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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella  (Read 3106 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« on: 16 June 2015, 06:51:12 »
Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
Who: Danai Liao-Centrella
What: Sao-shao, 2nd MacCarron’s Armoured Cavalry, 3rd Battalion
When: 6 June 3108 – Alive as of 3145
Weapon of Choice: Modified Centurion Yen-Lo-Wang

Probably the most balanced person of Liao descent in prominence in the fiction since the original Star League, Danai Liao-Centrella, ironically, has more reason than most to be utterly deranged, starting with the second most twisted birth in the BattleTech setting to date.

Notionally the third child of Sun-Tzu Liao and Naomi Centrella our first knowledge of Danai was through Clicky-tech, that painted her as an up and coming MechWarrior, scion of House Liao and all in all a very serious contender.

A couple of novels changed that, not by upending this but by deepening the character. For one thing she proved to be a potent MechWarrior and commander, she was very much a Liao, but it turns out that her parents were the people she thought of as her siblings. Yeah, things got Lannister.

Considering it took Clan breeding techniques to outdo this I’d suggest that no one try to top it.

What does this parentage mean for the character? Well, and I’m not trying to trivialise anything here, much the same as her rape by Caleb Davion.

Since she had no knowledge of her heritage Danai was left feeling violated by its revelation in much the same way the rape did, though I’d expect the latter to be far more traumatic.

Showing considerable strength she manages to deal with both and does not buckle under to either.

From a reader perspective this is commendable, however since she is the product of incest she is tainted as a result. This isn’t a pleasant background and invites speculation, mostly because the majority of incest in fiction occurs between villains and has few positive outcomes. This is our baggage as readers.

And before you try to reassess Danai because our baggage should have no bearing on a person’s character keep in mind that writers know this baggage exists and are using it to create conflict around the character and her future.

Why? Because no one can be entirely good or bad in this setting and this is a major way of creating permanent doubt in the reader’s mind regarding Danai regardless of her positive or level headed actions. The idea is that in a bloodline known for crazy what’s a child born of siblings going to be like?

In all likelihood Caleb’s rape of Danai will have long term effects too, potentially quite dire for the Federated Suns, even given their current condition. However that is a consequence of his action, and until those consequences come to fruition the action characterises Caleb more than Danai.

As a descendant of Sun-Tzu much is expected of her, he was a genius, whichever side of him you were on. She is also the descendant of several generations of Chancellors so insane the rest of their reputations are forgotten. Both of these are things she has to deal with, and live down or up to, in the setting and out.

Despite this parentage it changes nothing about her place in the line of succession. Publicly as the only remaining offspring of two previous rulers Danai stands to inherit the thrones of both the Capellan Confederation and the Magistry of Canopus. Privately as the only offspring of the only two offspring of two previous rulers Danai stands to inherit the thrones of both the Capellan Confederation and the Magistry of Canopus.

In either case she has the virtue of being the only available option in either case.

She is the literal Gordian Knot of Liao-Centrella succession, short of turning to cousins on both sides (where there is no lack but little information or involvement) she is the next/first Magestrix-Chancellor, Chancellor-Magestrix . . . Mancellor, Chastrix . . . It’s late, I’ll stop there.

Throw in the marriage between Ilsa and Ari Humphries and there’s a third nation in the mix with no obvious (from a fiction point of view) successor and that’s the hat trick Danai stands to gain.

I have mentioned elsewhere that this appears to be Ilsa’s grand gambit, potentially doing something even Sun-Tzu was hesitant to do (and after seeing the FedCom Civil War who can blame him) and bring two or three nations together under one ruler, in this case her daughter Danai.

Is this possible? As closely allied as the Magistry and Confederation are their cultures are still wildly different, and most importantly the Magistry has never brought into any sort of cult of personality the way the Confederation has. The potential for conflict is enormous, but unlike the FedCom Danai, as I mentioned, is pretty much the sole contender for the leadership position and thus has fewer direct challenges to face. It’s an interesting prospect that hasn’t yet been played up.

