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    Captain William Laurence 

Main (human) character and primary narrator. Initially skipper of the HMS Reliant, where Riley was his Second Lieutenant, he became captain of the dragon Temeraire nearly by accident. However, he and Temeraire quickly become inseparable.

In League of Dragons, he is promoted to Admiral, albeit as part of a bargain with him to assist in the final stages of the war, and which Laurence presumes to be moot upon his retirement from the Corps at the end of the book.

  • A Father to His Men: Cares greatly for his crew and is very considerate of them, whoever they may be. For a more close to literal, foster-like relationship, there's his relationships with Temeraire, Emily, Dyer, Demane, and Sipho. (Emily in particular, possibly due in part to his relationship with her mother, comes to see him almost explicitly as a father figure.) In the Navy, he had a reputation for being a good captain for midshipmen because of the care he took for their education; he eventually gets this reputation again in the Aerial Corps for the interest he takes in his midwingmen and cadets.
  • Adopted into Royalty: Celestials are supposed to only be companions to members of the Chinese Imperial Dynasty (the decision to ship an egg to the Emperor of France was highly controversial, driven entirely by political expedience). The Celestial that imprinted on Laurence, a younger scion of an old but middling noble family at best, refuses to be parted from him. Deniably bumping Laurence off is impractically difficult. So guess what finally happens.
  • Beard of Sorrow: During the extended Heroic BSoD that is Victory of Eagles, Laurence doesn't shave and sports an unkempt beard, contrasting heavily with his usual clean-cut appearance, even after he's brought out of prison.
  • Broken Ace: During Victory of Eagles.
  • Butt-Monkey: Half the humor is the petty indignities Laurence gets subjected to.
    • There's a Running Gag through the first couple of books where Laurence is presented with an unusual social situation and immediately assumes something scandalous is happening. He mentally chastises himself for jumping to conclusions, only for the other characters to embarrass him by cheerfully confirming his first impressions.
  • Character Development
    • In His Majesty's Dragon, he's straight-laced, excessively polite and easily scandalized by socially ambiguous situations. His Catchphrase could be "duty", since he manages to work the word into every other sentence; "duty" is probably mentioned here more times than in all the other books combined. By Crucible of Gold (i.e. after several years in the Corps, an act of treason, and a year of life in the Penal Colony and Wild West that is Regency Australia), he's largely informal with his friends and colleagues and not critical about things like mixed-race or homosexual couples. While he's polite to his acquaintances, he won't hesitate to be rude and/or sarcastic if they offend him or his friends. He also explicitly declares his subscription to the "Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!" school of thought.
    • Lampshaded by Laurence himself in Blood of Tyrants, after he regains his memories. He muses that the man he was eight years ago would have placed his duty above everything, up to and including his personal happiness and the welfare of his friends. The man he is now, however, would not allow society's disapproval to prevent him from doing what's right. He's very pleased he has become such a person.note 
  • Court-Martialed: Is tried for treason between books four and five for giving the cure for the dragon plague to France and found guilty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: During the course of the series, he gradually loses his straight-laced attitude and develops a sense of humour, often dropping sarcastic one-liners.
  • Death Glare: Laurence has a powerful glare, well-used throughout the whole series, that can silence a room, and which makes men go pale and physically move away.
  • Ensign Newbie: While he is an experienced naval officer and leader of men, Laurence finds himself very reliant on his subordinates insofar as the fine points of aerial combat are concerned for some time.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Zigzagged. Laurence Stumbled Into the Plot, being in no way trained to be The Kid with the Leash for twenty tons of wing, claw and scales. He's also thirty, which is a bit late to be shifting services. That being said, he's been in His Majesty's Navy for eighteen years, and made captain at a relatively young age, likely in his late twenties. The level of discipline the Navy instilled in him causes some adjustment issues when he becomes an aviator, but his leadership is a skill that can be applied anywhere. He's also able to chip in useful naval advice when it's called for, and occasionally moonlights as a skipper (such as late during the naval voyage in Throne of Jade, where he is — despite being a member of the Aerial Corps — the most experienced sailor on active duty, due to Riley, The Captain, and Lord Forthing, the Number Two, having both come down with something).
  • The Fettered: Laurence will outright refuse to do anything he feels is dishonorable and he will always follow orders. If the two things are at odds, he'll feel absolutely miserable and try to convince whomever's giving him the orders not to do it. He veers into The Unfettered in Victory of Eagles and Tongue of Serpents after he's discharged; he willingly uses dishonorable and dirty tactics to win the war in England, then outright refuses to follow Rankin's orders in Australia to murder the rebels. Somewhat snapped back after he's reinstated in Crucible of Gold although even there he says to Temeraire that he will refuse to follow any orders that he finds immoral.
  • Fish out of Water: At the beginning of the series, he had no idea how to function in the Air Corps, and is rather dismayed at the level of informality common amongst aviators. Later, he is excruciatingly uncomfortable as the Emperor's adopted son.
  • Hates Small Talk: Inverted. Laurence really enjoys conversation and finds a great deal of pleasure in formal dinners and social events.
  • Heel Realization: Twice over. Throne of Jade and Black Powder War both open his eyes on his beloved country's barbaric treatment of dragons. The second time is coming to terms with the magnitude of his betrayal.
  • The Hero
  • Heroic BSoD: His treason against Britain. He knew the personal consequences before he did it, but after seeing the King, who was already ailing and now is completely insane, apparently driven mad by the invasion of Britain, he becomes a Death Seeker. For a while it really looks like he's crossed the Despair Event Horizon, but by the end of the book He's Back!, having accepted that he did the right thing and he'll just have to endure being despised.
  • Honor Before Reason: Epitomizes it and it constantly causes immense problems for him.
    • In Black Powder War: Laurence finds himself in a position to flee the doomed campaign to defend Prussia from France, thereby getting Temeraire and his men out of danger and back on their original mission. However, he feels that doing so would be pretending they could do nothing more to help, so he decides to stay until Warsaw falls and everyone starts scrambling for the coast.
    • Later in the same book, he manages to find himself within pistol-shot of Napoleon while hiding in the bush - but because Napolean's dragon is close at hand, the only way to kill him would be to take him by surprise and shoot him dishonorably in the back. Laurence dismisses this possibility in his thoughts with a simple no, and stops a companion who seems about to take it.
    • And then there's the critical point of this principle on the plot, which haunts him in later books: averting genocide by giving the cure for the dragon plague to the French, saving thousands of dragons in the process, but also committing treason against his country. When Jane chews him out for not simply bribing someone else to do it in secret, he responds that it would be treason either way.
    • By the point of Crucible of Gold, when he takes it upon himself to flatly refuse to help a potential ally put down a slave rebellion, his fellow aviators more or less just shrug and go "Well, it's Laurence, what did you expect?"
  • Humble Hero: Laurence disliked flashy clothing even before his exile, and dislikes putting on airs even when by rights he might be entitled to them. This is one difference between his worldview and Temeraire's that is largely played for laughs, since if Temeraire had his way Laurence would be decked out in jewels at all times.
    • Laurence can be so humble he doesn't understand it's almost a character flaw in him. Beyond his tendency to try Risking the King (see below), he is completely unaware or disdainful of the idea that he is in any way special except to Temeraire and/or as being the companion of a very special dragon. This despite being a war hero several times over, an adoptive prince of China, helping find the cure to a deadly plague, stopping attempted genocide-by-bioweapon, forging a truce with at least one hostile nation, helping spark at least one civil rights revolution, seeing more of the world in the 19th century than most people in the 21st century do, and winning the admiration of Napoleon twice over.
    • This comes squarely into play in the Action Prologue of the fifth book, where Laurence, aboard the HMS Goliath during a major naval operation, steps in and fights: helping the wounded, manning the guns, repelling the French, and doing basically everything you'd expect of a man who has served aboard her for years — which, in fact, Laurence has. Despite, again, being an officer of a different branch. Not to mention, being a prisoner who was convicted of treason.
  • I Regret Nothing: Even before his memory comes back, he tells Temeraire that he wouldn't change any of the choices he made, treason included.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: After five books of trying to explain some things to Temeraire and realizing how many laws and beliefs he takes for granted are actually terrible when he says them out loud, seeing that Britain treats dragons horribly, diplomatic intrigues, and realizing what lengths the Admiralty will go to for the sake of victory, Laurence has become quite a Deadpan Snarker—in Blood of Tyrants, he finds it quite plausible that England would deliberately fuel the opium trade in China. Despite this, he retains his personal sense of honor and his fierce loyalty to Britain.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Takes a blow to the head in Blood of Tyrants. He forgets the previous eight years of his life, meaning he remembers nothing of Temeraire or his time as an aviator and still thinks he's the captain of the Reliant. A more accurate portrayal than is typical in fiction, as his memory returns in fits and starts and even when it returns, there are holes he suspects will never be filled.
    • Amnesia Danger: Emotional rather than mortal danger. As a result of his amnesia Laurance thinks of Temeraire as pleasant company at best, and without the knowledge of everything the two have sacrificed for each other he keeps making blunders that strain their relationship.
  • Lawful Stupid and Stupid Good: Laurence's actions at the end of Empire Of Ivory. This is made quite clear when Admiral Roland tells him in Victory Of Eagles a simple thing he could have done other than being a stiff-necked idiot, which would have had the desired effect of saving the Continental dragons without getting himself branded as a traitor. Although given his comments when Jane makes that suggestion, it strongly hints he would have gone right ahead with his big show of insubordination even if he had thought of it, making this more Honor Before Reason. He notes it would still be treason either way, though when Roland points out that if he'd done it the "smart" way it would have at least saved his loved ones a lot of heartache it does strike home.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Unless they're about to start a campaign of biological terrorism...
  • My God, What Have I Done?: ...but that cure directly led to the invasion of Britain.
  • Neat Freak: From the point of view of other aviators, who are happy to go around in wrinkled coats while he carefully stows his things in bandboxes and is so pained by Jane's haphazard packing that he's compelled to do it himself.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Laurence is a well-mannered son of a Lord who much enjoys dinner parties and high society, and he also has a reputation as a fighting captain in both Navy and Aerial Corps.
  • Parental Substitute: To Emily Roland, Demane and Sipho.
  • Risking the King: An admirable habit for a naval captain, but outright idiocy in one of the Corps, according to his new colleagues—a dragon will damn all orders to save an endangered captain, and if Laurence died Temeraire would be out of commission for a good while (if not permanently) from grief, if he didn't just kill himself avenging Laurence. It takes years for Laurence to stop instinctively putting himself on the front line and even then he doesn't like staying out of harm's way (especially when his last line of defense during a boarding operation is often his middies and ensigns, who in the Corps are usually children).
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Unsurprisingly, given Laurence's character. It's one reason he refuses to give up Temeraire to China and Yongxing. When Napoleon offers him political sanctuary and rich rewards for delivering the remedy for the dragon plague to the French, Laurence abhors the notion.
  • So Proud of You: From the most unlikely source he could imagine and for the action that caused him the greatest pain in the series: the Emperor of China (who incidentally adopted Laurence as a son to keep peace between Britain and China) and Lung Tien Qian (Temeraire's mother) both praise him for delivering the coughing fever cure to the French and the rest of the world, including China.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The series centers on Temeraire and his adventures. Laurence is nearly the Deuteragonist: he serves as Temeraire's mentor and closest friend, provides exposition, and, due to the lack of rights dragons have, often answers for Temeraire's actions.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: He decides to just roll with being in exile and set up a permanent dragon pavilion at the end of Tongues of Serpents but Crucible Of Gold opens with him being called back into service.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Hugely in the fourth book, and he keeps being dogged by this for the rest of the series. When the British government plans to spread a plague among the French dragons that will likely spread to kill off most of the dragons in the world, he feels morally compelled to bring the French the cure, even though it's an act of treason against his own country. And after all that, he's still Lawful enough to go right back to Britain and let himself be arrested for it. Indeed, he expects to be executed for it, and rejects merely going into voluntary exile to save his skin. He transgressed and had to face the music.
  • The Unfavorite: Laurence is the youngest son of Lord Allendale, who disapproves of almost every action Laurence has taken ever since he ran away from home to join the Navy at the age of twelve. Laurence has long since made his peace with this strained relationship; usually he'll simply try to find a way to avoid his father's ire where possible. Their relationship warms a little in Empire of Ivory when Laurence returns from China with a thoughtful gift and a newfound willingness (urged on by Temeraire) to help the British abolition movement... but this hopeful trend is shattered by the start of the next book when Laurence's treason coincides with (or perhaps aggravates) a sudden failure of his father's health.
  • What You Are in the Dark: In League of Dragons, after the guards run to rescue Napoleon, Laurence chooses to rescue Napoleon's son from the burning palace rather than escape.

