zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
Thom is probably my single biggest reason for ficcing SotL so much. I just like him. (Dunno why; he's an utter ass.) Also, he's one of the most vexing examples of something that's an unfortunate trend for Pierce: the derailed character.

Let me get this out of the way: yes, I think it's totally possible for an author to write their own characters out-of-character. Pierce does it repeatedly.

Through most of SotL, Thom is actually more paranoid over Roger than Alanna is. He's also the one who pieces everything together, and keeps having to nag his sister via letter to remain on her guard.

Then he randomly raises Roger from the dead. Why? Because Delia said he couldn't.

Are you kidding me?

The other vexing thing about this is that Alanna is very clear in the very first book: among other things, Thom can see the future. So, uh. Was he just not looking that day? Paranoid Thom? Who suspected Roger all along, who played dumb for years to avoid drawing Roger's suspicion, who was more sure of Roger's perfidy than Alanna was?

This all just doesn't add up.

I'm also not entirely convinced that his random stealing of Alanna's Gift is all that in-character for him, either.

Leaving that whole matter aside. It's pretty clear in canon he's a genius; he's a Master at seventeen, has been ready for it for at least a year, and was playing stupid for literally years beforehand. (Which, come to think of it, is probably what really annoys his teachers. Speaking as a substitute teacher and sometime tutor, there's nothing more obnoxious than a smart kid playing dumb. And yes, it's always horribly obvious, too.)

I also think that while he and Alanna may have been born with the same strength Gift (we really don't know either way), it's pretty clear he's got a broader affinity, and with his training, by the end of ItHotG if not sooner, he's probably both stronger and a hell of a lot more knowledgeable than Alanna, with her limited interest in magic, will ever be.

My other big problem with Thom is that his death is so random. It feels wasteful, like Pierce wanted some pathos but didn't want to off a character we (or Alanna, apparently) actually cared about. I think one major reason I do so many SotL AUs is that I'm utterly fascinated by all the possibilities of what could have happened if Thom had lived.

Also, I think it's hilarious that Thom is apparently a Mithran priest. Can you imagine anyone less devout?

-He's gay. I have written the rare fic where he's not, but my head-canon is still that Thom's gay.
-Roger planted a compulsion in Thom at some point - that if Roger died and thus triggered the Sorcerer's Sleep, Thom would, when triggered, raise him. This is literally the only plausible explanation I can come up with for why on Earth Thom would raise Roger.
-Honestly, and I don't know where this comes from, but I always see him as being more aware of others' feelings and thoughts than Alanna. (Oh. Wait. I know where part of it comes from - Alanna's mention that among other things, Thom can read minds.)
-I think, given that he was initially trained by the village healer, he's probably a pretty decent healer himself, even if he's not that interested in it.
-Roger either seduced or compelled Thom into sleeping with him. (Or some combination of both; I think compulsions need something there to glom onto.) I see this happening both before Roger died the first time, briefly (and thus being when Roger managed to plant the other compulsion mentioned above), and after Roger's resurrected. I also don't usually think it was all that happy a relationship.
-Along with the above point, I am fairly certain Thom was in Corus for at least a few days prior to Alanna's knighting. Probably longer, given what we're later told of the state of the roads from the north.
-Thom is pretty wary of his sister. I mentioned this in the Alanna post, but we know basically two things about their childhood relationship: Alanna was the more physical one, and Alanna ducked him in the pond at least once (and brings this up, years later, to get Thom to shut up and stop needling her). I suspect that what Alanna sees as just her playing around or getting a bit exasperated, Thom would see as bullying. The first thing I flashed to, reading the ducking-in-the-pond line, was Raoul and all holding Ralon underwater, which was probably not what Pierce was going for (and it's pretty clear that we're meant to cheer Ralon being half-drowned, which is disturbing), but has tainted that line for me ever since.
-Thom likes the cold north, and heights, and the simple dark stone construction in the mountains. He is really not a people person (understatement of the century, what), and is not at all fond of busy places like cities.
-Thom is nearsighted. It occurred to me that the two major things Alanna mentions Thom being bad at - archery and tracking - require decent distance vision. I can't do either, without my glasses. (Idly, I wonder if there's any way to correct vision in Tortall.)
-(that stupid crap about Gift color aside) Thom, Roger, and Numair are all roughly about as powerful as each other. Actually, I'd peg Roger as the weakest of the three.
-(I have NO canon support for this next bit at all) Thom is in a tricky legal situation when it comes to Trebond, after Lord Alan dies. Somehow, in my head-canon, Mithran priests can't inherit property. I think this came about largely because I was sort of wondering why we never heard of any other noblemen going there, and why Jon would feel it necessary to start up another institution for learning magic if the City of the Gods was already there. (Maybe he pissed off all the Mithrans?) I'm pretty sure that this issue would have cropped up before, but I suspect that the probable solution - give up his Mastery to go run the fief - would not sit well with Thom at all. (Honestly, most of this came about because I love complicated situations with no easy solution. That I can make it work with canon is a bonus.)
-Given half a chance, Thom is a terrifyingly good strategist.
-Thom sees glimpses of the future. A lot. It's his primary affinity, and he can scry in anything - often not even deliberately.
-Thom had too strong a Gift to have safely avoided training it. (My head-canon seems to be on the side of "yes, Thom is stronger than his sister".) I do think we see enough evidence that untrained Gifts are potentially dangerous that it's fully possible an undertrained Thom would have been a walking disaster.
-Thom is a sappy and affectionate drunk. This disturbs him, so he rarely drinks. (Though I can also see him faking drunk, for the freedom it'd give him.)
-And now for a bit of AU-canon: in any 'verse where Thom takes up the sword, he's the natural that Alanna had to learn to be. (Mostly just because it would vex Alanna terribly.)


