YMMV / Temeraire

  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In Throne of Jade, there's an amusing little subplot where Laurence hears about a nasty cold going around the English dragons, and many jokes are made about how dragons are such big babies when they're sick. Temeraire comes down with the cold, and it's played largely for laughs. In Empire of Ivory, it turns out that the "cold" is actually a form of dragon tuberculosis that's slowly and painfully killing every dragon in England, and if they hadn't stopped at exactly the right port in Africa and prepared exactly the right mushroom for Temeraire on a whim, he and every other English dragon would have died. And for that matter, since Temeraire was on his way to China, all of the Chinese dragons would probably have died, too. What a fun, wacky subplot!
    • Also in Throne of Jade Temeraire goes swimming, but due to an injury suffered earlier can't simply fly back onto the Allegiance; for him to climb back up takes some ingenuity, and Riley complains to Laurence that "What the Admiralty would say to me if I managed to get a dragon transport sunk in harbor on a cloudless day, I should not like to think." Then Crucible of Gold happens, and after a five-day storm, the Allegiance sinks due to rowdy convict sailors, and the dragons and a small number of people barely escape. Laurence mournfully realizes that Riley, who went down trying to save the Allegiance, will be remembered as the captain who got a ship sunk on a cloudless day.
  • Genius Bonus: In His Majesty's Dragon, Temeraire particularly likes hearing the story of Raiden, the dragon (possibly a Siu-Riu) who saved Japan from invading Mongol hordes by using the Divine Wind to sink their ships. In the real world, ancient Japan was threatened by Mongol invasion twice, in 1274 and 1281; the second was the largest attempted naval invasion in history until D-Day. Both times, the Mongol ships were sank by freak monsoons. These storms were dubbed kamikazes, commonly translated as "divine wind", because the Japanese attributed the storms to their god of storms, Raiden. As well as an interesting reference to real-world events, this doubles as foreshadowing for Lien sinking England's fleet in Victory of Eagles with the Divine Wind.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: An in-universe example. The sub-plot with Choiseul in His Majesty's Dragon leads Laurence to make a number of very harsh statements about treason: he also has to explain to Temeraire why treasonnote  must be punished with execution. This becomes much Harsher in Hindsight when Laurence is forced to choose between genuine treason and becoming an accessory to genocide at the end of the fourth book.
  • Ho Yay: Even with Laurence having a woman for a lover—or, more accurately, a woman having Laurence for a lover (especially as the series progresses and she becomes admiral—it's mostly dudes aboard Temeraire. This results in some behavior that keen-eyed Yaoi Fangirls haven't left unnoticed, popular pairings being Laurence and Granby (his first officer and later Iskierka's captain) and Laurence and the guide Tharkay. Given that Novik was a very popular slash fanfic writer before she went pro, this is almost certainly deliberate. And this is to say nothing of how "mannish" Laurence's canon lover behaves—smoking, drinking, playing cards, fighting, commanding, walking "like a man," showing no shyness with regards to sexuality...
    • The homoeroticism between Laurence and Temeraire, if you'd like to see it that way. Case in point: Laurence calls Temeraire "my dear" and cuddles him a lot, as well as mentioning how he can't see how any dragon captain could marry and divide their affections between dragon and spouse. Also Temeraire going through puberty and Laurence touching the wrong part of Temeraire:
      "Come now, you are like to make everyone think you are a vain creature," Laurence said, reaching up to pet the waving tendrils. "Truly, they look very well; pray give them no thought."
      Temeraire made a small, startled noise, and leaned in towards the stroking. "That feels strange," he said.
      "Am I hurting you? Are they so tender?" ...
      Temeraire nudged him a little and said, "No, they do not hurt at all. Pray do it again?" When Laurence very carefully resumed the stroking, Temeraire made an odd purring sort of sound, and abruptly shivered all over. "I think I quite like it," he added, his eyes growing unfocused and heavy-lidded.
      • Laurence's reaction to this statement, however, is to immediately recoil away and attempt to explain to Temeraire why he stopped.
      • On the other hand, in Throne of Jade, when Laurence discovers that Temeraire has established a relationship with Mei, an Imperial dragon, his first instinct is jealousy that now has real competition for Temeraire's "affections." Keep in mind that Mei is a concubine.
    • In Crucible of Gold, Granby is revealed to be gay during his protests over Iskeirka's and Hammond's plans to marry him to the Inca Empress. Look back on his and Lawrence's interactions in this light...
      • Granby also is one of the few people to refer to Laurence by his first name. Not even Temeraire or Jane do that.
    • Blood of Tyrants amps up the Ho Yay between Laurence and Tharkay. There's a lot to read into Laurence's desperation to find a kidnapped Tharkay during the climax of the second part, and his memory hasn't even returned by then. And when it does return, it's Laurence's rescue of Tharkay that triggers it (the event itself mirroring Tharkay's rescue of Laurence in Victory of Eagles). After that, they throw a lot of First-Name Basis at each other, and Laurence hardly leaves Tharkay's side during his recovery.
