This article contains plot details from the latest book.
Tam Dai Song is a character from the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. He is a Shade, a member of the Black Swan, and a formerly and temporarily forced member of the Neverseen. He grew up at Choralmere with his twin Hydrokinetic sister Linh and his abusive parents Mai and Quan Song. When he was eleven pre-KOTLC, Tam left the Lost Cities with Linh after she got banished and began attending Exillium in the Neutral Territories. In the 4th book, Neverseen, he meets Sophie Foster (the protagonist of the series) and her friends after they get banished. He helps them sneak into the ogre kingdom Ravagog, fight the Neverseen, and save the gnomes with Linh. His banishment was later lifted by the Council, and he became a member of the Black Swan. In Lodestar, he and Biana Vacker find a secret entrance in one of the Silver Tower's mirrors. He uncovers a secret room, and inside finds a Lodestar Symbol gadget, (later discovered to be able to transport users to any connected Neverseen hideout.) He accidently transports Sophie, Fitz, and himself into one of said hideouts, discovers he can break through forcefields, helps Sophie and Fitz capture two important Neverseen members (Brant and Ruy), and earlier had a bus-load of human teens swooning over him. In Nightfall, Tam, Sophie, Biana, and Marella go to the newer Nightfall facility to try and find Sophie's human parents. They find a bunch of empty storage rooms, gorgodon bones (a species created by Lady Gisela), and the Neverseen member Alvar Vacker, who was unconscious and wounded. When Alvar needed to be taken to a place the Neverseen wouldn't think of, Tam volunteers his childhood home, Choralmere, stating that the Neverseen would never expect it and that it would also freak his parents out. Later, he joins the group going to Vespera's older Nightfall facility. In the 7th book Flashback, he starts to learn how to control the 6th element, Shadowflux, helps Wylie hide the Everglen troll hive with an illusion, and later becomes a member of the Neverseen, taken captive by Lady Gisela to be the their new Shade after their previous one, Umber, died. In Legacy, Tam escapes Lady Gisela with the now ex-Neverseen member Glimmer, but only after being forced to use shadowflux to experiment on Keefe, his friend and a fellow Black Swan member.
The name "Tam" appears to be either Vietnamese, Scots, or Hebrew. It primarily means "twin," "heart," or "excellence." In the past, his family's last name was Tong, but his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother changed it to Song, as she was a musician. The surname Song is also the Chinese variation of the Vietnamese surname Tống". Along with the first name and origin of the last name. His middle name, "Dai," is a Welsh and Japanese name, with different meanings reported by different sources. Some say that it means "to shine" in Welsh, and others report that it means "beloved" in Welsh and "great" in Japanese.
Tam has black hair with silver-tipped bangs, which tend to fall into his eyes. His bangs are silver from his melted registry pendant which he dipped his hair into. He has a creamy skin tone and pale, blue eyes, which are flecked with silver. He is described as very handsome, and Sophie Foster equates his appearance to that of a K-pop idol. It is also stated that he has the same "dramatic features" as his sister.
Personality and Behavior
“Dude! This guy uses more hair products than I do!”
The silver streaks in the tips of his bangs first came around when Tam had melted the chains of his registry pendant and dipped the tips of his bangs into the silver liquid, throwing the crystal into his father's face as an act of defiance.
When it comes to his parents, Tam is very rebellious and bitter and he always speaks badly of them. He loathes them after what they had done to him and Linh, his twin sister. He seems to want to be completely disconnected from them. An example, him not liking to be called by his last name, Song. Because of that, he does not trust people easily and is overprotective of Linh. However, while he is very bitter towards his parents, a small part of him seems to want them back, as he keeps repeating that his parents need to "earn their respect." Perhaps now, he little bit more willing to have his parents back in his life. He even taunts Lady Gisela in the eighth book on his first day with the Neverseen, which shows his rebellious side.
Tam is wary of anyone that he has not gotten to know yet. He has strong trust issues, as it is seen when he took a long time getting to trust Sophie, her friends, and the Black Swan. Tam even admits at the end of Flashback he was never really trusting of the Black Swan for a while. He takes careful steps in trusting people or telling them about something, and he always thinks there might be a 'catch' to a bargain that sounds too good to be true, as shown when Mr. Forkle offers the twins home to stay for nothing in return. This wariness or suspicion could be because of his rocky past with his parents, and Tam has learned to be careful not to get tricked.
In his short story in Legacy, it is revealed that he set certain rules for himself to follow once he was moved to Exillium with his sister. He attempts to follow these rules again as he lives with the Neverseen.
Tam also tends to be a bit insecure. At one point he asks Sophie, "You already have the four friends you came with. Do you really have room for more?" This shows that Tam does not think very highly of himself as he questions if someone who already has so many friends would want him for a friend as well. This insecurity may be why he tends to remark sarcastically and hide his feelings, perhaps as a result of his parents' harshness.