My Fics
Canon compliant:
Compulsion - Thom never knows why he sleeps with Roger. Canon compliant.
Nothing But Pleasure - Roger is a sadist.
Both of the above are part of the What a Flicker Brings AU, but they are also canon-compliant.
Foretelling - Thom has always been able to see the future.
Growing Pains - Si-cham vs. a certain ornery student.
Letters from the Dead - Fifty letters to the living. Thom's not a major character here, but really, no one is.
Making Conversation - Jon and Thom have precisely one conversation.
The Meaning of Life - Four universes in which Thom doesn't die young.
Radiance - There are only two things Thom has ever loved.
World On Its Head - Also includes the sentence-fic "Sacrifices". Two glimpses of a pivotal moment not seen in canon.

Miscellaneous AUs:
Song of the Seer - My first "the twins don't switch" fic.
Stricken to the Bone - Thom and Alanna both go for page training.

Discovery AU:
This AU centers on Alanna, but Thom is a secondary character. He does get a short little fic, though.
Sounds - To George, Thom isn't silent.

The Iron King AU:
Glass - Killing someone while they're Sleeping is not a wise idea.

Making the Best of Things AU:
Thom is a major character in the whole AU. Here are the main fics where he appears.
Burning Brightly - Jon wants to go explore the Black City. Fortunately, Thom is there to stop him.
New Things - Roger always knew that page was insane.
Some People - Ten people who weren't ever wary of Thom, and one person who should've been.
Irony - Of all the ways Roger could die, it is the Sweating Sickness that fells him.
Jollity - Owen needs a knight-master.

Patchwork AU:
In this 'verse, the Grimhold Mountains are their own country, and Tortall itself is very small.
Ten Scenes from Another World - A short history lesson, and what happens when Tortall sends an embassy to Grimhold.
Away - The twins are celebrating Midwinter separately, and Thom is pensive. This fic may no longer be canon for this 'verse.
Epiphany - Roger figures something out.

Snake in the Grass AU:
Another AU all about Thom. I am not sure how to describe this, save to say that I am ridiculously proud of it.
The Morning Star - Thom is stuck visiting his family at the Swoop when a certain fleet attacks it.
Caduceus - A traitor gets a visitor.

What a Flicker Brings AU:
This AU is all about Thom, and he is in every fic. I am only listing the main fic and a few of my favorites below; for the full list, click the series title.
What a Flicker Brings - Thom gets a glimpse of the future in his mug. The foundation fic for this 'verse.
Bitterness - Thom does not like Carthak.
Ethics - Page training is about to start, and Lord Wyldon's ethics teacher has just up and quit. Of course King Jonathan has a suggestion. Major spoilers for an in-progress fic.
Talking Treason - Thom and Kel have a conversation.

Date: 29 Dec 2010 07:09 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] carmarthen
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
Om nom nom thinky thoughts.

He is really not a people person (understatement of the century, what), and is not at all fond of busy places like cities.

Mmm, but he does canonically enjoy living it up at Court....

Thom is nearsighted. It occurred to me that the two major things Alanna mentions Thom being bad at - archery and tracking - require decent distance vision.

I think this is really plausible!

think this came about largely because I was sort of wondering why we never heard of any other noblemen going there

It is mentioned in SOTL that younger sons sometimes become priests, which would seem risky per inheritance unless the eldest has already produced sufficient heirs.

