|“||Lots of kids get bullied and they don't turn into nutcases. You're really sad, Mr. Sayle||”|
—Alex Rider insulting Sayle during his interrogation
Herod Sayle is the primary antagonist in Stormbreaker.
Sayle was one of thirteen children (nine boys and four girls). His father was a failed hairdresser and his mother took in washing. One day, he saved two rich American tourists, by pushing them off the street out of a grand piano which fell out an upper floor window, meaning they would have been killed if Sayle had not saved them. They then inquired about him and found out his poverty, so they adopted him and sent him to school in England. He was severely bullied there, however, the primary bully being the future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Over time, he grew up to hate the school children of Britain. In the film, Sayle's forename is Darius, and his parents became rich after winning the lottery.
Since his schooling, he has built a large and successful empire, becoming a multi-millionaire. As for the movie, he is mentioned to be a multi-billionaire, giving him a similarity to real-life wealthy entrepeneur Elon Musk.
Sayle also invented a technique that allows computer components to be developed in non-sterile environments, slashing the price of production. Using this technique, he develops a product called Stormbreaker and is donating a Stormbreaker to each school in Britain in exchange for a British citizenship. However, MI6 is suspicious about his intentions, sending out agent Ian Rider to investigate. After several weeks, Ian Rider sends out an urgent notice, saying that he found something important and needs to contact MI6. However, as he drives back home, Yassen Gregorovich assassinates him. MI6 is even more troubled at Ian Rider's urgent message and his subsequent murder, and desperately needs to know what Ian Rider knew. The police claimed that Ian died in a car crash and this was the official version but they were ordered to deceive others by MI6 because then they wouldn't get the assassination and Sayle's evil public.
Ian Rider's nephew, Alex Rider, must step up to the plate. Alan Blunt blackmails Alex into investigating. A month before, Sayle held a contest; the winner would get to stay at Sayle's house and get a tour of the Stormbreaker factory. MI6 sends Felix, the winner of the competition, on holiday in Scotland instead of Cornwall, and sends Alex Rider in under Felix's identity. The deal is that in exchange for helping MI6, Alex's guardian, Jack Starbright, can stay in the country; she was in danger of having to leave because of passport issues.
Alex Rider investigates the plant and its operations and soon discovers what his uncle had found. Sayle has put a genetically modified strain of smallpox onto all the Stormbreaker computers (which we later discover was supplied to him by the criminal organization SCORPIA in the book Snakehead. The smallpox will be released during the grand opening ceremony. During the event, the Prime Minister will flip a switch, activating all the computers and releasing the smallpox in the process. Sayle then leaves for London and Alex falls into a tank with his pet Portuguese Man O' War jellyfish when Nadia Vole tricks him. Alex is left inside the jellyfish tank to either drown or get severely stung by the jellyfish (which would kill him by poison, not electricity). Alex manages to avoid the jellyfish, dives to the bottom of the tank and use a specialized zit cream to melt off the supports of the tank causing it to break and for Alex and the Jellyfish to pour out. Alex is untouched by the jellyfish but instead it lands on Nadia Vole fatally stinging her.
Alex escapes and reaches one of Sayle's airplanes. Mr. Grin, one of Sayle's henchmen, flies Alex to London to the ceremony location (because Alex has a gun on him). Alex flies in using a parachute and fires blindly, destroying the switch seconds before the Prime Minister is about to flip it. Sayle is hit by two bullets, one in his left arm and the other in his shoulder, but he manages to escape. After Alex has a meeting with Mrs. Jones and Alan Blunt, Alex takes a cab to discover that the driver is in fact Sayle. The villain then takes Alex to a tower of his and he shows him a helicopter about to land that will take him into hiding. Just as Sayle is about to shoot Alex, Yassen Gregorovich climbs out of the helicopter and shoots Sayle twice in the back, killing him. Yassen claimed he had to kill Sayle because by failing with his plan, Sayle had become an embarrasment to SCORPIA. It is revealed in Russian Roulette that Yassen was tasked to kill Alex but decided to spare him.
|“||You're mad! By midnight tonight you'll be in jail!||”|
—Alex Rider to Sayle
On the surface, Herod seems like a generous, good-natured businessman who is always willing to give something back to society, as somebody who does not want anyone to endure the hardships and suffering he had to as a child. When he was younger, he was an unusually hardworking, dedicated student with a knack for coming up with new ideas in order to improve people's lifestyle. He is also shown to be quite humble when he plans to do something for the others out of gratitude as opposed to profit.
In reality, he hates everyone in Great Britain for teasing and bullying him as a child in school. Harbouring grudges against the Prime Minister, who was the principle bully, he shows signs of being vengeful and bitter. He plotted for years against the UK and his Stormbreaker "educational computers" were really weapons of mass destruction, capable of releasing a lethal virus which would kill all the children who near them upon activation.
- Sayle's first name, "Herod," was given to him because he and the biblical King Herod both planned mass child massacres.
- He was named after the department store Harrods in the UK.
- In the movie and graphic novel, his first name is instead "Darius" and instead of being Lebanese, he is rather American.
- He shares a few similarities with Julia Rothman.
- They are the two Alex Rider antagonists who attempt to carry out mass child massacres.
- Both pretend to like Alex but in fact were engineering his death.
- He was born American.
- His character is a stark contrast to Winston Yu, who does not harbour a grudge against London but instead adores the country, despite the fact that both were bullied in school.
- It is mentioned in Snakehead that he acquired the R-5 virus used for the Stormbreaker from SCORPIA.