Leopards routinely attacked, mauled, and devoured the highly primitive cave people at the beginning of the Book. However, the trusty Monolith showed up, and gave a few lessons in various things, including how to wield weapons. A few nights later, the leopard attacks a cave full of people thinking it will kill them all. Not this time...
Snarling and lashing its tail in arrogant confidence, the leopard advanced in search of the tender food that it craved. Had it met its prey in the open, it would have had no problems; but now that the man-apes were trapped, desperation had given them the courage to attempt the impossible. And for the first time they had the means to achieve it.
If you thought Dave Bowman owned in the movie, you should see how he survived HAL's attack in the book.
In the first book, one character has to fight off a Celtic god, despite being A) not entirely in command of his magic powers and B) cursed with death by occult pneumonia. OK, he dies, but he already knew that would happen. And then, he gets to come back.
The second series gets more of these ('cos it's set After the End, where there are more opportunities for badassitude). One character gets the power of the Morrigan (Celtic patron goddess of Proud Warrior Race Guys and Badasses), and proceeds to use them to single-handedly kill a hundred-strong neo-feudal/organized crime syndicate in Birmingham (including the fracking psychopathic demon they had in the basement).
And then, when this character tries to use these powers to dismember the woman who stole her boyfriend, the hero, a guy called Mallory, shows up, and fights her to a standstill.
Nigel Arcanum gets one when an assassin comes to kill him. For context, this is a heavily bandaged crippled burn victim in a room alone with an assassin sent to kill him, and he talks the assassin out of it with nothing more than showmanship, a dimmer switch, and a badass speech that likens trying to kill him to a Greek tragedy.
A number of moments for Bernard Samson throughout the novels.
In Mexico Set, he is brought into a tribunal to be accused of being a Russian traitor and involved in two murders (one of which he has already tried to cover up). Thanks to an expert frame-up job by the Russians, all the evidence is stacked against him. Though sheer force of personality, he is able to turn the tribunal round so by the end they are having to sing his praises.
"Now you put me here in the hot seat and rig this kangaroo court up to intimidate me. But I've been over there where intimidation is done by experts. So you don't frighten me, Bret. You don't frighten me at all.
In London Match, he calmly shoots down two Russian mooks in a laundrette.....and laughs about it afterwards to his boss.
In the first book of the series, the Company sends a team to infiltrate a Rebel fortress city, Roses, that one of the enemy generals was using as a base. With the help of Soulcatcher, a powerful sorceress, they set the following trap: a large enchanted table with a mid-sized fortune underneath it, bearing the inscription "He who would collect this wealth shall place upon this slab the head of the creature Raker." The Moment of Awesome comes a bit later when the Company men kill Raker, himself a very powerful sorcerer, and steal the treasure themselves, lying to Soulcatcher's face about it afterwords.
It should be noted that Soulcatcher was not "a powerful sorceress." She was a powerful sorceress. (Also, addendum: it may go without saying that part of the enchantment was that if you tried to take any of the treasure without providing Raker's head, well, don't.)
Later on, the company's Annalist (keeper of the histories and our narrator) Croaker and soldier Raven get a joint one - as two Badass Normal soldiers ambush and take down a pair of ubermages in about 10 seconds.
Admittedly, they had magical arrows.
Later on in the series, in "Bleak Seasons", one of the Company's hedge wizards, an old, stunted man who goes by One Eye, carefully crafted a lethal artifact weapon to try and break the siege of Dejagore: a rune-studded black spear that killed magic users by pulling their own power into itself and channeling it back, the hard way. Only barest chance let the enemy wizard survive: it hit his magically bred horse, missing him by less than a foot, at a range of almost a thousand yards.
In Perdido Street Station, how Isaac kills the Slake-Moths. After discovering that they eat minds, he rigs up a crisis engine to combine the logical computer-consciousness of the Construct Council with the insane mind of New Crobuzon's Weaver and amplify them, creating what amounts to a giant honey-trap - all while fighting off the New Crobozon Militia.
In The Scar, when we finally see Uther Doul activate the Mightblade. Additionally, when he orchestrates Armada's turning back from the Scar.
Which is arguably less awesome than his apparently having orchestrated their going there in the first place, as well as the resistance. And then there's his big showdown with the Brucolac...
In Iron Council, Judah Low's last golem. Arguably a case of Serial Escalation given that he spends the entire book making better and better Golems. And one for the author when he reveals the identity of Toro.
Almost every one of his books has at least one Crowning Moment of Awesome. Here are but a few examples:
The Titanic arriving in New York.
In the climax of Deep Six, Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino commandeer a riverboat and enlist the Sixth Louisiana Regiment, which is actually a group of Civil War re-enactors to try an intercept a barge containing Congresswoman Loren Smith and Vice President Vincent Margolin. They launch an attack on the barge and actually win the battle. Repeat, a group of re-enactors kicks the collective asses of a group of elite mercenaries.
With Dixie playing at the same time, now that's badass.
In Night Probe:
"Maybe we better throw a scare into them...To the ship off my port stern. This is the H.M.C.S. destroyer Huon. If you do not identify yourself immediately we shall open fire and blow you out of the water,"...a voice rasped out of the bridge speaker in a pronounced Texan drawl. "This is the USS guided missile cruiser Phoenix. Draw when you're ready, pardner."
Similarly, the reveal scenes in Stephen Fry's Darker and Edgier modern retelling of it The Star's Tennis Balls (Revenge in America.). Although, these were somewhat more bittersweet, and frankly, kind of scary. But still, the computer screen flashing the phrase 'Ned Maddstone sends you to Hell' was just brilliant.
Prettyboy turned villain Benedetto's death sentencing hasn't been mentioned. Essentially, he reveals, in court, that he is the son the judge (Villefort) attempted to bury alive at birth. This is struck down by the other members of court, who even excuse Villefort's stupefied reaction, however, it does nothing to stop the villain's descent into what can only be described as insanity.
"Madame, where do you keep the poison that you habitually use?"
Monsieur Noirtier. Just sort of generally. Highlights include saving his granddaughter from an unhappy marriage by informing the groom who killed his royalist father years ago; him, of course, in an epic duel, figuring out not only that the household was being poisoned, but also the method by which he could ensure that Valentine would be immune and other such feats of badassery. All while being paralysed from the nose down.
Despite being known better for writing Funny Moments rather than Moments of Awesome, there is a notable example in Nicholas Nickleby. After weeks of observing and enduring countless abuses, our titular character finally loses his temper and intervenes when a crippled, possibly mentally stunted and horribly abused runaway is about to be flogged. He then promptly gives Headmaster Squeers the most well-deserved beating of his life, stopping only after his arm gets tired.
This little-known (and highly underrated) disaster novel features an out-of-control nuclear reactor which, for various reasons, is creating a super-powerful magnetic field around itself. Cars, aircraft, ships - all are powerless to rescue the personnel from the island on which the reactor rests. Out of the blue comes their salvation, Dunkirk-fashion - the Baton Rouge Yacht Squadron, sailing to the rescue.
Also: "Do you know, I believe I have bested a Jenoine in single combat." ("After saying this, she smiled sweetly, dropped to her knees, gave a sort of sigh, and pitched forward on her face.")
And in Sethra Lavode, when Morrolan slaughters several villages and kills their god singlehandedly.
How about the scene in Phoenix Guards where Tazendra is complaining about only being outnumbered TWO HUNDRED TO ONE? Most dialogue from Tazendra, and Ibronka, and for that matter any Dzur comes across this way. These people complain about fighting when they aren't outnumbered!
Zerika walking out of the Paths of the Dead with the Orb...Crowning in more ways than one
In Richard Knaak's retelling of the story of the greatest hero of Krynn, The Legend of Huma, Huma rises from a lowly Knight of the Crown to become the champion of Paladine, defeating the father of dragons, the immortal general of the Dragonqueen's armies, one of the greatest mages who ever lived and eventually Takhisis the Dragonqueen herself!
Ariakas's entrance scene in the chapter 'The penalty of failure' in Dragons of Spring Dawning. And in the same chapter, we also get another awesome entrace, from Lord Soth.
Ariakas is just full of awesome.
Tanis stabbing Ariakas at the climax of Dragons of Spring Dawning
Laurana controlling the Dragon Orb to save the High Clerist's Tower. In fact pretty much the entire three day Battle of the High Clerist's Tower is one continuous Moment of Awesome for Laurana.
Tasslehoff Burrfoot manages to make Chaos (the father of all the Gods) bleed with an Heroic Sacrifice. When you consider that Tas is basically the Plucky Comic Relief of the team, and an annoying kleptomaniac who doesn't seem to be able to stay quiet or still and who can drive even elves mad with his innate ability to make up insults, you can't say that he wasn't short of courageous. Bonus points for using his insulting ability to attract Chaos' attention.
Raistlin Majere is walking horror combined with awesome, but there's one moment which just underscores the awesome: when he's succeeded in getting to the Abyss. The Dark Queen is berating him, promising him any number of eternal torments for his various slights against her:
Mandrake's arrival. He barely enters the woods and he's already put three moles down with a single talon slash. He then makes his way into Barrow Vale and the elder's meeting by killing anyone in his path. He tops all that by coercing himself in the council with an ominous and almost impossible to understand speech(it's spoken in Siabodnote It's based on Welsh). From there he gets worse, until the great battle by the Duncton Stone, where he repeats the same feat (and apparently coming back from the dead), before he's killed by Stonecrop.
Bracken's run at the Duncton Stone on the Longest Night. He's so good at running and it's so dark that even his pursuers start confusing him for one of them. He then gets another one as he finishes Hulver's prayer with, paraphrasing Horwood's description, the most awesome voice any mole has ever heard.
Enders Game: Ender, after surrounding himself with a loyal army to keep from ever being in this situation, is cornered in the shower by his rival and some thugs while he is alone, tired, and naked. So he convinces Bonzo to fight him one-on-one and kills him. Accidentally.
Ender when he takes on Stilson at the age of seven and basically fulfils the fantasy of every small kid who's ever been picked on at school. The milage variance comes from the fact we only find out later that Ender killed the kid by doing so. As the teachers note — "Ender's not a monster. He just wins. Thoroughly."
Enders Shadow: Bean figures out the Fleet's entire, complex, crazy, top secret plan... because of one vague answer from tech support. And he was six years old.
"Actually, I think I'm seven." "He was reading from an old report and hadn't done the math."
Earlier in Ender's Shadow, Bean psychologist-talks Colonel Graff into giving him private access to restricted supplies to supplement Dragon Army's resources. (It should be pointed out that the reason Graff prefers Ender to Bean throughout the books is that while they're both geniuses, he can control Ender. Bean is the only student in Battle School who can freak Graff out.)
Bean and his ludicrous intelligence are made of this trope: yet again in Enders Shadow, he figured out that the IF must have sent ships to attack the Buggers years ago, by applying fortification strategies to the solar system (basically, he realized that it is impossible to adequately defend a 3-dimensional space the size of the solar system from invasion, and that the only defensive strategy that makes sense is a pre-emptive strike against your foe). Managed, in one simple deduction, to scare the hell out of every higher-up in the IF, because that fact was supposed to be top-secret.
And he came up with this whole reasoning on the spot while arguing with his instructor that he actually did spend 2 hours reading the text (He actually programed his desk to show he was reading when he was hacking into secret school files.)
Suriyawong gets an awesome come-uppance in Shadow Puppets when he repeats a statement from earlier in the book.
Achilles: "What's this supposed to be?"
Suriyawong: "The loan of a knife."
Achilles: "But he has a gun!"
Suriyawong: "I expect you to solve your own problems."
The climax of Inside the Illusion really takes the cake for the whole series. Senna Wales, the witch who has been previously pulling all the strings and guiding the other characters along has the tables turned on her when her mother, Anica Wales makes a deal with Merlin to capture her. Their plan is to lure Senna out in the streets of Egypt at night, separating her from the others of the group who could potentially help her, forcing her to confront them alone, leaving her to face Merlin, a mage even stronger than she is and with a thousand years of experience, with Senna's mother there to lend her witch powers in case Merlin somehow fails while the entire city they're in is under the control of the Amazons, who are allied with Senna's mother. And just to make totally and completely sure that Senna has no escape and is caught like a rat in a trap, Merlin brings a dragon to the party for back-up. And then what happens? Senna, Magnificent Bastard that she is, instantly readjusts her plans, fools them both, uses Christopher as a decoy, tricks Merlin into wasting his magic, uses all of her powers as a witch and a gateway to their full extent, and she wins. The battle ends with Merlin exhausted and running in defeat, his dragon dead, the Amazons driven from Egypt with their queen no longer among the living, and Anica begging her daughter for forgiveness. Basically, Senna faced two mages who are Crazy-Prepared and vastly more experienced than herself, with no prior warning or prep time, and thwarted them. She's that good at Xanatos Speed Chess. After the confrontation is over, Senna is heavily exhausted by clearly enjoying the victory, and comments to Anica, "You underestimated me." If that isn't a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the whole book, or the entire series, then it's hard to imagine what is.
Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Sobek, the crocodile god Senna talks into invading Egypt, and Keith the neo-Nazi punk she uses to slay Merlin's Dragon. Merlin gets his own back in Book 11 when he, solely through the use of illusion and his Master of Disguise abilities, completely derails Senna's plans to take over Everworld, by causing her to shoot her own men, and ignore the assassin in their midst. It should be noted that he does all this, after Senna and her thugs have taken complete control of Ireland and are holding the entire cast at gunpoint, and without ever physically or magically confronting Senna. Some fans hate the scene because they view it as Character Derailment for Senna, but it's definitely a personal Moment of Awesome for old man Merlin.
Jalil, The Smart Guy, gets his own in Book 8. With the group trapped in an African afterlife by a god who demands tribute from them, the very athetistic (and by this point, very pissed off) Jalil gets them out. How? He knocks Senna out and threatens to use her blood to poison the tree that holds the entire afterlife together. That's right, blackmails an entire religion. Even more awesome for those of us who don't like Senna, as it is a truly epic Kick the Son of a Bitch moment. Actually, pretty much anytime someone (especially Jalil) stands up to Senna awesomeness ensues.
David's personal crowning moment comes when he, while in a hopeless situation and less than a day away from dying, convinces Nidhoggr, a Kaiju-esque dragon to help him, flies the gigantic beast over to Fairyland, helps him avoid the death trap set up for him, and simultaneously saves everyone's lives while resolving all of their problems. The same incident marks the first time in the books that he did something despite Senna's disapproval (which is very hard for him, given that she practically has him brainwashed).