    • And while League of Dragons has Laurence and Jane Roland seeming to rekindle their relationship after several years, complete with the most explicit sex scene in the series, the book concludes with Tharkay, having finally won his inheritance through the courts, inviting Laurence and Temeraire to come live on his estate.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Hammond will steamroll anyone and anything that gets between him and what he sees as England's best interests, frequently stepping on the toes of those around him. He is prevented from being completely unlikeable by a few moments of heroism, and by the fact that if there's some kind of embarrassment or discomfort to be had, and Granby isn't handy, Hammond will likely be the recipient.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Yongxing oversteps his boundaries in reclaiming Temeraire for the Chinese by plotting Lawrence's murder several times, while using his own nephew as a Replacement Goldfish human and Unwitting Pawn to eventually take over the Chinese throne.
    • Trying to use a dragon plague as biological warfare against France. This creates a whole interlocking series of them, in and out of universe. First off, it's not just France; it's spelled out by Laurence and Roland that the plague would eventually strike all of Eurasia, leaving Britain the only nation in the entire northern hemisphere with an Aerial Corps (and it's strongly implied that the Admiralty has figured this into their planning). Second, Laurence and Temeraire go all "Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!" to deliver the cure to France, which is treason and which everyone considers their MEH moment. Lastly, Wellesley trades on this reputation to force Laurence to perform guerilla warfare on French foraging parties, slaughtering them wholesale in defiance of all The Laws and Customs of War, which enforces Laurence's Despair Event Horizon.
    • Another instance arises in Blood of Tyrants, when the main characters discover that Russian 'breeding grounds' involve shackling any dragon that won't agree to obey orders in a pit and letting them starve. Laurence and Temeraire immediately present an ultimatum; things change instantly, or they take their dragons and go home - Napoleon or no Napoleon.
    • League of Dragons almost sees another one happen: the Russian Tsar and German allies seriously consider a suggestion to poison any food to be found by ferals across the region, in the hopes of cutting off the bulk of Napoleon's forces. This after learning that he had managed to convince ferals to attack the Chinese supply lines, delaying their arrival. Laurence is beside himself in rage, and wouldn't have been shock to attack the men in the room. Later that night he conspires to actually join Napoleon, where he had twice refused before, should the alliance actually go through with it. Temeraire is so mortified by the possibility that his words are almost taken as admittance to committing mutiny and treason should it happen. Thankfully the Tsar actually learns from the debacle with the Russian ferals.
    • No matter the culture, no matter whether they're harnessed or feral or what side of any war a dragon fights on, it seems to be a universal truth that the theft of a dragon's egg is nearly the grossest crime anyone could commit, second only to deliberately breaking an egg. (Note that this seems to largely be confined to dragons stealing other dragons' eggs; they by no means are happy to allow humans to do it, but they do not seem to view it with quite the same hatred. This may be because dragon husbandry is itself something of a consensual theft of eggs, with dragons understanding as a result that no human who takes a dragon egg intends to harm it.)
  • Star Trek Movie Curse: Inverted. The odd-numbered books tend to be more directly related to the war, and some find them to be better books than the even-numbered books, which usually involve travels to distant lands in order to explore how that region is different from how it was in our world, and whose ramifications often take a few more books to manifest.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Temeraire and Iskierka in Crucible of Gold. YMMV definitely since any hints to it are subtle. It's not much lingered upon either, at least not yet, and if ever. Dragons aren't very romantic by nature and 'making an egg' doesn't seem to have the connotation of desiring long-term companionship.
  • Ugly Cute: Kulingile, as a hatchling before he grows up and later gets some golden scales.
  • What An Idiot:
    • Lieutenant Dayes in His Majesty's Dragon, when he is assigned to Temeraire and replace Laurence. You'd think he would break it to Temeraire gently that it's better for the Corps for an experienced aviator rather than Laurence to ride him, but instead he lies and tells Temeraire that Laurence didn't like the dragon and only flew with him out of duty. Sure, try lying to the dragon that's been spending weeks bonding with Laurence and knowing his character.
    • Also Yongxing trying to assassinate Lawrence a third time when his first two attempts have failed, and it's clear that someone has it in for Temeraire's human, when lying low would be the best option. Temeraire attacks, and the ensuing fight with Lien gets Yongxing killed and Temeraire determined that instead of staying in China he'll increase dragon rights for his brethren in England.
  • The Woobie:
    • Levitas, who suffered long under an indifferent if not outright abusive captain before dying in his service.
    • Granby, in both comedical instances and not, never seems to catch a break.
    • Perscitia, who was abandoned by her handler because she didn't like fighting. It doesn't help that when she mentioned it she tried to sound indifferent, but was still clearly hurt over it.
    • Kulingile in Tongues of Serpents. He's born so deformed that most of the aviators decided to put him out of his misery, and, avoiding that fate, seems to wheeze and struggle for every breath.
    • Tharkay. He's only as snarky and independent as he is because he grew up as a half-Asian boy in unaccepting white society. Truth in Television, because mixed couples and children really are discriminated against, even now, in some places.
    • Laurence himself doesn't exactly have it easy either, especially during "Victory of Eagles," where he is: a traitor, responsible for the death of his former fiancee's husband, and implied to be the cause of his aging father's recent illness. Add to that a nice dash of guilt issues, and it's easy to see why he spends half the book having a Heroic B.S.O.D..