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  #1  
Old 07-01-2011, 10:03 PM
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Default CotW - Tam al'Thor

To recap the concept:

First, pop over here for the main thread, to see our list of upcoming characters.

I’d like discussions to link back to any existing theories, threads and ideas, but let’s try and integrate them into new theories, thoughts and ideas okay? This is less to do with whether we “like” characters – we are Theorylanders, and we are not vapid. If you want to be a Theorylander, practice thinking critically and objectively. Don’t worry, we’ll help!

(And remember: a new character of the week does preclude continuing discussion on past topics!)

This week, we'll be discussing: Tam al'Thor

He's an interesting character, no matter how you slice it. He lead a full and interesting life before the books even started, which we could all speculate on. He is the widower of a mysterious woman who died so long ago, few remember her. He is the adopted father of the Dragon Reborn, which can be no easy thing. He seems as comfortable in the presence of lords and formality as he is on the farm with Bela.

So what to discuss? Tam's role in the past? His role in Rand's redemption? What he said to Min, and whether he knows he has two other daughter-in-laws, and is about to be a grand-father twice over? His absolute comfort at calling out Cadsuane as a bully and his seeming comfort with Aes Sedai?

There was once the possibility of an outrigger written about the mysterious life of Tam al'Thor prior to EotW, but sadly that doesn't seem to be on the table any longer. We may never know why he left the Two Rivers and came to be the Second in Command of the Companions of Illian. We may never know who he killed to become a blademaster, where the power-wrought blade came from (whether he even knew it was a power-wrought blade). We may never know how and where he met Kari.

How did Tam come back to the Two Rivers and seemed to slot himself back into a life there when there are no other al'Thors in the village or surrounding areas, when everyone else seems to be inter-related or have many cousins. Why not Tam?

We're entering into the land of speculation with a lot of these ideas, and that's absolutely to b encouraged, but it would be nice if you based the speculation on one small kernel of fact. Makes it easier to debate!
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2011, 11:11 PM
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I am totally in love with the way that RJ wove Tam into the Lews Therin phenomenon over the entire course of the series. That's just fantastic. I preached a lot pre-TGS about how Rand's early reactions to the idea that Tam was not his father (beginning on Winternight) were very similar to the reactions he had to Lews Therin's memories. Angst, denial, and chanting, reaffirmation of his identity, etc. I don't know if Brandon reads (or did read) any of the crap I post here but he mentioned that on his re-read, how the Tam thing is foreshadowing of Lews Therin, and I was really pleased. Rand's idea of 'becoming' the Dragon Reborn was tied up in the concept that the Dragon and the farmboy were two mutually exclusive entities, and while he obviously didn't hold himself to that as religiously as he sometimes pretended to himself, it was always a factor, and Rand voiced the fact when he made the comment in TGS about how the Dragon Reborn can't have a father. His self-exile from the Two Rivers is along those lines too, and it's not that his logic is unsound, exactly - he is right to fear that his presence will bring unwanted attention to the Two Rivers beyond what his having been raised there would bring - but that self-exile has been a really huge part of what has shaped Rand's personality over the last several books, and it's just awesome (and at the same time, rather horrible) that his father was the one to open his eyes to the truth that Lews Therin was not the bad guy after all. Obviously, in many ways that's only a small part of what happened on Dragonmount, and a small part of Tam's importance, but the thematic tie-in is just nicely done.
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Old 07-02-2011, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Terez View Post
I am totally in love with the way that RJ wove Tam into the Lews Therin phenomenon over the entire course of the series. That's just fantastic. I preached a lot pre-TGS about how Rand's early reactions to the idea that Tam was not his father (beginning on Winternight) were very similar to the reactions he had to Lews Therin's memories. Angst, denial, and chanting, reaffirmation of his identity, etc. I don't know if Brandon reads (or did read) any of the crap I post here but he mentioned that on his re-read, how the Tam thing is foreshadowing of Lews Therin, and I was really pleased. Rand's idea of 'becoming' the Dragon Reborn was tied up in the concept that the Dragon and the farmboy were two mutually exclusive entities, and while he obviously didn't hold himself to that as religiously as he sometimes pretended to himself, it was always a factor, and Rand voiced the fact when he made the comment in TGS about how the Dragon Reborn can't have a father. His self-exile from the Two Rivers is along those lines too, and it's not that his logic is unsound, exactly - he is right to fear that his presence will bring unwanted attention to the Two Rivers beyond what his having been raised there would bring - but that self-exile has been a really huge part of what has shaped Rand's personality over the last several books, and it's just awesome (and at the same time, rather horrible) that his father was the one to open his eyes to the truth that Lews Therin was not the bad guy after all. Obviously, in many ways that's only a small part of what happened on Dragonmount, and a small part of Tam's importance, but the thematic tie-in is just nicely done.
That is pretty cool. Reading it now that makes perfect sense and yet the comparison had never occurred to me before. Sometimes I despair at how shallow my reading can be.
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Old 07-02-2011, 01:50 AM
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Ignorance is bliss. And madness is ecstasy. Can you imagine how dull life would be if we found all of the gems the first time? It is the thrill of discovery that keeps us alive. Just don't take it too far, it's like drugs. You can start seeing diamonds in broken glass.