The warrior mare Tek taking on the seven-headed wyvern king, who is many times larger than normal wyverns (and wyverns being many times larger than unicorns) in one-on-one combat...and killing three of his heads.
The unicorn princess Lell throwing a flaming brand into the eyes of the wyvern king's main head, not only blinding him but trapping him in a ring of fire.
Lell becoming trapped in the fire and setting ablaze, when the gryphon Illishar swoops down and carries her to safety, despite the fire engulfing his body and wings while he's at it.
The arrival of the Scouts of Halla, who (thanks to the mystical dragonsup) made a weeks-long journey without tiring to join the battle just as the tide had turned in the wyvern's favour.
The unicorn prince Jan finally arriving to the field of battle...in the claws of the dragon queen.
The dragon queen hauling the wyvern king out of the fire - six of his heads dead, the seventh blinded by fire - and carrying him back to the dragon's homeland to be a plaything for her future mate.
Jan trampling his way through the wyvern's cavern, his hardened hooves setting a blazing trail all throughout the Hallow Hills.
The titular Endingfire being a blaze so great that the rain of soot and ash blocks the sun for three entire days before being washed away in a great rain.
On that second day, men passed beyond themselves. Feats of heart-stopping valor fell from the sky like rain, and those who performed them could not even recall, nor state with certainty, that the actors had been themselves.
Even someone putting on their helmet is shockingly awesome.
Then, with one undramatic motion, his right hand clasped the flare of the cheekpiece and tugged the ghastly mask down; in an instant the humanity of his face vanished, his gentle expressive eyes became unseeable pools of blackness chasmed within the fierce eye sockets of bronze; all compassion fled in an instant from his aspect, replaced with the blank mask of murder.
George Armstrong Custer himself gets one in the Timeline-191 series. Having already survived one assassination attempt by Canadian terrorist Arthur MacGregor by pure luck, Custer parades through MacGregor's home town on his way back to America. When MacGregor throws a bomb at the car (in a deliberate echo of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand) Custer catches it gently enough that it doesn't go off, and throws it right back at MacGregor.
Later, Louis Armstrong and his band take advantage of their booking at a Confederate military base and steal an armored jeep, running the border into the USA with evidence of the Holocaust-like atrocities that the Confederate government is perpetrating.
Any time a character can cement himself simultaneously as a Magnificent Bastard and Karma Houdini, that is by definition a Moment of Awesome. Clarence Potter pulls this off by nuking Philadelphia personally.
One of the core stories in TL-191 is that of the plantation-owning Colleton family. By the World War II era, Tom Colleton was the final survivor of the three siblings. His decision to go down fighting rather than surrender when surrounded by USA troops showed that the family had a true sense of nobility.
In The Amber Spyglass, where Mrs. Coulter lies to Metatron. She convinces him she's turned against Lord Asriel and leads him to the edge of the great Abyss. When Asriel and Stelmaria ambush Metatron, Coulter and the Golden Monkey exchange glances and join forces with Asriel to wrestle Metatron into the Abyss, making it a suicide mission and taking him down with them.
And this comes well after Iorek's battle with Iofur in the first book.
A bit more subtle: Pan - a Shapeshifter - assuring Lyra that "we're only safe as long as we pretend". Lyra's application of his advice? Introducing herself to the mad bear king Iofur as the incarnation of his rival Iorek's soul. Silvertongue indeed.
Pantalaimon gets a crowning moment of his own - at one point in The Amber Spyglass, Mrs. Coulter's monkey daemon has pretty much a death grip on him, which Pan gloriously turns against the damn thing by changing into a porcupine. The little guy might not have cast iron balls like some other characters, but he sure has wits aplenty.
Lee Scoresby single-handedly holding off a regiment of Tartars and blowing up their zeppelin by himself.
Heck the prequel novella, "Once Upon a Time in the North", is just one long, long Moment of Awesome for Lee and Hester!
"My name is Balthamos." Makes me punch the air every time.
In The Amber Spyglass when Will fights Iorek and wins by slicing his helmet up with the subtle knife.
He died young at the age of 26 and knew he was dying for at least a year. This fragment of poetry was found in the middle of the manuscript of an exceedingly whimsical poem (itself intended to be published under a female pseudonym) and is probably his last crowning etc.
This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience calmed — see here it is —
I hold it toward you.
Well, Mr Keats. I would accept the challenge!
J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
The Silmarillion has a cottage industry of Moments of Awesome: Lúthien beating Sauron and Morgoth. Túrin Turambar slaying the dragon Glaurung (and in Unfinished Tales, visiting his aunt in occupied Hithlum). Fingolfin's battle with Morgoth. Glorfindel fighting the Balrog. Fingon's fall.
And then, in the presence of Morgoth and his entire court, all hope utterly crushed for any sort of victory, what does Húrin do? In the face of an offer of "mercy" from Morgoth, he not only refuses, but mocks him. Even in the face of a horrific curse upon all his family and descendants of misery and tragedy that Morgoth would make him watch. Badass. Simultaneously a Moment of Awesome and Tear Jerker.
Húrin's Moment of Awesome comes when he meets his wife at the grave of their children. She asks him what took him so long and he sums up decades of being tortured by Morgoth with "It was a long road. I have come as I could." Now that is badass.
Fëanor's speeches - hell, Fëanor in general - are, if possible, subverted Moments of Awesome. They would be textbook Moments of Awesome, except that he's hot-tempered, ruthless, completely obsessed with revenge and his Silmarils, and at least a little crazy. Things don't go very well for his followers, not to mention their neighbors...
Even so, it can't be denied that he was arguably the biggest badass in the Silmarillion (the only ones who possess the badassitude to compare with him are Beren, Húrin, Fingolfin, Finrod, and Eärendil). Let's take stock shall we? He reinvented the system of writing that his people used, invented the palantíri, and forged the Silmarils, gems that imprisoned the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, and even he doesn't know how he did that. He slammed the door in the face of the most powerful being in Arda. His speeches have been talked about; he also chased a routed army alone for who knows how long, and the army was too afraid to turn around and fight him. And to top it all of, he has the most badass final fight of any character in the franchise: he fights the balrogs. Not one, like Gandalf or Glorfindel, oh no, he fought ALL of them (ambiguous as their number might be). At once. For hours. His life was one long series of CMOA after another. Too bad about the whole "it all backfired" thing.
Not to mention the whole "ruthless and obsessed with revenge" thing.
Ecthelion, who kills Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs. After having had both of his arms chopped off/paralized, he headbutted it to death!
The Leap of Beren. Celegorm and Curufin, several thousand years his elders and very skilled riders, try to trample him under their horses while Curufin grabs Lúthien (apparently so his brother could rape her!) Beren dodges the trampling horses and leaps onto Curufin's galloping horse from behind, with such force that he knocks it over. Then he wrestles the jerkface into a headlock and starts throttling him — and keep in mind elves are usually stronger than humans. The only reason Curufin survived at all was that Beren somehow got Lúthien off the horse unharmed, and she asked him to show more mercy than Curufin would. So Beren loots all his stuff, then picks Curufin up bodily and throws him away. The jackass totally had it coming a dozen times.
The voyage of Eärendil. He sets sails and heads directly to the realms of gods, bypassing the Ban of Valar, to speak on behalf of both Elves and Men and to ask for salvation - and he succeeds to persuade the gods to attack the Morgoth and his minions. In the end his ship, Vingilot, is upgraded to a planet and his task is now to every day sail across the sky to show hope to the Free Peoples of the Middle Earth.
The Soft Weapon: After being captured by Kzinti, the heroes manage to escape and try to run for their ship. Nessus, a manic-depressive Puppeteer, turns and delivers a massive kick to the Kzniti captain, crumpling him while Nessus merrily escapes. Remember, Puppeteers are pathological cowards, and their most common reaction to stress or danger is to run for the hills. Also remember, Kzinti are basically 9-foot tall, 500 pound, bipedal tigers. The captain is shamed so badly by this assault that he has to spend the rest of the story pretending it didn't happen, going so far as to refuse treatment despite his rib-equivalents being shattered.
In Kushiel's Avatar when Phèdre speaks the Name of God in the middle of a raging storm, banishing an angel and saving her oldest and dearest friend from a Fate Worse than Death. The Name of God, which appears as an underscore in the text, is later revealed to be love, in every language of the world. This doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. This might be the Moment of Awesome of the entire series.
From the same book, the moment when the zenana, which had previously been filled with despair and bickering factions, begins to come together. A group of women from across the globe coming together to destroy a common enemy: Awesome. This kicks off several more Moments of Awesome, such as Phèdre's killing of the Mahrkagir and the women of the zenana killing all of the Mahrkagir's guards and soldiers.
Ysandre riding through the ranks of the Unforgiven to confront Percy de Somerville and reclaim her throne in Chosen.
From the same book, Joscelin's duel with the traitor Cassiline, even though we don't get to see it in detail.
The biggest one in Dart has to be when Barquiel L'Envers charges out of a besieged fortress and rescues Phedre and Joscelin from painful deaths at the hands of Waldemar Selig, risking his life for people he doesn't even like that much.
And just before that, Joscelin challenging Selig to a duel as a distraction so he can end Phedre's life (and his own) mercifully. Wow.
The duel between Waldemar Selig and Isidore d'Aiglemort is definitely one as well, especially Selig's death at the traitor d'Aiglemort's hands, and the way the entire fight is described.
The Big Nowhere: Buzz Meeks busting into a meeting between two crime lords and the Big Bad, and walking away with two suitcases full of money and heroin.
And with the girl. At least for a while.
L.A. Confidential has a few of these:
Jack Vincennes showing up drunk to D.A. Ellis Loew's party for his Senate candidacy, asking Loew who he wants him to shake down, admitting to all the Republican bigwigs that he and Sid Hudgens set up MacPherson to lose the race, and tosses a drink in Loew's face.
Ed Exley's virtuoso interrogation of the three Night Owl suspects - right up to and including Bud White bursting in on them and playing Russian Roulette to find out where they'd stashed Inez Soto.
Inez Soto's confession to Ed Exley: "The negritos who hurt me couldn't have killed the people at the Nite Owl, because they were with me the whole night. They never left my sight. I lied because I didn't want you to feel bad that you'd killed four men for me. And you want to know what the big lie is? You and your precious absolute justice."
Exley, Vincennes and White putting together the truth - the connections between the hooker killings, Fleur De Lis, the smut books, Mickey Cohen's mob goons, Sid Hudgens' murder, the involvement of Dieterling and Preston Exley, and the kicker, "Captain Dudley Liam Smith for the Nite Owl" - and Exley's promise to White that if he keeps quiet about Preston Exley's involvement, he'll let White kill Dudley. Scary Captain Ed, indeed.
Bud White tarnishing Exley's reputation by leaking new leads in the Nite Owl case to a scandal rag.
Oh, come on. How can you forget the very first chapter? Buzz MeeksBack for the Dead last fight AND Dudley walking through the fire in a fireman coat were pure awesome.
White Jazz is basically one big one for its main character Dave Klein, who despite having everyone in the world and their mothers after him manages to not only survive, but save the lives of all his loved ones as well, quite a rarity in Ellroy's work. And then at the very end of the book he casually murders the remaining villains almost as an afterthought.
Then, this exchange with More's former friend, Richard Rich, who has just perjured himself on the stand:
More: I have one question to ask the witness. [Rich stops] That's a chain of office you are wearing. [Reluctantly Rich faces him] May I see it? [More examines the medallion] The red dragon. [To Cromwell, the judge] What's this?
More: [Looking into Rich's face, with pain and amusement] For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales!
There is also an exchange between More and his own son in law, William Roper, paraphrased here:
Roper So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper Yes, I'd cut down every law in England if I could capture him!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round against you, where would you hide, Roper, with all the laws being cut down? And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand against the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
In Moon Called, holding off the vampire queen with a sheep necklace. (It represents the Lamb of God, but they didn't know that when they let her take it into the meeting.)
Several in Iron Kissed:
Samuel Cornick's warning to the Carrion Crow. Context: Mercy has been poking around in fae business, and she has drawn the wrong sort of attention from their rulers. Samuel, son of the leader of all North American werewolves, declares:
"My dad raised Mercy in his pack, and he couldn't love her more if she were his own daughter. For Mercy, he would declare open war on the fae, and damned be the consequences."
Zee warning off a selkie that wanted to eat Mercy. Zee had spent most of the book in jail, so this was a reminder of exactly how awesome he was.
Ben, three or four from the bottom of the pack, lecturing his Alpha, Adam, at the end of the book was a truly awesome moment.
"Do you love her? ... Then put aside your goddamned self-loathing and look at her."
"Thank you for sharing your understanding."
At the climax of Iron Kissed, Mercy beats her rapist's skull in with a crowbar while whole-heartedly in love with him and while he's magically protected from all enemies. The woman has willpower of diamond.
From Silver Borne: the Faerie Queen puts a mind-control spell on her and casually asks "whom do you serve?" Mercy, who between her natural magic-resistance and the pack bonds is really hard to mind control, responds with "Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Since Christianity is one of the reasons the Fae are no longer particularly powerful in their native Europe, referencing it around them at all as mildly rude. This goes a little beyond that)
Also from Sliver Borne, Mary-Jo paying Adam back for betraying him by stepping up to fight a larger and stronger male werewolf so that he would be tired when he came to fight Adam. Adam's gets one immediately afterward, upon winning the fight.
"That edge you lost fighting Mary-Jo was what gave me the chance to find a move that would hurt you, instead of kill you. You can thank her later for your life."
Mercy gets one immediately following that, when Henry (who encouraged the challenge to Adam to weaken him) takes a breath to issue his own challenge to the weakened Adam, and Mercy shoots him in the throat so he can't talk. She then follows that up by backing up Adam as a compassionate but tough leader by say they were lead and not silver bullets, so he'll heal.
Sort of a minor one, but he saves Daphne from drowning. Not awesome until you remember that he was considering drowning himself at the time.
While saving a guy who hates him, there is a shark coming for them. He shouts it down, scares the shit out of it, and it runs away.
He outruns the God of Death.
He beats First Mate Cox using a shark and his own blood.
