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Daja Kisubo
Reigning Monarch
Biographical Information
Nickname Daj' (by Briar Moss)
Born Seed Moon 30th, 1025 KF [1]
Nationality Tsaw'ha
Magical Information
Magic Metal
Type Ambient magic
Ranking Possible great mage
Institution Winding Circle
Teacher(s) Dedicate Initiate Frostpine
Accreditation Medallion
Student(s) Niamara and Jorality Bancanor
Creations Living metal — Gloves, suit (both fire resistant); scrying mirror to detect magic
Physical Description
Gender Female
Height 5' 8" (in 1039 K.F.)[2]
Hair Black
Eyes Brown
Family Information
Grandparents Unnamed grandmother (deceased)
Parents Unnamed parents (deceased)
Adoptive Parents
Siblings Sandrilene fa Toren
Briar Moss
Trisana Chandler
(foster siblings)
Adoptive Children
Other Family Hulweme (dead)
Ziba (deceased)
Lover Rizuka fa Dalach
Patron God
Rank Commoner
Residence 6 Cheeseman St., Summersea in Emelan (current, main)
Discipline (former)
Occupation Master smith
Law Enforcement of
Guard District
Guard Badge
Bibliographical Information
Circle Universe character
First Mentioned '
Only Mentioned '
First Appeared Sandry's Book
Last Appeared '
Latest Appearance The Will of the Empress
Only Appearance '
Last Mentioned Battle Magic
Frostpine: "I waited for years for someone who loves it as I do to come along."
Daja: "If I hadn't— If our ship hadn't sunk, if I wasn't trangshi now—"
Frostpine: "Daja—"
Daja: "I would have gone all my life thinking I was wrong. Thinking I was dirty to want to do lugsha things. Being a bad Trader. Being a bad Kisubo."
— Frostpine and Daja on her interest for metalwork[src]

Daja Kisubo (pronounced DAH-jah key-SOO-boh) was born in 1025 KF as a member of the Trader Kisubo family. She was the sole survivor of a shipwreck that killed the rest of her family when she was ten years old, making her deemed unlucky and Trangshi by other Traders. She was discovered to have ambient magic with metals, ore, and fire, making her a smith-mage. She spent the next four years at Winding Circle and forged a magical bond with her house-mates: Sandrilene fa Toren, Trisana Chandler, and Briar Moss, and she saw them as her foster siblings with Lark and Rosethorn as her foster-parents. She studied primarily under the famed smith mage known as Frostpine while at Winding Circle, and she earned her mage's credential when she was thirteen, making her a prodigy along with the rest of her siblings.


Early life

Daja was born on the 30th of Seed Moon in 1025 K.F.[1] as a Tsaw'ha, or Trader, a group of people who travel by caravan or ship and buy and sell things of value and look down upon craftspeople; unfortunately, Daja was fascinated with blacksmiths, yet thought she would never be able to get near one. Every time her family caught her at admiring a smith, she was whipped for it. As others are prejudiced against Traders they aren't liked outside their own community. Daja's family includes an unnamed father and mother, who was the captain of Third Ship Kisubo[3], as well as an older brother Uneny and a younger sister[4], all of whom were members of the crew on the Third Ship Kisubo along with Daja. She also has an uncle, Tiwolu, and an aunt, Zayda, who belong to Fifth Ship Kisubo.[5] However, they are dead.

Like all Trader children Daja learned the customs of her people as well as all practical things she needed to know to be a Trader, including how to sail, tie knots right, distinguish between different metals and bargain. In 1035 K.F. her family's ship was out early in the year to get a fast cargo. At this time Daja was nine years old and it was the first time she sailed with them as part of the crew. In Seed Moon the ship was caught in a late winter storm and sank in the southeastern Pebbled Sea[6] with Daja is the only survivor. She managed to stay alive by unconsciously using her magic, calling a suraku—survival box—filled with food and water to her. She probably managed this because the box was lined with copper, a metal she has power over. Niklaren Goldeye, who had a vision of the disaster hiting Third Ship Kisubo, saved Daja and brought her to the Trader Council, which declared her trangshi, an outcast from all Traders, because of the bad luck associated with a lone survivor. Niklaren Goldeye took Daja with him, bringing her to Winding Circle Temple in Summersea, Emelan[7].