    Captain John Granby 

Lieutenant Granby was initially hostile to Laurence, as he was friends with the aviator chosen by the Corps to perform a hostile takeover of Temeraire's affections. However, once they had flown together in action, they got their bickering sorted out and he became both Number Two and close friend to Laurence. In this capacity he also became captain of Iskierka, a fire-breathing Kazilik, in Black Powder War.

At the end of League of Dragons, he is promoted to Admiral for his actions in the final stage of the war.

  • Bling of War: At Iskierka's insistence and to his mortification. Granby (or rather Iskierka) owns three or four dress jackets, only one of which he can wear with any sense of humility, because the others are so covered in ludicrous gold frogging, jewels and other massive decorations that they're too heavy to wear.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Granby! He has it rough even by comparison with Laurence. He nearly got killed with extreme regularity as a member of Temeraire's crew, and then he became the Kid with the Leash to a fire-breathing Leeroy Jenkins, with all the perils that implies. After losing his arm- and giving his dragon an ultimatum -things seem to have improved for him. If only because it was time for Laurence to be the Butt-Monkey again.
  • Closet Gay: He hides his sexuality out of necessity to avoid being Court-Martialed in the 19th-century English military. He only reluctantly comes out to the protagonist, by then a trusted friend, in the seventh book to explain why he won't enter a political marriage.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: He is at first rude and passive-aggressive to Laurence — not just out of ire that England's most unique dragon has taken a master from outside the Aerial Corps, but because he (Granby) was friends with the Corps lieutenant chosen to (attempt to) take over Temeraire's handling. Laurence is unwilling to take any lip from him, but does privately note that Granby is an excellent officer. After they collaborate during a rescue mission and prove their mettle to each other, Granby makes a formal (and then much less formal) apology for being such a 'scrub,' and from then on becomes one of Laurence's most trusted allies.
  • Handicapped Badass: Has lost an arm by the end of Crucible of Gold; is no less awesome.
  • Henpecked Husband: Played for Drama. He feels deeply uncomfortable that he has basically no control over Iskierka, and feels like he's a terrible captain as a result.
  • The Lancer: To Laurence.
  • Straight Gay: Revealed in Crucible of Gold when Iskierka arranges for a marriage with the Inca Empress, then blabs about his relationship with Little. (Aside from a certain informality in the way they address each other, mirrored with Laurence's relationship with Tom Riley—see below—there are no hints given to Granby's orientation before the reveal.) Laurence, to his credit, never makes a big deal of it (as he's quite familiar with the Hello, Sailor! phenomenon).
  • Undying Loyalty: Towards Laurence, particularly as his first lieutenant.

    Tenzing Tharkay 

Half English and half Nepalese, Tharkay is an exceptional guide and translator. Due to the era's views, however, he cannot follow his father into English politics, and feels unwelcome in his mother's nation—and, for that matter, wherever he goes.

From Victory of Eagles onward, he occasionally accepts contracts with the Aerial Corps for his work with the ferals that effectively grant him the authority and rights of a captain, gold bars and all.

  • Ambiguously Brown: In-universe. He's described as having dark hair and eyes, and a skin tone compared to polished teakwood. Westerners have a hard time telling his ethnicity other than that he's not white, with many dismissive types simply settling on calling him "Oriental" or "a Chinaman". Laurence at first mistakes him for Chinese due to his brown skin and dark hair and eyes, but decides he probably isn't because he doesn't have epicanthic folds.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His dry and sarcastic humor initially makes Laurence mistrustful of him.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Ang Tharkay and Tenzing Norgay are probably the two most famous Sherpas.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: He's half-Nepali on his mother's side, and is both distrusted in Europe, and feels unwelcome in his mother's culture. Unfortunately, in this time, there isn't much he can do about it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: A snarky, mixed-race wanderer with a Dark and Troubled Past who trains birds of prey, speaks several languages, and has some homoerotic tension with the main male character? Checks all the boxes.
  • Parrot Pet Position: He keeps birds of prey (an eagle and later a kestrel) and often puts them on his shoulder. (Rule of Cool applies here, as in real life it would probably immediately peck out his eyes.)
  • The Snark Knight: He's a smart dude who's justifiably weary of other people (specifically Englishmen) and social institutions, which he lets on through a heavy dose of sardonicism. He's much more noble than he lets on, though.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: He makes a habit of this, which is rather disconcerting when he is guiding people through a desert and the like. This is intentional, as he would rather be openly mistrusted for good reason than passive-aggressively mistrusted for a bad one.
  • The Unfettered: The one upside to being unacceptable in Western society is that he's beholden to no one but himself.
    • Yet subverted at one point in Victory of Eagles. When Laurence prepares to engage in dishonorable guerilla warfare, Tharkay points out that a gentleman can temporarily sink into savagery and be regarded as a desperate hero, but someone of Tharkay's background would simply be exterminated.

    Captain Tom Riley 

Naval captain of the HMS Reliant, Riley inherited his ship from Laurence. Later takes on the Allegiance, a huge ship built specifically to transport dragons.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: He dies trying to save the Allegiance from sinking in Crucible of Gold. Depending on your feelings, this may be an Alas, Poor Scrappy moment.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He was this to Laurence prior to capturing Temeraire's egg, and they still remain close friends after Laurence goes to the Corps—the relationship is significantly strained in Empire of Ivory when they go to Africa, however, and are unable to politely avoid the topic of slavery.
  • Noble Bigot: Due to his father owning slaves and several plantations, he's an adamant proponent of slavery. He at one point outright calls a black woman sub-human. Despite this, he's shown to be an otherwise-good person. At the end of Empire of Ivory, he finally starts to relent on it.
  • Officer and a Gentleman
  • Shotgun Wedding: Played with: he insists on marrying Harcourt, even though she thinks it's no big deal.

    Captain Matthew Berkley 

The gruff captain of Maximus, an enormous Regal Copper. He rides alongside Laurence protecting Harcourt's aft in their formation.

  • The Big Guy: as befits the captain of the biggest dragon in the Corps.
  • Boisterous Bruiser
  • Brutal Honesty: He has no sense of (or at least care for) tact and will often spout whatever pressing but highly impolite question that everyone else has on their minds (like who the father of Harcourt's impending child is).
  • Large Ham: Which is why when in Empire of Ivory he isn't hammy, that the reader knows the dire straits Maximus is in.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Berkley typically comes across as stoic and brusque, but Maximus is his one enormous weak spot.
  • Old Soldier: one of the older captains in Lily's formation. There are only "six or seven" Regal Coppers born every generation, so the Corps wants the best of the best as their handlers. Laurence later estimates him as being in his forties.
  • The Stoic: Tends not to talk much (at least by Laurence's standards), as he says what needs saying in as few words as possible with little politeness or flowery language.

    Captain Catherine Harcourt 
Captain of Lily, one of the valuable and formation-leading Longwings who will not accept anything but female captains. Her gender (and that of other female serving officers) is a closely-guarded secret of the Aerial Corps.

  • Action Girl: She's an excellent captain and good at hand-to-hand combat, too.
  • Action Mom: Starting in Empire of Ivory, which sees her increasingly pregnant while running around Africa and getting captured by dragons there.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: After she gets the news that Riley died.
  • Hostage Situation: Gets caught in one at the end of His Majesty's Dragon when Choiseul tries to kidnap her and Lily; it ends with a brawl between him and Laurence, and her clonking Choiseul over the head.
  • The Lad-ette: Like many other female aviators, although given how inexperienced she is in the first book it takes her a little while for her to achieve it.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: While none of the female aviators are particularly feminine, Harcourt is the only one who, post-puberty, still passes for a young boy without close inspection.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Goes from being a Shrinking Violet in Book 1 to being the unquestioned leader of the formation in Book 4.

    Captain Augustine Little 

Captain of Immortalis, a Yellow Reaper.

  • The Quiet One: He doesn't talk much, which makes him almost The Generic Guy in the first half of the series. Laurence describes him as having a poetic, dreamy air, often lost in his own world.
  • Straight Gay: He's having a liaison with Granby. This isn't hinted at at all before it's mentioned.

    Captain Sutton 

Captain of Messoria, a Yellow Reaper.

  • Old Soldier: He's a veteran, having served in the Aerial Corps for more than thirty years. As a result, he and Messoria have an extensive arsenal of dirty tricks that help them win most fights.

    Captain Chenery 

Captain of Dulcia, a Grey Copper.

  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Seems to be very close to Little; although the "heterosexual" part doesn't apply to Little.
  • Keet: One of the younger captains, energetic and nearly constantly cheerful.

    Admiral Jane Roland 

Captain of the Longwing Excidium. Roland serves as the Reasonable Authority Figure for the Aerial Corps. She and Laurence develop an informal romantic relationship, which grows increasingly complicated by outside events.

Between Black Powder War and Empire of Ivory, she is promoted to Admiral and commander of the Dover covert, which also happens to be the largest and most tactically important covert in Britain, and her actions during the events of Victory of Eagles see her raised to the peerage as Countess.

  • Action Mom: To Emily.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Her relationship with Laurence comes off as little more than a strong affection on Roland's part, until Laurence sees in Victory of Eagles exactly how pained she is by his betrayal. She later lays into him—not for the treason itself, which she approves of, but because he did it in a way that not only ruined the careers and lives of others but left him under a sentence of death. In League of Dragons, they seem to rekindle their relationship after years, and both appear quite content with things as they are.
  • The Bus Came Back: She was prominent in the first book, again in the fifth book, and lastly in the ninth.
  • Four-Star Badass: Though she briefly got busted down from her promotion to Admiral in Victory of Eagles because of sexism and her ties to Laurence, she was quickly reinstated when it became clear she was far and away the best option and Wellington refused to work with any other choice.
  • Hero of Another Story: It seems like any time we get news of her adventures elsewhere, she's winning some hugely important battle.
  • Lady of War: Raised and trained to command one of England's most formidable dragons. However, she'd rather be an officer than a gentleman: she finds it difficult, and a bit silly, to mingle with high society.
  • The Lad-ette: She is far more mature than the usual frat-boy-with-a-vagina archetype, but she is neither particularly ladylike nor gentlemanly, especially by early 19th century standards of such.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: To Laurence, as a senior captain, companion to a crucial and experienced dragon, and the mother of one of Laurence's officers.
  • Rugged Scar: She has a big, conspicuous scar down the left side of her face from some long-ago battle, which people from outside the Corps can't help but gawk at and even brought Laurence up short when he first saw her.
  • Unequal Pairing: She takes Laurence as her lover on her terms, not his, and maintains the relationship even after she's promoted to his direct superior. If anyone told her it was unseemly for an Admiral to ride subordinates to foundering, she did not pay much attention. The only consideration she gives is that she refuses a marriage proposal from a subordinate entirely on the basis that if she vowed to obey she could hardly give him orders.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Of a sort, with Wellington; despite Wellington's abrasive personality and Roland's blunt forthrightness, they both share a respect for competence and levelheadedness—which both possess perhaps more than any other British officers.