He gets milk for a starving child by personally milking a large, drunk pig. Most important here is the fact that pigs can't be milked by hand: he had to put his mouth to the pig's muddy, stinking belly and suck out a mouthful of milk, spit it into the container he'd brought, then repeat....
Probably the premise of the story counts as a Moment of Awesome for him, too; he single-handedly recreates a Nation from people who have been washed up after a tidal wave, at the same time hating the gods, refusing to believe in the gods, talking to the gods, and having no soul.
And let's not forget Ermin - I mean, Daphne.
She poisons a man because she knows he won't take the time to make it safe
She saves Mau from the land of the dead
Her medical aid to various prisoners and captives near the end. She is a well-brought-up lady who hates blood, and has incidentally just sawn someone's leg off.
The scene at the end of the book when the protagonist finally manages to return to his village with the skeleton of the giant fish, proving that he actually did catch it, which means much more for his status in the village than the fish meat itself would have.
In the first novel, the Colonial Special Forces have to attack an enemy installation on a heavily defended planet. Therefore, they fly in on their starship, knowing full well that it will be blown up within a few minutes...planning to use that to cover up their jumping into the atmosphere like parachutists. The plan is completely successful. (They get a lot more of this in the sequels, too.)
In Zoe's Tale, Zoe vs. the Roanoke "werewolves" and Zoe in the scene with the Consu and the Obin.
Maggie's death in Old Man's War, when she's been sucked out into space during a botched planetary landing operation. She's only got ten minutes of oxygen, she's falling from orbit, and she knows nobody can rescue her in time. So she spends her last minutes alive trying to shoot down an attacking enemy starship with her grenade launcher, actually inflicting some minor damage, and then makes one last tranmission to her friends before burning up on re-entry:
Then Maggie turned, faced the planet that would kill her, and like the good professor of Eastern religions that she used to be, she composed jisei, the death poem, in the haiku form.
Do not mourn me, friends I fall as a shooting star Into the next life.
Jimmy the Hand, who stands alone in being able to say he "saved the Prince of Krondor by goosing a demon". Said goosing involving a holy warhammer and the mother of all sneak-attacks.
Rogues Do It From Behind, indeed.
The husband/wife team of Duke James (aka Jimmy The Hand) and telepath Gamina, in Rage of a Demon King, got what may well have been the greatest death in all of High Fantasy when they flooded the sewers of Krondor with explosive liquid and blew up most of the city in an (extraordinarily successful) effort to take out an enemy army. The coolest part? They were in the sewers when this happened and neither one felt their bodies being vaporized, since Gamina locked their minds together and flooded their pleasure receptors with every happy memory from a lifetime together.
The plan was imitated from an earlier strategy, where brilliant tactician and general Guy du Bas-Tyra lured an army into invading his city and detonating a well of liquid explosives under the city.
Also during the Serpentwar. Macros the Black may be cut off from his God of Magic abilities, but he threw himself into a portal to hell and bringing the pain to the freaking Demon King Maarg himself, to buy some time for his daughter and Pug to close said portal.
Wrath of a Mad God has one for Pug where he opens a Rift in front of Kelewan's moon and a second one in front of an emerging Dread Lord resulting in a Colony Drop destroying the entire Planet.
The Queen's Thief
(When things with these books are spoiler-tagged, you do not want them spoiled.)
In The King of Attolia, the title king Eugenides is considered by most of his people to be an idiot, a usurper and a barbarian. His attendants live to play pranks on him, egged on by Sejanus, a favored younger son of the most powerful baron. Then their helpless, inept monarch proceeds to reveal that he knows who exactly is responsible for each of the pranks pulled on him, drive Sejanus to confess to regicide in front of the attendants who have just been placed in a very compromising position by him, and exile Sejanus' older brother, thereby bringing an end to the house of the most powerful baron in Attolia. Then, a few minutes later, he and his queen have a discussion that reveals that he promised to destroy the baron in six months and did it in 98 days.
Later, this same king takes on member after member of the king's own guard and defeats every single one of them, culminating in an Ironic Echo -
Eugenides: You forgot it's a wooden sword.
Let's face it, everything the king does is awesome, from the way he serves wine—juggling a cup one-handed while he puts the other cup down—to the way he demonstrates his faith— getting drunk while jumping from crenelation to crenelation on the outer wall of the palace—to the way he convinces the Queen—and everyone else in the palace—that he is not seriously injured by constantly whining that he is going to die. They should just get it over with and rename him His Royal Awesomness.
And Eugenides's moments in the earlier books. Kidnapping Sounis's advisor out of his own palace when Eugenides had only one hand has to count, as does the sequence where he kidnaps Attolia, of all people, and then successfully persuades her to marry him. And from the first book, the revelation that he's been an Unreliable Narrator the whole time and he's hid not only the fact that he's a Rebellious Prince but that [[spoiler: he's had the MacGuffin for the last third of the book and has pulled the wool over the eyes of every last member of the cast, including the Manipulative Bastard.
Every last member of the cast, and the reader, which in my opinion doubles as a Moment of Awesome for Turner herself. Seriously, as soon as I got over the shock of the big reveal, my first thought was, how did she DO THAT? And she does it every book!
Then there's the backstory of the Queen of Attolia. She was treated as a political nothing her whole life, married off and intended as a complete puppet - and with minimal political training and no assets whatsoever, she took control of one of the most politically unsettled countries in the world and ruled it absolutely. Keep in mind that it's implied that ruling queens are not the norm. And then there's what she did to Nahuseresh... she kept him believing, in spite of the above evidence, that she was a puppet, was aware of every single step of his Xanatos Speed Chess, and shot his game down completely with The Plan of her own. Complete with a freaking epicBreaking Speech. Bad AssMagnificent Bitch all the way.
MAJOR SPOILERS: In the fourth and most recent book, Sophos is at a formal election to instate him as the king of Sounis. However, most of the barons are controlled by the Medes, and vote in favor of a regent. Sophos, a pacifist soul with not a murdering bone in his body, calmly takes out a gun and shoots the baron in charge of the conspiracy and calls for a second vote. The rest of the barons vote unanimously in his favor.
Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio, "Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man." His dying line is a pun!! I should hope to die so well.
Friar Laurence's Get A Hold Of Yourself Man speech to a hysterically suicidal Romeo in Act III Scene II; he reminds Romeo that he was lucky to be banished instead of punished by death, lucky to have killed Tybalt when Tybalt tried to kill him, and killing himself will essentially kill Juliet.
King Lear has plenty of these, mostly from Edgar, who is framed and made to look as if he wanted to kill his dad and his evil brother by the aforementioned Evil Brother, and forced to go into hiding as a mad, homeless beggar. But then he comes back, stops his dad from commiting suicide through hypnosis, basically, and duels his Evil Brother and kills him. Oh, and he wears a helmet just so he can remove his disguise at the Most Dramatic Moment Possible.
Marc Antony has two crowning moments in Julius Caesar: his "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war" soliloquy, where he swears terrible vengeance for Caesar's death, and his "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" speech, where he uses sarcasm to set the city of Rome to riot. Eat your hearts out, Piranha Brothers!
Titus Andronicus contains several Moments of Awesome as well. Or perhaps they should be Crowning Moments of Despicable, but since we don't have a trope for that...
Titus's own moment occurs at the very end, when he feeds his nemesis Tamora her own sons baked into a pie.
Aaron, who is an out-and-out incarnation of Chaotic Evil and Evil Feels Good, gets two: when he tricks Titus into cutting off his own hand to save his son's lives, and then delivering the hand back with the sons' heads, and when he makes his final soliloquy before his execution, insisting that he is not sorry for any of the horrors he has orchestrated, but wishes he could have cause more pointless anguish, and "If ever one good deed I did, I do repent it from my very soul."
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
Emilia from Othello telling her husband to stick it - even when she knows he's quite willing to kill her if she won't shut up - is pretty damn awesome. "Perchance, Iago, I shall ne'er go home."
Richard III's wooing of Anne. Over the grave of her husband. Who he killed. And it works.
Just after Roger Chillingworth's Ignored Epiphany, Hester says, "Be it sin or no, I hate the man!" After a moment of trying to convince herself otherwise, either repressing or ignoring the sentiment, she says, more strongly,
Yes, I hate him! He betrayed me! He has done me worse wrong than I did him!
Brin, to the Ildatch after she's destroyed it: "Here is your dark child."
Also from Wishsong: Garet Jax, the Weapons Master, killing a Kraken with a harpoon. By jumping into the water with it and skewering it to death. And subsequently dueling against a Jachyra, a near unstoppable, demonic Combat Sadomasochist.
In The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, Ahren Elessedil spends the entire trilogy being slowly transformed into The Woobie. Most of this comes at the hands of The Dragon, Cree Bega, a thoroughly repulsive Smug Snake. Then, at the climax of book three, Ahren finds himself trapped on a ship, alone, with Bega. And what does he do? He kills the SOB in an epic Knife Fight that probably ranks among the best in the series. Cree Bega himself gets a Crowning Moment of Evil a few seconds later: as he dies, he gives Ahren a glare so hostile that it nearly gives the kid a heart attack.
The final duel between Grianne Ohmsford and The Morgawr ends up being one for Grianne, her brother Bek, and believe it or not, The Morgawr. Grianne gets hers when she finally stands up to The Morgawr, calls him out on his evil, and concludes her trip to redemption by trying to rid the world of him, declaring her intent to become The Atoner. Bek gets his when, realising Grianne cannot defeat The Morgawr unaided, he uses his illusion powers to convince the Spirit of Mephitic Castle that The Morgawr is Bek, who stole one of its treasures in a previous book. And The Morgawr gets his when he not only overpowers Grianne during their duel, but when assailed from all sides by Grianne, Bek, and Spirit of Mephitic Castle, he briefly holds his own, keeping all of their magics at bay, and destroying much of the castle, before grudgingly succumbing.
For a moment he held them at bay, girl and spirit both, his dark heart long since turned to stone, his mind to iron. He would not be beaten by such as these, the bright glare of his green eyes seemed to say. Not on this day.
In The Elfstones Of Shannara Elven Hunter Crispin gets a Dying Moment of Awesome that counts here as well. After seeing his entire team butchered by The Reaper, he steps out onto a bridge to confront it, knowing full well that he will die in the process. He succeeds in his mission though: the kids he was trying to protect destroy the bridge, saving themselves from The Reaper. Wil subsequently finding the power to confront The Reaper is also pretty epic, as is Badass Grandpa Eventine cutting down The Changeling, an extremely dangerous Demon, while injured and alone.
The short story The Weapon Master's Choice, adds a whole new CMOA for Ensemble Darkhorse Garet Jax (mentioned above under Wishsong, when he takes on a contract to save a colony of lepers from a dracul warlock. The story ends with Jax taking out a small army of mercenaries, and their vampire overlord, all with minimal assistance from the girl who hired him.
The conclusion of The Heritage of Shannara, when Walker Boh, Morgan Leah, Matty Roh, Damson Reah, Coll Ohmsford, and Rumour storm Southwatch, free Par Ohmsford, and take down Rimmer Dall and his Shadowen. Individual Moments of Awesome abound—Coll gets his when he uses The Sword of Shannara to free Par from the Wishsong's control and Rimmer Dall's lies, Walker Boh gets his when he takes on Rimmer Dall mano-a-mano and fights him to a draw (and later interrupts his attempted possession of Par), and Par finally gets his when he uses his own magic and The Sword to free the bound earth magic imprisoned in Southwatch, taking down Rimmer Dall, Southwatch itself, and every Shadowen across The Four Lands.
Free-born leader Padishar Creel gets one in Scions, when he lowers himself over the side of The Jut and uses casks of oil to send a Creeper plunging off the cliffs. He tops this a few days later when the Creeper returns and he tricks it into impaling itself on a giant crossbow bolt.
Hiro Protagonist, on a dinghy, getting into a gun fight with an aircraft carrier. And winning. Well, I guess it pays to listen to Reason.
Nah, the most impressive and audacious moment was when he saved the Metaverse and all the hackers connected to it from a Logic Bomb... then used its structure to advertise his brand-new network security service to the people he just saved.
What about the scene right before that? You know, the one where Hiro and Raven have a huge swordfight, on motorcycles, traveling at supersonic speeds, on the internet.Rule of Coolpersonified.
Raven's moment is, without a doubt, the moment Hiro discovers he carries a nuclear bomb on his motorcycle's sidecar wired to his vitals. As the Bad Ass page puts it so succinctly, "He no longer has to worry about being the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken."
YT's? It's difficult to choose, but solving a hostage situation by jumping out of the Big Bad's helicopter,catching then dangling from the helicopter on a 'poon above a freeway then falling the rest of the way onto a car counts. Finally, she disables the 'copter as it lands to get her. How? She's read Moby-Dick.
Minor Character Vic: "It's one of them drug dealer boats... five guys on it, heading our way" Boom. "Correction, four guys on it" Boom. "Correction, they're not heading out way anymore." Boom. "Correction, no boat".
C'mon, it has to be when she kicked the tablet out of the helicopter. That was great!
The timely intervention of a certain Four-Legged Friend at the climax must be mentioned.
Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.
Uncle Enzo going up against and defeating Raven at the end.
Even better when you recall that, at the start of the encounter, he cut the legs off his trousers for silence. He was wearing short shorts.
T.O. Steele is practically a walking Moment of Awesome. Just to cite a few examples:
Steele is with a group of marines on a planet that is about to fall into a black hole, and they have one fewer ships than people. One of the marines volunteers to stay behind, and the rest of the squad departs without her. Then, upon reaching the Merrimack, Steele immediately gets into a larger shuttle, turns right back around, and flies back into the gravity well to rescue her. No One Gets Left Behind, indeed.
Steele manually opens an airlock on an enemy ship from the inside without a space suit in a Heroic Sacrifice... minus the sacrifice, because he then manages to close the door again before suffocating. Then, because that wasn't nearly awesome enough, he proceeds to fight his way towards the ship's bridge armed with nothing but a crowbar.
Captured by the enemy, Steele is forced to participate in Gladiator Games. After winning a few rounds against extreme odds, Steele realizes there's no way to escape from the stadium and that they're just going keep throwing opponents at him until he finally dies. In the next round, he intentionally throws himself on his opponent's sword, guessing that the infirmary will be less well guarded. Luck is with him: the Romans decide to patch him back up for an encore, and Steele fights his way free the instant his insides are back on the inside.
