A film adaptation, starring Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider, was released in 2006.
The book begins with Alex Rider learning of the death of his uncle and adopted parent, Ian Rider. He is told that Ian died from being in a car accident where he was not wearing a seat-belt, which Alex and his housekeeper find strange. Alex attends the funeral of his deceased where he meets Alan Blunt, who he describes as a boring, emotionless, gray person.Then Alex cruts school, and decides to investigate. He discovers his uncle's car at a wrecking yard, which was not destroyed, but had bullet holes on the windshield. After a near escape from a car crusher, Alex is asked to visit Ian's former employers, a bank called "Royal & General", actually a front for an MI6 spying operation. MI6 head Alan Blunt and his deputy, Tulip Jones, inform him that a successful businessman, Herod Sayle, has built a revolutionary new computer, the Stormbreaker, and will give one free to every secondary school in the United Kingdom, accompanied by a grand activation ceremony in the Science Museum . MI6, however, were suspicious and had deployed Ian Rider, Alex's uncle, to investigate. When Ian had become alarmed by the activities he witnessed, he tried to report to MI6. He was assassinated by Yassen Gregorovich on the return to London. MI6, now deeply alarmed, forcibly recruit Alex and put him through a gruelling SAS training camp . Shortly afterwards, he is deployed to Herod Sayle's base in Cornwall, equipped with no weapons and only some gadgets given to him by an agent named Smithers. He is given a grapling hook disguised as a yo-yo, acne cream, and a Game Boy Console which functions as a map and smoke screen.
Sayle shows Alex around his mansion, which houses a large jellyfish aquarium containing a large Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish. Alex also meets Mr. Grin, a henchman who's name derives from his time as a circus performer, catching knives with his teeth. An accident left him without a tongue and two large scars which give him the appearance of constant smiling.
Initially the trip goes well, with Alex finding a cryptic diagram made by his Uncle Ian in the canopy of his bed. However, Sayle grows to dislike Alex. While investigating the base, Alex sees several of Sayle's agents unloading metal cases with great care from a nuclear submarine. When one of the agents drops a metal case, he is promptly shot dead by Gregorovich. Alex decides to head to the local library to do further investigations, but finds himself attacked by several armed guards on quad bikes, one of whom collides with an electric fence while the other falls from a cliff face.
While searching the library, Alex finds a map in a book about tin mining which matches the diagram left by Ian. He also learns that Ian had borrowed several books about viruses, and assumes that Sayle plans to use the Stormbreaker network to release a computer virus. Alex investigates the mine and, following the path left by his uncle, discovers a large computer manufacturing facility, where the Stormbreaker computers are being filled with a strange fluid. Alex realizes that the 'viruses' being investigated by Ian were not computer viruses, but biological weapons. Alex is detected, and nearly escapes but is eventually caught and tranquilized. When he comes to, Herod explains to Alex his plan.
When Sayle attended snchool, he was bullied because of his accent and skin colour. The worst bully was none other tha the future Prime Minister. As a result, Sayle plans to embarrass the Prime Minister by