    Midwingman Emily Roland 

Jane's illegitimate daughter, who is being groomed to take over Excidium when her mother retires. She doesn't know who her father is (Jane doesn't much care), and on at least one occasion she has been mistaken as Laurence's natural daughter, to his embarrassment and Jane's amusement.

She joins Laurence's crew as a runner at age ten, is promoted to Ensign and a member of Temeraire's flight crew at age twelve, and is promoted again to Midwingman by her early teens.

  • Action Girl: As would be expected. Lampshaded in the eighth book, when she starts teaching her chaperone Mrs. Pemberton how to use a pistol and the latter remarks that Emily is a more capable protector than herself.
  • Child Soldier: As a daughter of an aviator, she got put to the Corps at age seven like all of the other cadets.
  • Heir Club for Men: Inverted, thanks to Longwing preferences: her future is assured as Excidium's future captain.
  • The Illegible: Laurence insists on having his ensigns learn penmanship, her included. But because she would much prefer practicing combat and swordfighting, she doesn't keep up on her studies, resulting in cursive penmanship that Laurence likens to snarled thread. And it doesn't get any better when Temeraire sets her to transcribing correspondence in Chinese for him.
  • Is That Cute Kid Yours?: Laurence's parents are under the impression that she is their son's (illegitimate) biological daughter. (Although Lord Allendale seems less angered by it and more exasperated given that Will has been the Black Sheep of the family since he was twelve; why not have a by-blow on top of all of that, as well?) Laurence cannot explain without embarrassing both himself and his father, not to mention revealing a secret of the Aerial Corps, and awkwardly settles on trying to pass her off as the daughter of a Dover gentlewoman whose education he has taken charge of, to little effect. Later, Lady Allendale sends her jewelry, and he cannot even express in his reply that she received the jewelry without implicating himself even further. Naturally, Jane finds the misunderstanding incredibly amusing.
  • Parental Substitute: She may consider Laurence "churchy" and "stuffy", but he's the closest thing to a father she's ever had—and like many teenagers, she veers between resentment, admiration, and affection.
  • Plucky Middie: One of Laurence's most capable (and luckiest) officers.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Or rather, she's getting there fast—and causing Laurence a lot of headaches.
  • Tomboy: To the extent that, at least before she hits puberty, several people, Laurence included, assume she is a boy. She goes around in the same jacket and trousers as her fellow male ensigns, and has a bit of trouble moving in her silk dress for the party at the start of Empire of Ivory.

    Lieutenant Henry Ferris 

Promoted to Temeraire's Second Lieutenant in Throne of Jade, and later First Lieutenant in Black Powder War after Granby becomes Iskierka's captain.

He gets dismissed from the Corps in Victory of Eagles, a scapegoat for Laurence's treason. From Crucible of Gold onwards, he follows Laurence around the world.

  • Drowning My Sorrows: In Crucible of Gold, Laurence notices his face bears the telltale marks of a heavy drinker. Fortunately, he gets better.
  • Fiery Redhead: Inverted. He's got auburn hair, but temperamentally he's gentle (barring battle) and soft-spoken.
  • I Regret Nothing: When asked directly, he says he would rather have been hanged for doing the right thing (giving the cure to the French) than viewed as a lying coward.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Laurence hoped he would be safe if he didn't know what Temeraire and the captain planned; he was wrong.
  • Modest Royalty: He's from a noble family both very old and extremely rich, if the size of the family manornote  is any indication. You'd never realize it from the way he acts.
  • The Scapegoat: Since the Board can't hang Laurence until the war is over, they settle with his first lieutenant's dishonorable discharge from the Aerial Corps.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: He's a competent aviator but his lack of experience occasionally causes problems in a position of command. When Granby is injured in Throne of Jade and Ferris as second lieutenant becomes responsible for keeping the crew in line, he has no idea how to stop the aviators from arguing with the sailors; later on, once Granby becomes Iskierka's captain, Laurence worries that his youth will be an issue in a position of command, given that he's only nineteen at this point.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In League of Dragons, Laurence only agrees to accept command of the allied aerial forces in the eastern front on the condition that Ferris is reinstated to the Corps. This is not just out a general sense of justice but because if Ferris, who was wrongly convicted, was still locked out of the Corps after Laurence, who actually committed the crime, was not merely accepted back but promoted, it would be even more unfair to him. (Laurence attempted something similar to get Ferris his place back in Crucible of Gold, but had much less pull at the time.) In the conflict, Ferris finally earns command of a dragon... in the Prussian air force.)
  • Took a Level in Cynic: When he reappears in "Crucible of Gold", he seems significantly more cynical, possibly seeing the British government as a Broken Pedestal for what they did to him.

    Midwingman Demane Dlamini 

A young African preteen who aids Laurence during Empire of Ivory. For lack of any other option, Laurence ends up taking him and his younger brother Sipho home with him to Britain, where they become members of Temeraire's flight crew, initially as runners, and later as Midwingmen.

In Tongues of Serpents, Demane ends up harnessing Kulingile, unofficially becoming his captain. By League of Dragons, he is fully promoted by the Corps to captain, complete with his own crew.

  • Big Brother Instinct: Very protective of his brother, to the point that as they grow up Sipho finds him a bit overbearing.
  • Blood Knight: Demane is easily provoked, and enjoys combat.
  • Child Soldier: By the standards of aviators, he actually started as a cadet relatively late, around age ten or eleven, an age when most recruits would be promoted to Ensign. Cross-referencing dates in the books reveals that he was fully promoted to captain, given command of a full dragon crew, and pressed into combat around age seventeen or so due to Kulingile's tactical advantage, even younger than Harcourt was when she harnessed Lily.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Nobody else wanted the seemingly-deformed hatchling.
  • Hot-Blooded: He has a quick temper and a tendency to get into fights if he's not kept busy.
  • Made of Iron: He takes a stab wound in the gut, which a ship's physician says should kill him, but manages to fully recover, possibly due to the resilience of youth.
  • Parental Substitute: He may not show it due to his independent nature, but he respects Laurence for the protection he offers to him and Sipho. When their captain is lost at sea and presumed dead in Blood of Tyrants, he's worried the other aviators will try to take Kulingile away from him and send him and Demane back to Africa.
  • Puppy Love: He develops a strong affection for Emily Roland, and becomes extremely jealous when given reason. Emily reciprocates his feelings but is a lot more pragmatic: she doesn't see a point in a relationship that will be doomed by circumstance.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Laurence feels compelled to keep Demane with him, since he and his brother don't have anything to go back to, in no small part due to the actions of Laurence and the rest of the formation in Capetown.

    Sipho Tsuluka Dlamini 

An African child who follows his older brother Demane into Laurence's crew.

  • Badass Bookworm: Unlike Demane, he takes to his studies like a fish. By his early 20s, he's already publishing accounts of his adventures with Laurence and Temeraire. And while he's no soldier, neither is he timid or weak.
  • Black and Nerdy: He takes to scholarly pursuits from a young age and even continues writing and publishing into adulthood, contrasting against his Blood Knight aviator older brother.
  • Child Soldier: Although he's done less soldier-ing than either his brother or Emily have.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Encyclopedia Exposita piece at the end of Empire of Ivory, the book where he's introduced, shows that Sipho will survive the events of the series to reach adulthood and become a scholar. One of his works also shows that the Tswana will ultimately broker a peace and it's implicit that Britain becomes less racist by the time Sipho begins to publish his works.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Zigzagged. Sipho writes at length about the adventures of Temeraire, but only in a scholarly context, and he doesn't seem to be the Narrator proper (not least since he wasn't around for events of the first three books). However, his works overlap with the novels and Tongues of Serpents is presented as being at least in part his account of the events in the novel, due to his map prefacing the story.
  • Parental Substitute: Both Laurence and Temeraire look out for him and make sure he's properly educated.

    Admiral Lenton 

The commander of the Dover covert in Book 1.

After Obversaria's death between Black Powder War and Empire of Ivory, he is put on a quieter post and Roland takes his position.

  • Collateral Angst: Obversaria's death and Lenton's breakdown sets a grim tone for Empire of Ivory.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The death of Obversaria shatters him, and he has to step down from his position.
  • Put on a Bus: He's transferred to the quieter Edinburgh covert after his grief over losing Obversaria begins to affect his health, and we don't hear from him again.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Helped Laurence find his feet and get acclimated to the different culture of the Aerials Corps in the first book. He also had no objections to Laurence manhandling Rankin when Levitas was dying and was rather surprised that Laurence even apologized for it. This continues into the second book, where Barham threatens Laurence at gunpoint, Laurence finally snaps, and Lenton compliments him on his stoicism, admitting that, had he been in Laurence's shoes, he would have Turned Red quite a lot quicker.

    Captain Jeremy Rankin 

A captain of aristocratic background raised more conventional, to society's beliefs—meaning he treats dragons as beasts of burden and sneers at anyone who seeks civil rights for anyone.

  • Birds of a Feather: Caesar is Rankin in a dragon's body.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: At first, Laurence takes a liking to him because he's the only aviator who acts polite and friendly to Laurence when he first arrives, and he assumes the reason the other aviators avoid Rankin is because they're uncomfortable around someone who acts upper-class. Nope; it's because Rankin abuses his dragon and is a snobby Jerkass to the other captains. The sheep's clothing is entirely off by Tongues of Serpents.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: A direct inversion. He's got golden hair which the dragons admire (even Temeraire admits it's quite nice to look at) but he's also a selfish jerk.
  • Jerkass: He comes from old money and has been raised to believe dragons are inferior to men and are to be bullied and disciplined into submission (an outdated mode of thinking, but one that is still supported by the admiralty). His neglect of his dragon and his refusal to allow anyone to interfere leads to his first dragon, Levitas, almost being left to die alone after being fatally wounded in action. In Tongues of Serpents, he shows up in Australia announcing that he's to be given a new dragon. Fortunately, Caesar is strong-willed enough to have his own opinions, clever enough to manipulate Rankin into giving him what he wants, and materialistic enough that all he really wants is lots of food and treasure and and a wealthy captain who can provide it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In Tongues of Serpents, Rankin is sometimes the voice of reason. A dismissive and insulting one, but the voice of reason nonetheless.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the form of Caesar, who refuses to be treated like a dog, even naming himself. Granby gleefully notes that Rankin is going to have a lot of trouble managing him. (As it turns out, he and Rankin get along well, Caesar able to perform deference while holding his own and Rankin more than able to meet his dragon's material desires while getting a dragon who is obedient and respectful.)
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Besides his attitude towards how dragons ought to be treated, there's also his classism towards the other aviators, his racism towards Tharkay and Demane in Tongues of Serpents, and possibly sexism judging by some aspects of his interactions with Harcourt in the first book.
  • Rich Bitch: Male example. A lot of his attitude comes from upper-class entitlement.