Augustus gets one when he fires a single shot from his Strix which passes straight as an arrow through kilometers of rock, into the Emperor's secure bunker, and directly through the back of his throne at precisely head height. And that was just the warning shot.
Swordsmaster Jose Maria is a Technical Pacifist, sworn never to harm any human. But that only applies to humans, so when he gets cornered by the Gorgon swarm which killed his wife, he demonstrates exactly how deserving he is of the title of master.
Edward killing Victoria in Eclipse. This was awesome because Edward never does anything violent (as in kicking someone's ass onscreen) and is usually very kind and controlled. He used his powers to manipulate both villains and then ripped Victoria's head. Pretty awesome.
Edward saving Bella from the rapists with his volvo.
Alice coming back in Breaking Dawn.
Given Rosalie's usually the Alpha Bitch, her calculating not only the murder of her rapists but how to freak out her ex-fiancé as much as possible (saving him for last, wearing a wedding dress) was her crowning moment. Especially when you consider that, from the fiancé's perspective, it looked like (the vengeful spirit of) his fiancée was coming for him, and he couldn't get away...which is exactly how Rosalie would have felt.
In a different way, Tyler's van's desperate attempt to cut off the series before it started. Even if it was subverted.
There is of course the incident when Reiner Hetzau, when confronted with the traitorous knight Eric, convinces him to dismount and put down the banner giving him super strength so that they can have a chivalrous and fair duel. Reiner immediately shoots him in the head, and when walking off comments about how Eric should have known he wouldn't play fair.
Besides Sigmar himself, Volkmar the Grim is probably the most Bad Ass motherfucker to ever grace the Empire. After being slain in battle, Volkmar was resurrected by a daemon and chained to his battle standard in order to demoralize the enemy. However, Volkmar, unhappy with this turn of events, breaks free of his chains and uses them to kill his daemonic captors. After being rescued, Volkmar confronts a Vampire Count and his undead horde. All he does is stare in the Count's eyes, which unnerves the vampire enough to turn his army around and head home without a fight.
When Detlef Sierck is facing down Constant Drachenfels at the climax of The Vampire Genevieve:
"Back," he said, summoning all his acting skills to put the heroic ring into his voice. "In the name of Sigmar, back!"
"Sigmar!" Spittle flew from the mouthslit of the mask. "He's dead and gone, little man. But I'm here!"
"Then in my name, back!"
"Your name? Who are you to defy Constant Drachenfels, the Great Enchanter, the Eternal Champion of Evil, the Darkness Who Would Not Be Defied?"
The Sacrifice of HMS Thunderchild, the battleship destroys two martian vessels at the cost of itself and her crew just to allow a few refugee vessels to escape. Although London has fallen to the Martians, they are now shown to be not invincible
There's Mutt, who killed a landcruiser by pitching a bottle of ether at the alien tank's engine.
All of England gets a Moment of Awesome for totally wrecking The Race during an attempted land invasion.
George Patton not only for routing the Race armies from taking Chicago. but for personally taking out a helicopter with a World War II jeep mounted machine gun.
Otto Skorenzy gets one for just about everything he does in the series period. These include infiltrating an alien base with a bag of ginger (Which has cocaine-like effects on Lizards) to trade for an alien tank scope and riding out in one of their tanks, charging a landcruiser with nothing but a satchel charge and living, and [[Out-Gambitted out gambitted Drefsab.
To elaborate on that last one, Drefsab was the only Lizard who understood The Plan. He'd set off a revolt in Croatia in hopes that Hitler would send Skorenzy to pacify the Croats. However, Skorenzy got wise to the assassination plot. One plan of his own later, Drefsab is bailing out of a useless helicopter and ducking behind the nearest cover. The same cover Skorenzy was behind. The alien realizes he's fucked just as Skorenzy pulls the trigger.
In his Homeward Bound, the eighth novel following the beginning of his Worldwar series, humanity has been mostly conquered by alien overlords (the only independent human nations are: the US, Nazi Germany, the UK, Canada, the Soviet Union, and Japan... and Japan, The UK, and Germany aren't doing very well) then has proceeded to go through more technological development in the next 50 years than the alien invaders managed in a thousand times that. They then send a starship to the aliens' homeworld, interstellar travel previously being the exclusive domain of the aliens, and, while the aliens are discussing killing humanity off for safety's sake, they send another. And this one has FTL. Which the alien scientists refuse to believe is possible even after they see it. It ends with the Race regretting profusely that they ever invaded Earth, and getting ready to try to catch up to the people they deemed total barbarians 50 years before. Heck, the entire series is one, single, coherent Moment of Awesome for humanity.
Nita takes several magical blasts from The Lone Power without even flinching in Diane Duane's High Wizardry.
And then she reveals that she's powering that shield with a year of her life per shot.
The climax of So You Want to Be a Wizard falls under this trope, especially Nita's reading of the Book of Night with Moon to keep all of New York (and the world, and the universe) in existence, and the coming to life of all the trees and statuary in the city, including Prometheus of Rockefeller Center and the lions from the Public Library steps. ...and it's all frickin' incredible.
And then Nita finds the Lone Power's name in the Book that controls and sustains the universe...and edits it
Ed the Master Shark from Deep Wizardry oozes raw awesome. Especially at the end of the book when He sacrifices himself in place of Nita, which results in the gathering of many many sharks which proceed to attack the avatar of the Lone Power.
Dairine had hers in High Wizardry when she stops the UNIVERSE EXPANDING to provide more light!
In A Wizard Alone Darryl manages to trick the Lone Power into being trapped in a universe he created himself!
Ronan gets his own Moment of Awesome in Wizards at War. Three words: "But I would!"
Nita's mother in The Wizard's Dilemma.
Anytime someone says "Fairest and fallen, greetings and defiance", you are pretty much assured that a Moment of Awesome is coming.
Almost all the wizards in Ireland, wielding four legendary weapons (including a spear they forged by channeling the heart of a star) marching to war in the Lone Power's alternate world based on Irish mythology. When one of the weapons is destroyed and it seems like they've lost, they're given a chance to win by a tiny white kitten getting up and calling the Lone Power out with epic poetry.
While Wizards at War is so full of Moments of Awesome that everyone gets at least one, Ponch the dog gets one near the very end. Ponch had been growing in intelligence and general power throughout the series because he hung out with Kit and Nita so much. After all of the wizards on earth (excluding the adults who had all become powerless thanks to spreading darkness) were unable to stop the spread of the Pullulus (the darkness), he starts howling and in doing so gathers the strength of every dog in the world, and grows into a gigantic Dog-shaped shadow full of stars. He then proceeds to lay a smackdown on the Pullulus while fulfilling a previously mentioned prophecy: "The Hound taking His old enemy by the throat and throwing him down, yelping, against the floors of heaven."
Please note that the above takes place on the damn MOON.
And of course, it turns out that he wasn't just a dog. He was the Dog Who Is God.
Nita telling off the Lone Power in Wizard's Holiday, then forcing it to do what she says.
Roshaun in Wizard's Holiday when he leaves the protective wizardry bubble to walk into the heart of the sun to fix it, in order to save the planet he claimed he didn't even like (Earth). Coupled with his regal calm, the scene becomes pure Moment of Awesome.
Carmela, despite not being a wizard, gets her fair share of Moments of Awesome. She attacks the Lone Power with a laser eggbeater, stops prickly Roshaun from engaging a bunch of teen punks by holding his hand, and subdues an entire squadron of gun-toting aliens using only a chocolate bar. .
And who could forget Rhiow in The Book of Night With Moon? "WHAT HAS BECOME OF MY CHILDREN?"
Amelia Windrose Earhardt— after a failed escape attempt has left her and her friends imprisoned, fitted with Restraining Bolt, and under constant watch prior to recieving another dose of Laser-Guided Amnesia, Uses Flaw Exploitationon herself to ensure that the memory wipe won't hold.
The entire last half of the third book; Colin discovering The Power of Rock; Victor's true form revealed; Echidna's Mama Bear rampage, in which she takes on ...
Pendrake: "Maybe these supernatural beings are pretty tough. Let's see how the magic of modern science stands up to them. I have the Presidential emergency launch device in my car and can code in new targets. The bad guys foolishly disabled their own ability to override the launch signal. I can hit any spot on the planet. Let's nuke Acheron.
Merlin revoking the powers of a Physical God insisting that, contrary to all evidence, Humans Are Bastards—and telling him to sit down and shut up until they're ready to deal with him.
With not so much a Crowning Moment as a Crowning Reputation of Awesome, Benedict of Amber is known as the best fighter in all the worlds. A perfect illustration is given when his brother Corwin—a man strong enough to lift cars, wrestle with demons, and snap necks with his bare hands; skilled enough to outfight dozens of men at a time, and tough enough to grow his eyes back after being blinded and survive the bubonic plague—finds out that Benedict is coming to get him. Corwin turns and runs.
Corwin himself is the second best fighter of the worlds: which should gives you an idea of Benedict's strength, considering the best warrior after him fear him that much.
Corwin, in chains at his brother's coronation, gets his hands on the crown and promptly dubs himself King of Amber.
In Lord of Light, the duel between Yama and Rild is an exemplar of badassery.
In Steve Alten's Meg series, in the first book, the protagonist Jonas Taylor is swallowed by a megalodon in a bathyspere. While in the meg's stomach, he uses a fossilized megalodon tooth that he keeps as a souvenir to cut through the meg's innards and then CUT ITS HEART OUT.
From the relatively obscure YA series, "The Edge Chronicles", we have a few moments. One such incident has the main character shooting across the world strapped to a burning log (I'm not going to explain the Phlebotinum that makes this possible). It is rumored that the log was made from 50-50 Phlebotinum and Narrativium.
For the curious, the burning log is of a wood that happens to float when burning. Only the bottom was ignited, and in a huge bonfire. It's called "sky-firing" for a reason.
The ending of the very last book in said Chronicles involves the three main protagonists of the previous books teaming up for the first time (despite being generations apart - it's complicated) and obliterating an army of Satan-expy-clones. The Satan-expy himself basically gets his heart torn out and crushed in front of him by the hand of Quint, who'd had several centuries of nursing a grudge.
Gone with the Wind has several awesome moments, but the best one has to be when Melanie (this shy, intellectual woman who everyone thinks is completely spineless) stands up against her own family to defend Scarlett, calling out several of Atlanta's most influential women (and, by extension, their ostracising, oppressive Southern culture.) If anyone but Melanie had done so, they would have been made just as much an outcast as Scarlett; but as things go, Melanie's unyielding defense of her friend sparks a miniature civil war in the town. Her speech is almost enough to make the reader believe that Scarlett is a good person.
In Ran Prieur's "Apocalypsopolis" (just go to www.ranprieur.com and check the sidebar), the Author Avatar character decides to bring down the American government using a disease he has an immunity to. He gets caught by security forces, interrogated, "forcibly questioned", and then passes out, upon which he is visited by a gang of extremly symbolicSufficiently Advanced Aliens. And then pwns them.
The Hot Fudge Sundae, which comes on Tuesday. How the Hammer got this nickname is both awesome and mildly silly.
"But we used to control the lightning!"
In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Footfall, the Orion drive human spaceship. Pansy anti-nuclear activists, take that! The lift-off of the warship Michael (named for the archangel) itself is made of awesome. If you haven't read the book and don't understand what the big deal is, take a moment to learn what an Orion Drive is. Now picture one of these, big enough to carry space shuttles as fighters, lifting off and going to Earth orbit using just its main drive. The narration describes what it was like inside the ship: "God was knocking, and he wanted in bad."
Pretty much everything Kissur Whitefalcon ever says or does in Yulia Latynina's Wizards and Ministers and Insider. Literally: a few contemplative or romantic moments aside, he can't seem to be able to appear in a scene without doing something utterly awesome. But the finest has to be the culmination of "Wizards and Ministers", where, after failing to persuade the agents of the Federation of the Twelve to use their technology to bring about a quick end to the current civil war in the Empire of Veya (where the novels are set; at the moment he also happens to be the Prime Minister of Veya) he stole one of their super-modern planes with the help of a countryman with very minor flying experience, waited for them to extract the Emperor of Veya from captivity as part of their plan, proclaimed that from now on, as a soldier in the Veyan army, he only followed the orders of Kissur and bombed the hell out of the rebel camp, destroying the main rebel army and the entire rebel leadership. Then he crash-landed the plane and moved as fast as he could to the capital, where he immediately gave everyone in the palace a Breaking Speech. And then he committed suicide because he felt insulted by the Emperor's earlier mistrust, by throwing a knife in his chest with maximum precision after scaring everyone by seeming to threaten the Emperor. And then, thanks to advanced Federation technology, he got better in time for the epilogue, during which he reaffirmed his bonds of friendship with the resident Magnificent Bastard, to the explicit sheer horror of everyone else. Breathtaking.
There is also CounsellorArfarra. An outlaw from the Empire who plots to bring a kingdom conquered by a proud warrior race back to the said Empire (a militarily weak state without its own regular army). Using just his brain and some technology, that everyone else in this land sees as magic. That includes drugging and hypnotizing the royal court, so they see him walk in heaven and talk to gods; killing enemy soldiers with "demons" which happen to be poison gas; building a dam stuffed with dynamite and blowing it up at the right moment, to flood a rebellious city and demonstrate the "wrath of the Golden Emperor."
The first public appearance of the Spartans in Halo: The Fall of Reach. "We're going to kill every single alien on this planet."
In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the character Randle Patrick McMurphy is awesome pretty much the whole way through, but one point about 100 pages from the end of the book really does it. Near the end of another meeting with the Big Nurse and the other patients, McMurphy strolls up to where the Nurse is sitting, next to the glass window the patients' restricted cigarette cartons are behind. McMurphy puts his hand right through the glass to take one. "I'm sure sorry, ma'am," he said. "Gawd but I am. That window glass was so spick and span I com-pletely forgot it was there." He then returned to his chair and lit up a smoke.
Eye of the Needle: Lucy, after a grueling night holding off the assault from German spy Heinrich, is about to throw in the towel when it seems he's finally gotten to use the house's radio and can hold her at gunpoint if she enters the room. Then she sees the U-boat he's transmitting to and realizes just how big the stakes are (before, she thought he was "just" a serial killer) and blows out the house's power by unscrewing a light bulb and jamming her fingers in the socket. In front of her three-year-old son. Numerous characters remark on this badassery afterwards.
