These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
"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 Technically Choiseul is not a traitor (a citizen of England working against its best interests) but a double-agent.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.
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.
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.
Oh, 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 with dragons in the entire Eastern Hemisphere. 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.
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 more travel-oriented even-numbered books.
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.
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 BSOD