What of Danai as a person? As much as she appears to be a setting scale plot twist in waiting the fiction to date has dealt with her as an individual.

Her ‘Mech of choice was the first bit of characterisation of Danai as Yen-Lo-Wang is the most storied, legacy drenched ‘Mechs in the entire BattleTech setting, and the means through which we first learn of her.

By turns Yen-Lo-Wang has been the ride of a Capellan Solaris Champion, a great Capellan hero, the greatest Capellan traitor ever, a hero of the Federated Commonwealth, a St Ives Solaris Champion, a great St Ives hero and leader, the greatest MechWarrior ever, a great Capellan leader and hero, a great Republic of the Sphere leader and hero, and the single most demonic opponent of the Capellan Confederation, or anyone, ever. And that’s just the two guys preceding Danai.

The importance of that little screed is that it shows just how much baggage Yen-Lo-Wang comes with, emotional and historical, both within the setting and as a part of the game. Players and readers can no more ignore this than a soldier facing Yen-Lo-Wang on a far off world.

Two brilliant MechWarriors, both of whom heroes for all their nations at one point or another, both hero protagonists of major novels, Danai is the 32nd Century inheritor of all this, long before we are truly introduced to her. Yen-Lo-Wang carries the legacy of both Allard-Liaos forward and awkwardly pastes it upon Danai.

And of course, as both Justin and Kai did before her, she modifies the machine, swapping everything out for a heavy large laser, Clan LRM 20, both in the torso so it can carry a hatchet and shield. All in all balanced towards close quarters, physical combat with a potent ranged weapon to keep it in the game at all brackets. This isn’t the ride of a Solaris fighter, we’re meant to think so with the laser and physical weapons, but it isn’t focused enough, the LRMs betray it as something that needs a little versatility and won’t be used in specific situations only.

And so it is in the field that we get to know her. She’s not a bad commander, or a bad MechWarrior, but she really does fail to live up to the same legacy of previous Yen-Lo-Wang pilots.

In all fairness outside of some sort of gene melded clone of Natasha Kerensky and Kai with a birthmark in the shape of Stackpole’s hands on its lower spine no one was going to outdo that legacy, let alone meet it.

No, the aspect that Danai carries forward is that she is a warrior trying to find herself, much as Kai was during his featured novels and Justin before him.

In all likelihood this is what Kai saw in her in their one, brief, very unexplained meeting, and the reason for gifting her Yen-Lo-Wang. Even as a scion of House Liao personal possession of this BattleMech permitted Danai the freedom to travel few other things would.

Besides which Danai is a part of the movement of BattleTech novels away from being pulp sci-fi and more into military sci-fi, which means no more uber-warrior types like Kai, Natasha or any one of a host of others, most of whom get killed off in the Jihad.

Don’t get me wrong, what we have seen of her so far is that she is a better than average MechWarrior, a competent commander in the field, and a fairly decent diplomat, what errors she makes are more from a lack of experience or over eagerness than any genuine flaws. It is simply that she will likely never achieve the same sort of legendary status.

What this does reveal though is a great deal of potential as her skills and talents increase with experience, ultimately making her something of a character in waiting.

So, however relatively mediocre she is, if she should become Chancellor/Magestrix/Other Yet to be Revealed, that could be another story.

And next week, by request, Caleb Davion.

YingJanshi

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #1 on: 16 June 2015, 09:53:45 »
I haven't read her novels yet, but I do find her character interesting. And I'm hoping she will take over from Daoshen as Chancellor. Primarily because our female Chancellors have been among the best we've had in the Confederation (excepting Romano of course). However the current conflicts turn out (and I can't help but feel that the pendulum is about to swing back and hard), would like to see a strong Chancellor on the Celestial Throne. And from what little I've read, I think Danai could be that.