In Against the Odds the final book in a series, one of the characters shuts up a room full of arguing politicians. What makes this awesome is that she was considered a fluffhead for most of the series.
The books of James Clavell's Asian Saga have quite a few:
Everything that John Blackthorne in Shogun does basically qualifies as one of these. What's doubly impressive about this is that he was actually a real guy, and though the story takes some embellishments, he actually was the only European ever declared a samurai, and it was done personally by the most powerful feudal lord in Japan's history.
In particular, when he threatens to commit seppuku in front of Yabu and Omi and since they think he's bluffing, they call him on it. Omi is just barely able to stop Blackthorne, by grabbing the blade with his bare hands, and then after Yabu gives in, Blackthorne gets up and just walks away.
It took Blackthorne a very long moment to psychologically adjust to still being alive after having actually commenced his deathstroke with the full expectation of dying.
Mariko's last letter to Blackthorne, and the dream it inspires.
The end of chapter one is definitely one for Headman Mura. Facing a man twice his size and capable of the stuff mentioned above being pissy about taking a bath, Mura instantly paralyzes him with two well-timed jabs and forcibly bathes him. And then he, his mother, and his wife take turns discussing the size of Blackthorne's erection.
Buntaro shooting four arrows at a target he can't even see, all of them hitting dead on after passing through the same hole in the house's paper door. While drunk off his ass. Blackthorne, who really doesn't like the guy, immediately gives an order that the arrows are not to be removed, as a testament to his skill.
In Tai-Pan, Culum Struan had a Crowning Moment at the very end of the book when he orders his late father's Big Guy to go aboard his father's nemesis's flagship and fetch his fiancée.
And Jamie McFay had one in Gai-Jin just after Malcolm's death when he confronts Norbert Greyforth and punches him right in the face for insulting Malcolm.
Magnificent Bastard Grendel in John Gardner's Grendel seems to be at his best during the sequence when he starts pelting Unferth in the face with apples, breaking his nose while mocking his concept of being a hero. Then when Unferth drags himself through the nightmarish swamp to get to Grendel's lair, and proceeds to give a lengthy speech about dying as a hero before passing out, Grendel almost kills him...before realizing that leaving Unferth alive is far greater punishment than anything else he could do to him. He then carries him back, unharmed, to the humans' castle and deposits him gently on the doorstep...and then kills two of the guards, "Just so as not to be misunderstood." I mean...just wow.
In The First Law, Logen Ninefingers gets one of these every time he becomes the Bloody-Nine, but his best performance came in the third book when he killed Fenris the Feared.
"What's my name? White Dow?"
The miserable Glokta gets his when he finally does the decent thing and saves Ardee's life through marriage, instigating his first and only decent act in the whole story.
Achamian gets ambushed by nine enemy sorcerers and still takes out four of them before being captured. He subsequently tears apart the compound they were holding him in, defeats a demon summoned to hold him off, and then tracks down and ironically blinds his torturer. At another point, he defeats the Grandmaster of a rival School, and then proceeds to lay into an army.
Anasûrimbor Kellhus gets many of these. At one point in battle he starts what looks to be a weird twisting dance. It's only when the observer gets hit that he realises that Kellhus is dodging around a hail of arrows. Later in the same battle Kellhus is charged by a significant part of the Fanim army. "They came galloping toward the circle described by his sword."
Ikurei Xerius, of all people, gets a pretty good one with his conversation-ending one-liner to Maithanet in the second book.
And the much-overlooked Coithus Saubon, killing seven of the Fanim prince's elite guard single-handedly in the first real battle of the Holy War.
In Jo Graham's novel Black Ships, the protagonist is the priestess of the goddess of death. One morning, spurred on by a vision, she runs towards her city, only to discover that it's being invaded. When she arrives — dressed in ceremonial attire that makes her look like the goddess in question — she screams at the men to stop, yelling, "On your knees to Death!" And it works. Every combatant sinks to his knees.
Red Storm Rising has two- NATO's opening attack involving the F-19 Ghostrider stealth fighter and the "Time on Target" chapter, where submarines launch Tomahawks with a launch timed to destroy the "Backfire" forces as they are landing.
Only two? "For my little Svetlana, who died without a face." * Bang*
In The Rosetta Key By William Dietrich, Ethan Gage, after being shot at with his own gun by his nemesis Najac, fights his way through an entire Napoleonic French Platoon with nothing but a metal bar in less then 60 seconds, and then surving as Najac fires on him at point blank range - with the ramrod still in the barrel. Gage survives and proceeds to use the ramrod in his chest to pierce the other mans heart - Of course, the only reason he survived the ramrod was because it had hit a gold cylinder he had kept in his shirt..
And also when Captain Yvette Deladrier does the impossible and stops a space ship to wait for some incoming troops. "If the Almighty ever needs someone's help to keep the stars in their courses, I know where He can look."
Older Than Print: The original legend of Beowulf spends some time telling the reader about just how piss-your-pants scary and dangerous the monster Grendel was. Beowulf shows up and proves how badass he is by tearing Grendel's arm off and beating it to nearly to death with it.
The Icemark Chronicles, an awesome trilogy of books which doesn't get nearly enough love, has more than a few. One that springs to mind is Tharaman-Thar, the King of the Snow Leopards, surviving a huge explosion and going on to wrestle a Triceratops to death.
Pretty much everything Oskan ever did. He has shown his willingness to die for his home and his loved ones no less than once per book if my memory is accurate. In the first book, he calls down lightning to kill a portion of the invading army that was about to kill Thirrin, despite knowing full well it would probably kill him. When the allies arrive, his ringing of the bell and alerting the defenders of this fact is pure awesomeness. In the third book, when death finally comes for him, he accepts it with unrivaled dignity, greeting it warmly, as if a friend.
On the same note, the Vampire King is also awesome personified. He's even awesome from beyond the grave.
The Vampire Queen gets one in the last book, where she responds to Cronus rhetorical question about how his plan is flawless with "Yes."
Two of Paksenarrion's scenes in that novel. The first comes after she's spent five days at the mercy of the priests of the god of torture and torment in exchange for their releasing the true heir to the throne of a nearby country along with his squires. She's had pretty much everything done to her that it's possible to do to someone at a medieval tech level, in front of a crowd of hundreds of worshippers of said god. At the very end of it the priests haul her up and force her onto her (broken, burnt, bound) knees in front of the crowd, the following exchange takes place:
Priest of Liart: And now, paladin? Where is your lord's protection now?''
Paks: The High Lord has dominion. Gird has upheld me here; I have not failed. * passes out from the pain*
The second occurs a chapter or two later in a town that the followers of Liart have been terrorizing:
Village elder: Paladin, are you? You come here and tell us to fight, and then you'll go away, and it will start again. What do you know about that, eh? Fancy armor, fancy horse, fancy sword. You never lay bound on Liart's altar! It's easy for you!
Paks: * takes off helmet, revealing her shaved, scarred, generally horribly maltreated head* You're wrong. And this is the proof of it.
Village elder: * opens mouth, shuts mouth, says nothing*
There is a moment in the sixth book, Raiders of Gor. Most of the book is set in the city of Port Kar, wretched hive of scum and villainy by the sea. In the swords-and-no-sorcery world of Gor, each city has a Home Stone, a small rock which is to the city what a flag is to a nation on Earth, multiplied by a thousand. Except Port Kar, which has never had one. Late in the book, word arrives that an enemy city has sent a massive invasion fleet, which will arrive in a few days. Reaction in Port Kar is virtually unanimous: everybody decides to run away. Then amidst all of the chaos one of the strongmen in the city tells a slave-boy to bring him a rock. He takes out his knife and crudely carves "PK" on it and then holds it up and declares it to be the Home Stone of the city. And people stop. And the word spreads. And people on their way out of the city stop, and start to come back. And in about one hour, the situation has changed from panicked every-man-for-himself flight to "Hey you, invaders — bring your sorry asses over here so we can kick them all over the place." And they do. Awesome.
In the Tom Swift IV novel "Mind Games", Tom and company are playtesting a new computer-assisted Tabletop RPG, "Galaxy Masters"; unfortunately, the DM playing the villain Dedstorm is a Munchkin supreme, and he has the tactics to back up his blowhard demeanor. In the grand finale, Tom hits upon two GameBreakers that turn the entire game around (and expose some nasty problems with the game mechanics): he destroys one of the game's MacGuffins, both of which are needed for the villain to win (but only one is required for the heroes), and when the heroes are backed into a corner by Dedstorm's legion of Energy Wraiths, with Tom's lone weapon short on power, he comes up with an unorthodox combination of function cylinders (that basically involves duct-taping them together in order to circumvent the fact that they're not supposed to be turned backwards) that turns the weapon into an energy vacuum, sucking up the Wraiths and recharging his gun. When the DM realizes Tom has him beat, he leaves the table, whining "it's just a stupid game".
In Stephen King's Firestarter, Charle McGee getting shot at... and vaporizing the bullet in midair just before she does the same to the man who fired it. She then proceeds to prove to her captors just how bad an idea it was to mess with a pyrokinetic. The whole scene ends with her sinking her power into a lake, evaporating it, and looking through the steam at the hazed-over sun. She briefly fears she may have affected it directly, but reassures herself that she couldn't possibly do that. And then, a little voice deep inside her says, not yet you can't.
An illustration of Andy being awesome. After Andy utters his threat, the chief rapist tells him, "You do anything like that, and I'll put all eight inches of this steel in your ear. Got it?" This is Andy's response—and he's smiling when he says this:
"I understood what you said. I don't think you understood me. I'm going to bite whatever you stick into my mouth. You can put that razor into my brain, I guess, but you should know that a sudden serious brain injury causes the victim to simultaneously urinate, defecate...and bite down." *pause* "In fact, I understand that the bite reflex is sometimes so strong that the victim's jaws have to be pried open with a crowbar or a jackhandle."
Two men fighting off an enemy biplane by throwing custard pies at it, and winning.
A scene where a film director is freed from a German prison by having his friends crash an ocean liner into it.
The SotS novel The Deacon's Tale has several.
Twice Born Prince Chezokin, a member of the breeding caste of a insectile race with an overdeveloped sense of family and for whom reincarnation is a very real possibility for the worthy, when told that he may not participate in the coming battle because he is too important to be sacrificed and because his mother forbade him to join the battle, rips off his own wings, effectively emasculating himself, and declares himself "a person of little consequence." Horrifyingly, the left wing is harder to tear off than the right.
When leading the battle against the psychotic psychic space weasel-badgers who regard mindrape as normal social interaction, his warrior children, armed with flamethrowers, are mind controlled to attack him. He walks through the resulting fireball like it was a summer breeze, emerging incandescent with heat on the other side, stabs the psychotic psychic space weasel-badger that was controlling them, and says "I am the father of the blazing sun. My sons cannot hurt me, massaaku. But I? I can hurt you." shaking the psychotic psychic space weasel-badger for emphasis.
Ezz'in, a young worker of the same insectile race, realizing that the only way that the battle can be won is for him to execute a kamikaze attack against the enemy, reflects that death in service to the Queen wasn't as glorious as those who had already died in her service had led him to believe.
When Cai Rui, the main character, is offered a place of power in the Consortia, declines because "I can't resist being a man in black."
Robert Harris's Imperium chronicles the rise to power of Cicero, perhaps the greatest orator of Roman times. Naturally, the book is full of Awesome. The greatest moment comes when Cicero takes on his rival Hortensius in court, with the jury stacked against him and little time to make his case. He responds by changing the rules, pulling the rug out from under Hortensius, leaving him all but speechless before the parade of damning evidence that follows.
Similar to the last one, Colleen McCullough Masters of Rome series is a massive chronicle of the last decades of the Roman Republic, in which Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Cicero, and Octavian (among many others) get each plenty of C.M.O.A. For example, in the second novel, The Grass Crown, Marius is sent to parley with barbarian king Mithridates, and convinces him that his much vaster army is useless against Marius's legions, that will kick his ass in battle just because they are Romans. Mithridates retreats. Later in the book, Mithridates gains enough courage to become a nuisance again, and Sulla is sent with a similar mission: the scene is more or less repeated with even more awesomeness on Sulla's side (foreshadowing Sulla's eventual defeat of Marius in a future civil war) and Mithridates retreats once more, scared shitless of facing the Romans in open battle.
In Lost in a Good Book, Thursday is put on trial for changing the ending of Jane Eyre in the previous book... in the courtroom from Kafka's The Trial, a place whose bureaucratic ridiculousness is specifically designed to not allow the defendant a chance in hell to go free. However, Thursday puts everyone off guard by not fighting the court's incompetence as she is meant to, but conceding every single point the prosecution makes, starting from when it gets her name wrong. This causes so much confusion that eventually the prosecuting attorney is arrested, and with no one to prosecute Thursday's trial is delayed and sent to another court. Given that this turns out to be the court of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland this doesn't do her much good, but that one moment is beautiful.
Later in the novel, after she brings Acheron out of his prison in "The Raven" in order to rescue her husband, Thursday gets locked in a room without any writing whatsoever, so that she can't escape into the BookWorld. Miss Haversham comes into the real world looking for her, and gets her out by reading the washing directions on the label of Thursday's pants.
The battle between Yorrick Kaine and The Cat involved bringing fictional characters into the real world to battle each other. Yorrick Kaine "cheats" and brings out the Kraken, which should win him the battle automatically. However, The Cat counters by bringing out The Blue Fairy, who turns him into "a real boy". This leaves Yorrick Kaine without any BookWorld]-based powers, sending the Kraken back into fiction and leaving him stranded in the real world: he lost the battle and his power in both the BookWorld and, by the end of the book, Britain.
The (currently mostly obscure) novels of WWI-era Scottish writer John Buchan have these in spades. Apart from [[The Thirty-Nine Steps his most famous novel and its sequels]],
In Salute to Adventurers, the pirate Red Ringan demolishes a band of thugs...while disguised as a Quaker.
And Scottish grocer Andrew Garvald gets caught, tortured, and nearly killed by Indians, but doesn't let that stop him going off to confront and talk sense into the crazy religious fanatic villain.
In Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Lady Una gets one of these when Redcrosse is on the verge of committing suicide for his sins. She's been in immense danger because of him deserting her to follow The Vamp around as a bodyguard/boytoy, then had to hire King Arthur to rescue him from said villainess, acting supportive and forgiving throughout. But when a bad guy talks Redcrosse into wiping his dishonour out with blood, Una puts her foot down and delivers a concise, well-reasoned series of verbal bitchslaps.
