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In the first book, Thom traveled together with Moiraine and the rest from Emond's Field towards Tar Valon. This was, as far as I remember, a chance encounter, and possibly the first time they met.

They traveled together, and had chance encounters a few times through the books, but not enough to become "close" as far as I can remember.

Rand and Mat thought Thom was dead after fighting the fade in Whitebridge, to which Moiraine said something like: I don't think Thom is dead. You'd be surprised at what Thom can do. (I don't remember the words). That suggests that she knew quite a lot about him, beyond the fact that he was a court bard and that he could spin knives in his hands. This must be from before they met in Emond's Field.

Spoiler from The Fires of Heaven and the last book:

Before sacrificing herself in the battle with Lanfear, she gave Thom a letter starting with: My dearest Thom. There are many words I would like to write to you, words from my heart .... Later, they marry and he becomes her warder.

How did they become this close? How well did Moiraine know Thom, and the other way around?

  • Please feel free to edit the question with the correct quotes and books if you know them. – Stewie Griffin Apr 20 '18 at 7:54
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    It's worth noting that the spoilery Moiraine-Thom connection was foreseen by fans well before the last books came out: see e.g. one, two. So, like many subtly foreshadowed things in the WoT series, it didn't just come out of nowhere. – Rand al'Thor Apr 20 '18 at 8:47
  • I thought there was an encounter at one point where she confronts him on his past, and it seemed clear to me at that point they didn't have previous history, just Moraine's information base (she plays the Great Game rather well, and Thom's story was not that of any ordinary court bard to be dismissed). I'll try to source it. – Radhil Apr 20 '18 at 10:39
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They met in Emond's Field, but Moiraine plays the Great Game, and Thom was no mere unknown court bard.

The first long span Thom and Moiraine are in the same plot thread, they are at the Stone of Tear after Rand conquers it, and she confronts him to push him to act as escort to Elayne and Nynaeve. The conversation is full of implications and subtext, but the thrust is when she confronts him on his past.

Her smile was just short of laughter, but she spoke as if reading from a page. "Thomdril Merrilin. Called the Gray Fox, once, by some who knew him, or knew of him. Courtbard at the Royal Palace of Andor in Caemlyn. Morgase's lover for a time, after Taringail died. Fortunate for Morgase, Taringail's death. I do not suppose she ever learned he meant her to die and himself to be Andor's first king. But we were speaking of Thom Merrilin, a man who, it was said, could play the Game of Houses in his sleep. It is a shame that such a man calls himself a simple gleeman. But such arrogance to keep the same name."
The Shadow Rising, Chapter 17, Deceptions

Moiraine never makes any indications she knew Thom before, just that she knows his story. She knows about Owyn's death, and hooks Thom using information he'll need to avenge him.

This is definitely portrayed in this chapter as an aggressive manipulation, so it's not like they're cordial at this point or ever were. With all the subtext surrounding this manipulation though, is a wealth of information. Moraine's comments confirm she knows Thom is not just a master player of the Great Game, but also a peerless assassin, as well as someone with fierce loyalties. It's no accident that Moiraine brings up two Great Lords of Tear that opposed Rand in secret, and met with accidents themselves. She wants him to know that she's aware of all he's capable of. This wouldn't be necessary if they knew each other.

The subtler, deeper implication hiding behind all the obvious ones here is that she admires him for all these qualities. She ends the conversation by telling him that not all Aes Sedai are alike, and while Thom's reaction to her ploy tells us that she's just stringing him along, the flipside of this is that she may honestly want him to look on her fondly. The few fidgets she has during the conversation Thom interprets as hiding smiles or laughter to avoid insulting him, but are probably actual expressions of feelings she has for him. She just can't put aside her mission to indulge in those feelings.

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  • I've always found Thom's reaction to seeing Moirane in Emond's Field seemed a bit too startled to suggest he had never seen her before. It could have just been a reaction to her Aes Sedai features or noble look; but I always thought it hinted at some past between them. – JMac Feb 5 '19 at 16:56
  • @JMac - Emond's Field is a backwater village some significant travel time from the closest mining city and trading hub, which is itself a backwater. Thom also has bad history with Aes Sedai. I think the only way he could've been more shocked was if Morgase came out of the inn next. – Radhil Feb 5 '19 at 22:57
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Thom certainly recognized her as Aes Sedai, at the very least, given she didn't bother to take off her serpent ring and Lan is wearing his fancloth cloak.

More interesting, to me, is that Moiraine calls him "Master Bard" the first time they meet. Given the Three Oaths, is this an indication that she already knows who he is?

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  • 2
    Is your final question rhetoric? If not it probably should be asked as a new question. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 16 at 18:37
  • @TheLethalCarrot Well, that's evidence that she might have known who he was before the start of the story, which is interesting and partially addresses the question. – Rand al'Thor Jan 16 at 19:21
  • @Randal'Thor which is why I thought it may have been rhetoric rather than a proper question. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 16 at 19:24

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