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Psyckosama

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #2 on: 16 June 2015, 10:56:28 »
Frankly I'm sick of House Liao's endless line of Mary Sue characters starting with Sun-Tzu...

Wrangler

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #3 on: 16 June 2015, 11:36:52 »
Danai isn't a wack job, she actually likeable despite her horrible things that kept happening to her. Author fiat can be rather cruel as well beneficial to the character. 

Dark Age novels do portray her as someone stuck in the middle and trying make her own course in insanity of her family / political life.
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False Son

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #4 on: 16 June 2015, 11:58:55 »
I always looked at Danai as a stranger in a strange land.  She was raised by Erde Centrella in a matriarchal Canopian culture.  But, the most we know of her is running around in the Capellan Confederation, which has a tendency to be outspokenly sexist against women.  Canopus emphasizes individual freedoms, whereas the Confederation stresses obligation.  To complicate matters even more, her Liao heritage constantly demands that she should fit within this strange thing called the Confederation.  She arrives as a fighter on Solaris and ends up in service to her "brother", Daoshen.

I'm surprised there was no mention of her friendship with Nikol Halas Hughes Marik.  That is an important relationship considering that Nikol is the designated heir to the Captain-Generalship and Danai lacks apparent contender to the Chancellorship or Magistracy.  Thomas Halas and Sun-Tzu had a working relationship.  But, two heads of state with actual friendship?  That is a different matter. It will be complicated by the many loyalties Danai must harbor between the Confederation, Magistracy, her father in-law's Duchy of Andurien and her best friend's Free Worlds League. 
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Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #5 on: 16 June 2015, 13:24:38 »
She's an odd character at the middle of what's should be quite a strange situation. Heir to the Chancellorship, and potential heir to the Magistracy as well (its not guaranteed). She's raised in mostly the Canopian side of things, but she's part of the CCAF, rather than the MAF.

However, there's a comment in her Dossier that she's originally supposed to have gone to a Warrior House rather than the MAC, so that change might have been a move on Daoshen/Ilsa's part to make her less Capellan and more acceptable to the Canopians. "Sure, she was part of the CCAF, but its not like she was in those whacko Warrior Houses, she was part of the MAC, which isn't as bad..."

On the plus side for her, she seems to be rather effective at what she puts her mind to. It might take her a bit to get it right (she overreaches a couple of times early on), but she's intelligent enough to figure out where things go wrong, and is willing to take risks and do things in a different way than what others expect.

The problem is going to be if she can handle all the pressures put on her, and they are enormous.

YingJanshi

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #6 on: 16 June 2015, 13:44:51 »
Wait? What? A scion of the Liao family joining a Warrior House? That doesn't make any sense, especially not if she is in the line of succession. (Joining the WH means she would have to renounce her Liao heritage...don't see that happening...)

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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #7 on: 16 June 2015, 13:55:19 »
Knew I forgot a few things, and one of the major ones appears to be the friendship with Nicole, which considering who they are is just short of Victor/Omi, and probably more in line with Victor/Hohiro in terms of potentially fraught relationships, considering that they are both heirs to potentially antagonistic nations and despite their own feelings may have to fight each other for the good of their people. Both naturally have strong feelings for their home nations and would probably fight each other if pressed but until then they are in the unique position of being actual, honest, equal peers.

As for nearly being in a Warrior House, that would certainly be a move on the part of one of the four parents, or 'parents', since that would remove her from the line of succession. Daoshen doesn't usually think like that, living god and all that, but the other three would either have plans for her or try to hedge their bets.

Being raised by Erde is another interesting point, it's supposedly because her mother had little time for her, and it's easy to read into that considering what we know of Danai's heritage, and it would cover either mother regardless of how the comment was intended.

But yes, raised in the MoC, fighting for the CCAF, her background is fairly diverse and could serve her well in the long run.