Edited to add:
Terez said it all, and articulated it better than I could. Insightful and supported by thematic elements.
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Old 07-02-2011, 03:11 AM
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To me Tam comes over as a person who is content at his slot and the life style he chose after coming to Two Rivers. He's written that he really is one of the pillars of life at Two Rivers.

Somehow I would have liked to see him a bit more like fish out of his water later in the books. His dealing with AS and such. Currently everything is way too comfortable.

He is an excellent support staff for Perrin and the boys. Seemingly no ambitions of his own or even desires. Odd that. Considering that Rand is his boy and we don't see even a desire to see Rand live through. I would like for realism sake to see a little more fatalism at play.

I speculate thta Tam is actually very much in loss how to think and react about Rand so most of the interactions are rather shallow and on safe ground.
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Old 07-02-2011, 03:35 PM
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Tam feels really awkward around Rand, which is perfectly understandable and real. However, it´s obvious he cares about him deeply.
In addition, there are a lot of things we don´t know about him, and we can only speculate to his level of badassery (wich I assume is quite high).
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Old 07-02-2011, 04:44 PM
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We don't really see a lot from Tam and a pov from him would be great. One thing that I wondered about was his attitude to military action. He seems to have no problem with it which is a bit surprising. Why you might wonder?

Well Tam was a blademaster and Second Captain of the Companions which is pretty high up in one of the few elite military formations that were knocking around before TEotW but after the battle of Tar Valon and finding Rand he walks away from it to settle in the Two Rivers.

At the time he was too young to be retirement age but he leaves the life. Having an wife and child does not really explain that decision. As Second Captain he is not some front line pikeman who might be killed at any moment, Most of the time he should be safe behind the lines unless he wants to put himself in harms way. His rank would have given him status in society, a reasonable income but he leaves it all behind.

It always seemed to me that such was the slaughter he witnessed in the Blood Snows he got sick of fighting and decided to go to somewhere as far away from wars as he could find.

Granted 20 odd years is a long time but you would have thought that someone who had been effected by death in battle enought to leave a promising career would at least expressed some regret or such at having to pick up a sword again.
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Old 07-02-2011, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Enigma View Post
Granted 20 odd years is a long time but you would have thought that someone who had been effected by death in battle enought to leave a promising career would at least expressed some regret or such at having to pick up a sword again.
Tam is a pragmatist. He realizes the importance of his task, and he does not complain. I think it makes perfect sense
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Old 07-02-2011, 07:04 PM
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Tam's a pretty smart fella...odds are he HAD to know or at least suspect that Rand was the Dragon Reborn. There is no doubt he was familiar with the Dragon prophecies and he had to be aware of where he found Rand. It'd be great to get a POV from him but I dont feel that we ever will.
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Tam's a pretty smart fella...odds are he HAD to know or at least suspect that Rand was the Dragon Reborn. There is no doubt he was familiar with the Dragon prophecies and he had to be aware of where he found Rand. It'd be great to get a POV from him but I dont feel that we ever will.
Well, RJ said that Tam didn't have the slightest idea that Rand was the Dragon Reborn when he was raising him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
DragonCon 5 September 2005 - Tamyrlin reporting

Q: The relationship between Rand and his adopted Father, I enjoyed it very much in the first book. And I wondered if it was a deliberate choice to keep them separated over most of the series so far?
RJ: Yes, a deliberate choice, yes.

Q: Before it became public knowledge that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, did Tam al'Thor know or suspect that Rand was the Dragon Reborn or could channel?
RJ: No, Tam had no inkling of this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
Balticon XXX April 1996 - Bill Garrett reporting

Jordan said that Tam has all the clues he needs to figure out that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Whether or not Tam will admit it to himself is another matter. Jordan said that Tam merely finding Rand as a baby on the slopes of Dragonmount wasn't enough of a clue -- even if Tam were familiar with that prophecy then, few people think about those things or expect them to happen literally to them -- but that, plus the fact that Rand has disappeared off with Aes Sedai who say he's important, and the fact that the world is going crazy, should give Tam enough information to make the conclusion.
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:27 PM
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Stupid quotes.

Its surprising though that Tam would be so totally oblivious that a baby he found on Dragonmount might be somewhat special...considering all the talk at the time that the Aiel war might be the precursor of the Last Battle anyway (as noted by Lan in New Spring). Tam, as a highly ranked military commander, should have some inkling of such talk.

Stupid quotes.
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Stupid quotes.

Its surprising though that Tam would be so totally oblivious that a baby he found on Dragonmount might be somewhat special...considering all the talk at the time that the Aiel war might be the precursor of the Last Battle anyway (as noted by Lan in New Spring). Tam, as a highly ranked military commander, should have some inkling of such talk.