In Sir Walter Scott's novel Rob Roy, Rob Roy's wife Helen Macgregor appears as a blood-curdlingly awesome brigand queen. Her appearance is one long Moment of Awesome, especially when she's having prisoners thrown into Loch Lomond.
Rupert's only real Moment of Awesome comes in Chapter 19 of TPoZ, where he's standing on the battlements above the moat between the woman he has just tried to rape, who has a loaded gun, and the hero, who has a sword. The hero assumes Rupert has a choice between rushing the woman, risking that she'll succeed in shooting him, or backing off - in the hero's direction. Rupert does neither: he bows to the woman, says "I can't kill where I've kissed" and jumps from the battlements into the moat - the only villain to escape and survive into the sequel.
The ultimate Bad Ass moment of Kyon in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya - He domineers over the Data Overmind: Yuki was about to get removed from the SOS Brigade because of her crime of recreating the world as well as being too uncontrollable because of the emotions she developed. As Yuki told Kyon that, he shouts at her "BULLSHIT!" and then threatened the Overmind that if anything happened to Yuki he would recreate the world into one without the Overmind but with Yuki by provoking Haruhi into it with 4 simple words: "I am John Smith."
Earth Logic: The nigh-omnipotent G'deon Karis takes down a fortress singlehandedly, with a ball-pen hammer, with one strike. As one character puts it, after seeing the result (the stones continuing to fall and roll away from each other until not a single one is touching another) "Did you have to do that? Now this wall will never finish falling."
In Mercedes Lackey's novel The Chrome Circle, the hero's kitsune friend Foxtrot Xray (no joke) launches himself at one of the novel's Big Bads in an (ultimately futile) attempt to let the guy go. Noted in that his fellow fox spirits recognized just how badass it was, and promoted him up from three tails to four five. Yes, he was so badass that he was double-promoted.
In Born to Run Tannim took out the big bad, who was a very powerful elf warrior/mage (and producer of child snuff pornography) by bitch-slapping him with a cold iron Ford Mustang.
Also in Born to Run, Foxtrot X-Ray single-handedly routs an entire host of the Unseleighe, any single one of which could have disemboweled him with their toenails, by shapeshifting into the likeness of High King Oberon and bluffing out the entire mob.
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book: Silas is arguing with Bod about Bod being allowed to go into the outside world. Silas presents the argument that if Bod goes, he will have no one to protect him from the man Jack. Bod's response? "It's not a question of who will protect me from him... but who will protect him from me
One Thousand and One Nights is perhaps the only time a Moment of Awesome appears in the Framing Device. Sheherazade single-handedly averts the murderous rage of the King by telling him a story which ends on a cliffhanger so enticing that he has to keep her alive so he can hear the ending. Then she does it a thousand more times until he is cured of his hatred of women.
In Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, despite there being any number of people both motivated and capable, the one who ends up killing the wife-beating, kidnapping rapist Bennett is the sweet, unassuming grandmother Sipsey. With a five-pound skillet to the head, without even a hint of remorse. And then she cuts off his head and buries it in the garden. Her son gets one shortly thereafter when he butchers Bennett and feeds him to the inspectors investigating Bennett's disappearance as barbecue sandwiches.
Reverend Scroggins gets one after years of being the butt of Idgie's pranks when he organizes all the hobos she helped to pose as his congregation to testify to that she and Big George were at a revival meeting the night Frank went missing.
Queen Ehlana gets one in David Eddings's The Sapphire Rose where she basically chooses the one who will become the local equivalent of the Pope in one single speech, without naming him.
To be more specific, Ehlana composed her entire speech before the assembled heads of the church in her head in a single night, using the framework of a prophet touched by God. She not only convinced the entire Heirocracy to select Dolmant as the Archprelate, but won over every other candidate in the building to support him. The only exceptions to this were Dolmant himself, who did not want the job and Makova, who had been bought by the Primate Annias.
Sir Bevier gets one just before that: The captain of one of their enemies' guard is blocking the Church Knights from entering the Basilica. He chops his head off, then leads the ex-captains detachment in praying for the captains soul.
To be more specific, Sir Bevier offered the captain of the guard several opportunities to let the Knights of the Church pass, noting that the captain was ignoring church law by refusing to allow them to pass. Once Sir Bevier had established that he was on firm theological footing, he then lopped the captain's head off with his axe. He then knelt before the nave of the church to pray for God to forgive the captain's soul before leading the rest of the Knights into the Basilica.
Everything that Culture Rapid Offensive Unit Killing Time does in Iain M. Banks's novel Excession, starting at the confrontation at Pittance and carrying all the way through the rest of the book.
Killing Time: Missed, you fuckers!
Shoot Them Later: Dear me, you don't believe in making things easy for people, do you?
Killing Time: I am a warship. That is not my function.
During a fight Killing Time destroys two other starships and thinks afterwards "Entire engagement duration; eleven microseconds".
From the same book, The General Systems Vehicle Sleeper Service turns out to be much less crazy than everyone thought:
I have been rather more constructively employed over the last few decades then might have been imagined.
From the same book, a tiny drone escaping from a hijacked ship and then taking on another race's warship alone (after being damaged from the aformentioned escape) "He dies but the aliens don't realize he burned a warning into their hull"
In the final book of the The Saga of Seven Suns a species that lives in stars, called the Faeros, blow up THE MOON. Heck, practically everyone gets a Moment of Awesome.
Lisbeth Salander has one of these moments in Stieg Larsson's Men Who Hate Women (aka the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). When the villain has imprisoned Mikael Blomkvist in his torture chamber and stripped him naked he leans in and kisses him as an opening to his rape-torture-kill session. Lisbeth appears in the doorway with the line: "Hey you fucking creep, in this little shithole I have monopoly on that." She then proceeds to beat the crap out of the villain using a golf club.
Don't forget her revenge on the man who brutally raped her earlier in the book.
Mikael Blomkvist gets one in the sequel The Girl who played with Fire, where he arranges a meeting with a corrupt ex-cop, who is involved in trafficking of prostitutes, by telling him that he is conducting a consumer survey. When the cop has let him into his house, he produces three photos of Eastern European prostitutes that the cop has had sex with and asks him which one he preferred.
When the cop then offers to spill the beans in exchange for being held out of the papers, Mikael agrees in good conscience - he'll just put him in the book instead.
Lisbeth. Digs. Her. Way. Out. Of. A. Grave. She's been shot in the head and she digs her way out of a fucking grave. And then she puts an axe into her father.Awesome.
Lisbeth is just one giant Moment of Awesome after another.
In the Fingerprints series, Psycho Supporter character Yana Savari purchases a very large knife, with the explanation "I like my marshmallows... thinly sliced." Later on, she demonstrates the real reason she wanted the knife: "I wonder how many cuts it will take for you to die? I bet thousands and thousands..."
The Outlander novels have a few here, suitable for a series with that kind of plot, but there is a certain incident involving Bree. Who while heavily pregnant, in contractions from shock, and, in a prison rigged to burn down-slash-blow up as part of a villainous plan, forced to briefly ally with her RAPIST, manages not just to escape but to escape carrying out her platonic husband/protector who is soaked in blood from a messy head wound and seemingly already dead. Despite her rapist telling her (reasonably) not to bother. It's kind of cool.
Lukyanenko's Night Watch Series has numerous ones. My personal favourite is in Twilight Watch When Anton is facing down this Beyond Categorization Witch and has to expend all his power just to survive, with no hope for actually fighting back or rescuing his kidnapped daughter... And his thoughts are that he just has to hold her until his wife gets there. She does. She kicks ass.
In Flanders Fields is a poem so moving, so tear jerking that it deserves to be printed in full:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
The Talisman has several great moments. When Wolf finally fights back at Sunlight Gardners. Heck has been abusing Jack and Wolf but Jack always stops Wolf from fighting back, knowing it will make it worse. This time it's to much for Wolf. Heck manages to get one huge blow in. Wolf catches Hecks next punch with his hand, engulfing Heck's fist in his own. He whispers to him as he crushes his hand, most likely breaking every bone. Oh yeah, Wolf also didn't really seem to be putting any effort into it.
The Heritage/Legacy/Inheritance trilogies (no, not THAT Inheritance Trilogy) by Ian Douglas are pretty much ever-escalating Crowning Moments for humanity and the Xul. First, the Xul manage to rule the galaxy for ten million years after obliterating the rulers before them. Humanity goes to war against them and manages to avoid being completely wiped out of existence. Then humanity discovers that the Xul have a Dyson Cloud around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Humanity's response is to hit it with a star.
Father Brown in his first appearance. At the beginning of the story he is seemingly kidnapped by Flambeau, the biggest criminal in Europe who is after a blue jewelled cross that Father Brown is transporting. At the end of the story, Father Brown reveals that not only is he not carrying the cross (he switched parcels so it is now winging its way in safety to Rome) and not only did he purposely orchestrate events of the story in order to allow the police to follow them but also that Father Brown knows every villainous trick that Flambeau knows and then some from just listening to criminals in confession. The story ends with a pre-Wayne's World moment of 'we are not worthy' from not only Flambeau but also France's leading detective
A surprisingly placed Moment of Awesome shows up near the end of Philip K Dick's first novel, Solar Lottery. Newly appointed world leader Leon Cartwright has a choice to make: hand world rulership over to classic President Evil Reese Verrick, or Verrick will take advantage of the fact that anyone, any time, is allowed to kill the ruler without fear of death or imprisonment for the low, low price of never being able to become ruler himself. Cartwright's decision? Give Verrick rulership, then immediately shoots him dead before turning to ask the nearby Judge: "Is this legal?" It is.
John Grisham's The Runaway Jury is a Moment of Awesome "Marlee" and "Nicholas" have been planning for years. They basically destroy the tobacco industry's stock value in one fell swoop.
James Patterson's Cat and Mouse: "Look at this can of Coke. Ordinary can of Coke. Your Coke, Simon."
Frank Herbert's The Dosadi Experiment features one long one for hero Jorj X. Mc Kie in it's last two chapters. The aliens known as Gowachin have an absurdly complex and Kafka-esque legal system, and despite Mc Kie's extensive training in their practices, he's barely able to survive a meeting with a Gowachin attorney early in the book. By the end, his experiences have made him far more hardened and pragmatic, and upon entering a Gowachin courtroom he's able to play the whole system like a violin to see that the guilty are all punished, and set in motion some pretty big changes to come (unfortunately, Author Existence Failure means we don't get to see those plans come to fruition).
The climax of The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce. Aeriel refuses to kill the darkangel and chooses instead to redeem him - by cutting out her own heart and placing it in his chest to replace the one that was coated in lead by the witch. The duarough gets one that follows up her romantic sacrifice with a Crowning Moment of Logical Thought. He holds the lead heart over a lamp and melts the lead off it, then puts that in her chest to bring her back to life.
Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant novels are chock full of Crowning Moments of Awesome. It'll take a while to list them all.
The citizens of Marianstat get a huge one at the end of Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy. After months of hardship under a usurping tyrant, the common people get pushed too far and start an uprising so fast that both the royalist resistance and the revolutionaries can barely keep up. The reinstated queen acknowledges their awesome by abdicating in their favor right after she gets her throne back.
Kidah in the Caretaker Trilogy shows us all why he is the big hero of the future in the climactic battle of the second book. The Big Bad points some sort of tower-mounted laser at him, and his response? He throws his torch into the air, somehow converts it into an EMP burst, and then directs lightning, with what is described as an "apocalyptic peal of thunder", into striking the tower, which pretty much vaporizes it. All this while telepathically directing such things as colonies of army ants to attack enemy soldiers and immense swarms of gnats to take down helicopters.
Anita Blake: No, I'm not kidding- but it's not Anita who get the Moment of Awesome, it's Jean-Claude. After the patient Master of the City spent about ten books listening to his triumvirate-mates Anita and Richard bicker, whine, rage, and bicker some more, he gets fed up in The Harlequin and stops Anita and Ricard Squabble #709870 cold by laying the magical slapdown on both of them and then reading them the riot act while they cower on the floor in fear of his newfound badassedry. Totally awesome.
The Mistborn Trilogy has a surprisingly large number, almost all caused by the large amount of attention given to the action scenes. The best is probably from the first book, where the leader of the rebellion, Kelsier, fights a Steel Inquisitor (assumed to be functionally immortal until then) and wins; killing it with its own axe while surrounded by a whirling maelstrom of metal. Immediately after this he confronts the known-to-be-immortal (and revered as a deity for his immense power) leader of the evil empire; staring him down while smilling at him to show that, while he knew he couldn't win, he'd still refuse to let the Lord Ruler take happiness away from his life. He gets crushed in a single punch... only to reveal a few hours later that his death was only the beginning; acting as a catalyst that directly led to the fall of the entire evil empire.
Off the top of my head, Mistborn 3 has two: When Vin is becoming a god and kills twelve Inquisitors in about two minutes—keep in mind these are super buffed-up Inquisitors. Second, when Elend comes out with the atium-burning army.
The former scene is made even more awesome when she Pushes herself well above the city,and even above the mists, and then completely annihilates Kredik Shaw creating a massive crater.
The scene where Sazed goes mega-pewter-hulk and kills a few dozen koloss while wearing a loincloth is pretty much the archetype of this trope for me. Not to mention that it's one of his several instances of Let's Get Dangerous.
"You know, if you think about it, humans aren't really built for speed. But dogs are." I love you, TenSoon.
Sanderson's first book, Elantris, had an awesome moment. In the book's finale, Dilaf begins the massacre of Arelon and Teod, and is about to slit Sarene's throat. At this point, Hrathen finally figures out that, hey, maybe the Dakhor are the bad guys here, and punches Dilaf. Hrathen, at this point, is unarmed, possessing only the ceremonial armor of his station, which is traditionally paper-thin. Dilaf is a psychotic monk whose bone structure makes him nigh-invulnerable. Dilaf stabs Hrathen, only to get an Oh Crap moment when the dagger slides off of Hrathen's supposedley fragile armor.
Dilaf: But... that armor is just for show...
Hrathen: You should know by now, Dilaf." *Smashes Dilaf's face in* Nothing I do is just for show.