    Arthur Hammond 

Introduced in Throne of Jade as the primary diplomat sent to China on behalf of England. After the events of that book, he serves for some years before being called away to enlist Laurence and Temeraire in resolving a crisis in South America in Crucible of Gold.

  • Ambadassador:
    • At one point, the delegation comes under physical attack and he urges them all to flee. When Laurence refuses (for fear of losing Temeraire), Hammond seizes a sword and helps out, fighting fiercely if without finesse and earning Laurence's immediate respect.
    • Later, when Dobrozhnov shoots early during the duel and wounds Laurence, Hammond, standing as his second, coldly and calmly insists on taking a shot on Laurence's behalf, then, after grazing his opponent, insists on a second round, where he neatly puts a bullet through Dobrozhnov's chest, before evenly considering honour satisfied.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Reversed trope, where he annoys his side with his furious (figurative) kowtowing to the Chinese, likely out of inexperience. Laurence notes upon meeting him for the first time that he only looks to be around twenty years of age, or "young enough to be one of my [midwingmen]", as Jane puts it.
  • Functional Addict: The Inca give him coca leaves to chew so he doesn't get airsick. From then on and into the next book, he's always looking for some when the situation gets stressful. (Which is all the time.) It doesn't hamper his diplomatic abilities, though.
  • Hidden Depths: He's not afraid of dragons. At all. Most Westerners turn tail and run when they see one; Hammond quite casually talks with Temeraire, going so far as to reprimand him for his less than tactful comments about the Chinese.
  • Implacable Man: Has deliberately cultivated this reputation. People may not like him, but everyone knows he can get a job done.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When an attack is imminent, he's not afraid to grab a sword and fight alongside the battle-hardened aviators. In "League of Dragons, after Dobrozhnov shoots early during the duel and wounds Laurence, Hammond's reaction is to coldly propose they fight to the death.
  • Nerves of Steel: Hammond may be annoying, but he is absolutely not a coward.
  • Noble Bigot: He's not too concerned about the slave trade in Crucible of Gold, and mostly concerned with how Laurence and Temeraire's abolitionist sentiments will affect relations with first the Inca (where the situation is a bit more complicated, and closer to serfdom), and then the Portuguese (where it's classic chattel slavery). However, he concedes on both counts, reluctantly, and willingly backs them the whole way throughout their insane escapades (even if he does sometimes regret it), becomes accustomed to Churki having adopted him, and even acts as Laurence's second in a duel, coldly demanding satisfaction when his opponent fired early, and taking a second round to put a bullet through said opponent's chest, almost killing him.

    Captain Dyhern 

Introduced in Black Powder War, Dyhern is a Prussian officer who works closely with Laurence, and while Dyhern is at first a little condescending to what he sees as a lack of British discipline, events conspire to change his opinion.

  • Mildly Military: Along with the rest of the Prussians, inverts this hard; the Prussians are seen, at least by Laurence, as the embodiment of proper military discipline and bravery. Indeed, it is this adherence to classical training and tactics that makes it possible for Napoleon's unconventional maneuvers to overwhelm them.
  • Take a Third Option: Coaxes a young Russian peasant girl to marry him as opposed to kindly if somewhat disgraced Ferris, who isn't certain he really wants to marry her; or the scummy Russian nobleman, who clearly plans on using her for his own desires before leaving her. He apologizes to Ferris for swooping in as he did, but notes that Ferris is still young and still has many chances ahead of him; Dyhern is an older officer.
  • Undying Loyalty: Though he escapes captivity, and works against Napoleon's interests in Russia, Dyhern is despondent from Eroica's uncertain fate and Prussia's crushing defeat. Apparently inspired by Laurence and Temeraire not having given up the fight, he agrees to go along with them to fight Napoleon's invasion of Russia—and then when finally reunited with Eroica thanks to Temeraire's actions, it's clear he considers them all friends for life.

    Lieutenant Forthing 

Introduced in Tongues of Serpents, he's one of the aviators sent to Australia along with three dragon eggs to start a new covert.

In Crucible of Gold, he takes over following Ferris's dismissal from the Corps as Temeraire's First Lieutenant.

  • Always Second Best: Both Laurence and Temeraire consider him to be this to Ferris.
  • Parental Abandonment: He's a foundling from Dover.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Temeraire gives him a hilarious one in Blood of Tyrants, explaining why he's not too fond of him:
    Temeraire: (to a dumbstruck Forthing) "Why will you not buy a shirt? Even if you do not buy a particularly decent one, you might buy something clean; and that coat is nothing like green: not at all. Whoever could wish to acknowledge you as a connection in any way when you look like an untended scare-crow? The hands before the mast have a neater appearance, and I know that Laurence has given you a hint, now and again-"
  • Replacement Scrappy: In-universe, both Laurence and Temeraire consider him this to Ferris, who was a far more competent First Lieutenant and was dismissed for unfair reasons.
  • The Unfavorite: As a first generation aviator, he didn't have much chance of promotion in England, hence, the trip to Australia. When he gets promoted to First lieutenant, Temeraire first doesn't like him because of Forthing's initial treatment of Laurence when they first arrived in Australia. Later, when Laurence is reinstated and Forthing is hired on, Temeraire still dislikes him because of the ungentlemanly, indeed shabby way he clothes himself.

    Gong Su 

A Chinese chef hired by Laurence and Temeraire after the latter develops a taste for cooked food and Chinese Cuisine. in reality, he is an agent of prince Mianning sent to keep an eye on the duo.

  • Hidden Depths: Appears to be a mild mannered chef, albeit one who follows his employers across several countries, in and out of captivity, through battles on land, air, and sea. Turns out he's an agent of the Chinese royal family sent to keep an eye on Laurence and Temeraire.
  • Knife Nut: When push comes to shove, he employs his kitchen knives as weapons —and he's far more proficient with them than a simple chef should be.
  • Supreme Chef: He's a very talented chef, able to combine seemingly mundane ingredients and produce delicious meals.

    Hannah Erasmus/Lethabo 

Wife of the preacher Mr. Erasmus, who along with her husband accompanied Laurence on the Allegiance in "Empire of Ivory." She was formerly a slave, kidnapped from the Tswana people as a child.

After her husband is killed, she decides to stay with the Tswana with her children. We later see her in South America working to send escaped slaves to live with the Tswana.

  • I Choose to Stay: Decides to stay with the Tswana instead of going back to England, feeling she and her children will have a better life there.
  • Meaningful Rename: After she returns to the Tswana, she prefers to be called Lethabo.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A mild-mannered wife of a priest, who ends up helping Laurence and co. escape captivity, and then helps return escaped slaves to the Tswana tribe, despite resistance from the Portuguese government.


    Temeraire (born 龍天祥, Lung Tien Xiang

Second son of Lung Tien Qian, Temeraire was given by the Chinese to the French and then captured in the egg by the English, with whom he serves alongside Captain Laurence.

  • The Atoner: Temeraire feels massively guilty for losing Laurence's fortune and is constantly trying to find ways of getting it back that Laurence would approve of. He flat-out doesn't believe Laurence when he says it doesn't matter to him.
  • A Father to His Men: Presumably influenced both by Laurence and later the Incan dragons' behavior, Temeraire becomes possessive and protective of his entire crew, unlike many British dragons who don't even learn their entire crews' names. As he becomes an experienced dragon commander, this attitude even begins to extend to his draconic subordinates.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: A minor example - his priorities and perspectives aren't exactly human (he mostly just cares about Laurence, his crew, and his friends), though they do become a bit more closely aligned as time goes by.
  • Clingy Jealous Dragon: Dragons in general become jealously protective of their captains, and it's common knowledge among aviators that taking on a spouse means dividing your time between them and your dragon, but Temeraire becomes especially clingy after Laurence loses his memory. He becomes highly resentful of Mrs. Pemberton when he fears Laurence might want to marry her, and he doesn't calm down until Laurence assures him that he has no such intentions.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's one of the smartest people in the series, has a near-uncanny ability to command the respect and allegiance of both humans and dragons, and is also an exceptionally fast heavyweight dragon with insane aerial maneuvering ability and a One-Hit Polykill Breath Weapon. Piss him off at your peril.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: To his displeasure, Temeraire keeps losing members of his crew to become captains for newly-hatched dragons, and his narration in Victory of Eagles shows that he soured quickly to those of Laurence's former crew who chose to take up posts on other dragons rather than rejoining him. He's even more possessive of Laurence, to the point of getting cagey at any other dragon that seeks attention from him.
  • The Hero: Since the books start with Temeraire as a hatchling, the books are almost a Coming of Age story for him. His perspective on the world changes the thinking of many around him, and he's excellent at winning new allies who can help him and Laurence deal with whatever problems happen.
  • Honor Before Reason: As much as he doesn't understand Laurence's tendencies for it, Temeraire also holds onto honor, mostly out of a desire to improve the lot of European dragons.
  • The Leader: To his group of friends, initially (despite the fact that he's the youngest, not quite the largest - Maximus, or the leader), through sheer force of personality and an uncharacteristic degree of generosity for such a large dragon. He later turns these, his intellect, and Laurence's example to rouse up the breeding grounds and create his own command when he thinks Laurence is dead.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He's both big and fast, capable of turning on a dime and even hovering in the air, which most other dragons can't do. To top it off, he also has the Divine Wind; Temeraire, like other Celestials, is a formidable force.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The Divine Wind is a powerful sonic weapon that can shatter buildings and eardrums.
  • Manchild: As of the third book, he has reached his full growth, but is only 18 months old and has an appropriately simplistic worldview.
  • Meaningful Name: In multiple languages!
    • The Temeraire was a French sailing ship which was famously captured by the Royal Navy and put back into service; this has very obvious resonance with our dragon, though this was not Laurence's thought at the time. The ship itself later makes a cameo, saluting its namesake.
    • As for the word itself, Temeraire is the French word for "temerity," meaning "bravery" or even "audacity," two things Temeraire scarcely lacks.
    • 龍天祥, Temeraire's Chinese name (Lung Tien Xiang by Novik's not-quite-historically-accurate transliterationnote , Lóng Tiān Xiáng in modern pinyin), means "Dragon Heaven Auspicious". While all Celestials go by Lung Tien [Whatever], "auspicious" means "Born Lucky" and "promising success." This has certainly proven true for Laurence and England.
  • Military Maverick: In Prussia, he's very skeptical of their dragons' rigid formations, and he has little regard for what the Admiralty thinks. But when he plans tactics on his own and flies in formation with dragons, his ideas are usually quite good.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Unlike Laurence, Temeraire isn't inclined to beat himself up over their part in enabling France's invasion of England. What he failed to realise, however, was how thoroughly Laurence would be ruined for it. When Temeraire learns that Laurence's imprisonment left him unable to contest a ten thousand pound lawsuit he nearly has a heart attack. He comes to see the loss as a huge mark against his ability to take care of his captain, and he resolves to find a way to pay Laurence back.
  • Mirror Character: Both he and Lien despise each other, but they're both Celestials who are unusual among their kind (him for fighting and Western upbringing, her for her albinism), both introduce Chinese influenced reforms on dragon treatment and warfare to the West, and both command a significant amount of loyalty from their draconic fellows through sheer force of personality. And as he makes clear, if he was ever to lose Laurence, he would do almost exactly what Lien did.
  • Omniglot: One of the advantages of being a Celestial is that he can pick up languages very quickly. As of Crucible of Gold, he can speak a variety of languages, if not all of them perfectly fluently. He knows English, French, Chinese, Turkish, German, Xhosa, Durzagh (a language of feral dragons), Quechua, and later Russian and presumably a smattering of Japanese.
  • Rage Within the Machine: After visiting China in book 2 and witnessing the equitable treatment of dragons there, fully integrated into human society and accorded all the rights and comforts of people, Temeraire returns intent on improving the lot of dragons in Great Britain. In fact, it becomes one of his defining character traits, and the reputation he develops for it eventually crosses national boundaries.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: As Storyboarding the Apocalypse demonstrates, his would be every bit as methodical and ruthless as Lien's was.
  • Spare to the Throne: Temeraire is a twin. His brother Lung Tien Chuan was assigned to Prince Mianning, heir apparent to the Chinese throne, and Temeraire packaged off to avoid his becoming a Spanner in the Works. (This sticks Temeraire with an Ironic Name as well.)
  • Storyboarding the Apocalypse: When he voluntarily brings his corps of 'free' dragons to aid England in repelling invasion, one of the stupider staff officers threatens to execute Laurence if Temeraire proves disobedient. Temeraire explains that this threat, ordinarily so effective, will doom England instantly if carried out:
    Temeraire: "I will not let him be parted from me again, and if you do hang him, then I will take my friends and go; but not back to China. I will go to Napoleon, and I will tell him he may have my territory, if only he destroys you all, and I will give him any help he wants of me to do it. Now threaten me again, if you like."
  • Tsundere: An extreme type A towards Iskierka; disposed to dislike her from the beginning, given that she 'took' Granby, Temeraire's internal narration is full of belittling comments about her, culminating in Crucible of Gold where he finally relents and decides to give her an egg. Wounded pride also plays a part. Lien had just revealed that Celestials cannot cross-breed, and Iskierka (being the Bratty Half-Pint she is) immediately needles him about his failures in mating. His thought process is less that he likes her and more that she's, well, conveniently available. Having said that, he does credit her for the occasions when she pulls her own weight.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Like most dragons, he is deeply protective of his captain (and unlike many British dragons this eventually extends to his whole crew) which provides an effective source of both pathos and comic relief.
    • He also has a gift for inspiring it, through persuasion, loyalty to his fellows, and sheer force of personality - it's noted that even nominally larger dragons (such as Maximus and Requiescat - Kulingile doesn't really count as while he's enormous, he's also incredibly easy-going and has the self-esteem of boiled cabbage) and more senior ones (Lily, his formation leader) end up deferring to him instinctively.
  • The Unfettered: Temeraire himself has some qualities of The Unfettered, although this may be more a case of True Neutral or even Blue-and-Orange Morality. He has no sentiment of patriotism (at least until his Character Development in the fifth book), no innate drive to be helpful toward humans he's never met, and no particular dislike of France or Napoleon. Like most of the dragons of England, he only helps the British to keep his humans happy. His efforts to reconcile his attitude and Laurence's for the sake of their friendship gives the series a philosophical aspect.
  • Warrior Poet: The tendencies are encouraged by Laurence's then-unusual habit of reading to him, and when he visits China it's set.

