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Daja Kisubo
Emelanese character
Biographical information
Born Seed Moon 30th, 1025 KF [1]
Nationality Tsaw'ha
Physical description
Gender Female
Height 5'8" (in 1039 K.F.)[2]
Hair Black
Eyes Brown
Skin color
Magic Ambient metal
Family information
Grandparents unnamed Grandmother (deceased)
Parents Unnamed Father and Mother (deceased)
Siblings Uneny and unnamed Sister (deceased), Trisana Chandler, Sandrilene fa Toren and Briar Moss (adopted)
Lover Rizuka fa Dalach
Other Aunt Hulweme (deceased)
Rank Trader
Occupation Smith
Teacher Frostpine, Niklaren Goldeye
Students Jorality and Niamara Bancanor
Affiliation Third Ship Kisubo, Tenth Caravan Idaram, Winding Circle Temple
Bibliographical information
First mentioned '
First appeared '
Last appeared '
Latest appearance '
Only appearance '
Last mentioned '
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 is an ambient mage with metalwork and fire. Her family dies in a storm; Daja is the only survivor. Thus she becomes an outcast with her people, the Traders, and is brought to Winding Circle temple in Summersea, Emelan, where she finds a new family and learns how to use her magic.


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, 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.[4] 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[5] 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. 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[6].

Life at Winding Circle

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

After her arrival at the Winding Circle temple community—by then she was ten years old—Daja had two bad weeks in which she was verbally and physically attacked by other children. After Dedicate Superior Moonstream witnessed one of these attacks she sent Daja to live at Discipline cottage. There orphaned Daja was informally adopted into a group of mage misfits with Dedicates Lark and Rosethorn as the authority figures and Briar, Tris, and Sandry as her brother and sisters. Although they quarreled at the beginning the four young mages soon developed a close relationship as they lived through more than one crises together.

Daja repeatedly visited the smith Frostpine in her first days at Discipline. At the beginning she was still reluctant about it, remembering how her people would have treated her, had they known how much interested she paid to the craftsman. She was encouraged, however, by Frostpine's open-hearted welcome. Thus she was jubilant when Lark announced one evening that Frostpine had asked if Daja could spend the afternoons at his forge for lessons. Only days after her arrival at Discipline, after the dedicates took their four young charges to the market in Summersea, Daja and the others learn that they had been placed with Lark and Rosethorn because they had magic. In Daja's case it was ambient magic with metal and fire. She also learned that Frostpine, too, was an ambient smithmage, perhaps even one of the greatest in existence.

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[7], which she tended regularly.

Tenth Caravan Idaram

Daja later rescues Tenth Caravan Idaram from a forst fire. This causes them to take her on as a member of their caravan. From that point onwards Daja isn't a trangshi anymore.[8]

First Journey to Namorn

While travelling with Frostpine Daja discovers ambient magic in twins Niamara Bancanor (Nia) and Jorality Bancanor (Jory): carpentry in Nia, and cooking in Jory. Daja finds experienced mages in each field to teach the two girls their magic, though, so she only has to teach and hold meditation sessions. She teaches Nia meditation the regular way (sitting and relaxing), because she's calmer, but teaches Jory by fighting with staves due to her restlessness.[9]

During her time in Namorn she creates strong alliences, which add to the empress's in her.[10]

Return to Emelan and Secound Journey to Namorn

Daja returns to Summersea where she buys a house when she's informed that she return to Discipline.[11] As Tris and Briar return they move into the house,[12][13] causing Sandry to feel more separated.[14]

After her return to Summersea Duke Vedris asks her and her friends to accompany Sandry to Namorn. There Daja reunites with her three foster-siblings to protect Sandry from the powerful Empress Berenene of Namorn. She comes to know that she is a nisamohi because of falling in love with the Empress's Mistress of Wardrobe, Rizuka fa Dalach. This is the primary romantic subplot in the book, and one of the first in the Emelan canon, a notable contrast to the Tortall canon.[15]

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[16]. At the age of fourteen Daja is five feet eight inches (5'8") tall[2]. She wears her black hair in a varying number of braids.[17] 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.[18] She doesn't wear skirts or dresses. Instead she prefers breeches and a shirt.

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[19]. 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.[20]. 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.[9]

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.[21] 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. 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.


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. 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.

Living metal

As a result of her magic and a forest fire in Daja's Book, 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. 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. She has made a living metal leg for a Trader who lost her natural leg. 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.


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. Tris's Book (only mentioned)
  5. Sandry's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 4; Scholastic paperback)
  6. Sandry's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 26 - 28; Scholastic paperback)
  7. Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback)
  8. Daja's Book
  9. 9.0 9.1 Cold Fire
  10. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 3 (p. 77; Scholastic)
  11. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 11; Scholastic)
  12. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 17; Scholastic)
  13. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 25; Scholastic)
  14. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 12; Scholastic )
  15. The Will of the Empress
  16. Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback) [Tris (4'7") is said to be a hands length shorter than Daja]
  17. Sandry's Book, Cp. 3 (p. 38; Scholastic paperback)
  18. Sandry's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 140; Scholastic paperback)
  19. Sandry's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 173; Scholastic paperback)
  20. Street Magic, Cp. 6 (p. 108; Scholastic paperback)
  21. Tris's Book, Cp. 6 (p. 90; Scholastic paperback)

See also

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