Anthony Horowitz

Eagle Strike

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Eagle Strike Summary

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Eagle Strike (2003) is the fourth novel in British author Anthony Horowitz’s young adult spy series about teen MI6 spy Alex Rider. When Alex’s holiday is disrupted by the attempted murder of his host, the young man is forced to investigate the activities of a ruthless billionaire intent on making the world a better place by deploying twenty-five nuclear bombs around the world to put an end to the drug trade. In the process of stopping this doomsday scenario, Alex uncovers new information about his late father and also deepens his relationship with a close friend.

The novel opens with a prologue that takes place fifteen years before the main plot – before Alex Rider had been born. Two assassins have found a key player in the drug trade in the Amazon jungle and set up their sniper rifles to kill him before he can escape by helicopter. At the last moment, one of the assassins finds a black widow spider on his neck and is paralyzed by the discovery. The other assassin saves the mission by lining up his shot in a way that both kills the target and hits the spider. The rescued assassin thanks his partner as they prepare to leave.

The main action of the novel picks up with Alex relaxing in the south of France with the family of his friend Sabrina Pleasure – a holiday that is interrupted when Alex spots Yassen Gregovich, the assassin who killed Alex’s uncle, on the beach. Although he is now on alert, it still shocks everyone when the house of the Pleasure family explodes, supposedly from a gas leak. Sabrina’s father, Edward, is injured, but rather than stay to protect her, Alex decides to sneak aboard Yassen’s yacht, convinced that Yassen is behind the attack. After being captured by Yassen’s goons, Alex is involuntarily entered into a bullfighting competition.

Alex escapes from the bulls and then, uses the phone he stole from the yacht to discover that Yassen has been talking to Damian Cray, a billionaire video game developer. However, when he contacts his MI6 handler Alan Blunt, Alex is told that investigating the connection between Yassen and Cray is out of the question. Defeated, he returns to Sabrina, confessing that he is actually a secret agent, only to realize that she is furious that he left her in danger and refuses to believe his story.

Unwilling to let the Cray clue go, Alex gets himself into the reception for a game console Cray’s company has launched, featuring a demo of the flagship game “Feathered Serpent.” The game’s violence is unprecedented; a journalist who asks Cray pointed questions about it is later found dead. Worried, Alex travels to Paris to reach out to journalist Marc Antonio, who is killed by Cray’s men just as he finishes telling Alex that Cray has made some kind of deal with Charlie Roper, an American NSA agent.

Alex sets out for the Amsterdam headquarters of Cray Software Technologies, where he overhears Roper and Cray discussing a flash drive, after which Roper is killed by a cascade of two million dollars worth of nickels – Cray’s ironic payment for services rendered. Alex is briefly trapped in a real-life version of “Feathered Serpent,” but extricates himself, steals the flash drive Cray had been talking about, and escapes on a gadget-equipped bicycle.

Cray kidnaps Sabrina and holds her hostage, forcing Alex to return the flash drive in exchange for her release. Reneging on his promise immediately, Cray tosses Alex and Sabrina into a locked cellar, revealing his evil plan codenamed “Eagle Strike”: he is going to use Air Force One to launch twenty-five nuclear weapons at major drug-producing countries to eradicate the drug trade, unconcerned about the unnecessary loss of millions of innocent lives. Horrified, Alex and Sabrina apologize to each other and make up.

Yassen gives the two teens nuclear-proof hazmat suits, forcing them to fly to Heathrow Airport in London where Cray creates a diversion so Cray, Yassen, Alex, Sabrina, and a pilot named Henryk can sneak aboard Air Force One. The flash drive activates the missile launcher, and Henryk prepares to fly the plane to Russia, Yassen’s home base. Cray orders Yassen to kill Alex and Sabrina, but surprisingly, Yassen refuses. An angry Cray shoots Yassen and Alex.

Sabrina explodes in a rage, attacking Cray. Alex, who wasn’t hurt by the bullet because he was wearing an MI6-issued bulletproof jersey, joins the attack. Eventually, the teens push Cray out a window, and he is immediately sucked into one of the jet engines along with a metallic trolley. The impact kills Cray instantly and disables the engine, forcing Henryk to lose control of the plane. Unable to avoid a crash, Henryk dies of a broken neck when the plane careens off the runway. Alex and Sabrina are wounded in the crash as well but survive.

A dying Yassen reveals to Alex that he had worked as an assassin alongside his father, John Rider and that once, John Rider had saved his life in an Amazon jungle. The scar on Yassen’s neck reveals him as one of the two men in the prologue.

Yassen then gives Alex a cryptic instruction to find something called “Scorpia” in Venice. However, when the head of MI6 visits Alex to apologize for not believing him earlier, Alex lies and says that Yassen didn’t share any important information before his death.

The novel ends as Alex prepares to travel to Venice. He meets up with Sabrina, who tells him that her family is moving to San Francisco. They kiss and say goodbye.