Despite Tam's bitterness, which is often mistaken for a lack of trustworthiness, he can be very compassionate and chose to help Sophie and her friends when he could have just pushed her away, as he had a sense of what the right thing to do was. Tam cares a lot about his twin sister, Linh, and follows her wherever she goes, to keep a careful eye on her and keep her safe. He is willing to do anything for her. After Linh was sent to Exillium, he chose to go with her, even though he did nothing wrong.
Tam also seems to be very observant and asks questions the others haven't thought of. In Nightfall, he brings up the fact that Prentice could have told Alden about the symbol instead of keeping it a secret if his sentence was inevitable. He also points out that a raid on Ravagog during the day would be better since the Neverseen would be expecting a night attack, and because he can hide them with shadows anytime. Tam has also hinted at his understanding of Keefe and Fitz's feelings for Sophie and vice versa, as he offers to explain the concept of Fitz and Sophie to a confused Tiergan, and warns Keefe that if he leaves them stranded, he'll lose Sophie.
Tam doesn’t trust many people. He has shown a great deal of protectiveness towards Linh, and more recently the others as well, and a desire to keep them safe no matter what, sometimes at the expense of himself. The major examples of this are in Flashback when Tam gives himself up and "joins" the Neverseen to save Silveny, Greyfell, and the two newborn alicorns, Wynn and Luna, as well as his sister, despite Lady Gisela's clear message of how dangerous it would be for him. Before going, he tells Sophie: "And I don't really care about me. I care about Linh..." and goes on to say that it'll protect the alicorns as well. He says something similar to Sophie in Neverseen. On page 589 of Neverseen, while crossing the river in Ravagog, Tam decided to wait for Calla, someone he barely knew, to go before him. In addition to this, when his sister is threatened by the Neverseen, he admits to not really caring about himself. In the eighth book, he does his best to act like he enjoys being with the Neverseen, yelling at his sister to stay away, to make sure she doesn’t attempt a rescue and put herself in danger. In the short story (that's in Tam's point of view) it was revealed that Glimmer heard him crying after that exchange, which shows how much it hurt him to make his sister believe he’d betrayed her.
This ability lets Tam control shadows and darkness. He can hide people completely with shadows, create illusions if helped by a Flasher, break though forcefields, and "read" a person by reading how much shadow vapor they have. The more shadow vapor a person has, the more secrets/darkness they have to hide. If a person has too much shadow vapor or won't let him take the reading, he becomes suspicious, as in the case of Keefe and Alvar. Since Flashback, he can also control the unpredictable sixth element, shadowflux.
So far, shadowflux allows him to give people echoes and to either pass shadowflux straight through force fields without breaking them (like when Umber attacked Sophie and Fitz before the Everglen battle), or completely shatter them far more quickly and efficiently than with his normal shadows. Besides Umber, he is the only elf ever recorded to be able to control shadowflux.
Because Tam is able to control and command shadowflux, (which does not like to listen and is hard to control), and that even experienced Shades such as Lady Zillah are not able to control it, there are some theories that Tam and Umber might have a unknown ability.
“I didn't want her to face this alone, and I wouldn't stay with my family anyway. They'd always wished they didn't have the shame of twins. I wasn't going to let them pass me off as an only child.”
The residents of the Lost Cities harshly judge multiple births, especially when it comes to Tam's parents; thus, when Linh, a fledgling Hydrokinetic, almost flooded the Lost City of Atlantis, she was banished to Exillium. Tam, not wanting her to face banishment on her own, decided to follow her to Exillium even though he had done nothing wrong. He also did this because he hated his parents and disapproved of their discrimination against multiple births.
Tam and his sister Linh moved around the Neutral Territories, and when Sophie met them they were living in Wildwood Colony, a gnomish territory affected by the ogre-released plague in Neverseen. He and Linh later resided in Ermete’s, (a dwarf who died in the battle at Mount Everest), residence before moving to Alluveterre under the care of the Black Swan. After the events in Lodestar, they were supposed to move in with Blur, but there was a difficulty with Blur's living conditions so they were placed with Tiergan and Wylie at Solreef. Tam now attends Foxfire Academy, along with Linh.
Official Match Status: Unregistered
- LINH (twin sister)
Linh is Tam's twin sister whom he cares very deeply for. When Linh is banished to Exillium from the Lost Cities, Tam chose to be banished as well, even though he could have left her alone and choose a normal life without the discrimination of having a twin.
“There are very few things Mr. Tam wouldn't do to protect his sister.”