Magic Student

Winding Circle Temple

"Daja, we are going to have fun together."
—Frostpine after Daja found out about her magic[src]

Upon her arrival at the Winding Circle Temple community, Daja faced physical and verbal attacks because of peoples' prejudices against Traders. She first met Sandry when she entered the mess hall, and the children refused to accept her and called her names. Sandry was the one who didn't care, and pulled rank on the other noble girls to force them to let Daja sit with them. Daja was surprised to learn that Sandry spoke Tradertalk, though somewhat badly. The hatred from other children did not stop there. After Dedicate Superior Moonstream stopped one of these attacks, she sent Daja to live at Discipline cottage for her safety, but also knowing the girl had magic. There, orphaned Daja was informally adopted into a group of mage misfits with Sandry, Briar, and Tris as her brothers and sisters, and Lark and Rosethorn as their foster-parents. She and Tris clashed in the beginning, as Traders and merchants were rivals in the real world.

Daja repeatedly visited Frostpine and watched his work. The mage suspected that she, too, had magic, and it was confirmed when he witnessed her pick up a piece of red hot metal with her bare hands without being harmed. This set Kirel, the smith mage's non-mage apprentice, on edge, as he believed only Frostpine or other mages of like skill and fame would be able to do that. Daja became Frostpine's student, and guessed that she had magic, as Frostpine did not tell her.

One day, the children were taken into the Summersea market with Lark and Rosethorn in order to sell wares. They were allowed to roam a bit, and Daja was minding her own business when she saw Sandry attack a few boys who were torturing an animal in the street. Daja joined the fight, using her trangshi staff as a weapon, as she and her family were taught on Third Ship Kisubo. When Tris accidentally used her magic, the other girl created a waterspout that would have destroyed the buildings if not for Lark, who used her thread magic in order to break the spout apart. When the townspeople angrily demanded that the four children be brought to justice, Duke Vedris arrived, and mediated the discussion. The children, as they were mage-born, would be forced to stay at Winding Circle until their teachers could vouch for their control over their magic.

Although she was now an outcast and did metalwork instead of trading she still honored her ancestors, family and the Trader gods. For this purpose she had a personal family altar in the corner of her attic room in Discipline[8], which she tended regularly.

An earthquake trapped her and her friends below ground. Sandry was forced to spin their magics together in order to increase their strength. This had an immense effect on their power, and increased it tenfold. They also were able to communicate magically.

Pirate attack

In the summer of 1035 KF, Daja was out on the beach with Frostpine and Kirel when she saw a glimmer, or a vision of something. Daja was able to see through an illusion spell placed on Pauha and Enahar's pirate ships to make them invisible to the naked eye. Frostpine commended her for trusting her instinct.

Later, she went on a mission with Frostpine and other soldiers out to where the pirate ships were being harbored. The pirates attacked them, and many died. Daja kept a cool head, and did not panic in the onslaught of the boom stones that the pirates used for weapons. She exhausted herself magically and had to be carried back to Discipline on the back of a mule. A woman told Rosethorn and Lark to take care of Daja, as she had acted her part as a grown woman would.

Tenth Caravan Idaram and Gold Ridge

"We know what is owed," the gilav said without looking up. "We know what must be paid. What you have done wipes your name from the records of the trangshi. We will attest to that and speak for you to the council of our people. You will be Tsaw'ha again, and your home will be Tenth Caravan Idaram."
Chandrisa to Daja after the latter saved Tenth Caravan Idaram from the forest fire[src]