    Lung Tien Lien (龍天蓮) 

An albino dragon—white is the color of death in traditional Chinese culture, and is considered horribly unlucky. Despite being one of the very few Celestials available to the nation, Lien was treated as an outcast... until a prince named Yongxing took pity on her, and the two became inseparable. Too bad Yongxing was plotting to have Laurence killed, which Temeraire of course wasn't going to stand for...

  • Albinos Are Freaks: Lien's family and breed is basically the equivalent of Chinese royalty, but in a culture where white is associated with death and bad luck, albinos are basically treated as walking bad luck charms. If it wasn't for Yongxing accepting her as his companion, she would probably have been alone all her life.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: her entire reason for hating Temeraire is that she considers him responsible for Yongxing's death. In a short "drabble" by the author, we see her many years in France's future, looking down at the more-modern city below. Despite that:
    The pain remained unaltered.
  • Badass Bookworm: As a Celestial, Lien was exempt from taking the civil service examination. She took it anyway and became the zhuangyuan of her cohort.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Napoleon. They have different goals—she's out for vengeance and he's a conqueror—but since she wants vengeance on a pair of Brits, their goals fit hand-in-glove.
  • Broken Ace: In China, thanks to her albinism.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The few brief interactions we see of her with Napoleon suggest that she is beginning to care for him to some degree, even if not to the same extent as she has for Prince Yongxing. Presumably, despite the difference in their goals, she admires humans of great ambition, vision, and ability.
  • The Dragon: Quite literally, to Prince Yongxing and later Napoleon.
  • Dragon Lady: Taking this trope from the Chinese point of view—fierce, powerful, and smart, she quickly secures an alliance with the person most likely to help her make Laurence and Temeraire's lives an absolute hell. Her battle strategies are extremely effective and while she has little experience she is clearly a student of personal combat as well.
  • Dragon Ascendant: After Yongxing dies, she goes into exile to join Napoleon for a chance to utterly destroy Temeraire and Laurence.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Temeraire.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: She also possesses the divine wind, and knows how to use it better than Temeraire as well.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Direct combat is viewed as beneath Celestials in China, so prior to her encounter with Temeraire, while she had presumably studied it, she had zero experience with it. (She outmaneuvers him in their duel at first, but his cunning and experience begin to tell, and she is unused to pain from combat injuries.) After she allies herself with Napoleon, she quickly revolutionizes warfare tactics in France, refines her Divine Wind, and becomes much more of a martial threat.
  • Out of Focus: Despite her stated desire to see Temeraire and Laurence suffer, she hasn't done a whole lot in recent books (though her influence on France's dragon breeding techniques is becoming apparent). For the most part, Napoleon drives the plot. In Blood of Tyrants, she's believed to be keeping an eye on Napoleon's newborn son, but in League of Dragons joins Napoleon in his battles as the situation becomes more desperate towards the end.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Her arrival and alliance with Napoleon has revolutionized and improved the lot of every dragon in France, and most of them regard her with hero-worship, calling her the White Queen. This doesn't extend to the humans of France.
  • Wicked Cultured: She's a scholar in various fields, and her knowledge comes in great use for Napoleon.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: She's ostracized for being an albino in China, and only one person ever shows her any affection. When he dies, she has nothing to live for but revenge.


An elderly Malachite Reaper who acts as the training master for British dragons at Loch Laggan. Unique in the Corps for having no human "captain" assuring his loyalty.

  • The Mentor: Celeritas acts as the tutor for many of Britain's fighting dragons.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Celeritas's first two captains, served the Aerial Corps faithfully, so he continues to serve even though, having rejected the captain they proposed for him, he would normally have been retired to the breeding grounds.
  • Old Soldier: He was once a fighting dragon like the rest of the Corps, but he couldn't take the field if he wanted to, unless he accepted a human captain.
  • Open Secret: His role in training is generally known in the Aerial Corps, but kept secret from the other branches of the military (and, as far as possible, from the Obstructive Bureaucrat types in the British government.)
  • Put on a Bus: He drops out of the series after "Empire of Ivory," having gone into retirement during the plague. This might be because the British government finally caught on, although Temeraire feels a personal responsibility for having tricked him when they steal the cure from Loch Laggan; alternately, having borne up under the deaths of his captains, the deaths of so many of his friends (many of whom would likely have been students) during the plague, he might have decided to be shot of the whole business.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Although he trains dragons in the traditional ways, he has no objection to new concepts. He also turns a blind eye, when he feels it necessary.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Celeritas's undisputed skill in training young dragons quickly and effectively is seen as highly unusual and laudable, and the Aerial Corps' human members accept it without question, but they don't ever consider him evidence that dragons should be considered equals.


A Regal Copper, the largest breed of dragon available to Britain (though French Grand Chevaliers, and sometimes Petit Chevaliers as well, are known to rival their size). Like his captain Berkley, Maximus can be grumpy, but their hearts are in the right place.

  • The Big Guy: Maximus takes this position for granted. When he encounters Requiescat in Victory of Eagles, the two almost instinctively come to blows—not even out of anger, but simply because this is what happens when adult male Regal Coppers first meet. (As Requiescat notes reminiscently, female Coppers are even bigger, but it's "different with girls".) Given Temeraire's presence and their nature as two of the most fundamentally even-tempered dragons in the series, however, it doesn't come to anything. Then, when Kulingile shows up, there's a certain amount of friction.
  • Brutal Honesty: He seems to have picked this habit up from Berkley, and sometimes uses it on Berkley, like when he points out that Berkley's too thin and ill himself worrying over the dragon plague.
  • Not So Invincible After All: Maximus is so big he has trouble with the concept that anything could be a danger to him. Consequently he tends to underestimate serious threats, referring to a virulent plague as "a cold" and a cannonball to the chest as "a scratch."
  • Nice Guy: He's incredibly blunt, but fundamentally very good-natured.
  • With Catlike Tread: Makes a brief and extremely unsuccessful attempt at stealth in Empire of Ivory.


A Longwing, one of a breed that spits acidic venom, much prized in Britain due to their lack of firebreathers. Lily is typically the center of any formation so that she can deploy her ranged attacks unmolested.

  • Acid Attack: As a Longwing, she can spit highly corrosive acid from the bony nozzles growing from her jaw.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Among friends and family, Lily is a complete creampuff. In the center of a ground attack formation, she is an unholy terror.
  • The Chick: She's not aggressive and often acts as a mediator when Temeraire and the other dragons in formation are getting on each others' nerves for one reason or another.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Zig-zagged. Lily is a huge acid-spitting dragon, but personality-wise she is very sweet and gentle, almost ladylike.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: She very openly protests Harcourt's marriage to Riley, and is even jealous of Harcourt's son.
  • Hollywood Acid: It's green, it smokes, and it can burn through warships. There's an offhand mention in one book about how a tiny splatter of it on the foot can be lethal. (Then again, given what Hydrofluoric acid can do, that last may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.)
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: Lily hatched five years ahead of schedule and in the middle of the night, when Harcourt was serving at a completely different covert, and so she hadn't even begun to try coming up with a more 'traditional' name in the Canis Latinicus vein that many aviators go for. She blurted the name 'Lily' while half-asleep.
  • Odd Name Out: She's one of the few known harnessed British-born dragons who doesn't possess a Latinate or Canis Latinicus name, the others being Temeraire, Kulingile, and Hollin's Winchester Elsie.


A Grey Winchester, one of the small speedy dragons used for courier services. Of course, his master is Rankin, so you can imagine how well he's treated.

  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Well, emotionally, in Rankin's.
  • Dying Alone: Averted, thanks to Laurence's forceful intervention.
  • I Just Want To Be Loved: All Levitas ever wanted his whole life was Rankin's affection. Tragic, considering Rankin is a complete jerk.
  • Parental Neglect: Well, from Levitas' perspective. Dragons regard their riders as most treasured possession or their child or their parent. Rankin treated Levitas quite badly - not that he hated his loyal dragon partner, he just didn't care.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Levitas brings vital news of the Dover invasion back to Britain just in time. Rankin gets a medal. Levitas gets to die in agony.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He's always trying to please Rankin, but Rankin continues to treat him like an animal.


