Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

The basics

Title: Stormbreaker


Series: Alex Rider #1

- Stormbreaker (2000)
- Point Blank (2001)
- Skeleton Key (2002)
- Eagle Strike (2003)
- Scorpia (2004)
- Ark Angel (2005)
- Snakehead (2007)
- Crocodile Tears (2009)
- Scorpia Rising (2011)
- Russian Roulette (2013)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down.

Within days he's gone from schoolboy to superspy. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises; then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he's off on his first mission. But Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. It looks as if his first assignment may well be his last...

Read a full summary of Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz below. If you can’t remember what happened in Stormbreaker and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

A huge thanks once again to Rachel @ Rachel’s Reading Corner for writing this recap!

in short

Alex Rider’s uncle and legal guardian – named Ian – is murdered. Turns out that Ian leads a double life and is actually a spy for MI6. His supervisor and head of the MI6 branch Ian worked for, Alan Blunt, coerces Alex into completely the mission his uncle didn’t get to finish. A crazy man named Herod Sayle tries to kill half of Britain’s students by unleashing a weaponized smallpox virus through his new computer system called Stormbreaker. Alex goes undercover at his mansion to investigate. He is almost killed several times. Eventually he saves the day.

what happened in Stormbreaker?

  • Alex finds out that his uncle – and adoptive guardian – has been killed in a car accident. Alex is suspicious that Ian supposedly wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and his office has already been cleared out.
  • Alex discovers Ian’s car at a wreckage yard and almost gets crushed by a car crusher investigating it.
  • Alex is invited to his uncle’s former workplace – a bank called Royal & General – and breaks into Ian’s office, having to climb out the window and jump across balconies to do so. He discover evidence of Ian’s double life before being knocked out.
  • When he wakes up, Alex meets the head of MI6 – Alan Blunt – and his deputy Mrs Jones. They explain about Ian’s real job – as a spy for MI6 – and the situation with Herod Sayle.
  • (For recap: Herod Sayle is a crazy, wealthy Lebanese man who developed a new computer system called Stormbreaker. He is going to give a free one to all the schools in Britain, after a ceremony at the Science Museum, as a “thank you” for taking him in when he was a child – he was a immigrant, obviously. MI6 is suspicious about his generosity and sent Ian (undercover) to investigate the stormbreakers more. Before he died Ian said he had discovered something important.)
  • MI6 hire Alex to complete the mission. They blackmail him with Jack’s – his housekeeper / guardian – legal status in Britain in order to get his help.
  • He is trained at a secret SAS training camp.
  • He goes to Herod Sayle’s headquarters in Cornwall, posing as a boy who won a competition to visit the secret headquarters and get a chance to use the first Stormbreaker.
  • Sayle gives Alex a tour of the mansion where he lives. There’s a large man-o-war being kept in an aquarium as a pet – weird! He meets the creepy butler guy called Mr Grin.
  • Alex finds a cryptic diagram (drawn by Ian) in his bed’s canopy. Sayle dislikes Alex, however, especially when he finds him in a restricted area of the factory. He also beats Sayle in a game of snooker, embarrassing him.
  • Later that night, Alex sneaks down to the wharf and catches a group of Sayle’s agents – lead by Yassen, the assassin that killed Ian – unloading metal cases from a nuclear submarine. When someone drops a case, Yassen shots them, killing them.
  • The next day, Alex goes to the local town’s library to try and research more. He finds a map in a book that matches Ian’s drawing. Alex learns Ian borrowed books about viruses and assumes that Sayle’s plan is to use the Stormbreaker to release a computer virus.
  • Alex is attacked by armed guards on quad bikes on his way back to the mansion. He manages to trick the guards. One crashes into an electric fence, and the other falls off a cliff face.
  • Alex investigates the mine from the map/book. He follows the path Ian left. It leads to a computer manufacturing facility. Alex sees the Stormbreakers being filled with weird liquids. He realizes that the “computer virus” was actual a physical virus, not a virtual virus.
  • Alex is detected, captured after a near escape and tranquilised by guards.
  • Sayle does the whole “bad guy explains why he’s a bad guy” talk to Alex when he comes to. Turns out that he was bullied for his skin colour (he’s Lebanese) by the boy who grows up to be Britain’s prime minister! Sayle is going to use these computers and their inbuilt viruses to get revenge. The virus turns out to be smallpox – he’s going to kill a lot of people with it.
  • Alex is handcuffed to a radiator after Herod’s speech. Herod’s assistant Nadia Vole, pretends to free Alex and call MI6 for him, but actually opens a trapdoor that makes Alex fall into the giant jellyfish aquarium.
  • Alex escapes the tank by using the acne cream gadget Smithers – a MI6 technician – gave him before his mission. Vole is in front of the tank when Alex escape and the jellyfish falls onto her – killing her instantly – during the process.
  • Alex steals a harpoon gun and escapes. He knocks out a guard with the butt of the gun, takes a jeep and a pistol. He gets pursued by other guards in jeeps but out manoeuvres them. He attaches some nylon cord – from a fancy yo-yo gadget – to the harpoon gun and shoots it into the belly of a cargo plane flying overhead. He manages to get into the plane and confronts the pilot – who turns out to be Mr. Grin. Alex threatens Mr Grin with the pistol and forces him to fly to London.
  • When they arrive at London, it’s almost noon – the time Herod planes to release the virus. Alex grabs a parachute from the plane and jumps off the plane with one. Mr. Grin tries to ram Alex with the plane during the jump. Alex uses a game-boy gadget that unleashes a smoke bomb to distract him. Mr Grin crashes and the plane into the River Thames – assumedly dying in the process.
  • Alex crashes through the roof of the Science Museum and ends up dangling from one of the roof’s beams. He draws the pistol and tries to shoot the Stormbreaker computer – to stop it from instructing the other Stormbreaker computers to unleash their viruses. He accidently shoots the prime minster once and hits Sayle twice.
  • Sayle manages to disappear before MI6 can capture him. Mrs Jones saves Alex. MI6 recalls all the Stormbreaker computers before any damage was done, publically saying there was “safety issues”.

how did it end?

Alex is debriefed by Blunt and Mrs Jones. He gets into a taxi to go home but Sayle is the driver. He threatens Alex at gunpoint. He leads Alex to a rooftop, planning to kill him, but Yassen – the assassin – drops by helicopter and kills Sayle before he can kill Alex.Yassen tells Alex that Sayle had become an embarrassment to the people he worked for, and that’s why he killed him. Alex promises Yassen – knowing that he is Ian’s murderer – that one day he will track him down and kill him. Yassen tells him to give up the “childish” spy fantasy however, and go back to being a normal schoolboy, before he leaves.

anything else

MI6 = the organisation that Ian Rider worked for, and who hires Alex.

Stormbreaker = a new type of computer that Herod Sayle designed.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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  • Rossellina says:

    I would have watched more Alex Rider moievs too if they’d made them more serious.I know they’re supposed to be fluff but hey, nothing wrong with expecting a little bit more, right? We don’t get the full gravity of what’s happening. And in turn, what should dramatic moments become lighter/fluffy>> This also happened during the short story where Alex watches Ian kill someone. I get the feeling that Horowitz did this on purpose because while he wants Alex to experience loss and pain, he doesn’t want us readers to dwell on that, which is a pity IMHO. Or it could be because he doesn’t want us to feel it until we finish reading the book. Or maybe he could just be not that good of a writer LOLYES to the changes in Alex. IMHO the only thing that would have driven Alex to do *the final step* would be *the thing*. (Gah it’s so difficult to describe things without spoiling anything >_<)

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