Hrathen is indeed a walking imbodiment of awesome in the shell of a man. Points go to the others protags too, when they bring the magic back and tell off the king, respectively.
Sanderson does it again in The Way Of Kings. At the end when Kaladin utters the second oath of the Knights Radiant, and then he and Bridge Four, less then 30 fighting men in all, most of whom have no experience in actual battle, proceed to take on an entire army, saving the lives of Dalinar, Adolin and several thousand of their men. is one of them.
Dalinar has many throughout the book, but his biggest is giving up his Shardblade in exchange for all of the bridgemen.
And continues right after, when he visits the king, his nephew. King Elkohar starts whining that rumors are swirling that his his widowed mother and his widower uncle are renewing a youthful relationship. Dalinar proceeds to beat the snot out of the royal person, who had been overly suspicious of every shadow, and details the loyalty of the royal guard. Explaining his own loyalties, that he could have killed the king at any time, but didn't because he loves Elkohar like a son. But the final moment of that scene...
Dalinar: Oh, and Elhokar? Your mother and I are now courting. You'll want to start growing accustomed to that.
Yet more Sanderson goodness in Warbreaker, Susebrontaking lots and lots of levels in badass after Lightsong sacrifices his life to heal his severed tongue. Three words, "You will stop!", Also, just prior to that, when we see exactly how much destruction Nightblood can cause when drawn and wielded.
The Lies of Locke Lamora: where to start? Locke escaping from the Duke's spymaster while ten stories up a tower filled with secret police who know who he is? The brutal To the Pain he deals out to the Falconer? The final duel with the Gray King? Or hey, let's talk about how he pulled off a con by telling the mark exactly what was going on. And to give someone besides Locke credit, there's Jean killing the Berangias twins, two women who make their living fighting sharks.
I'm gonna go with punching an old lady in the teeth. He had reasons, but really, the action just sorta stands on its own.
At the climax of the Baccano!light novelDrugs and Dominoes, Luck Gandor prevents Eve Genoard from shooting Gustavo by putting his wrist in the path of the bullet, getting his hand blown off in the process - then turns around and gouges out Gustavo's throat with the broken bones of his own severed hand, holding on to consciousness afterward long enough to not only deliver a contemptuous Bond One-Liner but also to make sure that Eve is okay.
He also gets one just a few minutes before, where he convinces nearly all of Gustavo's men into abandoning him and getting the hell out — all while entirely unarmed and undoubtedly outgunned. Then, when Gustavo responds by trying to his head off with a shotgun, Luck takes it like the classy sonabitch he is just to see the look on his face when he comes back up thirty seconds later.
The Saga of Darren Shan, in Killers of the Dawn when fighting Steve, the Lord of the vampaneze and Gannen, Mr.Crepsley does a backflip onto a bar, feet above a pit of flames and stakes, with his enamies right behind him. And it swiftly rolls into Crowning Moment of Heartwarming...
In Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy, spacecraft cannot operate their FTL jump-drive within any significant gravitational field. Trapped deep inside a gas giant planet's gravity well with the hounds of hell at his heels, Our Hero Captain Joshua Calvert cheats this limitation by hitting the switch as he flies through the Lagrange L1 point, where the planet's gravity is exactly cancelled out by the nearest large moon. He is nicknamed "Lagrange" Calvert thereafter.
No love for Gore's fight with the Starflyer Assassin in Judas Unchained from the Commonwealth Saga? Brainwashed assassin plus angry papa/grandpapa-wolf, plus all the implanted high tech technology money can buy = one awesome fight sequence.
In the second book of R.A. Salvatore's "The Cleric Quintet", we've spent a book and a half without seeing magic from the supposed cleric hero. As he's holding in the guts of a friend that just saved his life along with the life of the prince, he attempts to heal for the first time. Nothing happens and he yells to his god "Damn you Denir if you don't help me now!"
In Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments trilogy, Simon undoubtedly got one in City of Bones when he pretty much silences the Shadowhunters' dismissal of his "mundane" status by destroying a Greater Demon. By firing a standard bow-and-arrow, smashing out a skylight, and killing the thing none of the other three trained Shadowhunters could kill...with direct sunlight. It was so...frickin'...badass.
Also, in the second book of the series, City of Ashes, Jace tops all his impressive physical and battle feats with an emotional Moment of Awesome when hesaves Simon's life by slitting his wrist and letting Simon drink his blood until he was recovered, even though he knew Simon could easily kill him this way.
Also in City of Ashes, Clary gets her own when she taps into the true potential of her rune power by drawing a rune that completely destroys Valentine's ship. She reduces it to scrap metal.
Part of Cinda Williams Chima's Heir trilogy, The Warrior Heir has an absolutely stunning conclusion anyway...to-the-death duel, close calls, dramatic thunder-and-lightning atmosphere, even a Heel-Face Turn. But what puts the icing on the cake is Ellen Stephenson's Moment of Awesome, arguably her best one in the entire trilogy.
Wylie: Kill him now! This is what you've training your whole life for, Ellen! You're a killer! You were raised to destroy!
(Ellen draws her sword and places its point at his throat).
Ellen: Be careful what you wish for.
In Sunwing, Shade the bat gets not one, but two Moments of Awesome:
He uses echoprojection to make himself look like the Big Bad, Goth, who is also in the room, leading to having everyone figure out which Goth is the real one. It means that he has finally mastered echoprojection, a very hard skill only a few such as him can do and has been worked on for the past two books in the series. After a while, Goth sees through his facade, cuts through the sound, and Shade reworks himself into a vulture.
Once Goth is finally destroyed, his faithful assistant/lackey Voxzaco tries to finish the work Goth failed at: killing bats to make sacrifices to their god, Cama Zotz. He tosses a bomb to the ground and Shade performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save everyone by using sound to keep it from falling, while everyone else gets outside. Good thing he survives.
In Flinx Transcendent, Alan Dean Foster's final novel in the Flinx and Pip series, the titular hero singlehandedly convinces the AAnn, centuries-long enemies of mankind, to suspend all hostile activity in the face of the oncoming Ultimate Evil, by brazenly walking into their seat of government in disguise and sending the Emperor and his entire council on an astral projection without their consent.
The first use of the Battle Calculor and then, much later, the defeat of the Alspring knock-off
Zarvora Cybeline's real plan - First, she becomes Highliber. Next, she uses the calculor's abilities to take control of Rochester, and then more or less the entire south of Australia, so she has the resources to put together some working rockets. With them (and the Calculor), she tricks the ancient orbital battlestations that EMP any electronics they detect on the ground into firing on the sunshade being assembled around the planet by ancient Nano Machines, cutting it to pieces.
and then Mirrorsun gets a Crowning Moment of its own when it repairs itself over the next few weeks, plays around with lenses, and then melts, pulverises or blows up each and every one of those battlestations. Which allows the librarians to reinvent radio, call it up and politely ask it to please stop freezing the planet. And send some toys from its lunar nanofactories.
Dan Simmons's Illium: Hector and Achilles decide that they've had enough of being playthings of the gods and team up. In one of the last scenes, the armies of gods and humans are lined up against each other, ready for battle, and Achilles walks forth to meet Zeus...
Zeus: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY BEFORE YOU AND YOUR SPECIES DIE?
Achilles: Surrender now, and we'll spare your goddesses's lives so that they can be our slaves and courtesans.
In Wicked, Glinda, while still a student, magically pulls an old woman back from the brink of death. Why, oh why did the musical have to make her incompetent as a witch (er, sorcess)?
Elphaba gets several, though they are dwarfed by the failures she often grieves over.
Freeing the Cowardly Lion Cub.
Rescuing Chistery from across a river in spite of her Weaksauce Weakness (By freezing it!).
Killing Madame Morrible (Erm, maybe).
Inspiring enough people to create the Arc Words for the rest of the series: "Elphaba Lives."
Captain Kacey Bathlick is doing supply/ambulance duty via helo for the embattled Keldara troops when she gets her new keldara crew chief blasted in two by a 12.7mm bullet flying over a high pass guarded by three bunkers occupied by hostiles. In response she gets in the other helo, which has been rigged with a full weapons system, goes back to the pass and utterly annihilates the bunkers and the men manning them to the point where all that is left is three smoking craters. While playing metal on the external speakers.
Heh, and Chief D'Aillard gets one for making the busted up helo flightworthy again (the men in the bunkers did shoot back after all; every damage indicator on that wasn't red was yellow) in just a bit over two hours with only two trained techs and some willing but untrained volunteers to help him.
Oleg, one of the Keldara team leaders, gets one leg badly mauled below the knee by mortar shrapnel. Since they are in fixed positions he doesn't have to move, but he needs to be able to lead/direct his men and the pain from the injured leg prevents him from doing that. His solution? Have a fellow Keldara cut of the injured leg just above the knee and put a tourniquet on it. Aer Keldar! indeed.
The charge of the Kildar. Even for Ghost, that was awesome.
Lasko, the Keldara designated hunter and sniper of nigh supernatural skill makes a truly stupendous shot, killing a target at 2782 meters, live on international television. However, he himself acknowledge that it was as much luck as skill at that range. His realCrowning Moment of Awesome comes in the next book, A Deeper Blue. He takes out four targets in four seconds but because they want them alive he shoots them in the knee, on pure skill. He is in a helicopter, they are in a powerful speedboat dancing over the waves. Think about that for a moment. Four knees, four bullets, four seconds, with target and shooter moving in multiple dimensions simultaneously.
Father Kulcyanov gets one in the backstory, where it is revealed that among other things, during WWII, he took out four german tanks with a captured german rocket launcher, by himself, on foot. This sort of thing isn't even uncommon among the Keldara.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has one in pretty much every zombie attack, but perhaps the biggest doesn't involve them at all: Elizabeth, her Chinese combat training having been disparaged by Lady Catherine, faces off against three of the Lady's Japanese ninjas. She blindfolds herself before the match and promptly kills all three of them, including strangling one with his own intestines and ripping out another one's heart and taking a bite.
Mariam in Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns gets one when she stops Rasheed from strangling Laila by finally giving what's been coming to him every single moment he's been in the book, and killing him once for all. And then, she manages to top it by surrendering herself to the Taliban police, getting herself executed, so that Laila could escape with her children and live with Tariq in Pakistan, managing a Moment of Awesome and a Tear Jerker at the same time.
Ashe from Elizabeth Hayden's Rhapsody has a good one. Ashe is a generally mild-mannered, pushover character who fights constantly to keep the greedy, self-centered, destructively-oriented "dragon" side of his nature under control. He lets it off the leash only once during the series, to exact vengeance on a traitor. He then sets fire to a forest (with his mind), walks through the flames untouched, corners the traitor, and turns him inside out in an attempt to get information about his master's whereabouts, all the while coolly ignoring the traitor's pleas for mercy. This is made all the more awesome by the fact that the traitor believes he can use his nature staff to banish Ashe from the forest. Ashe (the one who truly controls the power supposedly inherent in the staff), responds by setting the staff on fire.
Morriga Dagnon from Luke "Thrythlind" Green's Greenwaternovels had one of these in the second book when she shot an arrow through a space-warping dimensional portal and caught the casting Ether-Caster in the eye through the slit of an armored helmet all based on memory of having seen the ritual cast by her unit's Ether-Caster about four to six hours previous.
Tad Williams's Tailchasers Song - Tailchaser almost single-pawedly takes on one of feline kind's three gods in his quest to merely be reunited with his mate Hushpad.
Everything Jack Shaftoe does in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle? And Eliza with the harpoon, and what about the duel at the Tower of London?
Edwin Windsor, protagonist(/antagonist, depending on your viewpoint) of How to Succeed in Evil is nearly a walking Crowning Moment. The conclusion of the story is perhaps his defining moment of character, however, as he calmly speaks to the fallen Superhero Excelsior, showing him through words and pictures that his entire life as a Hero has been a sham and that he has caused far more death in the world than he has prevented and convinces him the only way to salvage his reputation would be to be buried alive under a million tons of concrete.
Towards the end of Stephen King's The Stand, Glen Bateman—an old, cynical sociology professor—laughs at Randall Flagg. In his face. His line is basically, "THIS is what we've been afraid of all this time?!" Later, Glen is shot by Flagg's right-hand man, and his last words are, "That's okay, son. You don't know any better." And this contributes to Flagg's utter meltdown in the end of the book.
The climax of His Majesty's Dragon has two. Napoleon Bonaparte deserves one for having the sense to bypass the British command of the Channel outright via dragonborne troop carriers while drawing off the experienced formations of the Aireal Corps down to Spain. As a result of it young Temerare and his captain Laurence end up fighting a battle to fend off the landing that they cannot hope to win... then the former's breath weapon, the aptly named Divine Wind emerges.
Laurence also gets one a little bit earlier when Hollin informs him Levitas is dying. Laurence goes down to the officers' club, frog-marches Rankin out the door, telling the admiral and other captains that "Captain Rankin begs to be excused", and orders Rankin to give Levitas every bit of praise he's ever deserved before he dies. Then, to cap it all off, he goes to Lenton and tells him he'd rather see a dragon dead than in Rankin's hands, and secures the new captaincy for Hollin, the former harness-tender.
Admiral Jane Roland's entrance into the war council in Victory of Eagles, covered in blood after she broke her sword into a French officer's chest.
And Jane again in the same book, bitching out Laurence for committing treason when all he had to do was slip the antidote to one of the French officers, instead of barging into Loch Laggan, stealing it, and landing Temeraire smack in the middle of the French lines.
Off Armageddon Reef has the Kingdom of Charis using the technological innovations introduced by Merlin Athrawes to absolutely curb stomp the combined naval might of the entire rest of the world. Two books later and Charis' opponents are still trying to recover.
By Schism Rent Asunder Archbishop Maikel Staynair survives an attempted assassination and immediately proceeds to give a sermon about forgiveness and not giving in to revenge.
We can't leave out Dynnys Erayk, who undergoes a Heel-Face Turn while getting reaquainted with the true meaning of his faith while in prison for treason as the church's scapegoat. He faces horrific torture unless he publically repents his actions in exchange for a quick death, and agrees...then uses his time in public to declare that the accusations against Charis were all lies and the fault lay in the church being corrupt enough to use them for an excuse to invade.
By Heresies Distressed gives us the last stand of Empress Sharleyan's Imperial Guard, fighting and dying to the last man to protect Sharleyan's life, being given cover fire by Sharleyan herself, and delaying the attempted assassins long enough for Merlin to arrive on the scene and save the Empress and the Guard's sole survivor.