Stupid quotes.
I agree with your incredulity but it would center around how well the Karaethon Cycle was known in the Two Rivers as well as his own personal knowledge. Then again to paraphrase the books it is one thing to know prophecy will happen and quite another to see it come to pass. Granted that is referenced as to why the Aiel do not seem exuberant at Rand's coming but it could easily translate to this purpose.
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Stupid quotes.
I'm with you there, the bane of many a good idea.
Also in the Ravens prologue, Tam displays an unusually high degree of familiarity with the truth of the Dragon's history.
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:16 AM
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I don't think it's surprising at all that Tam had no inkling there was something special about Rand.

No matter how obvious something is that there COULD be something special going on, real people tend to automatically dismiss such things because "it would never happen to me" or "it would never happen in my time. This is the Dragon Reborn we're talking about, the culmination and END of an entire Age. What's more, he found Rand in the middle of a bloody warzone. He was exhausted, bloody, and sick of the fighting. He finds a baby on a mountain slope where one of hundreds of thousands of people fighting in the general vicinity gave birth to it. He had a fond thought that Kari would love an adopted child since they couldn't have any of their own and that was all she wrote. It's pretty damn easy to naysay when you not only have hindsight but the near-omniscience of being a READER.

Him going back to the Two Rivers isn't strange, just unexplained. A wife and an infant are good enough reason alone to move somewhere else, for a number of reasons. He also grew up in the Two Rivers, which is another fabulous reason. Add to all of that the very reason he found Rand in the first place (that he was tired and sick of the fighting), and it almost seems like a no-brainer. Staying in Illian as a high officer is still a military (fighting) profession, and I highly doubt his officer status had any bearing towards him likely to spend his career "in the office."

The Illianer Companions were known as an elite military unit, sent to where the fighting was hottest. He had had plenty of "hot action" while he was an officer before, why wouldn't he continue to have it if he had decided to stay?
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Old 07-03-2011, 05:05 AM
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For a while now I've had the idea that Tam and Morgase met at some point during Tam's time in the Illianer army. This is based soley on Morgase claiming to have heard Two Rivers speach before, few people ever leaving the Two Rivers, and Tam likely being the only one to attain enough rank to possibly address a queen. I'm not sure if there is anything which would invalidate this, but I also don't think it has or will be confirmed.
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Old 07-03-2011, 06:16 AM
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They may have met briefly, but if so then probably not in such a way that they would remember each other.
It seems more likely that she met some other TR person, though. Tam almost certainly wasn't the only one ever to leave, even if he may have been one of the few who returned again.

Last edited by GonzoTheGreat; 07-03-2011 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:28 PM
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I wonder how long he was gone for? Why did he leave?

If you equate it with our boys, imagine if Rand had taken off, lived the high life for a few years, been a soldier, got married and come back. Mat and Perrin (not to mention the whole village) would not have reacted in a chill sort of way. I could see it being the talk of the town for years. I bet Marin knows way more than she's talking...
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:12 PM
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For a while now I've had the idea that Tam and Morgase met at some point during Tam's time in the Illianer army. This is based soley on Morgase claiming to have heard Two Rivers speach before, few people ever leaving the Two Rivers, and Tam likely being the only one to attain enough rank to possibly address a queen. I'm not sure if there is anything which would invalidate this, but I also don't think it has or will be confirmed.
The idea's been around for a while. Brandon was asked questions related to it, but he RAFOd them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BS
The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Powell's Books, Portland, OR 19 November 2009 - Samadai reporting

RobMRobM: Will we find out where Morgase learned the Two Rivers speech?
Brandon: RAFO

RobMRobM: Will Tam end up with a wife?
Brandon: RAFO

RobMRobM: Was Kari al'Thor related to Morgase?
Brandon: RAFO
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Old 07-03-2011, 05:25 PM
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I'm with you there, the bane of many a good idea.
Also in the Ravens prologue, Tam displays an unusually high degree of familiarity with the truth of the Dragon's history.
That's exactly what I was thinking about with my comment...he was way too familiar with the prophecies to not at least think about the fact that he found a baby on Dragonmount.



As to Marin knowing more...clearly Tam originally left due to an unrequited love affair with Marin. Bran won her heart and Tam had nothing else so he fled the Two Rivers in a huff. That's why Marin goes out of her way to not set Tam up with other women and also never crosses the line with mothering Rand despite the odd expression of apparently wanting to.
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Last edited by Davian93; 07-03-2011 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:38 PM
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As to Marin knowing more...clearly Tam originally left due to an unrequited love affair with Marin. Bran won her heart and Tam had nothing else so he fled the Two Rivers in a huff. That's why Marin goes out of her way to not set Tam up with other women and also never crosses the line with mothering Rand despite the odd expression of apparently wanting to.
Watching too many day time soaps ehh Dav?+
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" 'Looks like the game can be won after all,' [Mat] said. 'Tell the foxes I'm mighty pleased with this key they gave me. Also, you can all go rot in a flaming pit of fire and ashes, you unwashed lumps on a pig's backside. Have a grand bloody day.' "

"Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder’s eye on the last Day."
 

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character of the week, tam al'thor


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