In autumn of 1035 KF Daja and her friends accompanied Duke Vedris to the northern Emelan fief Gold Ridge. There the combined magics of the children--flowing through Daja--caused the trangshi to make her first living metal creation. A member of Tenth Caravan Idaram, Polyam, witnessed this and the caravan made her qunsuanen to enable her to talk to Daja without drawing the trangshi's bad luck to the caravan. Although the Traders only had minimal contact to her and weren't exactly nice Daja still rescued Tenth Caravan Idaram from a forest fire. This caused them to take her on as a member of their caravan. From that point onwards Daja wasn't a trangshi anymore.[9] The caravan also provided Daja with a new staff since her old one was destroyed in the forest fire. This new staff bore the insignia of Tenth Caravan Idaram, a many-pointed star of inlaid brass wire, as well as the first two images telling Daja's story: two flames and a sailing ship half-sunk in waves.[10] The caravan even wanted to let Daja live with them and educate her as a mimander, but Daja refused, not wanting only to concentrate on one aspect of her power and also wishing to stay with her new family and friends.


Discovering magic

Like two of her foster-siblings, Daja left Summersea for distant places in order to learn new magical techniques. Although she was accredited, she traveled with Frostpine so he would teach her new things. While Tris and Briar traveled south, albeit separately, Daja and Frostpine traveled north.

In Kugisko, they stayed with Frostpine's old friends, Kol and Matazidah Bancanor in Bancanor House. Because of the cold weather, Daja received skating lessons from their two eldest daughters, Jory and Nia. Daja discovered they had magic when she caught the flash of it when Jory was cooking. She used a scrying device made of metal so that their magic would reveal itself along with their reflections, which Frostpine labeled as quite good.[11]


According to the rules governing graduates of Winding Circle and the University of Lightsbridge, Daja was tasked with ensuring the two girls found teachers and even interviewing them. The choice of the teachers fell on the two girls themselves, however. Nia decided on the first place she visited, Camoc Oakborn's shop.[12] Jory managed to trick Daja into taking her to Yorgiry's Hospital so she could meet with the famed cook-mage Olennika Potcracker, a former member of the imperial staff.[12] Potcracker accepted Jory as a probationary student, but, along with Camoc Oakborn, asked Daja to continue with meditation lessons.

Daja found it difficult to teach the girls meditation at first, especially since they were so different. Nia liked the quiet, standard meditation; while Jory could not sit still. Daja remembered learning different types of meditation from her teachers, including staff-fighting from Dedicate Skyfire at Winding Circle. Thus, she decided to move their times and do standard meditation with Nia, and fighting meditation with Jory.[13]


During her stay at Kugisko, devastating fires started to occur more frequently. Frostpine realized one was set by an arsonist, although there were not any traces to go off of besides that. Daja worked with the head of the Fire Brigade, Bennat Ladradun, on creating gloves that could withstand fire, and an entire suit beyond that, made of living metal. As the serial arsonist became more dangerous and frequent, Daja was able to go into burning buildings to rescue people as fire could not harm her.

Daja was interrogated by the magistrate's mage, Heluda Salt, after Daja's magical essence was found at the scene of Asinding Bathhouse, the arsonist's second greatest crime out of the five major ones. There, they figured out that Bennat Ladradun was the arsonist.

Feeling incredibly betrayed, Daja went to Ladradun House and nearly died, along with Nia when Ben set a fire there. Daja also assisted in helping when Ladradun set a fire at Yorgiry's Hospital. Since Ben had not removed the living metal gloves, Daja was able to trace him to where he planned to escape from, and arrested him, using the living metal gloves as handcuffs. Ben was sentenced to death by burning at the scene of his second greatest crime, Asinding Bathhouse, as officials at Yorgiry's Hospital refused to have the execution on their grounds. Instead of watch her old friend slowly burn to death, even though he had made it so others would suffer that same fate, she and other mages threw magic at the flames so the fire engulfed him immediately, instead of gruesomely slow.[14]

During her time in Namorn she created strong alliances, which added to the empress's desire to make her part of Namorn's imperial court.[15]

Return to Emelan and Second Journey to Namorn

Daja returned to Summersea where she bought a house when she was informed that she couldn't return to Discipline.[16] As Tris and Briar returned they move into the house,[17][18] causing Sandry to feel more separated.[19]