The twins have lived together for more than fifteen years, and they have attended Exillium for twelve hundred fourteen days. Tam would always make it clear that he would not be kept away from Linh, and even "joins" the Neverseen to make sure they wouldn't hurt her. He is very protective of Linh and would do anything to keep her safe and sound. They also have a way of discretely communicating using a secret code they invented while they were fleeing. They replaced the meaning of a few words and chose two "I‘m in trouble" phrases. One for Linh, one for Tam.
In Lodestar, the two siblings are seen laughing and teasing each other in front of Sophie, Fitz, Biana, Dex, and Keefe, showing a more light-hearted side of Tam, as he has begun to let his guard down and trust Sophie and the others. He and his sister have a very intimate relationship and it is clear that they love each other very much.
In Legacy, Tam resists the etherine bonds when Lady Gisela tells him to hurt Linh, even though it seems to cause him pain. At the end of Legacy, Linh says that Tam is "different" when he gets back from the Neverseen. In Unlocked, Tam says that Linh has gone back to Choralmere because she doesn't like Glimmer. This implies a rift between the twins, though they are still incredibly close.
Tam met Sophie during her first day at Exillium, and both of them had taken an interest in each other. Sophie was interested in Tam as "The Boobrie Dude" had warned her about him, saying that he was the worst Wayward in Exillium, while Tam was interested in Sophie as when she had almost burnt down Exillium on her first day, his sister Linh was the one to save her as a Hydrokinetic, and he found it fascinating that she had four abilities.
The two of them, while staring at each other, first communicate with each other through shadow-whispering, and transmitting. They formed a connection with each other through a series of shadow-whispering sessions during lessons in Exillium.
When Sophie stood up against the Coaches for the right choice and rescued the plague-infested gnome, also helping Linh hold her breath underwater by calming her down, Tam decided to tell her what he and Linh knew about the plague, and he and Linh leaped Sophie to Wildwood to tell her about them.
Tam and Keefe get off on the wrong foot and both dislike each other. Although it is unclear why they dislike each other, Keefe is judgmental towards Tam as Tam's ability is a Shade and there is this evident stereotype or a misconception that all Shades are 'shady', evil, and not to be trusted. Another possible reason for them disliking each other is that Keefe and Tam are "the same person" as quoted by Linh in Lodestar due to their knack of making trouble. Keefe also calls Tam, "Bangs Boy." After learning about Tam's past and his hatred towards his father, Keefe still chose to dislike him despite their common points pertaining to family background and personality, saying that 'someone needs to tell Shade Boy the role of Troublemaker with Daddy Issues is already filled'. Also, Keefe refuses to let Tam take a reading of his shadow vapor, heightening conflict between them.
Keefe also tells Tam that he would always be the president of "Foster Fan Club" and that they were closed to new members, as he doesn't like the way Sophie and Tam secretly communicate via a combination of shadow-whispering and telepathic transmission and is thus envious or even jealous of their connection.
Tam had not trusted Keefe right from the start when Keefe had refused to let him take a Shade reading of him, as shown when he says "the only people who refuse readings are those with darkness to hide," which implies that he was suspicious that Keefe had something bad to hide.
In Lodestar, Linh remarks that the two boys' personalities are very similar and that was probably why they did not get along with each other. Despite Sophie's numerous attempts to try to get Tam and Keefe to like each other, the two boys still hold an immense dislike for each other, and their distrust of each other is greater displayed.
In Nightfall, it's mentioned many times that Keefe and Tam would be friends due to their many similarities, but only if they got over their differences. Tam also said that if Keefe doesn't mess up again, he would be more willing to be friends with him.
In Legacy, Tam warns Sophie about Lady Gisela’s plans to kill Keefe, but Keefe doesn’t believe him. Keefe calls Tam “Tammy”, which could be a sign of their growing friendship, but also refers to Tam as a traitor, and gets upset when Tam takes Lady Gisela back to the Neverseen. Later however, when Tam is forced to complete Keefe’s “transformation”, Keefe jokingly assures him that he will always dislike Tam and his bangs and that he doesn’t blame him for any of this, showing that Keefe may have started trusting Tam. Tam is horrified and very upset about what he is forced to do to Keefe.
There is a possibility that Tam has a crush on Biana and it is implied he thinks she is pretty. When Keefe gets jealous of Tam and told him that he was the 'president of the Foster Fan Club' and they were 'closed to new members', Tam instantly 'flushes' and assures Sophie that he had no romantic interest towards her, instead 'stealing a quick glance at Biana after he said it', possibly implying that he was not romantically interested in Sophie, but Biana.
After seeing him 'wave his hand', making the 'shadows around a clump of trees shift to reveal Linh', Biana, a little in awe, remarked how much that was like an anti vanish, and asked him how he had done that. They are good friends, and care about each other, as seen in Lodestar. Linh said he likes brunettes, and Biana is the only brunette in their friend group, other than Fitz.
