Ian Rider had never been one to give lectures. He had always said Alex should make up his own mind about things. (2.5)
Ian raised Alex to question authority and make up his own mind. These skills will come in quite useful over the course of Stormbreaker.
When he had arrived at Brookland School, his gentle looks and accent had quickly brought him to the attention of the school bullies […] The encounter lasted less than a minute. (2.45)
Alex doesn't back down, even at a young age. The pattern of this encounter—of a powerful person underestimating Alex—will be repeated throughout the novel.
The government may think he's a saint, but there's a ruthless side to him too. And the security arrangements down at Port Tallon worry us. He's more or less formed his own private army. (4.57)
Sayle has made MI6 suspicious by amassing power. After all, why would a good guy go to such great lengths to keep people away?
"We'd better move on then to discuss your future," he continued. "Like it or not, Alex, the Royal and General is now your legal guardian." (4.85)
It looks like MI6 isn't afraid to throw its weight around either. It's easy to forget that they only get Alex to sign on to the mission by blackmailing him.
"You don't speak to me unless I give you permission," he shouted. […]
Alex had already decided that the man was even worse than his geography teacher. (5.8-9)
At boot camp, Alex is forced under the authority of men who have no interest in helping him grow. Fortunately, his dedication and fearlessness earns him their respect. Respect is its own sort of power, don't you think?
Herod Sayle was short. […] In his immaculate and brightly polished black shoes, he looked like a scaled-down model of a multimillionaire businessman. (7.27)
We're no psychologists, but Sayle seems like a textbook case of Napoleon Complex. Things ended okay for that guy, right? Oh wait…
"It's an outsider," he said. "It drifts on its own, ignored by the other fish. It is silent and yet it demands respect." (7.32)
Although Sayle is describing a jellyfish here, it's clear that he's also talking about himself. His form of power isn't flashy—it comes from the shadows.
He was standing opposite of one of the richest men in England, a man who had decided out of the goodness of his heart to give a huge gift to English schools. (7.38)
The truth is that Sayle did build a tech empire and invent a revolutionary computer. If only he used that power for good…
"You bliddy snobs with your stuck-up schools and your stinking English superiority! But I'm going to show you. I'm going to give you what you deserve!" (13.23)
Sayle has a special appreciation for power because he comes from nothing and knows what it's like to feel powerless.
"No matter how successful I've become, no matter how much money I've made, how many people I've employed. I'm still Herod Smell, the goat-boy, the Cairo tramp." (13.33)
In the end, Sayle's power-hungry nature is born from his feelings of powerlessness as a child. Thus the bullied become the bully.