Interesting. It's always funny the points other fans take issue with...
For instance, I never had a problem with the notion Sybil might be talking about putting some of her dragons to sleep. Probably not the Sybil of later books, but in G!G! she strikes me as more of a breeder than anything. People who work with animals - vets and so on - care so much about animals they dedicate their lives to helping them. but they'll still put a dog to sleep without a flicker of sentimentality (and not just sick dogs - some shelters euthanise dogs they can't rehome etc). So to me there was nothing jarring about the implication that Sybil might put Errol to sleep.
I also didn't worry much about the references in Vime's opening scene (and from Fred Colon) to him being brung low by a woman. There's some indication that actually this means the city-as-a-woman in what I agree is totally a parody/reference to a very noir kind of monologue.
ja4884 wrote:the passage where Vimes is in the gutter and thinking of the city as wossname (woman) is a direct skit of the crime novels of Ed McBain.
I didn't realise there was a specific character who did this, so that's interesting. I just read it as generic noir stuff. Which is not to say I discount the possibility that there have been actual women and failed relationships in Vimes' past. I;d be surprised if there weren't. But I think the only thing with the power to bring him so low has got to be the city itself. I also love the passage towards the end where the metaphor is reversed and Sybil compared to a city.
As for Sybil's physical description... I was never bothered by the notion that she is big (not just fat, but I imagine her as fairly tall as well), and it's always surprised me how much this seems to bother a lot of Pratchett fans. There's a lot of fanart around that depicts her as basically just a round-faced, curvy girl. I imagine Sybil as big, it's not a problem for me. I don't actually think Pratchett's description of her physicality changes between books: in The Fifth Elephant I still see the same Sybil that I did in G!G!. What I think changes is Pratchett's attitude towards her. In G!G! her size is a gag, and she's hardly mentioned without it being brought up. In later books she's become a character, and a hugely sympathetic one at that. Her size is no longer treated like a hilarious running joke. But I don't think that means she's shrunk. And as for her baldness - the swamp dragons keep burning her hair off, right? So she wears a wig? Again, not a problem for me. I kind of imagine that in later books where she's a little less involved with dragons and with something else going on in her life (Duchessing, philanthropy etc), she might start to grow her own hair out again.
Sometimes I wonder if people have trouble coming to grips with a sympathetic character who isn't described in very conventionally attractive ways? What's wrong with Sybil being fat and bald and not perhaps much of a beauty? I'm quite happy to think of her as this without that affecting my liking of the character. Honestly, no one tries to pretend that colon isn't fat, is it because Sybil's a woman and we can't bear her not to be pretty? I don't mean any of this with regards to any posts on this thread, it's just a general comment.
And correct me if I've missed something in comparing how she's described here and later.