After her return to Summersea Duke Vedris asked her and her friends to accompany Sandry to Namorn. There Daja reunited with her three foster-siblings to protect Sandry from the powerful Empress Berenene of Namorn. She came to know that she was a nisamohi because of falling in love with the Empress's Mistress of Wardrobe, Rizuka fa Dalach. This was the primary romantic subplot in the book, and one of the first in the Emelan canon, a notable contrast to the Tortall canon.[20]

Physical description

Daja is a black Trader, described as being tall, broad-shouldered and muscular. At the age of ten she is already more than five feet tall[21]. At the age of fourteen Daja is five feet eight inches (5'8") tall[2]. Daja's skin is of a mahagony color.[22] She wears her black hair in a varying number of braids.[23] When Daja first comes to Summersea she wears red clothes, because red is the colour for mourning among Traders. Later she wears garments in more subdued colours as she doesn't want the red getting soiled in the smithy. She only keeps a red wristband and a headband of the same colour, both made by Lark.[24] She doesn't wear skirts or dresses. Instead she prefers breeches and a shirt. Since the incident in Gold Ridge where Daja redirected a forest fire in 1035 KF she has a brass skin over her left hand, both on the palm and back of it as well as between the fingers. She can peel it off without it hurting her and it grows back. She can use the living brass to make living metal creations that make her rich. The brass doesn't hurt or incapacitate her, although she notices that it ached in the cold at first. She also finds that her metal 'glove' makes people nervous. [25]

Skills and abilities

Physical skills

Daja is quite adept at fighting with a staff. Like all Traders, even trangshi, she always carries one with her. It's thanks to her uncles that she learned a few staff tricks very well[26]. Thus she can defend herself and others now with her staff when it is necessary. She continued practising quarterstaff with Briar until they both left on different journeys in the spring of 1039 K.F.[27]. Her skills in fighting with a staff were even more improved by Dedicate Skyfire, who taught her fighting meditation. She, in turn, taught one of her first students the basics of staff-fighting and the fighting meditation.[28]

Because she spent her whole childhood among blue Traders she didn't acquire any skills at riding before her arrival at Winding Circle. When she first sits on a horse she is even afraid of the experiece and hides her face for the whole ride in Frostpine's robes.[29] By autumn that year she seems to have grown accustomed to riding, because she is part of the company riding north with Duke Vedris.

Magical abilities

Daja is an ambient smith mage. This means she draws on the power of the metal or the fire instead of from inside of herself. After Daja is rescued from the ocean, Niklaren Goldeye (known familiarly as "Niko" to his friends), a powerful mage, takes her to Winding Circle Temple, where she later discovers her gift in metalworking. Daja's teacher while she is at Winding Circle, and later when she is a fully accredited mage, is Dedicate Frostpine, the only other smith-mage. Her mage medallion (which proves her completion of training) shows a picture of a hammer over flames as a symbol of her magic, and a spiral representing Winding Circle on the reverse, to show where she studied.


Daja can weave fire, call it to her and hold it in her bare hands. She is also completly immune to fire's burning. If she has to walk into a burning building, she has clothes, made by her friend Sandry, that are fire resistant. She can also breath smoke without it killing her but too much can hurt her throat. However, Daja's magic also makes her vulnerable for too much heat. Thus she can't handle molten lava in her magical self, because it would melt her[30]. Since Frostpine had promised to teach her how to make a shield protecting her from the lava's influence when they were in Gold Ridge, she could probably be near lava later without being harmed by it[31].


Daja can shape metal expertly both with and without magic; she is both a blacksmith and a whitesmith. She can identify metal by touch and smell and sense metals at a distance with concentration. She can not only sense the kind of metal when touching it, but also the origin. Thus she was able to identify a copper plate to be from Gold Ridge even in the first months of her education as a mage[32]. By accident in Daja's Book, she created a metal tree out of iron that was supposed to be used for nails. It absorbed other metals, like copper and iron, to grow. This is called "living metal" (see below).