The leader of a band of feral dragons encountered on the way to Turkey by Laurence and Temeraire. Reckless and prone to posturing when he thinks his leadership is threatened. Tharkay eventually convinces him and his gang of ferals to fight for the British against Napoleon.

  • Always Someone Better: Arkady's self-important insistence on leadership doesn't apply to Iskierka - due to a combination of her size, fire breathing, and personality, he considers her more of a sentient force of nature than a rival, and so doesn't mind her giving orders. Unfortunately, their bad habits tend to reinforce each other.
  • Loveable Rogue: The adjective usually applied to him is 'piratical'. He has no loyalty to Britain or enmity toward France—he's in it for the regular meals, the excitement, the occasional shiny object, and the acclaim of his fellow ferals.
  • Mildly Military: After joining the Aerial Corps. He has very little patience for things like "discipline" and "orders", as unlike most other harnessed dragons he wasn't born into the service. The British are still able to make use of him, but only after some adaptation.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Being a feral, he's classed as a lightweight (and not the biggest of them). But having lived his whole life surviving in the wild, he's also wiry, cunning, vicious, and more maneuverable than any other dragon in his weight class.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Like any bandit chief, he's got a loyal gang of boisterous, gluttonous thieves to back him up. Molnar and Wringe, his mate, are the two that are most often mentioned.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He likes to exaggerate his role in things.


A huge Prussian dragon and formation-leader. An exemplar of how Prussian military discipline and confidence applies even to their aerial corps, Eroica finds himself captured when the Chinese-derived tactics of Napoleon roll over the disciplined Prussians in Black Powder War.

  • Badass Army: Played with. The Prussians are seen, at least by Laurence (and themselves), as the finest fighting force in Europe. Napoleon's wholly unconventional tactics kick the shit out of them anyway. In fairness, even after defeats the soldiers maintain an impressive degree of morale.
  • Mildly Military: Very much averted in his case and the case of all the other Prussian dragons, for whom Eroica is presented as the ideal. Though not the most agile flyer, he is so precise and well-trained that his corners almost have points.
  • Undying Loyalty: Aside from the standard loyalty to his captain, Dyhern, after being reunited with Dyhern thanks to Temeraire's actions, Eroica refers to Temeraire as "best of friends" and swears, when Temeraire has a task to do but Laurence is too unwell to come with him, to look after Laurence as if he were his own captain.


Enters into the series as a Kazilik egg promised the British by the Sultan in Istanbul. The egg hatches on the way home, and Granby takes custody of her. Iskierka is an impulsive, self-important and utterly wrong-headed, but as Britain's one and only firebreather and a heavyweight on top of it, the Corps is forced to give her a fair bit of leeway.

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: She gets distracted easily by gold, riches, and other such valuables, or even the prospect of same.
  • Bling of War: She's fond of displaying her treasure, and insists Granby dresses to match. Note that while the humans find this behavior ridiculous, all the other dragons are jealous. The only thing stopping them from outfitting their own captains this way is the fact that Iskierka, with her talent at capturing enemy ships, is the only one who can afford it.
  • Blood Knight: The only thing she likes better than fighting is looting the prizes she wins by fighting.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: She comes out of her shell particularly willful, and only gets worse after, as the Admiralty and the Corps tend to look over her faults, given how effective a fighter she is.
  • Break the Haughty: In Crucible of Gold, Granby finally finds the willpower to put an end to her obnoxious attitude. He flatly states that, while he loves her, a dragon who won't obey orders is of no use to a loyal captain of the Aerial Corps, and while it breaks his heart he will leave her for another dragon if she doesn't grow up. Iskierka is aghast, but at least tries to be more obliging.
  • Enfante Terrible: She displays bloodthirstiness straight out of the egg, by wanting to kill French dragons attacking.
  • Fiery Redscale: Her scales are colored red, black and violet.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Her name literally means "little spark" and she's a heavy, violent-prone, fire-breathing dragoness.
  • Hot-Blooded: Is she ever. There's no fight that she won't try to take on; when an Inca dragon challenges her to Trial by Combat, she's delighted.
  • Glory Hound: There's nothing she likes better than showing off and flaunting her victories.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In Crucible of Gold, she loudly announces that Captain Little is Granby's lover, not understanding that homosexuality is considered a crime for Britain at the time, nor why a homosexual man would be really unwilling to have sex with a woman.
  • It's All About Me: There are at least four crises of various direness precipitated by this attitude.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For the most part, she is callous, arrogant, obnoxious, and cares only about herself. However, there is a heart of gold... if buried very deep down. She really does think she's doing what's best for Granby, and is horrified when he finally really calls her out and lays down the law, and she is extremely protective of her egg.
  • The Lancer: To Temeraire. She'll always advocate the more proactive course, and sometimes she has a point.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Her tendency for rushing into any battle for blood and glory is slightly moderated when it gets Granby captured.
  • Mama Bear: Towards her egg by Temeraire, though it's used against her.
  • Meaningful Name: Her name is a dimunitive form of Polish word "iskra" ("spark") — therefore, it may be translated as "little spark" or "sparkle".
  • Playing with Fire
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: She and Arkady find kindred spirits in each other, and she's later seen taking prizes in concert with him and his gang of ferals.
  • Spoiled Brat: Completely and utterly rotten, much to Granby's despair. Even without the Admiralty doing almost anything to hang onto heavyweight dragons and those with special abilities (and Iskierka is both), Iskierka has a deep-seated belief that "I breathe fire, therefore I'm always right."
  • Stalker with a Crush / Stalker with a Test Tube: Wants an egg by Temeraire that would have both her flames and his Divine Wind. The result is described more like the plasma breath of a Night Fury.
  • Unwanted Assistance: invoked She outfits poor Granby in Bling of War and takes off after prizes constantly despite his efforts to restrain her, because she thinks he's the best and should therefore have the best clothes and best wealth. She's so eager to cover him in glory that she offers him as a husband to the Incan empress. She does not consult Granby in any of this.


An experimental cross between a Malachite Reaper and a Pascal's Blue who disdained harnessing when she hatched, Perscitia was relegated to the breeding grounds, where she and her prodigious intellect wasted away for at least four books. Then Temeraire happened.

  • Gadgeteer Genius: She figures out how to work cannons, and devises other strategies for Temeraire's regiment.
  • Insufferable Genius: She's not too bad an example, aside from her ability to carry a grudge for anyone who corrects her or informs her that her admittedly brilliant mathematical discoveries were discovered long ago by someone else.
  • Long Bus Trip: Like Gentius, Requiescat, Minnow and the rest of Temeraire's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits from Victory of Eagles, she dropped out of view during his subsequent world travels. However, she maintained a (very) minor presence as Temeraire's pen pal, and turns out in the final book to have been central in the effort to win legal citizenship for the dragons of Great Britain, eventually becoming the first draconic member of Parliament.
  • Medieval Stasis: Unlike other dragons, has perceived how unlikely things are to remain as they are. She points that that guns were invented, and they have gotten better over centuries, and believes that in the future humans will make a cannon that can kill a Regal Copper in flight with a single shot—and then where will dragons be?
  • The Smart Guy: She gives Temeraire a run for his money; she independently derives the binomial and Pythagorean theorem (and is quite disgusted to learn that they're common knowledge to every mathematician who hasn't been stuck in a damp cave in the Welsh countryside their whole life), and then starts coming up with mathematics that even the well-read Temeraire hasn't previously encountered.
  • The So-Called Coward: Almost unique in being a dragon with no hunger for battle, though she has no problem with supporting her allies in their battles. (It's for the best, as even if she had a lot of fighting spirit she's a slow flyer with very visible coloration.) Since 'war machine' is the only career path allowed to British dragons of her size, she's very sensitive about her "shortcoming".


The first of three eggs sent to Australia to hatch. He was born from Arkady and Wringe, and his assigned and accepted captain is Rankin. Though he's not pleasant, he's more disposed to stand up to Rankin and picked his own name.

  • Birds of a Feather: A self-centered whiner who cares mainly about status? Perfect for Rankin! As is wryly observed, they deserve each other.
    • More specifically, Rankin attempts to use old-school dragon training that's more in keeping with how one would train a dog or a horse. Despite Temeraire's warnings, Caesar is entirely willing to be manipulated in such a fashion—so long as Rankin keeps him well-fed and dresses to show off his wealth.
  • Jerkass: Much like his captain.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Even moreso than his captain. While Temeraire loathes him, he does acknowledge that Caesar is highly intelligent, and he often raises good points as long as they serve his self-interest.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Rankin's first dragon rejected him, and his second was an Extreme Doormat. Caesar, on the other hand, is willing to be a companion, but refuses to be a servant.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He's more than willing to feign submissiveness to get exactly what he wants out of Rankin. Since this kind of behaviour is exactly what Rankin wants, it suits both of them quite nicely.
  • Gold Digger: He's okay with being Rankin's dragon once he finds out that Rankin is from a rich, important family.
  • Spoiled Brat: From birth, and not much better after.

    Volatilus (AKA Volly) 

A Greyling who is part of the courier service. He's the first dragon that Temeraire meets after hatching, and rather subverts Temeraire's obvious expectations. Very fast but somewhat lacking in intelligence.

  • The Ditz: Volatilus is a sweetie, but brains are not his strong point. He's so scatterbrained, in fact, that Laurence and Temeraire both initially suspect him of being "simple" (read: cognitively impaired). Greylings just aren't very smart in general, being bred for speed above all else. The best he can do trying to pronounce Temeraire's name is "Temrer".
    Temeraire: And where, pray, do you come from?
    Volly: I was hatched! From an egg!
  • Fluffy the Terrible: As enormous carnivores go, he's adorable.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Cows!


Introduced as an egg in the sixth book, a cross between a Chequered Nettle and a Parnassian. At birth he appears to be deformed, but when Demane is allowed to keep him, he not only survives but turns out to be a beast of exceptional size, larger than a Regal Copper, Britain's largest established dragon breed.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Like most dragons, his Berserk Button is any harm threatened to his captain. Otherwise, he is a kind soul.
  • Big Eater: Until he neared his adult size, "I am hungry" was his Catchphrase.
  • The Big Guy: One wonders even how big he would be if he had been given all the food he wanted as a hatchling. His size has made Maximus, the previous Big Guy, rather jealous: but Kulingile is too easy-going to have a real rivalry with.
    • A drabble in Golden Age and Other Stories reveals that while the world recognizes Kulingile as one of the largest dragons in existence, Kulingile still sees himself as the little malformed hatching everyone wanted to kill.
      Kulingile privately could not understand what so distressed Maximus, and some of the other heavy-weights, about him. He remembered himself as small and ungainly and sure to die; that was what everyone had said.
  • Gentle Giant: Even more than Maximus, he's a big sweetheart.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: He's massive, golden and intimidating. He even speaks with an unnerving reverb. But all poor Kulingile wants is to be like everyone else. When they join the battle in Spain, Jane Roland notes it's a good thing Demane is such a fierce warrior, since Kulingile is as sweet and mild a creature as you might ever desire to meet.
  • Magikarp Power: As a hatchling, his air sacs were so large he could barely move. Only Demane will take care of him; the aviators and dragon-surgeon wanted to mercy-kill him. Later, it's revealed that the air sacs are so big because he is, at full growth, one of the largest dragons anyone in the cast has ever seen. There's one (known) contender in the Incan Empire of his scale, and the Sui-Riu in the eight book are much larger (thought flightless), but he's still larger than any known European dragon.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Ordinarily he is laconic and friendly. On the other hand, when Demane (in Crucible of Gold) or Sipho (in Blood of Tyrants) are in danger, he's a One-Dragon Army.
  • Voice of the Legion: After he finally outgrows his young high-pitched voice, his voice is described as echoey, as if several people are talking at once.


