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Agent 21: Book 1 [Paperback]

Chris Ryan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011 Agent 21 (Book 1)

Some authors just write about it. Chris Ryan has been there, done it, and lived to tell the tale. Agent 21 is the first in the action-packed adventure series by the real-life SAS hero.

When Zak Darke's parents die in an unexplained mass murder he's left alone in the world. That is until he's sought out by a mysterious man: 'I work for a government agency,' the man tells him. 'You don't need to know which one. Not yet. All you need to know is that we've had our eye on you. There's a possibility you could help us in certain . . . operational situations.'

Zak becomes Agent 21. What happened to the 20 agents before him he'll never know. What he does know is that his life is about to change for ever . . .

Frequently Bought Together

Agent 21: Book 1 + Agent 21: Reloaded: Book 2 + Agent 21: Codebreaker: Book 3
Price For All Three: 14.33

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Red Fox (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849410070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849410076
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When I found myself as part of the Bravo Two Zero patrol trapped behind enemy lines in Iraq, I found that everything was as I'd been told it would be. I followed all the Standard Operation Procedures, the orientation, survival, evasion and fighting techniques I had been taught in the SAS and I am certain that is what made the difference, that it why I managed to get away.

But as soon as I got I home my suspicions were aroused. We few surviving members of the operation were given a thousand pounds each and told to go off on holiday. This was the authorities telling us to keep quiet. A truckload of medals were handed out too - another sure sign a cock up is being covered up.

The more I looked into it, the more I realized that the Bravo Two Zero mission had been doomed from the start. Our political masters had not thought it through and as a result we weren't prepared to get involved in that operation. We have a saying - the 5 ps - prior planning prevents piss-poor performance - and no matter how high the calibre of the men doing the fighting, many of them will get captured or die if the prior planning is not good enough. That is what happened in Iraq.

Cock ups are one thing, but what makes me really angry is when soldiers are not told the truth about what we they are being asked to do - when things are not as they seem. The SAS are asked to do some terrible things. In fact all the shady things you might imagine the SAS gets up to, we have done in real life. The men of the SAS are regularly asked to do things which would be illegal for any private citizen. Some of these things will scar you for life, physically and mentally. You do them because that is your duty. But time and time again the men on the ground are betrayed because they are not told the truth and then when things go wrong they are abandoned and left to their own devices. That is what I write about in my books.

Product Description


"Boys are less likely than girls to read for fun so it is even more important their books are gripping from the off. This one certainly is" (Natasha Harding The Sun)

"SAS hero Chris Ryan sets a cracking pace for this story of school boy Zak Darke's recruitment by a government agency" (Love Reading)

"Ryan draws on the same knowledge which made his series of SAS-themed books such a success and is set to follow up his previous popularity among both adult and younger readers" (Sheffield Star)

"The ensuing plot is well paced and exciting enough to keep even seasoned fans of the genre interested . . . Agent 21 shows a lot of promise" (

"This one hits the ground running and does not let up until the end, and I cannot imagine even the pickiest teen reader finding anything uncool about a story concerning such a topical - and dangerous - issue" (

Book Description

Some authors just write about it. Chris Ryan has been there, done it and lived to tell the tale. Agent 21 is the first in the action-packed adventure series by our real-life SAS hero.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teenage boy becomes secret spy 13 Mar 2011
I'm a big fan of the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz and the Young Bond books by Charlie Higson, so when I saw this and read the blurb, I picked it up immediately because it sounded like a book in the same vein. I've never read anything by Chris Ryan before but I know that he's written mainly adult novels and has very recently branched out into YA. I read `Agent 21' in one evening. It's not a particularly long book but it was so thrilling that I couldn't put it down.

The formula is pretty similar to other books in this genre, however unlike some series which do start to get a little far-fetched (fast cars and multiple gadgets), the story was realistic enough to believe that it could actually happen. Zac Darke is recruited by a shadowy government organisation after the death and suspected murder of his parents. He's trained to become a teenage spy and then sent on a mission to infiltrate and capture a notorious drug lord in Mexico. Along the way he has to use all the skills he's been taught and survive on his wits and guile alone to avoid detection.