Date: 29 Dec 2010 07:56 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] carmarthen
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
Initially, I think it comes from George, who I'd say has some...concern...about Thom (I don't recall Myles having any issues with him).

I also suspect Thom is both very devious and very paranoid. I have never been entirely sure what he was doing around court while Alanna was away, but I've sort of suspected - though it's not quite to head-canon level yet - that he knew/suspected/was incredibly paranoid that Roger wasn't really finished off. Or that an aspect of the compulsion made him linger; the compulsion does no good if Thom isn't around to raise Roger.

Mmm, yeah.

I can also, easily, see Thom being the kind of person who really, really enjoys just hanging around and cynically watching the antics people get up to. (Real people: better than soap operas.) I think what it boils down to is that I really don't think he likes people

Yeah, I can imagine him cynically enjoying the antics.

I got the impression that the main thing he liked about Court was the opportunity to poke around in the royal libraries, try to figure out what Roger was doing, and have other people take care of everything for him while he does magical experiments. It's possible that although he's perfectly content in an ascetic environment that he also enjoys luxury, as well.

that he's a really sappy and affectionate drunk.

I think you just broke my brain, but...yeah, I can see that. I have an uncle who is generally snide, prickly, and impossible to get close to--and I saw him really drunk once and he was friendly, cheerful, emotionally open, and like a completely different person. My mom still boggles about it to this day. I can definitely see alcohol temporarily lowering the barriers someone like Thom has built to protect himself emotionally.

Date: 29 Dec 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] carmarthen
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
I thought Myles said something rather pointed about Thom when he went to the desert to adopt Alanna.

He might have a little? How can I forget so much of books I just reread?

Also, I need to write the George-gets-Thom-drunk fic sometime soon, too, because hot damn, George isn't expecting what happens.


I have a great fondness for George and Thom interacting.

Date: 29 Dec 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] carmarthen
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
1) It's really easy to read George as bisexual (and not very vested in gender--in the ftm!Alan AU, I figure George just shrugs and goes "okay", while Jon just doesn't understand it at all and Liam is not interested in Alan where he would have been Alanna).

2) He can put up with Alanna, so he can probably handle Thom, too?

I mean, I can't really see very many other characters putting up with Thom AND in a positive (i.e. not-Roger-like) way.

Date: 29 Dec 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] q_sama
q_sama: (Default)
(that stupid crap about Gift color aside)

What stupid crap? I don't recall anything about Gift colors indicating their power...

I agree with this SO MUCH. I can't get into Thom because of all the inconsistencies and the fact that I don't really get a loving relationship out of Thom & Alanna except when it's convenient.

As for his stealing Alanna's Gift... I actually wouldn't have a problem with that, if it weren't to raise Roger from the dead. It seems as though that's the bigger blow in the situation. But I truly believe that he thinks of Alanna and her Gift as it was when they were ten - not that she was afraid of it, considering how much she used it (which you referenced perfectly before), but that she doesn't use as much as her Gift regularly as he does - so why not nab some? I think if there had never been a letter, I'd consider it totally OOC, but his offhand "Oh yeah, stole your Gift since you don't use it" seemed all right to my perceptions.

Speaking of drinking and magic... there's all this stuff that comes later about how mages shouldn't drink because their power gets out of control (blah, blah, morality) - do you think Thom + drinking = bad things on any given occasion?

Date: 29 Dec 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] q_sama
q_sama: (Default)
I was referencing Pierce's comment that the Gift gets darker as the mage gets more powerful

Ah, that's one I must've missed somewhere. I consider it BS.

I'm not all that fond of that "any mage drinking = power automatically out of control" idea (my Lindhall, which post I'll get to soon, is a hardcore drinker)

Lindhall as a drinker is most *certainly* something I can get behind. I can imagine that a mage, without inhibitations, would be just as likely to do stupid things as I am, so I can understand a general advisory against drinking for mages, but I can't get behind the notion of mages who drink automatically risking explosions or anything. But I could see facets of Thom's personality - the things he's been hiding, for example - appearing when he's had lots of wine. :)

Date: 30 Dec 2010 02:41 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
*wanders in from network* Thom/Roger is canon. Word of God. Pierce said it somewhere on the sheroes forums. (Lalasa/Tian is also canon, and Lark/Rosethorn and Rosethorn/Crane from Circle of Magic.)

Date: 30 Dec 2010 02:50 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
Fair enough.

I haven't read Will of the Empress recently enough to remember. Probably, though, since that's the sort of thing that would come up when discussing Daja/whatshername.

Date: 31 Dec 2010 12:10 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] carmarthen
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
Lark/Rosethorn was confirmed in Will of the Empress, I thought?



zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)

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