|“||We all make choices, Cossack. Who we are in this world, what we do in it. Generous or selfish. Happy or sad. Good or evil. It's all down to choice||”|
—John Rider's inspirational words to Yassen Gregorovich about choices
Life and career
John Rider was born in around 1957. He studied politics and economics at Oxford University, where he also met his future wife, Helen Beckett. He later joined the Parachute Regiment at Aldershot and served for three years, seeing action in both Northern Ireland and Gambia. John was awarded the Military Cross from the Queen, as well as being promoted to the rank of Captain for carrying a wounded soldier to safety under fire during the attack on Goose Green, in the Falklands War. In the novel Snakehead John's best friend, Ash, comments that John was a true patriot.
John later worked for MI6 and became one of the best agents in the service. He was placed undercover in the organization Scorpia, gaining their trust by pretending to murder a taxi driver, which landed him in prison, as well as being discharged from the Army. During this time in Scorpia he used the alias "Hunter", and was a mentor to a young Yassen Gregorovich. It was mentioned that he saved Yassen's life while on a assignment with him in the Amazon, shooting a black widow spider off of Yassen's neck and assassinating the target with the same bullet.
After Julia Rothman, a senior executive of Scorpia, fell in love with John, he arranged to be "captured" by MI6 on a mission in Malta. However, after George Adair, the son of Sir Graham Adair was kidnapped, John convinced Tulip Jones to 'trade' him for the younger Adair in a prisoner exchange programme, during which MI6 pretended to shoot John and kill him, so he could return to his wife and their new-born son, Alex.
Although the exchange worked, Rothman later discovered that John was still alive and realized his true alliances, sending Ash , John's best friend who was secretly working for Scorpia, to place a bomb on John and Helen's plane to France in retaliation. This bomb killed them both, and John was in his early thirties when he died. Alex, an infant at the time, had stayed home with an ear infection, so survived. John's brother Ian then became Alex's legal guardian, and remained so until he was killed by Yassen Gregorovich at the beginning of Stormbreaker.
John Rider was extremely selfless, unbelievably cunning and very self-sacrificing. He was described to be highly intelligent, strongly loyal and essentially kind. He was also described to be an incredibly brave man, putting himself undercover in Scorpia at great personal risk.
He was brave enough to fake his own death and to warn James Adair of the coming shootout at Albert Bridge. He was shockingly self-sacrificing and was willing to face up to Yassen Gregorovich if it meant saving Ash, and before when he saved a man's life in the Falkland Wars.
He was farseeing, manipulative and determined, able to pass himself off as one of Scorpia's top assassins.
John was incredibly proficient at unarmed combat, trained in all known martial arts and considered a valuable attack dog for MI6. An incredibly talented fighter, John displays an unpredictable and fierce fighting style. He was adept at several complicated arts and uses objects and emotions to his advantage.
He was an excellent marksman, as he fought in the Falkland Wars and, whilst working for Scorpia, was able to kill a target whilst, simultaneously, killing a black widow spider and narrowly scratching Yassen Gregorovich, considering him a crack shot.
He was also fluent in several language. Yassen Gregorovich commented that, because of this talent, John could pass himself on as a native of whatever country he found himself in.
- John's son, Alex, is compared to him several times throughout the series, both because of their physical appearance (He is a splitting image of his father) and their personalities; Ash comments once that like Alex, John had "the luck of the devil", walking into trouble yet always managing to get out in one piece, before then sitting there as if nothing had happened. This is interesting in the sense that John Rider died when Alex was only young, thus having no personal involvement or influence in his upbringing.