|“|| Winston Yu: We had to test him. When he came over to us, we had to make sure he was telling us the truth. After all, we had just been tricked by one British intelligence agent - your father. So we set him a very simple task, one that would prove to us with no doubt he was ready to switch sides
Ash: I didn't want to...
Winston Yu: He didn't want to, but he did. For the money. He put the bomb on the plane and he detonated it with his own hand. Rather more successful than his mission in Mdina. And the start of a long association with us
—Winston Yu revealing Ash's true allegiances to Alex and the fact he killed his parents
Anthony Sean Howell, more commonly referred to by his initials, Ash, is a former MI6 operative and the former best friend of the late John Rider. He is a major character in Snakehead and is revealed to be a double agent, working not for MI6, nor for ASIS, but in fact Scorpia.
Ash was born in England and worked alongside John Rider as an MI6 agent. They were almost the same age and eventually became close enough to the point where Ash was best man at John’s wedding and was even named godfather to his son, Alex Rider.
During Ash's first assignment for MI6, he was partnered with John Rider in Prague, the first mission Rider was in charge of, as Ash had been sent along to 'learn the ropes'. Alan Blunt reprimanded Rider after two agents from outside of MI6 were killed and because of the reaction from the Czech police, however John remained calm and lucid. Soon after this event, Ash and John became friends, and frequently played badminton together, despite the fact that Rider won most of their games.
When John infiltrated the terrorist consortium SCORPIA and became a double agent, it was Ash’s duty to lead a group of eight men in Mdina, Malta, to ‘capture’ John and take him back to MI6 so he could end his assignment. However, Ash got the timing wrong, which resulted in Yassen Gregorovich, the man John was with on the mission, killing Caxero, a local criminal, and four of the agents sent, including Travis. Ash and his team were all wearing body armour, so this made Yassen realise that the men were armed. The men had orders not to shoot Yassen, meaning they were unable to do anything as he shot at them. Ash then chased down Yassen for unknown reasons, which ended with the assassin stabbing Ash in the stomach.
Because four of his men had died on the mission, Ash was demoted by Alan Blunt, confined to a desk job, and told he was “second-rate," never to be as good as his best friend. Unable to work in the field anyway because of his injuries and growing increasingly jealous of John Rider’s abilities and reputation in MI6, Ash left and joined SCORPIA. His first task was to place and activate a bomb on the private plane belonging to John and Helen Rider, failing which, he would be killed. Ash appears to have some regret about killing them, regularly described as having a ‘haunted’ look about him whenever Alex’s parents are brought up in conversation. It also appears he is haunted by what happened in Malta, as Alex sees him clutching his stomach as if in pain while having a nightmare.
Ash visited the home of Alex Rider when he was young, though Alex does not remember his visits. He is said to have been friends with the late Ian Rider and has previously gone out with Alex’s housekeeper and best friend, Jack Starbright, a few times despite being much older than her. He eventually left to work for the ASIS in Australia.
Role in Series
Ash first appears in Snakehead when Alex wanders into a minefield, though it is only later that Alex learns his real identity. Ash tells him not to move and that he would go and get help, before leaving. This was later revealed to be a test to see how Alex would react. After meeting with Ethan Brooke , the head of Covert Action for the ASIS, Alex learns Ash is his godfather, and the desire to learn about both him and about Alex’s past serves as a primary motivation for Alex to accept going on a mission with him. Both Ash and Alex pose as Afghan refugees in order to investigate the ruthless Snakehead, trying to gain the Snakehead’s help in illegally immigrating to Australia.
At the end of Snakehead, when Major Yu's oil rig is attacked by a joint British/Australian taskforce, Ash is shot by Ben Daniels, and is then revealed to have been working for SCORPIA. Alex then learns about Ash’s involvement in his parents’ death, and Ash expresses some sadness at killing them just before he dies. When Alex is later asked who Ash was, he takes one last look at his body before saying he was nobody.
Ash is described as being slim and wiry, fast moving rather than physically strong. He is said to look like a film star, and doesn't appear to be European, with suntanned skin, black curly hair, the beginnings of a rough beard and dark brown eyes. Fourteen years of living in Australia has left Ash with a slight Australian accent, though it is still possible to hear the English one too. He has a large scar on his stomach from his encounter with Yassen Gregorovich in Malta.
- Alex Rider and Jack Starbright has never known his full name.
- Ash is seen smoking at several points in the book, and his name may possibly be a reference to this. Alex also notes that it is surprising that Ash smokes, considering the fact that he chooses to look after himself in so many other ways.
- Ash's role in the book is similar to that of Alec Trevelyan (a.k.a. Agent 006) in the James Bond film GoldenEye.
- In the missing chapter of Snakehead, "CODA," it is explained how Ash betrayed the Riders and joined SCORPIA. It has also mentioned the otherwise unknown full name that made up his initials "A.S.H."
- Ethan Brooke mentioned that one of their agents was cremated and sent back in an envelope while infiltrating the Snakehead, them being turned to ash, which is what Anthony called himself.
- His name Ash is also the name of the secondary antagonist in the movie Alien.
|Alex Rider • Tulip Jones • Jack Starbright • Ethan Brooke • Ash • Major Winston Yu|
|Other Key Characters|
|Smithers • Ben Daniels • Sabina Pleasure • Bill Tanner • Anan Sukit • Hermann De Wynter • Marc Damon|