Scorpia (novel)

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First edition cover
Scorpia Cover
Author Anthony Horowitz
Illustrator Jack Pare
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 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 is apparently killed by a sniper.

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


The letters SCORPIA stand for "Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence and Assassination".


The novel begins with the prologue-like introduction of a terrorist organization called SCORPIA, its leader as Julia Rothman. She walks into a secret room to discuss with the terrorist about her final stage of plan, when one of them, Max Grendel, tells her his retiring and his quitting from the organization. Julia goes out with him and sends Max to his waiting boat. Before he goes, she gives him a silver box and tells him to open it once he gets to the boat. He does, but the box reveals to be filled with scorpions. As a result, the neurotoxin kills Max.

Alex Rider goes on a trip with his friend Tom Harris in Venice, still struggling to comprehend the massive revelation that Yassen Gregorovich told him, shortly before his death. Alex now thinks his father was an assassin for SCORPIA, one of the finest agents in the world and also saved Yassen's life.

With the help of Tom, Alex manages to sneak into Julia Rothman's party, infiltrating her office. He overhears a conversation between Mrs. Rothman and Harold Liebermann, the executive of a pharmaceutical called Consanto Enterprises. In her office he finds a brochure for Consanto. But before he can read more, a tiger, which appeared to have been a rug, comes to life and tries to attack.

Suddenly, a man named Nile, enters and puts the tiger to sleep with a remote control.

Alex is ready to escape, but Nile overpowers Alex and knocks him out and places him in a water chamber, leaving him to drown. Alex manages to swim out of a pipe where the water was coming from and surfaces to the Grand Canal and the next day, he tells Tom his entire story on a train trip to visit Tom's brother Jerry.

Jerry Harris, an experienced BASE jumper, agrees to help Alex enter Consanto Enterprises. Alex BASE jumps from a cliff onto the roof and enters the building from a fire exit.

However, he is spotted by Dr. Liebermann, who is about to call security when Nile shows up. Nile tells Dr. Liebermann he will handle Alex. Nile takes out a samurai sword and throws it across the hall, and to Alex's surprise, the sword hits Dr. Liebermann's neck, killing him.

Nile sets a bomb to go off and takes Alex away to see Mrs. Julia Rothman. Rothman meets Alex for dinner offers to have him join SCORPIA. Alex tells her he does not want to join SCORPIA, but would like to know the truth about his father.

Julia Rothman shows him the video of his father's apparent death and tells Alex that his father was killed by MI6 under the instructions of deputy head of MI6 special Operations and the woman who sent Alex on three of his missions, Mrs Jones. After hearing this, Alex decides he wants to join SCORPIA and begins his training at SCORPIA's "school" on Malagosto, and island near Venice. He informs its principal he does not have the instinct to kill and he will be unable to be an assassin.

To try to remedy the problem, Alex is sent on a mission to murder Mrs. Jones. He fails and is captured by MI6 who in turn convince him to work as a double agent within SCORPIA to pass along information on the Invisible Sword project. Alex agrees and MI6 sets up a fake escape for him. He rejoins Rothman who acts suspicious but accepts that he succeeded in the mission anyway.

Rothman thinks Alex should witness the conclusion of Invisible Sword, and takes him to an abandoned church which is their base of operations. Alex sees the satellites MI6 was so feverishly looking for are in fact concealed in a hot-air balloon, and must be activated at a height of 1000 feet in order to work. Rothman seems proud of her work, Alex, however, is horrified, and accidentally lets slip "You can't kill children just to get rich!"

Rothman's suspicions grew, as she never mentioned children. She discovered the gadget in his mouth and labeled him a traitor. However, she refrained from killing him, planning on allowing him witness their work instead.

The SAS arrive, and Alex makes his escape, beginning to climb up the rope of the balloon, hoping to deactivate the satellites in time. Rothman ordered Nile to follow him, but Nile hesitated, as his greatest fear and weakness is heights. He eventually pursued the young spy.

Alex and Nile reach the top of the balloon as it reaches 100 meters. Nile threw a sword at Alex, but missed due to the sun's glare. Nile is again hesitant, and Alex realizes the assassin is scared of heights. Alex psyches Nile out, and tears into a cable connected to the burner with the sword Nile threw at him while he's distracted. Nile threw his second sword causing a ball of fire is released, knocking Nile off the balloon and causing the assassin to fall to his death. At the same time, the satellites are damaged by the fire, saving the schoolchildren.

The satellites fall and hit Mrs. Rothman just as she is escaping from the SAS in disguise as a drunk lady who doesn't know whats she's doing, killing her instantly. Alex is later debriefed by MI6 one week post mission, and he learns that his father was not an assassin, but was actually working deep cover for MI6. Some of the assassinations were faked, and he was secretly tipping MI6 off for years. MI6 gave John and Helen a vacation to France shortly afterwards, but Alex had an ear infection at the last second. However, Mrs. Rothman somehow found out John was with MI6 and was still alive, and arranged for a bomb to be placed on the plane and detonated.

After Alex learns the truth, the novel transfers to a SCORPIA terrorist's point of view as he shoots Alex in the chest, ending in a cliffhanger.


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]


On the first lines of the first page of the last chapter 'A Mother's Touch', there is a reference to the horror film The Grudge, saying 'Scorpia never forgave. Scorpia never forgot.'.


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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