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Daja Kisubo
Emelanese character
Biographical information
Nickname Daj' (by Briar)
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), Cousin Ziba (deceased)
Rank Trader, Accredited mage
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 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].

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 crisis 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[8], which she tended regularly.

Tenth Caravan Idaram

"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.

First Journey to Namorn

While travelling with Frostpine Daja discoverd ambient magic in twins Niamara Bancanor (Nia) and Jorality Bancanor (Jory): carpentry in Nia, and cooking in Jory. Daja found experienced mages in each field to teach the two girls their magic, though, so she only had to teach and hold meditation sessions. She taught Nia meditation the regular way (sitting and relaxing), because she was calmer, but taught Jory by fighting with staves due to her restlessness.[11]

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.[12]

Return to Emelan and Secound Journey to Namorn

Daja returned to Summersea where she bought a house when she was informed that she couldn't return to Discipline.[13] As Tris and Briar returned they move into the house,[14][15] causing Sandry to feel more separated.[16]

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.[17]

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[18]. At the age of fourteen Daja is five feet eight inches (5'8") tall[2]. Daja's skin is of a mahagony color.[19] She wears her black hair in a varying number of braids.[20] 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.[21] 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. [22]

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[23]. 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.[24]. 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.[11]

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.[25] 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[26]. 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[27].


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[28]. 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 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[22]. 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.[29] 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 friendship.


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.


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. 11.0 11.1 Cold Fire
  12. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 3 (p. 77; Scholastic)
  13. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 11; Scholastic)
  14. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 17; Scholastic)
  15. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 25; Scholastic)
  16. The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 12; Scholastic )
  17. The Will of the Empress
  18. Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback) [Tris (4'7") is said to be a hands length shorter than Daja]
  19. Briar's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 35; Scholastic paperback)
  20. Sandry's Book, Cp. 3 (p. 38; Scholastic paperback)
  21. Sandry's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 140; Scholastic paperback)
  22. 22.0 22.1 Daja's Book, Cp. 13 (p. 221; Scholastic paperback)
  23. Sandry's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 173; Scholastic paperback)
  24. Street Magic, Cp. 6 (p. 108; Scholastic paperback)
  25. Tris's Book, Cp. 6 (p. 90; Scholastic paperback)
  26. Daja's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 176; Scholastic paperback)
  27. Daja's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 177; Scholastic paperback)
  28. Daja's Book, Cp. 6 (p. 99; Scholastic paperback)
  29. Daja's Book, Cp. 13 (p. 224; Scholastic paperback)

See also

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