In Flashback, Tam tells Sophie that he’s sure Biana will let him help search Everglen, suggesting that they’ve grown closer. When the entire group was trapped at Everglen behind Ruy’s forcefield, Umber directed her Shadowflux at Biana instead of Linh, who Umber knew Tam was highly protective of.
In Unlocked, when Fitz says "No, I just knew you'd sneak along anyway, since you're nosy like that-and dying to see Tam." then adds to Sophie "My sister's a fan of silver bangs" Biana's cheek flush, and Sophie thinks it either because of confirmation or irritation. Or both.
Dex and Tam have a mutual friendship and consider each other friends. While staying at Alluveterre in Neverseen, Tam shares a room with Dex before they head to Ravagog. In later books, there is slight teasing between the two, and they are both pulled into a hug by Alden in Flashback after saving Fitz and Sophie.
In Nightfall, they seem to be teasing each other. Later on, Biana said that she dislikes being used to get to her brother and added that Linh probably felt like that too. Tam says she doesn't, to which Marella says, "Are you kidding, have you seen you?"
- Wylie (friend)
Tam and Wylie were hesitant friends at first, mainly just because Linh and Wylie have spent so much time together. They have lived with each other for some time in Tiergan's house, Solreef. In Flashback, Wylie and Tam had to combine their Shade and Flasher powers to create an illusion to hide the troll hive.
- QUAN (father)
Tam dislikes his father and refers to Choralmere as a 'glittering prison.' This is most likely because Quan seems to care about his reputation more than his own kids, even going so far as trying to convince everyone Linh and Tam were not the same age, and even going so far as to tell the twins they had their inception date wrong.
In Lodestar, he appears to try and reconcile with his children but is still harsh.
In Nightfall, he acts rude towards them and complains about them ruining his home as they try to find a place to hide Alvar. It's also revealed in Nightfall that Quan locked Tam in his room for two days for spilling ink on his mother's sleeve.
- MAI (mother)
In Nightfall, she painted a portrait of both Tam and Linh, one on each side of the canvas. She wants to reconcile with her children but accepts that they need more time. It's said that she refused to leave Choralmere at the Council's suggestion, saying that she couldn't live without the sound of the waves, despite the fact that it would help Linh learn to control her ability.
Tam met Glimmer during his time with the Neverseen, and although he hasn't seen her face and doesn't know her real name, he admits to trusting her in Legacy, when she realizes that the Neverseen's way is not what she wants or believes in and starts helping Tam and his friends to fight the defected Dwarves. It is also said that at one point she reminds him of Linh. He breaks one of his rules and she becomes his friend, though he denies this to her face.
In Unlocked, Tam trusts Glimmer, even though she won't lower her hood. Fitz says Tam has been "protective" of Glimmer. Tam tells Bo that she won't threaten his friends, and tells Sandor that Glimmer wouldn't set a trap when they go to the Neverseen's storehouse. He also says Glimmer is "way too smart" to not know how to get to the storehouse.
Character Bio by Shannon Messenger
We don’t meet Tam until partway through the series, because he lives in a different part of the Lost Cities—a colder, harsher place where those who’ve been banished struggle to survive. And he endures all of it to protect his twin sister, Linh. He may like hiding behind his jagged bangs—which he dipped in silver to protest his parents’ cruel choice—but that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to speak his mind. And with his darkly mysterious power, he’s a valuable ally for Sophie and her friends, once he decides he’s willing to trust them.
- "Answers can be lies."
- "You're different. I can't decide if that's a good thing."
- "I can tell. Thanks for the cat statue!"
- "You already have the four friends you came with. Are you sure you have room for more?"
- "The only people who refuse readings are those with darkness to hide."
- "If you're thinking it'll get easier, it won't."
- "I'm trusting you. I don't care about me, but if something happens to Linh..."
- "Are you afraid of the dark?"
- "Make him stay away from me!"
- "Don't talk to anybody. Don't listen to anybody. Don't make friends. Don't let them break you."
- "You can't change who you are, or who your family is. All you can do is make sure you're living by what you believe in."
- “My registry pendant, actually. I melted down the chain after I ripped off the crystal and threw it in my father's face. Now if I ever face him again, he'll see exactly how little I miss living in his glittering prison.”
- "If you don't trust them- trust me."
- "Dude- This guy uses more hair products than I do!"
- His original last name was Tong before it was changed to Song by his grandmother on his mothers side.
- He has a habit of tugging on his bangs.
- The name Tam means innocent, honest, or naive and is of Hebrew origin.
- Tam and Linh were not named after the Scottish ballad "Tam Lyn," as confirmed by Shannon Messenger.
- He does not use a nexus.
- His bodyguards are Elidyr and Opher.