Stormlion1

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #8 on: 16 June 2015, 21:28:43 »
Actually I can see her father using her as another political tool and continuing to control her future. Possibly be arranging her marriage to another House Lord or a mercenary commander to bring that unit under Liao sway. Up until Caleb was killed I could have seen him using her as a olive branch, one that Caleb in all his craziness would have welcomed. And then you had a bedroom murder...
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Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #9 on: 16 June 2015, 21:50:51 »
Well yes. He's the Chancellor. He uses and controls everyone to benefit the Confederation. She's hardly unique in that :)

I dunno about marriage to a House Lord or mercenary commander. With the divinity of Sun Tzu and Daoshen, I'd be surprised if either would be acceptable for Danai.

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #10 on: 16 June 2015, 22:42:32 »
With Danai working in the regiments for now a decades, she maybe earning common man/woman trust.

She clever and knowns how work soldiers into battle. She learned how be diplomatic with making that treaty with Oriente Protectorate.

The novels did her justice, its one the reasons i hope the novels are able to be published again. Least further ones, where characters and universe comes alive.  Sourcebooks and TROs are great, but they don't tell the story that makes us care about characters.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #11 on: 17 June 2015, 07:32:42 »
I actually wrote the following privately to Grey when i first read the article.  He gave be permission posting it, he agreed i had some good points. 

Quote from: Wrangler
She lived sheltered live in her early years, being taken care of her Aunt Erde Centrella with her "mother" having little interested in her.  She was three years old when she meet Kai who she bonded with since she really didn't have good family by then.  It helped become a better person, even though they briefly meet he gave her Yen-Lo-Wang after his death.

She by age 19 she grew up and slipped away to rebuild Yen-Lo-Wang, became a Solaris Warrior and nearly became champion if it wasn't for being recalled.

During the trip to Victor Steiner-Davion's funeral on Terra, she would develop a fascination with Caleb and become friends with Oriente Protectorte heir Nikol Marik.

During the invasion of New Hessen, she was assigned to sack the planet and ended up rescuing new First Prince Davion. However, unbeknownst to her, he was mentally unstable and would rape Danai.  Radically changed her, making her feel mistrusting of people, having something to hide.

She would be reassigned after being found missing on New Hessen, while her parents would not know the truth, save her aunt and later best friend Nikol.   

She would be assigned to command a the Battalion in the 2nd MAC, given difficult task take Republic worlds on her own.  She would broker a deal with Oriente Protectorate leader Jessica Marik keep her from interferring with House Liao's invasion of the Republic, while capturing two worlds and taking world she wasn't scheduled to take.

I want to add: She also on that trip able developed bonds and form good friendships with her people, developing slowly a relationship exMoC compatriot since she had huge-emotional scars from New Hesson indicdent.  In the end she would discover who her real parents are and confront her mother before her marriage/wedding with Duke of Andurien 

Some stuff i did skip/miss, the point was there another side of Danai which really hasn't been touched on by the sourebooks where people who hadn't read the novels are getting to know her.
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Stormlion1

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #12 on: 17 June 2015, 18:22:16 »
Actually I see her as the most stable Liao we have seen since Kai, in many ways she is his inheritor more than his own kids were. She did the same things he did. Solaris Champ, Champion of there Realm, and possibly more if times are right. The only real difference is where Kai was friendly with another nations ruler, she has only ever really gotten to know one and that was to her detriment. And she doesn't even get any closer as he died fighting someone else. Her only real other tie was to someone in the FWL's and that's tenuous at best. I kind of want her to go after Julian as a proxy for her hatred of Caleb.
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Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #13 on: 17 June 2015, 21:06:12 »
Well, she's stable now. Sun Tzu seemed stable early on and didn't really go off until later in life (IMO).

Part of the problem is that Danai is that we're comparing her to Kai, and she's probably going to lose out left and right. She's almost the Champion of Solaris. She's not the champion of the nation, she's just a battalion commander in only a semi-prestigious unit (if even that). She's not quite there yet it seems.

