SPOILERS Lady Sybil Ramkin Character Discussion

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Tonyblack

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Jul 25, 2008
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#1
This week's discussion concerns Lady Sybil Ramkin - wife of Commander Sam Vimes, breeder and rescuer of Swamp Dragons, mother of young Sam etc.

I always liked Sybil. She is immensely likeable. Despite being heir to the Ramkin fortune, she has few, or no, airs and graces. She is (possibly) the reason Sam gave up drinking and crawled out of the gutter.

What do you all think of Lady Sybil? :)
 
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RathDarkblade

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#2
I always thought that Lady Sybil was a reference to the way that (some) noblewomen these days have forsaken the old ways - i.e. sneering at "commoners" - and actually doing something to help them. Witness, for instance, the Lady Sybil Free Hospital.

Sybil's motivations and actions stand out sharply in contrast to someone like Lord Rust. I suspect that Rust would have agreed heartily with these words from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe":

"Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
Bow, bow, ye tradesmen, bow ye masses!
Blow the trumpets; bang the brasses;
Tan-tan-tara, tzing, boom!
;)

("Iolanthe" was always one of my favourite shows, both to watch and to perform in. ;) It's such fun to witness lords who freely admit, for instance - in Gilbert's words - that "I don't want to say a word against brains. I have a great respect for brains. I often wish I had some myself.") ;)

Coming back to Lady Sybil, I feel that she is a great moderating influence on Vimes. Unsurprisingly, she features prominently in G!G! and MAA, and later in TFE. She's in the background during Jingo, FOC, NW and Thud!, but nevertheless her influence is felt in Vimes's actions throughout NW and Thud! - during NW, Vimes's greatest motivation is to get back to Sybil. In Thud!, his greatest motivation is to protect Sybil and Young Sam.

Nevertheless, Sybil is hardly a Damsel in Distress that needs rescuing. As we've seen in TFE, she's quite capable of rescuing herself. As we've seen in G!G!, she can pick up a sword and charge with the best of them. She just doesn't (often) want to. :)
 
Oct 1, 2009
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#3
It's really interesting how characters dramatically evolved in The Fifth Elephant. Just as Carrot was "downgraded" to second-banana status, Sybil truly emerges into her own here. Before TFE, she was either a comic character whose fearlessless and strength could intimidate heavily armed guards (Guards! Guards!) or the long--suffering wife who stayed at home badly darning socks while Vimes was out all hours of the night.

In TFE, Sybil finally shows (beyond convincing him to stop drinking) why she is Vimes' indispensable partner. Between her keen observational skills, her knowledge of dwarf culture, and her singing voice, she solves some of the story's most intractable problems. The scene where she sings the opera to convince the dwarfs to let both of them deliver the Scone of Stone to the King is one of the best scenes Pterry ever wrote. Every time I read it (or listen to Briggs' superb audio rendition) I get misty-eyed. And the scene where she negotiates the price of fat with the king is one of best dialogue scenes in any DW novel. And when--in the middle of the Wolfgang threat--she calmly and cooly tells Vimes that she is pregnant, she knows very well that this is going to change him forever. From that moment forward, he's no longer just a copper. He has a real future in front of him, one that requires him to live, even if he must resort to murder to do so.
 

Tonyblack

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#4
Well said! Sybil believes in Sam. She knows (it seems) better than he does, what he is capable of and encourages him to believe in himself. It's one of the reasons he quits drinking - because he realises that he doesn't need the drink. In that respect, Vimes is rather like a vampire who quite the B-Vord and gets absorbed into something else. In Sam's case it's his love for Sybil and he profession. I seriously believe that, if the dwarfs had harmed Sybil or Young Sam, Vimes would go totally postal.
 

RathDarkblade

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#5
Hmm ... not the dwarfs, Tony - the deep-downer grags. By the time of "Raising Steam", it's clear that the vast majority of dwarfs no longer support the grags, even if they are deathly afraid of them.

But I agree that if either the werewolves (in TFE) or the grags (afterwards) hurt either Sybil or Young Sam, Vimes would go utterly librarian-poo.
 

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