An Incan dragon with vibrant, feather-like scales. Formerly of the Incan air force, she was tasked with escorting Temeraire and the rest to meet the Sapa Inca. When they had to flee she decided to come with them, having taken a liking to Hammond.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Non-romantic variant. Hammond isn't overly fond of dragons, being prone to airsickness. Churki can't take a hint, however, and eventually he resigns himself to the idea.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: She insists that Hammond marries at least several times and gives her many children to care for. By the time they reach Japan, she's become impatient with his "reluctance," and encourages Laurence to start having kids too.
    "... A man should begin to have children at twenty, in my opinion, and a woman at sixteen."
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: As far as dragons are concerned, anyway. Since Incan dragons are now always the head of ayllu, and because they have gold laying around everywhere, she considers taking on Hammond (who has a large extended family) as a serious promotion and isn't nearly as interested in hoarding.
  • Four-Star Badass: She served in the Incan Army and won many honors. Now she's returned home to her mother to win the greatest honor in her country: a human family to look after.
  • Mama Bear: To Hammond. Incan dragons are even more this than most dragons, having lost so many of their people to epidemics, and when they finally arrive in Britain she extends her protectiveness to his entire extended family.
  • Screw The Money I have People!: Dragons from the Incan Empire value their people above all earthly materials and are extremely possessive of them. Churki understands money is sometimes a necessity, but it is nothing compared to having a human family, and she berates any dragon who argues otherwise.
  • Team Mom: She's significantly older and more experienced than the rest of Temeraire's usual gang and freely advises them on various matters, usually in regards to the proper treatment of their captains and crew (see Babies Make Everything Better above).
  • This Is My Human: Upon learning Hammond isn't properly part of Temeraire's crew, she starts trying to convince him to stay in South America with her where she can take care of him. When he, in desperation, tries to deflect her attention by saying he has a large family in Britain and can't make such a commitment, she decides to go home with him so she can look after all of them.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: At twenty, Churki is relatively young in dragon years, and for a heavyweight, hasn't come of age yet to be responsible for her own ayllu. Yet she's a veteran soldier and an excellent tactician that can adapt to any given conflict in any situation. She, like her mother, regards the Napoleonic Wars as silly and childish. In addition, while they remain in South America her knowledge of local botany and natural medicine is unrivaled.

    Lady Kiyomizu 

A Siu-Riu water dragon, and one of the noble guardians of Japan. Several hundred years old, she sheltered Laurence and Junichiro who were on the run from a law that forbade foreigners outside of Nagasaki, for reasons of her own (which are implied to be mostly curiosity).

  • The Ditz: She's a little eccentric, mostly due to heavy drinking.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: She told Laurence to dispense with all formalities and simply address her as "Kiyo", since it's blatantly obvious that he couldn't manage the proper forms anyway.
    Kiyomizu: There is no point in expecting you to put out sakura blossoms, when you are a bamboo.
  • The High Queen: Dragons are part of the ruling hierarchy of the nation. Kiyomizu is a very powerful figure. Though shocked at her for protecting Laurence, an outsider, no one in Japan dared to challenge her actions.
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare: She became enamored with the works of William Shakespeare, and when Laurence reveals he knows some of Julius Caesar demands he teach her every line he knew in English, and not to bother translating it, as she wanted to memorize the play in its original context and meaning. (She is particularly fond of the sound of the phrase "Neither wit nor words nor worth" in English.)
  • Lady Drunk: She loves drinking sake as much as she does reading poetry.
  • Making a Splash: She can breathe underwater, as well as ingest and violently expel large qualities of water. She's also capable of heating and discharging boiling water, if need be.
  • Mundane Utility: While transporting Laurence and Junichiro, she makes a pit stop to fill a village's frozen irrigation channels with heated water; it is implied this is an uncommon but not unheard-of boon Siu-Riu perform for their people.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: While behaving in a somewhat decadent manner, drinking and carousing with outsiders, she is no fool, and when the Potentate leaves has already initiated the construction of Japan's own naval fleet.
  • Sea Monster: Kiyo's breed can be over 200 feet in length, more than twice the size of the largest dragons in Europe. Needless to say, sailors are absolutely terrified of her kind.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: It's illegal for foreigners to travel in Japan, which causes serious problems for Laurence's human host/captor. Kiyomizu doesn't give it a second thought, because she is Lady Kiyomizu.
  • Sizeshifter: For moderately realistic reasons. Her sub-species are flightless, and the 'air sacs' used for buoyancy can instead be used to draw in exceptional quantities of water - like sponges. On land, she's the size of a Yellow Reaper (a middleweight). She can swell much larger by drawing in water, though this would immobilize her if she weren't in an ocean or river.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Inverted. Laurence requests his leave of the noble sea dragon, he frets that he's either going to exhaust Kiyo's kindness and hospitality, or get her into trouble for harboring him. Kiyo, however, doesn't want him to leave.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Dragons generally live two to three times longer than men. The Sui Riu are even more long lived than European dragons, with a lifespan of several hundred years.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Her attitude toward Laurence.

    General Lung Shao Chu 

An old and experienced officer of the Chinese Aerial Corps introduced in Blood of Tyrants, one of the Scarlet Flower breed. In charge of the expedition that saw Laurence and Temeraire earn Chinese reinforcements for England, then in charge of the reinforcements as they head to Russia.

  • Old Soldier: Unlike others in China, Chu is respectful of Laurence and Temeraire but doesn't bow and scrape before them. He knows his work and won't tolerate backtalk from anyone short of the emperor.
  • Put on a Bus: Takes a volley of cannon fire to the back from a French ambush. He survives, but his convalescence takes him out of action for the rest of the series. (Given his age and experience, he may have been offered an early retirement.)
  • Retirony: Briefly mentions wanting to retire to the mountains when the war is over, only to be grievously injured in the first battle in Russia. Played with a bit- he's not killed, although his injuries may result in forced retirement.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Even when it appears England is conspiring to undermine Chinese internal stability, he's willing to listen to Laurence and Temeraire's defence and even help them look for evidence. He's also wise enough to overcome his own prejudices; when he sees that Iskierka is not only dangerous in a fight because of her breath but because she's a very skilled flyer, despite the conventional wisdom of the Chinese breeding programmes (which he heads up) being that firebreathers are too unbalanced to be graceful in the air, he decides that some changes might need to be made. These changes result in Ning, Temeraire and Iskierka's egg, being designated as Prince Mianning's next companion.
  • Stealth Mentor: Since he can't openly tell Temeraire what to do, he phrases his advice in the form of asking questions Temeraire has no good answer for. Overlaps with Servile Snarker, as he clearly doesn't have much regard for British aerial tactics.
  • Veteran Instructor: Teaches Temeraire about tactics, particularly the idea that you can't manage a battle from the front lines.


The most prominent of the heavyweight Russian dragons encountered by Temeraire. She is brutal, ruthless, savage, greedy, and lacks any empathy even for other dragons. She is also enormous, covered in bony armor plating, and a very deadly fighter.

  • Badass: As much as Temeraire finds the Russian heavyweights disagreeable, he has to admit that they, and in particular Vosyem, are very good at fighting.
  • The Big Guy: Russians have three sizes of dragon: lightweights (who work as couriers, or serve larger dragons in the coverts if they want to get fed), "flyweights" (used by the Cossack irregulars, slightly larger than the Chinese Jade Dragons), and heavyweights. They have almost no use for middleweights and, indeed, have a very different scale, so much so that Temeraire, indisputably considered a heavyweight from book 1, is casually referred to as a "middleweight" by a Russian officer. Though they never meet or serve together so no direct comparison is made in the text, Vosyem is probably as big as or bigger than Maximus or even Kulingile.
  • Greed: About the only thing that can control Vosyem (and most of the Russian heavyweights) is their desire for treasure of all sorts, and the better they fight, the more they're given, which they guard jealously against all other dragons. Much of it is worthless, brass or similar, but as long as it's shiny, they're content.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: At first, Temeraire's behavior during the French retreat making him rich, and his subsequent overtures to them (inviting them to dinner where they are all given prizes and lavish food), seem to have an effect on the Russian heavyweights—they're all more willing to behave and follow his orders if it means treasure. But Vosyem quickly shows that she hasn't really changed when a carrying-strap becomes uncomfortable, so she simply tears it off and lets the three hundred men she was carrying plummet to their death.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Many Russian dragons, Vosyem among them, do not seem to see humans as people in the same way as dragons of other nations do, and require far less extremity to consider eating people than other dragons would.
  • It's All About Me: Iskierka would likely call her selfish.
  • Jerkass: Yes. Vosyem lacks even affection for her captain or officers, and Russian dragons (aside from those used by the Cossacks, who have a more a traditional relationship with their beasts) will gladly fight on even if their crew are captured.
  • Meaningful Name: A stealth example. Vosyem is an Anglicization of the Cyrillic восемь, Russian for the number eight. This allows readers who know this to infer how Russians think of dragons.


A Russian lightweight working under Vosyem as her attendant.

  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Even more than other dragons with odd notions (whether by human or Temeraire's standards), Grig and the Russian lightweights have developed a strange code about how dragons are supposed to behave. They don't judge Temeraire or the Chinese dragons for their behavior, being more curious about how they act differently; their own standard of behavior is more about how they, not being very valued by Russian humans, can manage to survive.
  • Omniglot: Unusually for a western dragon, Grig and the other Russian lightweights (the ones used as spies, anyway) are very good with languages even after becoming adults.
  • The Trickster: A relatively harmless variant. Grig is far more subtle and manipulative than he first seems.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Played with. Grig and his fellow lightweights really are mistreated, but they're not nearly as bad-off as they pretend, or as other Russian dragons—their facility as spies makes them too useful to grind down like the other Russian dragons.

    Lung Tien Ning (龍天宁) 

The hatchling of Iskierka and Temeraire introduced in League of Dragons. She seems determined to have a hand in shaping the next century or more.