Stormlion1

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #14 on: 17 June 2015, 21:23:17 »
Well, she's stable now. Sun Tzu seemed stable early on and didn't really go off until later in life (IMO).

Part of the problem is that Danai is that we're comparing her to Kai, and she's probably going to lose out left and right. She's almost the Champion of Solaris. She's not the champion of the nation, she's just a battalion commander in only a semi-prestigious unit (if even that). She's not quite there yet it seems.

Sun Tzu was stable most of his life, he was his grandfather but sane and knew when and how far to push. And it was old age that did his sanity in. Which is about par for course really. Her Mothers blood might win out making her stay sane though. The various Magistrix's have always been cool customers.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #15 on: 18 June 2015, 00:50:44 »
Besides her justified anger issues, I could see Danai as being a very interesting character in the times to come. I just hope she gets stopped before she commits more war crimes.
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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #16 on: 18 June 2015, 01:22:31 »
Old age and the foiling of his ambitions by the Republic drove Sun-Tzu to desperation, made him more driven towards these goals and the line between that and insanity is pretty fine since focus can easily become obsession.

Danai really is a character ripe and waiting for expansion, she was established in one novel, grew in another and now, like a lot of characters, is in something of a holding pattern until the next big events are unfolded in the various Battletech media.

Everyone who's picking up on the Kai comparison is bringing up very good points. While we're comparing her to Kai and it is inevitably unfair to do so the ownership of Yen-Lo-Wang invites that comparison, and that was a deliberate action on the part of the writers.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #17 on: 18 June 2015, 02:17:29 »
Her viciousness seems to have been limited to New Hessen, where she was raped by Caleb. So I don't think we have to worry about her going off the deep end for a while.

Era report 3145 has her as a Veteran MW, but only a regular Officer/Politician, and even causes a negative to her force's initiative, unless someone above her in rank is on the field. Which I find kind of odd, considering her successes in Principles of Desolation at the end, but okay.

Strangely she's only mentioned like 3 times in FM:3145, and one of those is  "Daoshen's younger sister." A holding pattern indeed.

Strangely, she's barely mentioned in FM:3145, I think all of 3 times,

solmanian

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #18 on: 18 June 2015, 04:20:59 »
Well, ER3145 assign a penalty to any force under her command, so no, she's by definition not a competent commander.

As her for YLW, both his previous pilots were hailed as heroes  and chamipions of the confederation, but betrayed the confederation, choosing their morals over their loyalty. They were both obvious traitors-in-waiting looking at hindsight, the sons of the FedCom head of intelligence.

I'm confident Danai will follow that legacy. Maybe betraying the CapCon for the FWL; and that's the best case scenario for the CapCon. The worst is ascending to the double (triple?) throne, and screwing up cataclysmically, while her origin is revealed, maybe leading to a combine occupation (because why the hell not).
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #19 on: 18 June 2015, 07:01:08 »
Problem with characters only developing in the sourcebook,s they loose somewhat of their uniqueness as time goes by.   Without being the hidden person in the room as we would be in a novel, there goof chunk of stuff we'll be  missing.  She already has hatred for FedSuns which wasn't there before, she hates Caleb, but it turning into hating everything fedsuns wasn't something i saw coming in the novels.  Like i said, characters loose what made them stand out once their no longer part of a story book.
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Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #20 on: 18 June 2015, 12:36:15 »
I don't really know if she has a hatred for all things FedSuns. The only time we've seen issues with her is when she fought FedSuns troops on the planet where she was raped by Caleb.

Though I have to admit, her -3 Compulsion/PTSD that she was given in the Era Report doesn't bode too well for her.

Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #21 on: 18 June 2015, 17:27:39 »
She has good reason to hate Caleb, and now that he's dead the logical outcome is that she either shifts the focus of any remaining rage towards the Suns. Either that or she loses focus entirely, but at this point the former is more interesting than the latter.

