jones. After hearing this, Alex decides he wants to join Scorpia and begins his training at Scorpia's "school" on the island of Malagosto, an island near Venice. He becomes a top student, but his instructors become concerned upon learning that he lacks a willingness to kill.

During these events, Scorpia mail a list of political demands for the American Government to the British Government, warning them that if the demands are not followed through, Scorpia will use a weapon codenamed Invisible Sword to carry out a massacre of children in London. As a demonstration, Scorpia use the weapon on the England National Football Team reserves as they return from a tournament in Africa; despite the best efforts of the British security services, the team are all killed through an unexplained means. Scorpia take advantage of the chaos at the airport to smuggle Alex back into the country, where he attempts to murder Mrs Jones on Scorpia's orders, his instructors believing the promise of revenge will make him more willing to kill. Though Alex is willing to fire a gun at Mrs Jones, it hits an invisible pane of bulletproof glass, and he is captured by MI6. Alex later learns that he turned the gun away at the last moment.

Mr Blunt convinces Alex to help stop Scorpia's operation, and they attend a meeting of COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) to plan on a course of action. Based on Alex's observations, the group deduce that Scorpia has secretly added a lethal poison to a number of vaccines at Consanto Enterprises, including the yellow fever vaccines given to the football team, and the BCG injections recently received by London schoolchildren. They also figure out that Scorpia can activate the poison at will using terahertz beams. A search of the city for the dishes that will transmit the terahertz beams begins, but Jones and Blunt suspect that there is more to Scorpia's plan that meets the eye. They fake Alex's escape from MI6 custody to enable him to rejoin Rothman and learn the true location of the terahertz dishes.

Alex discovers that Rothman intends to use a hot air balloon to lift the dishes into position, keeping them out of sight until Scorpia's deadline. He also learns that Scorpia's plan is to destroy the special relationship between Britain and America. The demands to the Americans were deliberately made unattractive to them; once Invisible Sword has been used, Scorpia will threaten the Americans with the weapon while making more lenient demands, intending to make them look unwilling to help their allies and turn them into an international pariah. Alex alerts MI6 to the launch site's location with a tracking device designed as a mouth brace, but gives himself away when he reveals his knowledge that children will be the primary target of the attack. An SAS squad sent to follow Alex launches an attack on the launch site, and Alex uses the distraction to climb onto the balloon, closely followed by Nile. He manages to destroy the balloon, Nile getting himself killed in the process, and the terahertz equipment is destroyed, Alex surviving by clinging onto the balloon. Rothman is later killed when the equipment falls from the sky and crushes her.

A week later, Alex learns that John was in fact an MI6 double agent within Scorpia, and that his death at the hostage exchange had been faked, in order to both get him out of Scorpia and allow him to retire from the spy world. Alex's parents had indeed been killed in a plane crash, arranged by Rothman once she learned of John's betrayal. As Alex leaves MI6's headquarters, he is shot by a Scorpia assassin in retaliation for his actions, his fate left uncertain.


The official review from Amazon Canada said, "Fans of the Alex Rider Adventures will not be disappointed by the slam-bang action in this fifth book in the spy thriller series, although the ending may leave them feeling a bit dismayed." [1]


The book won many awards and was accredited as an excellent book for young adults. It was nominated and won the following awards:

  • Lincolnshire Young People's Book Award
  • Grampian Children's Book Award
  • Berkshire Book Award
  • Gateshead Children's Book Award
  • Galaxy British Book Awards: The Children's Book of the Year
  • Doncaster Children's Book of the Year Award
  • Redbridge Children's Book Award
  • BAA and Expedia Book Awards
  • Berkshire Book Award
  • Lancashire Children's Book of the Year
  • Salford Children's Book Award
  • Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award
  • Lancashire Fantastic Book Award


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