Danila al-Mhir, Political Commissar of the Imperial Retinue in Rosemoor Dell, is one of two Mezrani we get to know in Summer Twilight. However, though Danila plays an important role in the story, you don't get to know her that well, since she is fairly reserved. That's part of the reason this post is so exciting for me--I think Danila is a super cool, strong woman, and I'm excited to give her some "screen" time.
Something I feel really strongly about is demonstrating opposing viewpoints throughout Summer Twilight: characters who have different ways to solve the same problem, and consequently end up butting heads. Danila is an excellent foil to the other characters because her background and upbringing are so foreign, and it's a fun area to explore. For more on her personality, make sure you check out this article, but for now let's dive into her backstory.
Unlike her counterpart, Farah al-Kalim, Danila's family has not been in favor at the Imperial Court for a long time. She was raised in Remchi, near the border between Tanunt and Danen. Many generations ago her family was wealthy and powerful; one of her great- great- aunts even married into the Imperial Family. In recent memory, however, the Kalim clan has lived exclusively on their historic lands, overseeing gem mines in the Rainbow Mountains. Stories differ about the cause for the falling out--some claim an ancestor was caught cheating on the Imperial Prince she had married, while others blame the Kalim's for an attempt on the Emperor's life many years previously.
Whatever the reason, Danila was raised in relative obscurity, particularly so given the position of importance she eventually rose to. That's because Danila is a survivor. Though she grew up far from Mezrani City, from a young age she had her sights set on reaching the capital and leaving the mines of Remchi behind. She accompanied her father regularly to Mezrani City, and as she grew older joined the trading caravans, traveling as her family's representative.
It was at the markets in Mezrani City that her hard work paid off. She facilitated the sale of a precious opal necklace to one of the younger daughters of the Imperial family, and managed to parley the sale into a friendship. It was a relationship which would serve her well, and one she maintains to this day. The blessing of anyone in the Imperial family can change lives, and Danila was no exception.
Within a year, she had been granted a low level position in the Economic Council, really nothing more than a bureaucratic role, taking notes and drafting documents. She rose quickly through the ranks, proving herself invaluable through a quick wit, an eye for detail, and a knack for earning the respect--if not camaraderie--of her superiors.
When the Emperor announced a political task force was being assembled, to travel throughout the nation and improve cohesion, Danila was one of the first to volunteer. It was this role which brought her to Rosemoor as the province's first Political Commissar. Her position is precarious; while selected by the Imperial Authority, the idea of Mezrani oversight is nearly universally unpopular.
Luckily, Danila is no stranger to being the underdog, the outsider, or the exile. Her history has given her a backbone of steel, and her sharp intelligence tends to surprise the older, more experienced bureaucrats surrounding her. What remains unclear to this day is her true motive for joining the ranks of Political Commissars: does she truly believe in the mission? Or is this simply one more step in a scheme for power?
Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!