Sylvie Barker is an alpha werewolf and a member of the St. Louis pack, second in power only to Raina among the females. We meet Sylvie for the first time in The Killing Dance. Once Richard takes over the pack as the new Ulfric she becomes his Geri, or second-in-command, and eventually a good friend to Anita despite initially considering her an obstacle to the packs well-being. They share that certain kind of ruthless practicality that helps small women become forces to be reckoned with without making them cruel or heartless. As a testament of her power, Sylvie is one of the few wolves within their pack (along with Richard) who can partially shapeshift.
Sylvie is lesbian and is dating Gwen. Sylvie became a werewolf by surviving an attack, and hates what she is, but doesn't try to deny her nature—instead she aims to make things better for herself and her pack to the best of her ability, although she does have quite a few issues. She also has a collection of bones that came from her enemies, such as Fernando. She occasionally takes out the collection and runs her hands over the bones to comfort herself.
Sylvie has a short, curly, brown hair and is about five foot six inches tall and fine-boned. When Anita first meets her Sylvie wears navy slacks and a short-sleeved sweater with open-toed sandals. She doesn't usually bother with make-up. After Anita sees Sylvie with make-up for the first time (at Narcissus in Chains, wearing vinyl, three-inch black spike heels, and burgundy highlights in her hair) Anita starts considering Sylvie pretty even without, but thinks it takes some effort to see it.
History within series
The Killing Dance
When Anita first meets Sylvie she's helping to patch up Richard after a fight. She shares Anita's opinions on how to handle the conflict against Marcus and his lackeys, and would do it all herself if she was powerful enough to take him down. She can't angle herself to becoming Richard's lupa either, thanks to not being attracted to men, but would prefer Anita to give way for some other wolf to do it. Once Sylvie realizes Anita's potential Sylvie makes a move for turning Anita, but either decides against it or only ever intended it for making a point against Richard's hypocrisy. Sylvie eventually manages to manipulate Richard into promising to kill for his followers, and accepts Anita's position in the pack as Richard's mate after she makes him promise to kill Marcus if (or when) Marcus comes after Richard.
By the time of this novel Sylvie has worked her way to becoming the Geri in turn. She got the position by killing the first two people who outranked her, even if she didn't have to, and the next three didn't care enough for their positions to risk getting killed. It's unclear how many more people were on her way, but she fought and won without needing to kill for the position of geri. Even if Sylvie was firmly in Richard's corner against Marcus, she is now seriously considering becoming freyja herself, since she doesn't think Richard is doing well enough as the Ulfric. Despite being significantly smaller and weaker, Richard is so out of sorts she might actually be able to do it.
Regardless, Richard has left Sylvie in charge while he's out of town, and she has withdrawn the pack's protection from the leopards and ordered no one to help them, no matter what. She hates them all because Raina used to use them to help punishing pack members, including Sylvie. As Anita is determined to protect the leopards as well as her friends within the pack, lines are drawn into sand. Anita is considering killing Sylvie by the time the Council throws a wrench into proceedings by having the Master of Beasts, Padma, to call the various local groups of lycanthropes under his power. Sylvie can't resist the call herself, but being in charge manages to keep it from reaching any of the other wolves. She gets gang-raped as a punishment, and is bleeding and unconscious by the time Anita finds her. Anita gets her out and swears to kill those responsible, and Sylvie promises not to kill Richard in turn.
While Sylvie is being treated we meet her girlfriend Gwen for the first time, and learn that Sylvie was also raped by some of the leopards (including Gregory) for one of Raina's films. Since Elizabeth willingly delivered the leopards to Padma he tried to make them participate in Sylvie's rape again, but this time they refused, claiming Anita's leadership over Elizabeth, and suffered for it. Sylvie reluctantly tells Anita of the leopards' plight and expectations, allowing her to save them as well. Anita also warns Sylvie against challenging Richard, promising to kill anyone who does, and Sylvie eventually gives in (see Inconsistencies).
In the end it's unclear how many people actually did rape Sylvie this time, but the ones Sylvie names are Padma's son Fernando and Liv, both of whom Anita delivers to Sylvie to meet their fate. She keeps a few pieces as souvenirs.
In this novel we learn that Sylvie sells insurances and is conservative enough to not give her hair burgundy highlights with a permanent color. We see her for the first time in Narcissus in Chains S/M club, and she acts as Anita's friend and one of her bodyguards when she goes to save Nathaniel from Coronus. There's a fight and the front of Sylvie's dress get shredded, baring her breasts to the world, but she doesn't seem to care. Things calm down momentarily and Coronus allows Nathaniel to go, but the fight escalates again when Anita won't leave without the swanmanes Nathaniel had brought along. Anita is hurt badly and passes out, but later hears Sylvie and Jamil nearly kill Coronus, which helps him to change his mind about the swanmanes.