Living metal

As a result of her magic and a forest fire in 1035 KF, the brass from the cap of her signature staff melted on her left hand, creating a "living metal" glove. This living metal grows on her hand like a second skin, and must be removed every so often or it grows all over her body; Daja can then use it for her trade. When peeled away from her skin the living metal merged like molten brass[25]. Living metal is something entirely unique to Daja and so a lot of her research and time is devoted to the properties of living metal and what she can do/make with it. The first thing she made was a living metal rose plant, which absorbed anything metallic in order to grow. The metal for this plant didn't come from the brass on her hand, however, but was created before the forest fire, when Daja's magic, still combined with that of her foster sisters and brother, got away from her. The plant Daja sold to Tenth Caravan Idaram. With the brass from her hand she has made a living metal leg for Polyam, a Trader who lost her natural leg. The artificial leg's framework was normal iron. Daja's friends and their teachers helped her and Frostpine in the work, Briar, Rosethorn, Sandry and Lark giving it movement and flexibility, Tris giving it warmth and Niko guiding the placement of interwoven spells.[33] She can also make more living metal by adding some of her blood to regular metal. Her living metal creations are how she makes the majority of her income.


Dedicate Frostpine

Frostpine is her main teacher at Winding Circle Temple. He becomes a sort of father to her, protective and always willing to give advice. When they visit Kugisko, Namorn, his characteristics and traits are expounded on. He is funnily arrogant, meaning that he really is not that haughty, but pretends to be at points, especially concerning Daja and her pride. He also has a good heart, and is willing to do what is right. After their travels, he tells her that she must find other lodgings than Winding Circle, not knowing that he sounds like he doesn't want anything to do with her anymore. It is not known whether this puts a damper on their father-daughter like relationship.


Sandry is the first of her to-be foster-siblings that she meets at Winding Circle. Having just been brought to the temple by Niklaren Goldeye, Daja is a trangshi and a Trader. The former being that she is an outcast among her people, the Traders. And the latter being that she is an outcast among people who hate the Traders. Sandry pulls rank with the other noble girls so that Daja can sit with her. She also learns that Sandry can speak some Tradertalk, albeit poorly, because of her Trader nursemaid, Pirisi. Daja and Sandry are the first of the four housemates to get along, and are friends before the others. Daja admires Sandry's refusal to do what is expected of her as a noble girl, even though she is almost royalty. When they travel to Namorn, to see Sandry's lands, Daja and Sandry are the first of the four to renew their bond, after Sandry saves Gudruny Iarun from her husband. She is also happy that Sandry has accepted her love of Rizuka fa Dalach.


Daja and Tris don't get along at first, as Traders and merchants are not meant to get along, and are even enemies. They become friends once Sandry spins them all together though. When visiting the imperial court of Namorn, Daja and Tris bond over caring for the schizophrenic mage Zhegorz Fiavrus. It is Tris who first identifies him as a mage who can scry the winds, and takes him on as her student of sorts. When Daja is upset about Rizu and her refusal to return with her to Emelan, she tells Zegorz to go away, and he takes it literally. Tris, angered, confronts the other girl, preparing for a fight. When she sees what it really is, and that Daja is quite broken up, Tris comforts her. It is here when they reopen their magical connection, to laugh about love.


Briar calls Daja the "most commonsensical of my sisters", as they both bond over being adept fighters, Daja with her staff, and Briar with his streetfighter techniques. In Namorn when Briar is insulted by the jealous nobleman Olfeon, Daja and Briar arrange it so that Olfeon will lose, and that the other noblemen will pay through the nose because of bets. When Briar discovers that Daja is a nisamohi, or a "lesbian", he asks why she kept it hidden, because they wouldn't have cared. Briar is a bit miffed when Daja brings Rizu to their inner circle, earning an angry jab from Sandry. Briar is the last person that Daja opens her magical bond to. They open it to find a way to defeat Quenaill Shieldsman, and accomplish it together.

Jory and Nia Bancanor

She meets the Bancanor girls while staying at their house on Kadasep Island in Kugisko. They teach her how to skate, and are both quite friendly to her. Daja discovers that Jory has ambient cooking magic, and deduces that Nia must have magic as well, as they are twins. They become good friends, although Daja is exasperated at Jory as she is too wild and willful. She seems to get along mostly with Nia, as the other girl is quiet and reflective, like her. She is proud of both of their accomplishments though, and leaves Kugisko while still on good terms with them.

