|“||You're never too young to die.||„|
|~ Sayle to Alex Rider.|
Herod Sayle is the main antagonist in the Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker and the 2006 film of the same name (in which he is named Darrius Sayle).
|“||Lots of kids get bullied and they don't turn into nutcases. You're really sad, Mr. Sayle.||„|
|~ Alex Rider taunting Sayle while being interrogated.|
Sayle was born in Lebanon (Egypt in the American publication) as one of thirteen children (nine boys and four girls). His father was a failed hairdresser and his mother took in washing. One day, at the age of seven, he saved two rich American tourists by pushing them off the street out of the way of a grand piano which fell out an upper floor window. Upon learning of his situation, they adopted him and sent him to a private school in England. There, he was frequently bullied by his fellow students for his accent and skin color, particularly one who would become the UK's future Prime Minister. Over time, he grew up to hate the school children of Britain, as well as the whole country in general. In the film, Sayle's forename is Darrius, his nationality was changed to American, and he lived in poverty until his parents won the California State Lottery, subsequently deciding to get their son away from his dangerous surroundings by sending him to boarding school in Britain.
Since his schooling and Cambridge education, he has built a large and successful business empire, becoming a multi-millionaire, in media, computer manufacturing and horse-racing. In the film, he is mentioned to be a multi-billionaire, giving him a similarity to real-life wealthy genius Bill Gates.
Sayle invented an industrial technique that allowed computer components to be developed in non-sterile environments, slashing the price of production. Using this technique, he developed the powerful Stormbreaker computer and planned to donate one to each school in Britain, publicly declaring his actions as thanks for the country taking him in as a child; in return, he asked for nothing more than official British citizenship. However, MI6 was suspicious of his intentions, sending out agent Ian Rider to investigate. After several weeks, Ian sent out an urgent notice, reporting that the Stormbreakers could not be allowed to leave Sayle's factory. However, before he could report in to explain more, he was killed by Russian assassin Yassen Gregorovich. Ian's death was covered up and reported to have been the result of a car accident.
Alan Blunt forcibly recruit's Ian's nephew, Alex Rider, to finish Ian's investigation, threatening to deport his American housekeeper Jack Starbright if he refuses to cooperate. A month before, Sayle held a contest, with the winner would get to stay at Sayle's home and test the Stormbreaker before it's official release. MI6 sends Felix Lester (Kevin Blake in the film), the winner of the competition, on holiday in Scotland instead of Cornwall, and sends Alex Rider in under Felix's identity.
Alex investigates the plant and its operations and soon discovers what his uncle had found. Sayle has put a genetically modified strain of smallpox into all the Stormbreaker computers (it is later revealed that this virus was supplied to him by the criminal organization SCORPIA in the book Alex Rider: Snakehead). The smallpox will be released during the grand opening ceremony, killing all of the United Kingdom's school children. Sayle then leaves his butler, Mr. Grin, to kill Alex and flies to London to attend the ceremony. Nadia Vole traps Alex in a tank with Sayle's pet, a Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish. Alex is left inside the jellyfish tank but he manages to avoid the jellyfish and dives to the bottom of the tank, where he uses a specialized zit cream to melt the supports of the tank causing it to break. Alex escapes while the jellyfish pours out of the tank and lands on Vole, fatally stinging her.
Alex escapes and reaches one of Sayle's airplanes. He holds Mr. Grin at gunpoint and forces him to fly him to the ceremony in London. Alex flies in using a parachute and fires blindly, destroying the switch seconds before the Prime Minister is about to flip it. Sayle tries to activate the computer himself, but is hit by two bullets, one in his left arm and the other in his shoulder; despite these injuries, he manages to escape. After Alex has a debriefing with Mrs. Jones and Alan Blunt, Alex takes a cab home, only to discover that the driver is in fact Sayle. He then takes Alex to a tower of his and he shows him a helicopter about to land that will take him into hiding, before gloating that he will try again to destroy Britain, and that Alex will not be around to stop him. Just as Sayle is about to shoot Alex, Yassen Gregorovich climbs out of the helicopter and shoots Sayle twice in the chest, killing him. Yassen claims that Sayle had become an embarrassment to his employers. However, the novel Alex Rider: Russian Roulette reveals that Yassen was in fact ordered to kill Alex, not Sayle (though he believed that the organization he worked for would eventually want the latter killed anyway). Disregarding his objectives, Yassen instead saved the boy due to he life debt he owed to John Rider, Alex's father.
In the film, the climax is different. After Alex prevents the Prime Minister from activating the virus housed in the Stormbreaker computers, an enraged Sayle punches the Prime Minister before fleeing. The authorities fail to catch him but Alex soon discovers that he intends to activate the Stormbreakers himself using a manual override, having seen a model of it down in Cornwall. Alex and his friend Sabina Pleasure (who does not appear in the Alex Rider: Stormbreaker novel) pursue Sayle on horseback to avoid the heavy London traffic, eventually reaching Sayle's tower. Alex climbs to the roof and severs the power cable to stop Sayle from completing his plan. Sayle catches up to Alex and knocks both him and Sabina off the roof, though they survive by clinging onto the severed cable, which starts breaking, and are left dangling precariously underneath. Just as Sayle is about to finish them off, Yassen arrives in a helicopter and shoots Sayle twice in the chest, causing him to topple from the edge of the tower to his death.
- Herod was named after the Biblical antagonist Herod Antipas because both resolved to commit mass child massacres.
- Herod's name is also a reference to the Harrod's chain of shops in England, as revealed by author Anthony Horowitz.