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This article contains plot details from the latest books.
“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.”
“Dude! This guy uses more hair products than I do!”
Tam Song is a Shade and a member of the Black Swan and the Neverseen. When he was eleven, he left the Lost Cities with Linh who was banished, so that she didn't have to leave alone; because of this, he was banished from the Lost Cities and began attending Exillium. In Neverseen, however, his banishment was lifted by the Council. As of Flashback, he is a member of the Neverseen, taken captive by Lady Gisela.
In the past, his family's last name was to be Tong, but his great-great-grandmother changed it to Song, due to her love for music.
Tam and his sister Linh were once the only elvin inhabitants of the Wildwood Colony, a gnomish territory. He and Linh later resided in Ermete's former residence before moving to Alluveterre under the care of the Black Swan. After the events in Lodestar, they moved to the Lost Cities under the care of Blur, but there was a difficulty with Blur's living conditions and they had to live with Tiergan. Tam, along with Linh, now attend Foxfire Academy.
The name "Tam" appears to be Vietnamese. It primarily means "twin" or "excellence."
Tam has black hair with jagged silver bangs, which tend to fall into his eyes. His bangs are silver because he melted his registry pendant and dipped them in it as revenge against his parents. He has a creamy skin tone and pale, silvery-blue eyes. He is described as "handsome," "like a K-pop idol," and "good-looking."
Photo 1: Tam by Laura Hollingsworth
Photo 2: Tam on the cover of Flashback by Jason Chan
Photo 3: Tam by Laura Hollingsworth
Photo 4: Tam on the cover of Lodestar by Jason Chan
Photo 5: Tam by Courtney Godbey
“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.”
—Tam Song, in Lodestar
The residents of the Lost Cities harshly judge elves like twins and triplets, especially when it comes to Tam's parents; thus, when Linh, then 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 had done nothing wrong. He also did this because he hated his parents and disapproved of their discrimination against twins.
This ability lets Tam control shadows and "read" a person by reading how much shadowvapor they have. This is because the more shadowvapor they have, the more secrets and darkness they have to hide. It lets the person see "The darkness within us all." If a person has too much shadowvapor 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.
Personality and Behavior
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 as 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 of this is the fact that he doesn’t like 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 is a little bit more willing to have his parents back in his life.
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. He takes careful steps in trusting people or telling them about something, and he always thinks that 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 due to his rocky past with his parents, and Tam has learned to be careful not to get tricked.
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. This insecurity may be a result of his parent's harshness.
However, despite Tam's bitterness--which is often mistaken for being evil--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, in order to keep a careful eye on her and keep her safe.
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 the 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.
- 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 had the option of leaving her alone and choosing a good life without the discrimination of having a twin.
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.
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.
- SOPHIE (friend)
Tam met Sophie during her first day at Exillium, and both of them had taken 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 breathe 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'.
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 the gnomish tunnel that led to Ravagog, he also told Sophie that he was worried about Keefe as he could tell that he was hiding something, and thus asked her how much she trusted Keefe.
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.
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 assured 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 Book 6: Nightfall, Mai Song, Tam and Linh's mother, painted a portrait of both Tam and Linh, one on each side of the canvas (so she wouldn't have to look at both of them at the same time), but without the silver in their hair. Biana painted the silver back on, and after she did that, Tam said he loved it.
For further details on their possible romantic relationship, check here.
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?"
- 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.
Her name also means "water" in Arabic.
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.
- His original last name was Tong before it was changed to Song.