I loved this book! It was fast-paced and exciting and a thrill-ride from start to finish. The storyline is pretty simple but well executed. Chris Ryan has plenty of experience in learning how to survive from his time in the SAS and therefore situations felt authentic and believable. I really liked Zac who makes a likeable hero. He's intelligent and brave and clever and I enjoyed following his progression from normal teenager to fully-fledged spy. He has to make difficult choices and learn when everything isn't as black and white as it might first appear to be.

There are plenty of books about boy spys on the market but this one really stood out for me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC 14 April 2012
This book is the story of Zak Darke, a teenage boy who is orphaned my his parents' mysterious deaths and after living in unhappiness for a few months, is approached by a secret agency, so he hence becomes agent 21. He is then trained on an island off the Scottish coast before being sent on his first mission: to bring down drug lord Cesar Matinez.

I am a 14 year old girl who has never read one of Chris Ryan's books before (they don't really appeal to me) and thought that after quite a slow start, this book is honestly one of the BEST books I have ever read. DO NOT underestimate this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret Agent Boy 30 Jan 2011
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
As a huge reader, I've heard of Chris Ryan's work before both military as well as civilian however I've not really had the chance to read his work, as to be honest, I' m not a huge fan of modern military exploits. As such it was with great delight when Random House let me loose with this book, a brand new young adult title set in a mysterious world of espionage.

It's definitely a book that will appeal to young male readers as it has some great adventure, it has a hero with morals and above all else it has a fast moving plot that doesn't ease up from the throttle from start to finish. Add to this some great dialogue, a chance to explore a country that we in the UK know very little about alongside the chance to see the seedier side to wealth that has been purchased through pain and suffering. All in, its pretty well rounded and whilst Darke in name as well as nature, it's a title that will hopefully spawn a whole successive series as there's so much more to be explored and hopefully a prequel with Gabriella as the lead character.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable start to a gripping series! 27 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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For starters, I was really excited for the genre of the book because I was a really big fan of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, so the books genre really appealed to me because it sounded so similar in a lot of ways. Which is why in the In the beginning I was really gripped and excited for what was to come. The prologue was so amazing! Yet I felt that the book dragged a little after that, so it took me a while to get into it and to really enjoy the writing. Having said this, I did find the story highly enjoyable and I loved how it ended like everything tied up and connected in a neat little bow. Another thing that really made this book for me was the realistic detail that it had when it came to the mission and the training. I really felt that I was learning along with Zak and it was really believable spy/espionage skills, like the Morse code and navigation lessons that were integrated into Zak's training. I just absolutely loved those parts of it!

The characters in the book were strong and relate-able, so they felt more realistic and believable to me. Which helped me to like them and cheer them on from the sidelines because you just wanted them to survive. But then I felt that in some cases they were a little underdeveloped to me. However I think that was more down to the fact that it was the first book so I just wasn't used to the writing yet.

Overall, Agent 21 is a really enjoyable read that does encourage you to buy the rest of the series because you do get carried away with the characters and the missions that they go on. There was action, adventure, mystery as well as lovable characters that have a lot of room for growth. So while I didn't love it, I am really excited to carry on with the series and find out what the rest of the adventure is like for Zak Darke.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this book
It is a very good and action packed booked I would recommend it to anyone that was into action and adventure
Published 8 days ago by max
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
is not up to Chris Ryan standard
Published 22 days ago by Andrew Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book kept my interest to the last page
Published 23 days ago by jps
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
excellent in all respects
Published 28 days ago by chris dawes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by david adderley
1.0 out of 5 stars Shotal tit
Where on the cover does this book indicate it is for the younger reader? Answer...nowhere.
So is it? Well it reads that way. The minimilast writing style is woeful. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Steveatki
3.0 out of 5 stars Average
in terms of chris ryan books it's very basic and lacks the ability to draw you completely in. its written more for young teenagers . Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joe salter
2.0 out of 5 stars Kids stuff
Given Ryan's previous books I was expecting another fast flowing and intense storyline. Unfortunately this was more of a teenage story of schoolboy adventure. Read more
Published 4 months ago by alex mcintyre
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing!!
I would recommend this to everyone!!! It's amazing from page 1 to the end .. Outstanding piece of work . Thanks chris!! .. Now to buy book 2 :)
Published 4 months ago by Harry gold...
3.0 out of 5 stars it ok
Great value for money fast delivery
but not for me I like Chris Ryan's more gritty stuff
ok for teens
Published 6 months ago by colin jeary
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