There are ways to impart uniqueness into sourcebook only characters, but they then tend to be about the uniqueness only, while novel characters carried forward through sourcebooks do tend to lose characterisation as the timeline moves forwards because of events moving along with them being carried along rather than fully involved.

In both cases the characters lose depth because there isn't the time or space to fully flesh them out. Unless like most of the older major characters they were in novels and multiple sourcebooks (with the same information frequently repeated for a sort of layering effect) the current crop of characters are going to suffer to a degree.

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #22 on: 18 June 2015, 18:33:39 »
We sadly don't see Danai dealing with the Suns after her issue with Caleb. And we definatly don't get any fiction of her reactions after she hears of Calebs death though I wonder if she celebrated or swore vengeance on his killers because he was her prey? Might be interesting if she now had a major hate on for the Combine.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #23 on: 19 June 2015, 13:39:48 »
I am somewhat disappointed that the writers seemingly wrote off the idea of Danai getting revenge by killing Celeb, it would have been more satisfying read. 

 


 
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #24 on: 19 June 2015, 13:45:27 »
I am somewhat disappointed that the writers seemingly wrote off the idea of Danai getting revenge by killing Celeb, it would have been more satisfying read. 
 
Also, too obvious. It's what gives BT the GRRMesque GoT vibe, that it isn't dominated by the obvious tropes. Otherwise Julian would be rescuing the FedSuns with a three-way pimpslap with Daoshen and Tornaga. But instead, even if he kills those guys, it may break their armoies moral, but he'd still have to contend with being outnumbered three to one, instead of cutting to getting a medal and parade and a BBQ with the ghosts of Harrison, Caleb, etc., "Return of the jedi" style.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #25 on: 19 June 2015, 14:11:57 »
Danai killing Caleb might have strayed too far into suggesting that such an act would be cathartic.  Caleb getting himself killed even when the DCMS gave him an out is right up his alley, and a conclusion to his delusions of grandeur.  Part of us may really want to have Danai get her revenge, but that entire part of the story was IMO not a great area to stray into.  The mentally ill assaulting Danai is something of a lose-lose scenario regardless of the outcome.  That Danai has been able to return to service should not be forgotten as a victory in it's own right.  It just isn't the victory we wanted as readers.
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Stormlion1

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #26 on: 19 June 2015, 16:17:38 »
I'm kind of sad they killed Caleb off. He had potential to be a great 'Evil' character for the FedSuns to play with for years and when Danai took over to have decades of hate mail with.
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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #27 on: 20 June 2015, 05:56:42 »
This is something I'm going to try and address in Caleb's article, and that boils down to Danai killing Caleb is about Danai, while how he died, as outlined in FM: 3145 is all about Caleb and Julian.

At any rate events are progressing too fast in the Federated Suns for Caleb to last too long, he's too incompetent, and too slowly in the Capellan Confederation for Daoshen to die yet, thus Danai and Caleb facing off as leaders as their respective nations, while entirely interesting and desirable from a reader perspective, simply isn't going to happen at this stage.

Personally I think it would have been interesting, but with Caleb crippling the AFFS as he was it would be a fairly one sided battle.

SteelRaven

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #28 on: 20 June 2015, 21:30:45 »
Caleb was going to get killed no mattered what, clearly a unforgivable character who only exist to dirty the Davion white hat. It didn't really matter how Caleb died and the events that transpired did serve the story but Danai killing Caleb: not only would she get revenge but it would put her in the spotlight as the one who killed the First Price (Hero to Cap Con and a villain to Fed Suns as propaganda goes) Instead, it seems that Danai's character has been brushed to the side for the time being. Perhaps it cannot be helped without novels to push character development and only so much room in a source book spanning much of the BTU.
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Papabees

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Danai Liao-Centrella
« Reply #29 on: 21 June 2015, 09:21:59 »
If I wanted to read her story in the novels which ones should I pick up?

 

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