We don't see Sylvie in a while, but hear Richard hits her for trying to tell him it's not right to punish Gregory for accidentally cutting Anita while saving her life (a sign of how far Sylvie has come with her issues). Richard tells Sylvie to never argue with him again. He has Sylvie, Jamil, and others to take Gregory away, and completely loses control of the situation soon after. Richard argues about it with Anita later, as well as about Jacob, his new third-in-command, who is bound to go against Sylvie sooner or later.
We also hear that Sylvie tries to argue with the pack in general about their insistence on killing Gregory for infecting their lupa, and tells them about his refusal to rape Sylvie at his own peril, but it doesn't help much. Anita forces Jacob to the case instead, and gets him to agree to wait until the full moon to challenge Richard, but Sylvie will still have to watch her back for the next two weeks as she isn't part of the deal. Jason and Anita are both worried for Sylvie (and Richard), but disagree on what to do about it. Later Anita decides she won't let Richard cost Sylvie or Gregory their lives, no matter what.
We see Sylvie again at the lupanar, back in casual clothes and no make-up. We also learn more about her bone collection made of her former enemies. Sylvie helps to put Paris in her place, and is one of the first to speak for Anita when Jacob tries to deride her. When Anita calls Raina's munin Sylvie is nervous, but still the first to grab Anita after she punches Richard for allowing Gregory's treatment. After Richard takes back control of the pack he tells Sylvie to go with Anita to fetch Gregory from the oubliette. When Jacob interferes, Sylvie backs Anita's play against him. In the end Sylvie is told to deliver Jacob to the oubliette instead, but he argues and gets knocked out by Richard. At the oubliette Sylvie asks Richard if the drugs and blindfold and the rest are to be used on Jacob (yes for the first, no to the others), and brings the syringe when asked.
Afterwards, Richard makes Anita bolverk so that she can remove the threat Jacob still poses to Sylvie.
We don't see Sylvie in person in this novel, but she's referenced several times. First she's mentioned as the only one Anita considers powerful enough who could challenge Richard's leadership, but doesn't since she likes him and doesn't want to have to kill him. Richard, in turn, might cede the power to her willingly, if he wasn't afraid what Sylvie might do with it -- by her own word, her first order of business would be to kill anyone in the pack she suspects of disloyalty, and Richard isn't willing to let her do that no matter how many or few that might be. However, Anita is certain Sylvie isn't dissatisfied enough to resort to assassins and would take the matter up with Anita personally if there was a problem.
Later, when Richard is causing waves in an already explosive situation, we learn that Sylvie has tried to argue with Richard for him to wait with his power play until their common enemies are out of town. Richard, whose earlier apathy and attempts at democracy have given way to rage, has then beat her into submission for challenging him. She's hurt badly enough that no other wolf than Jason is willing to try to disobey Richard when he doesn't let the wolves help Anita and the others against the Council representatives.
We meet Sylvie again in person in this novel, albeit briefly. The beat down she received in Cerulean Sins when Richard affirmed that he did intend to stay the Ulfric is referenced again upon her introduction. Sylvie, Anita, and Donovan Reece discuss Anita's ardeur and how it might mix with other hungers, as often happens with new lycanthropes, and the dangers that might pose for sex. Sylvie herself isn't on the menu, or even willing to stay in range of an accidental ardeur spill-out, although the reason she gives for it is questionable (see Inconsistencies). We also learn that Sylvie is sometimes as awkward as Anita is at playing buddies.
Sylvie and her female partner are mentioned here briefly as women who don't need a man in their life in any way. We have not been given any reason to think this partner isn't still Gwen.
In this novel Sylvie is mentioned only very briefly, as Richard mentions he has apologized to her about his poor conduct as an Ulfric and for practically forcing some of his more dominant wolves to challenge him for leadership. As his second-in-command, who has put up with him for years, she has earned it.
- In Burnt Offerings Sylvie promises Anita to not kill Richard after all, but is later surprised that Anita knows that Sylvie has been considering challenging him. Anita also warns her against trying it, and Sylvie seems unaware of her earlier promise and needs to be convinced away from that goal again.
- In Narcissus in Chains and The Harlequin the position of a pack's second-in-command is, probably mistakenly, called Freki instead of Geri, and likewise Geri has become third-in-command.
- In The Harlequin Sylvie claims she doesn't do women, which is a rather weird comment from someone in an established relationship with one, and who has earlier claimed that sex with a man is a deal breaker for her becoming a lupa. As she has a female partner again in Skin Trade this is probably in error, and should simply be a claim that she's taken.