Alex Rider is a 14 year old boy with 'thin lips, chiseled nose / chin with fair hair hanging over his brown eyes in thin strands'. Since the unexpected death of his uncle, Ian Rider, Alex has been leading a double life as a MI6 spy - like his uncle before him (reference Stormbreaker) - though not always however by choice. 'Locked into a job that would never let him go - 'That's never stopped you from using me'
In this book however, he stumbles upon a plot without even meaning or being directed to - after a chance win in a card game against villain Desmond McCain. Alex thinks that MI6 are using him once again and wants them to on this occasion to let him make his own choices - though as usual this is not how it happens.
' It was possible that Alan Blunt would agree to help him - but it would only ever on his own terms..... it had happened before.'
Alex can at times react like any teenager boy becoming angry when told to do something he doesn't want to or when people refuse to do what he asks them to. However, generally he is intelligent enough to realise that sometimes he has no choice. Time and time again he has recognised that by doing what is requested of him by MI6 he would begin to fill in the gaps of his life. He has also shown an ability to get others to tell him things that adults would struggle to discover - using the uniqueness of his young age to get them to trust him and drop their suspicions - 'If it was a child then the whole thing could have been.... a prank'.
Alex's role in the story is central as ultimately he discovers details of a potential countinent destroying plot 'Greenfields has sold millions of seeds to Africans ... soon the contamination will have spread across half the continent' (a discussion between Alex and McCain) and through his quick thinking foils it by blowing up a dam. His actions and adventures therefore assist the reader in understanding and drawing together all the threads of the story as it reaches its dramatic climax. Without him there would clearly be no story to tell.