Rizuka fa Dalach

Daja meets Rizu while traveling in Namorn with her foster-siblings. They meet at the empress's court, and Daja very quickly takes a liking to Rizu, although not a loving one at first. They become fast friends, as Rizu is always interested in hearing of the smith-mage's adventures. They develop a romantic relationship at a party, when Rizu kisses Daja, surprising her. They have a sexual relationship, and Briar calls Daja a nisamohi, and asks why Daja kept it from them, as Lark and Rosethorn have a sexual relationship. Daja never knew about her love for women until Rizu. When Sandry decides to leave Namorn after a kidnap attempt in the Imperial Palace, Daja asks Rizu if she will return with her to Namorn. The other woman refuses, although she is quite sad about it, as she has a position, income, a title, and lands of her own in Namorn. She asks Daja if she will stay with her, in Namorn, instead, but the other woman decides that she can't abandon her foster-siblings. She is quite torn up about Rizu.

Bennat Ladradun

Daja's friendship with Ladradun clearly sours over the time she learns that he was the serial arsonist responsible for killing 150 people, and for injuring far more. At first, though, Ben is kind to her. He is one of the few adults to treat Daja as if her knowledge and opinions mean anything, while other adults are loath to give that kind of power to a child. Ben clearly admires her magical skills, and she offers to create a living metal suit, the likes of which she has not made before. Later, after she learns of his betrayal and his crimes, he says a racist remark about her Trader lineage. This shows that Ben only valued what Daja could give to him, and not what she is, since she is immensely proud of her heritage and is glad to be a Trader. Even so, she does help in making his execution less gruesome, and throws magic to turn the fire into an inferno that would kill him far quicker, along with Frostpine, Olennika Potcracker, Jory, and others.


Daja is the first person of the Circle Universe to come out as openly lesbian. Lark and Rosethorn's relationship was ambiguous in the first two quartets, Briar Moss cites their relationship as a reason for why Daja's foster-siblings would not look down at her for being a lesbian, which points to a romantic bond between the two dedicates.


Books are listed chronologically by publication date, regardless of whether they do not fit with the timeline of the Circle Universe.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 7; Scholastic paperback)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cold Fire, Cp. 1 (p. 2; Scholastic paperback)
  3. Sandry's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 7; Scholastic paperback)
  4. Daja's Book, Cp. 12 (p. 212; Scholastic paperback)
  5. Tris's Book (only mentioned)
  6. Sandry's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 4; Scholastic paperback)
  7. Sandry's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 26 - 28; Scholastic paperback)
  8. Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback)
  9. Daja's Book
  10. Daja's Book, Cp. 13 (p. 222/223; Scholastic paperback)
  11. Cold Fire, Chapter One
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cold Fire, Ch. 5 (pp. 92-100; Random House ebook)
  13. Cold Fire, Chapter 13, (pg. 213; Random House ebook)
  14. Cold Fire, Chapter 16 (pp. 261-269; ebook)
  15. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 3 (p. 77; Scholastic)
  16. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 11; Scholastic)
  17. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 17; Scholastic)
  18. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 25; Scholastic)
  19. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 12; Scholastic )
  20. The Will of the Empress
  21. Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback) [Tris (4'7") is said to be a hands length shorter than Daja]
  22. Briar's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 35; Scholastic paperback)
  23. Sandry's Book, Cp. 3 (p. 38; Scholastic paperback)
  24. Sandry's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 140; Scholastic paperback)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Daja's Book, Cp. 13 (p. 221; Scholastic paperback)
  26. Sandry's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 173; Scholastic paperback)
  27. Street Magic, Cp. 6 (p. 108; Scholastic paperback)
  28. Cold Fire
  29. Tris's Book, Cp. 6 (p. 90; Scholastic paperback)
  30. Daja's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 176; Scholastic paperback)
  31. Daja's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 177; Scholastic paperback)
  32. Daja's Book, Cp. 6 (p. 99; Scholastic paperback)
  33. Daja's Book, Cp. 13 (p. 224; Scholastic paperback)

See also