A Mighty Fortress gives us Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda, who successfully smuggled over 200 potential victims of the Inquisition to safety, some right out of the temple city of Zion, by a combination of Crazy Preparedness and a level of Refuge in Audacity that left Cayleb "almost reverent." The first stage of this plan: Smuggle people aboard iceboats carrying shipping with Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn's name on it, ensuring that nobody would dare disturb it.
Have Courage, Hazel Green! has a brilliant Moment of Awesome in the courtyard scene.
Since no one's mentioned anything by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., in Darknesses, Alucius, after beating two ifrits and wrecking their Tables, and after being discharged from the military, has twenty assassins sent after him. He realizes they're there, rides right into the trap, and kills them all.
Kirsten Cashore's Graceling: At the end of Part 1, Katsa is brought in front of King Randa for disobeying orders. She proceeds to tell him that she's not going to work for him any more, she won't consent to being imprisoned or killed, and exactly how she will deal with the 200 royal guards in the room if they try.
Sax Russell reaches similar levels of preparation for the second revolution. He sets up engines on Deimos and silos full of surface-to-space missiles to ensure that within hours of the revolution starting the Martians are in full control of Mars orbital space.
A Good Clean Fight by Derek Robinson: The German army has sent a force out into the desert to intercept the SAS patrols that have been raiding their airfields. They do eventually manage to find the SAS, but it doesn't quite work out as planned. The Germans have superior numbers, plus mortars and heavy machine guns. The SAS have two commandos with knives and pistols. Obviously the Germans never stand a chance.
The first section of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" catalogs death, drugs, madhouses, and just about every physical and mental torture the beats experienced, yet in the last few lines we learn that all of this is utterly worth it, because it has inspired POETRY that "blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love". Now that is some powerful verse.
In Frank E. Peretti's This Present Darkness, the angel Guilo gets one at the end when his captain allows him to sound the victory in his place.
Marshall has a few good ones, but toward the end, he runs into Shawn, the guy who had led his daughter into a cult and had been helping the others try to force her to ceremonially kill herself. Marshall doesn't say a word, just punches the little bastard's lights out then and there.
If you're familiar with the Young Adult novel Speak, then you are lying if you did not cheer when you read three little words:
Sophos finally gets his moment in the action climax of Megan Whalen Turner's fourth historical fantasy A Conspiracy of Kings wherein he chooses to be like Attolia and seizes control of his government after having been perceived as an incompetent weakling for three books (which he kind of was.) This awesome gunslinger bad-ass moment is followed soon after by a crowning moment of hissy-fit that is equally justified.
Gen has several crowning moments of awesome himself, and his best was simultaneously a military victory and a love confession.
An incident in The Big One novel Crusade that made this editor feel warm inside. A restored Caliphate has pissed off the United States by shooting at an American bomber on a mostly peaceful recon mission, and the US has issued an ultimatum to the Caliphate: Grovel and pay restitutions, or we will wipe you out to the last man, woman, and child. The Caliphs are unconcerned; God will save them from the infidel, and visit his righteous wrath on the Americans. Eventually their professional military advisor, a defected Nazi who remembers when Germany was wiped off the map, gets their attention by shooting one of them, and delivers the following speech, paraphrased.
Wehrmacht Officer: When the Americans came for my country, they killed 60 million people. Each of the bombs those American planes are carrying are as powerful as all the bombs dropped on Germany combined, each plane can carry 4 such bombs, and the Americans have sent thousands of those planes. You say Allah will protect you from the Americans? Who will protect Allah from the Americans?
The Caliphs submit, grovel, and the bombers are called off. I might be a horrible person for liking that scene, but, y'know? 'Merica, fuck yeah.
The entirety of the "Star over Louisiana" chapter, when the Other finally shows Felix Jongleur just exactly what it thinks of him and his schemes by executing one of the greatest Death from Above moments in literary history.
Memory Sorrowand Thorn has one, and only needs that one. "I'm sorry... you should not have suffered so." Leading in short order to the Storm King getting his undead ass handed to him. However, for sheer crowd-pleasers, it doesn't get much better than the still-brainsick Camaris kicking the ever-loving crap out of Smug Snake Aspitis, ending his ambition to "own" Miriamele for good.
In Guy Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan the fanatical expy-Muslim Muwardi desert warriors have attacked an expy-Christian encampment. Their leader's first move is to bash in the skull of a thirteen year old boy. Then, for the next handful of pages, you think this is going to be a Crowning Moment of Heartbreak where we see the boy die because no-one has the skills to save him. Then - the expy-Jewish refugee doctor steps up to the plate and performs their world's first trepannation to relieve the pressure on the boy's brain. It's an operation no-one had believed possible, or dared to perform before this but this man knows he has the skills to pull it off. And he does and the boy lives. What makes this even more awesome is that he blind and dumb and performs the operation by momory, instinct and feel with his wife translating his instructions since she is the only one who can understand him. It is a scene to make you cry with joy and exultation.
In Night Watcher: Grey is a dog whose master was killed by vampires. He runs away in fear, then figures out how vampire mental powers work (and how to counter them by making vampires think he's scarier than them)... and goes on awesome vampire-hunting rampage. In a city that's crawling with them. In the middle of a brutal stray dog-shooting campaign. He's actually quite disappointed with how easily the small fry go down, until he runs into a vampire pack leader, who is to vampires what vampires are to humans. Cue anotherCrowning Moment of Awesome as Grey is rescued - after holding his ground on his own quite well, mind you! - by Igor Dolinsky, who then becomes his new master.
The second Empire from the Ashes book has several, such as Colin's Big Damn Heroes scene, where he saves the Earth from the brink of destruction at the hands of alien invaders with an awesomely brief Curb-Stomp Battle, which he follows up with not long afterward by blowing up a sun. Dahak gets his own at the end of that book, when he disobeys Colin's direct order to save himself (revealing his ability to disregard his core programming), turns down the enemy AI commander's We Can Rule Together offer, and hacks it into total system failure, sacrificing himself (sort of) to stop the invasion for good.
How is it that there are no The Name of the Wind examples yet? Just two to start with: Kvothe playing the Lay of Sir Savien in the tavern and not stopping even when a lute string breaks, and Kvothe saving Trebon by improvising a heatsink, then slaying the draccus by binding a huge wheel to a bit of iron, the draccus to its scale and the fire as energy simultaneously, essentially moving a ton of iron with his mind.
And one for Bast, near the end of the book: grabbing the iron talisman off Chronicler and really layinginto him, and following it with "No reason we can't be friends."
John Ringo's "Legacy of the Aldenata" aka "Posleen War" series has many many of them, but my personal favorites occur in "Gust Front":
At one point the human survivors of the retreat up the East Coast have stopped retreating in Washington DC. In Chapter 64, as they are preparing to fight back at various points, an officer directs his men to dig trenches and fox-holes in Arlington Cemetery, commenting "The soldiers, sailors and Marines buried on this hill would have no argument with a little jostling. They understood". I cannot read this scene without crying, because if anyone would understand why their graves needed to be disturbed, those in military cemeteries like Arlington would in fact, understand.
All throughout the series, the Posleen encounter massive explosions and traps, marked by the Army Engineers (Sappers). In Chapter 65, the Posleen encounter the same symbol in Washington DC. When they recognize it as the headquarters of the Engineers, they literally turn around and run (which Posleen never do). The reaction of the Engineers who had in fact trapped their headquarters to take out the entire Posleen force was hysterical laughter.
The entire first eight paragraphs of Chapter 71. It details a series of vignettes as to how and why the humans would stop running and make their stand, and ends with "Sure, most [humans] had run. But more had stayed. And the [Posleen] would have the [Washington] Monument over their dead bodies". The very definition of a Moment of Awesome.
'A french window for me, if you please!' said Wendy defiantly, and Peter, taken aback, made the door into a pair of french windows instead.
'Wendy Darling, I banish you to Nowhereland for giving succour to the enemy! Go now!'
'The door jambs are not straight,' said Wendy, and folded her arms. ... Wendy did not look very punished. She did not even look very banished, standing there on the far side of the door with her arms crossed. 'Stand away, please,' she said sharply, and the boys stepped smartly backwards—Even Peter Pan. Then Wendy bent down, picked up an imaginary boulder, and hurled it through the imaginary french windows. There was the most tremendous smash of breaking glass. 'Bosh and tosh!' she said, stepping through the wreckage of glazing bars and locks and bolts, being careful not to tear her pirate-flag dress on the jagged glass. 'Sometimes, Peter, you are such a ninny!'
In Vampire Academy, even though Dimitri turns Strigoi and Rose thinks she kills him he manages to send her a letter including the stake that Rose stabbed him with, and Strigoi can't even TOUCH stakes and promises that Rose would see him again. Definately a Crowning Moment of Badass for our little Dimka.
The Kitty Norville series is relatively restrained when it comes to Crowning Moments, but still earns a few.
In Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty, radio talk show host and werewolf, is kidnapped by a military scientist and a fundementalist Senator to finally capture proof of the supernatural on tape. She calls in a favor and makes a deal with some of the people filming it, and she turns it into an interview, which gets broadcast on her show, humanizing people like herself, incriminating her kidnappers and incidentally getting a lot of publicity for her show. She later compares the experience to being raped, but in the end she points out that her kidnappers are on the run or at least discredited while she's gone public, so it's definitely a victory.
In Kitty's House of Horrors, Odysseus Grant gets one. The fight withthe hunters has come down to the final survivors, and Grant takes a stake meant for a vampire, and survives it by slowing his heartbeat by meditation. This guy, a necromancer responsible for putting Sealed Evil in a Can, is equally capable of solving problems with stage magic and real magic, and we never know which he'll choose, and it is awesome.
In the David Brin novella Thor versus Captain America, the protagonist taunts Odin to the point of intolerable rage, grabs Gugnir out of the air and SNAPS IT OVER HIS KNEE (it broke his leg, but they were executing him in a minute anywat) when it is thrown at him.
E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series has a bunch, but one in particular simply defines Moment of Awesome. In "Second Stage Lensmen", the bad guys are invading Tellus (aka, Earth) via the "interspatial tube", a means of traveling from one galaxy to another without the inconvenience of traversing the intervening distance. After the shock globe of bad guy capital ships has been disposed of by sending in wave after wave of powerful mines, after the bad guy's main battle fleet has been disposed of by the superior coordination and efficiency of our main battle fleet, the bad guys up the ante, by showing their true strike force:
Planets. Seven of them. Armed and powered as only a planet can be armed and powered, with fixed-mount weapons impossible of mounting upon a lesser mobile base.
The good guys dispose of the planets by turning the entire solar system into a vacuum tube and concentrating 100% of the Sun's output into a tight beam upon those planets, such that their ice caps boiled, seas exploded into steam, and mountain ranges melted in and around the afore-mentioned weapons. Smith also gets it right when he describes how the planets cooled off quickly after the good guys turned off the sun-beam, recognizing that "even the Titanic forces at work had heated those planetary masses only superficially".
I recognized this as a Moment of Awesome decades before TV Tropes existed, and I quoted the above from memory, having these 27 words burned into my brain permanently the first time I read them.
In an obscure novel from the 1970s, possibly titled something like Portrait of a Summer Virgin, the stepmother for some reason switches the 12yo sister — something that has happened rather often. The 14yo brother tries to get their neighbor to do something, but the neighbor brushes him off. The next day after school, as a result of something that happened at school related to the switching, the stepmother grabs the 12yo sister and is about to switch her again. This time the 14yo runs straight up to the stepmother and orders her to stop. To his surprise, the stepmother complies and turns away crying. "If you ever touch her again, I'll kill you!" he follows up.
The poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley. Full text:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
In Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, Valancy vs. the fire. "Get under the tarp!"
"You listen to me. On Saturday at noon, the cake will be beautiful, the flowers will be magnificent, the photographer who is taking pictures of the sand right now will be taking pictures of the bride, the catering will be amazing and legal, and the bridge will not only be back, it will be so strong that twenty trucks could cross it. And the house will be the house you have always dreamed of having, and, as God is my witness, will never have because I will defeat you utterly and completely, I will grind your face in the dust, I will make you nothing before the world, Brenda Dupres, and my kitchen will not be a crime scene because I will have proved that you picked up that goddamned frying pan in that goddamned bomb shelter and whacked your goddamned husband with it twenty-five years ago, and you will spend the rest of your life in an orange jumpsuit in prison where there is no moisturizer and your face will look like old luggage and the only man you'll be able to seduce is a guard named Bubba with no teeth, so go back to your boat and pray, Brenda, get down on your knees and pray to whatever obscene and vicious god that made you that you do not cross me again because I will destroy you."
Diomedes gets the greatest Crowning Moment of The Iliad when he goes on a god-stabbing rampage through books five and six. Athena gives him the ability to discern god from mortal, telling him to wound Aphrodite if she takes the field. After Diomedes crushes Aeneas (future star of The Aeneid) with a boulder, Aphrodite swoops in to rescue her son. Diomedes chases after her and slashes her arm, causing her to drop Aenes and flee. Feeling his oats, Diomedes attacks Apollo twice without any success before Apollo tells him to cut it out. Apollo and Aphrodite return to Olympus complaining about Diomedes's attitude, prompting Ares to march out to stop this nonsense once and for all. With Athena as his charioteer, Diomedes charges right at the god of war and casts his spear right into Ares's gut. Ares screams and runs away, leaving Diomedes the only mortal to wound two gods in one day. Some scholars believe that this episode was a stand-alone story that Homer co-opted into his own epic.
What makes this even better is that in the myths about Diomedes outside The Iliad, he never faces any retribution for this, beyond perhaps being scolded. That's right, he wounds TWO gods and never really has anything terrible happen to him, he leaves a pretty good life after the war is over.
Septimus Heap gets at least one per book. In Magyk he finds the long-lost Dragon Ring of Hotep-Ra (albiet by accident). In Flyte he Imprints a dragon and soon after steals the Flyte charm from his Necromancer-in-training older brother Simon. In Physik he goes back in Time, cures the Sicknesse and perfects the Potion of Eternal Youth. In Queste he reaches the House Foryx (Where All Times Do Meet) and then rounds off his evening chatting with Hotep-Ra. Of course, he is the seventh son of a seventh son.