I think the mentor hampered her abilities so they didn't grow beyond her control. You can give a child a full, adult sized weapon, but it's better to start them with wooden ones so they don't themselves or others. It's possible that if he hadn't restrained her, she might have killed herself or him far earlier. The fact that she reacted in such a way suggests to me she wasn't ready for her powers. Killing someone so rashly who was trying to help is no way to be anything but 'evil.' Annie does a more mature job with her magic than Syndra in my opinion.
The Elders could have just killed her, but they saw her potential I think and sent her off to be tempered so she could actually live amongst people and help them, rather than cause destruction.
While I'm almost to the point of making popcorn and settling in to watch the Syndra debate, if the point of this thread is to examine moral absolutism vs. shades of gray logic, then I think we need to 1) realize that Riot is just a bunch of humans like us and are therefore allowed to make mistakes as we do, and 2) examine the individual champions (as has happened in this thread) and not the Nation-states as a whole, because Riot has put more time into champion lore as opposed to world-lore.
In that spirit, here's my opinion on every facet I can remember of this thread:
Noxus. While power-hungry and scheming, Noxus has produced some of the proudest and most illustrious (if not OP) champs in the league. Kat, for instance. She's just as brainwashed as any youth growing up in a dictatorial imperial state would be, and her young life filled with such copious amounts of violence has probably numbed her empathy and compassion to the point of nonexistence. Reading her lore, I feel sorry for her, knowing that she'd probably have been a completely different person had she grown up in say, Ionia. Her first mission in which she gained her scar was the metaphorical straw on the camel's back. Trained from practically birth to fight for the glory of Noxus, and then seeing that her initiative caused more trouble than it was worth, cemented the mindset that she was to be a tool for those that saw her as only a means to an end. She is a victim of circumstance. A pleasingly curvaceous victim, but a victim nonetheless. I too am curious to see more of the relationship between her and Garen, as I could see that becoming a big part in Noxian and Demacian negotiations ("hey, if one of the world's best assassins and the Demacian captain of the guard can get along and even like each other, why can't we?").
Demacia is just as totalitarian as Noxus, but is gilded gold whereas Noxus wears its iron proudly. The high-profile champs of Demacia (Garen, Jarvan, Lux) may be shining symbols of righteousness, but lets look a little deeper. Garen's kind of a blowhard, and while he is skilled, he's also rather full of himself. Jarvan is the same, except he has a messiah complex and is so dramatic I'm surprised his taunt doesn't pull out Hamlet's trademark skull (I was about to call it Yorick's head, but then I realized that Riot has a weird sense of humor and made a champion of of that Shakespearean line). And Lux is just bonafide crazy and brainwashed. So are they really any better than Noxus? Sure, they won't stab you in the back, but they'll more than likely treat you as scum, whereas in Noxus if you manage to kill a few important people you can have your own chance at power (aka the Swain Switcheroo).
Who do we have to represent Ionia? Yi, Irelia, maybe Varus... I know I'm missing a few but they came to mind first. All of them have pretty selfish reasons to be joining the league, but those same reasons could also be seen as very selfless depending on the view. Yi just wants to kill some Noxians because Singed done melted his village. Irelia wants to kill some Noxians because they done killed her dad. Varus wants to kill some Noxians because they done destroyed his village and killed his parents. See the pattern? Ionia's champions lost their innocence when they lost their home. That's very real and very gray.
Piltover and Zaun are having some trouble, yes. Piltover's champs (Cait, Jayce, Vi) are trying just a bit too hard to be the good guys. Well, Vi is ok I guess, but Jayce just annoys me. And Zaun... every time I think of Zaun I see Mundo's face. Honestly, they need more serious champs. Singed is cool, but they need more champs that are serious the way Viktor is. Ah, Viktor. I think his backstory is very telling. When he purged his emotions and became "The Machine Herald", his now-mechanized brain took his original goal of the betterment of society and said "Hey, this worked for me, so obviously it's good. I think everyone should do it because I've shown that it's better because it's better for me". This is the flawed logic of all machines, because it shows no bearing for the concept of free will. Viktor genuinely thinks his inventions will help others, and therefor can't understand why others would reject his goal. So his attack on Jayce wasn't evil. His thought process was 'Hey, my idea is great, so this guy (since he has a similar affinity for machines) must think it's great too. Wait, he's disagreeing with me? He must be simply confused. But I don't have time to explain everything, I'll just take the crystal here and he can find his own way'. He's not evil, he just thinks like a machine, which means that any disagreement amounts to arguing with a collection of 1's and 0's.
Moving on to Syndra, I think Riot wanted her to be really dark and mean-ish (FLOATING CASTLE, guys. Besides Les Miserables, when has a floating castle been a good thing?). But honestly I just think she never matured. She grew up with this tremendous power, and it became something she loved and thought was hers and hers alone. It would be like if someone tried to take your computer because they built the parts for it (ok, that's not necessarily the best analogy but you get the point). Syndra just wants to revel in her power and use it as she sees fit, for her own personal gain. Irresponsible? Yes. Evil? No.
I thought the whole point of the arc around Noxus, from Riven's defection to the death of Darkwill and the crowing of Swain as Grand General was Noxus's version of hanging the guilty for what happened in Ionia.
Riven literally left Noxus because it wasn't Noxian enough for her. IIRC, she's not the only Noxian character to have expressed dissatisfation at how Noxus was behaving. I genuinely think that none of the playable Noxian characters would approve of using chemical weapons instead of physical combat; it's not the Noxian way.
So, while it's not strictly canon, I tend to think that Darkwill was assassinated because of his responsibility for the events in Ionia and because people felt that Noxus had strayed from it's path.
Also, I'm all for more Zuan champs. It's my favourite city-state.
© 2013 Riot Games, Inc. All rights reserved. Riot Games, League of Legends and PvP.net are trademarks, services marks, or registered trademarks of Riot Games, Inc.