  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Ning has a strange combination of her parents' personalities, being at once patient and farsighted yet impulsive, brilliant and self-possessed and almost amoral yet with a strong sense of ethics. She has an aversion for war but will not hesitate to put the lives of others at risk if it will achieve her goals, while at the same time proving remarkably unwilling to commit herself verbally to a course of action.
  • Enfant Terrible: One of the first things she does after hatching is burn down a palace as a distraction. Even Iskierka is horrified (though, granted, that was mostly because Granby was in the Palace at the time), and even Granby, long inured to Iskierka's behaviour, refers to her dazedly as a "perfect terror", while Laurence holds out some pity for Mianning, her prospective companion.
  • Ironic Name: She names herself Ning, which according to a somewhat disbelieving Temeraire means "tranquility". This is after she has burned a palace down.
  • Manipulative Bastard: When she wants to be, though it's not seen much.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Somewhat, though she's mostly just alarmingly practical - she has plans on a global scale for over a century in the future, and she's acutely aware that as a half-Celestial, half-Kazilik designated first as companion to the Crown Prince of China, then kidnapped to be companion to the Crown Prince of Imperial France, she commands serious value. As a result, she refuses to commit herself to any course of action or allegiance until she knows who's going to win (and when called on this, basically says, "so what?")
  • Politeness Judo: While frequently as blunt as her mother, she has a remarkable amount of verbal dexterity to call upon when she wants to, likely a product of her time in China as an egg. As is noted more than once, she uses it very effectively to avoid absolutely committing herself to any one course.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Calmly debates the advantages of tyranny with the fiercely democracy-loving Perscitia. While Temeraire comes down on Perscitia's side, he does note that Ning's arguments of how tyranny makes everything so much easier have an element of truth to them.
  • Shout-Out: Her breath weapon is described in a way very much reminiscent of the Night Fury in How to Train Your Dragon, and her use of it happens at night.
  • The Smart Guy: She's scheming and borderline amoral, and an excellent politician. In certain areas, she's smart enough that even her father is reluctantly willing to solicit her advice.
  • Social Climber: Ning is very much interested in finding the position where she can do the most good (from her perspective). Given that she is part-Celestial, and the current Chinese Emperor's companion was assassinated, she could easily have herself accepted into the Imperial court despite being so young...except she's not certain China would be the best power to ally herself with.
  • Wise Beyond Her Years: A bit less than a decade old, Temeraire, for all his intellect, is still impatient to get results. By comparison, Ning, at less than a year old, is already beginning to put together plans that might take a century to come to fruition.

Historical Domain Characters

    Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson 

A genius naval commander and one of Britain's finest military minds. (See our Useful Notes page for more details.)

  • The Charmer: Presented as a charismatic sort who can even talk a dragon who has every reason to dislike him into enthusiastic swapping of war stories.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Supports the continuation of slavery: Britain's navy is founded on trade, and that trade is founded on slaves, and — in his opinion — undermining that trade during wartime is a bad idea.
    • One of the architects of the plan to spread the dragon plague to France. Laurence considers this, even more than his support of slavery, a Moral Event Horizon.
  • For Want of a Nail: Zigzagged. Dragons mean that Trafalgar played out somewhat differently—Nelson is wounded by dragonfire, but survives and becomes a national hero who significantly changes the course of British policy regarding slavery. But then, In Spite of a Nail, he dies in a naval battle off of Britain's coast when Lien sinks all but one ship in his fleet.
  • Glory Seeker: At one point Laurence points out that Nelson loves glory no less than Napoleon does: he's just pursuing glory in a way Laurence applauds. Nelson is quite aware of his own flaw:
    Lord Nelson: "I have never heard anyone say that I love glory less than other men."
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Played straight and defied. Nelson survives in the novels when he died in Real Life and consequently goes on to greater military success, but is also a staunch advocate of slavery (as he was in real life).
  • Killed Off for Real: By Lien.
  • The Rival: Invoked by British newspapers, as he and Laurence are both popularly-regarded military men who have contributed greatly to Britain's fight against France, but fight in different services and disagree on the issue of abolition. In reality, Nelson and Laurence admire each other (Laurence in particular feeling he in no way compares to Nelson's genius), and Nelson even invites Laurence and Temeraire to campaign with him at one point.

    Napoleon Bonaparte 

The Emperor of France, formerly a nobody from Corsica. He is the Big Bad of the story, since it covers the entire of the Napoleonic Wars, although he rarely appears and has no personal issues against Temeraire and Laurence: indeed, he greatly admires them. It's only war. (See our Useful Notes page for more.)

  • Affably Evil: He's shown to have charm, is kind to his people, capable of accepting new ideas and having almost not a single prejudice. He is "evil" because he turns his considerable talents to conquest and war for the sake of his own ego.
  • Anti-Villain: Sure, he plans to conquer all of Europe through military force, but he's also genuinely interested in improving the lives of his citizens, and has been steadily granting dragons more and more rights and freedoms ever since Lien became his ally. Although it's strongly implied that politics or Pragmatic Evil is behind a lot of these decisions, it causes the British aerial corps to feel certain doubts when the enemy is spearheading a sapient-rights cause they agree with. On a personal level, he deeply cares for his wife despite it being an arranged marriage, and in League of Dragons, when his palace is burned by Ning, he rushes into the burning building in search of his son, heedless of danger to himself.
  • Appeal to Novelty: Laurence accuses Napoleon of being radically progressive. (While Laurence is, of course, biased, it should be pointed out that he himself is an abolitionist, and would himself be considered liberal, if not a far-left progressive, on the political spectrum.)
  • The Charmer: For all the mocking Laurence and Granby do of his habit to try to talk people to his side, he is potrayed as quite possibly the most charismatic man in the entire world. This had allowed him to create one of the most cohesive (and loyal) military forces in the world, several international alliances with anti-western forces and managed to win the appreciation and loyalty of Lien, a xenophobic Chinese dragon, in a matter of weeks—and it's not merely mutual goals; by late in Black Podwer War she has started to become fondly protective of him. It borders in magic.
  • Frontline General: Different from other generals in the world, he fights and lives with his men, which has allowed him to create an almost paternal bond with his army. By Crucible of Gold, though, it's starting to take its toll on his health.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The entire franchise, from Laurence and Temeraire's meeting to every full-on war they face, traces its source to him one way or another.
  • Glory Seeker: Said to be his primary motivation.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Subverted. He is not only a genius military commander but a forward-thinking liberal who has done a great deal for equal rights (though as mentioned in Crucible of Gold he has reinstated slavery in at least some French territories after a brief period of abolition). He's still at war with Britain, so Laurence and Temeraire oppose him on principle, but Laurence admits to Temeraire (somewhat uncomfortably) that no mere monster could have accomplished what Napoleon has. Excepting his advances in integrating dragons into human society, this is Truth in Television.
  • The Resenter: subverted. Temeraire was meant to be Napoleon's dragon, personally, and was only intercepted by Laurence by the vagaries of war; despite this, Napoleon never harps on the issue, nor insinuates that he should like "his" dragon returned to him. In fact, quite the opposite happens: after his treason, Laurence begs Napoleon to take custody of Temeraire, to save the dragon from imprisonment and punishment.
  • The Strategist: While not invincible, he is considered the greatest military genius in the entire world, and has steamrolled army after army during his tenure. This is largely because he's continuously coming up with innovative new strategies and tactics that, by virtue of being innovative and new, cannot be directly countered. He:
    • builds airborne troop carriers for his first attempt at invading Britain, and likely would've succeeded if not for Temeraire and his divine wind
    • abandons traditional formation-fighting at Lien's advice, defeating the renowned Prussian dragon corps not by direct combat but by boarding and capturing all their heavyweights
    • ties pouches full of fragrant herbs into his horses' bridles, preventing them from smelling dragons and panicking, leading to the first use of cavalry in conjunction with aerial corps in history
    • deals with the British naval blockade by spearing them with dragon-sized harpoons and physically pulling them out of position
    • massively increases the mobility of his army by incorporating Chinese-style dragon transportation into the march
    • develops beef jerky for dragons to feed his invasion of Russia, decentralizes his supply lines to protect them from attack, and invents the chainsaw (powered by dragons!) to build fortifications at an incredible rate
  • Worthy Opponent: By the end of the series, he considers Laurence one, almost verging into Friendly Enemies territory. It can be difficult to gauge his sincerety, as Boney can be histrionic at the best of times, but his respect is at the very least consistent, expressed not only to Laurence but to those around him. For his part, Laurence is less comfortable being the recipient of this goodwill, presumably due to his own humility, but he still has respect for the man's genius and accomplishments.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Since Laurence brought the cure to France, Napoleon has never missed an opportunity to thank him, be it with words or actions. Whether this is genuine gratitude or an attempt to sow discord among Laurence's allies is left ambiguous. It could easily be both, as he seems quite happy to finally repay a willing Laurence by commuting Tharkay's sentence for spying from death to imprisonment, at Laurence's request.

    Chrétien-Louis-Joseph de Guignes 

Bonaparte's ambassador to China, and later to other countries.

  • Affably Evil: He's unfailingly polite, and he and Laurence first meet on a positive note. The relationship is damaged, come Crucible of Gold, when logistical and security concerns force him to strand his captives - Laurence, Temeraire, and the rest of their companions - on a deserted island with no hope of escape until the French come back for them, with just enough supplies to stay barely alive.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Thoroughly averted at first, thanks to his charm, charisma, and courtesy, up until the aforementioned stranding.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Quite so. He couches his plan to strand Laurence and company in the politest terms of most sincere regret.
  • Friendly Enemies: He has a polite and supportive relationship with Laurence, despite their being political enemies. After the events mentioned under 'Affably Evil', he is not upset at his own plans being foiled, or at least doesn't show it.

    Prince Mianning (绵宁) 
Heir to the throne despite being the younger brother of Prince Yongxing, and Laurence's most powerful ally in the Imperial Court (though for his own reasons).

  • Cain and Abel: The Abel to Yongxing's Cain.
  • The Coup: the second assassination attempt (that we see) is done by members of the Chinese Conservative party who are upset with Mianning for allying with Britain and seeking to bring China into the global political scene.
  • The Emperor: Subverted. Prince Mianning will become the Daoguang Emperor, eighth ruler of the Qing Dynasty... in 1820, some time after the final page of the series.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Though he and Laurence aren't terribly affectionate, after their shared assassination attempt by the Chinese conservative party, the two reach a level of cordiality towards one another that allows Laurence to speak frankly to him (something typically not allowed in the intricacies of the court).
    • In the last book, Laurence ruefully comments that though he had written off the Adopted into Royalty stunt as a political nicety to keep Temeraire out of the way, Mianning has gone above and beyond in helping Britain in general and Laurence specifically, to the point where it seems as though Mianning is allowing Laurence to ignore their filial connection because it discomforts him, as opposed to Mianning himself not wanting anything to do with him.
  • Princeling Rivalry: With Yongxing.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Spare to the Throne: He was the spare until Yongxing, the elder prince, decided to make Lien his companion. because Lien was seen as a bad omen, she was rejected by the court and going to be sent away until Yongxing accepted her, throwing away his shot at the crown (because nobody wanted a cursed emperor).
  • The Quiet One: despite being a reoccurring character whose support of Laurence is integral to the outcome of the later books, Mianning himself doesn't say much.

    Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre 

Napoleon's most affable Marshal. Appears briefly in Black Powder War; his fate after Victory of Eagles remains unknown.

  • Affably Evil: Although he's on the enemy side, Lefebvre is depicted as a down-to-earth man with a broad sense of humor, particularly when the joke's on him.
  • Hidden Depths: He may seem like a comical buffoon, but Napoleon doesn't choose Marshals for their ability to make him laugh.
  • Just Following Orders: He suggests that Danzig surrender to him, since Resistance Is Futile, and offers very generous terms. Though, as he adds to Laurence, "Sorry, but these terms don't apply to you."
  • The Men First: When he attempts to obtain the surrender of Danzig, it's because everyone knows he can win: "two-to-one odds and all the siege guns I need. I'd just as soon save the men, yours and mine both."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: All signs indicate that he's not very different from the honorable, professional soldiers of Prussia and Britain... although he can certainly afford to be reasonable, given his position.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Twice. The military commander of Danzig sarcastically offers to discuss terms of surrender over dinner if Lefebvre enters alone and unarmed - so he does. He's also noteworthy as the only character to give Lien a playful slap on the butt, a distinction we can safely assume is unique.
  • Self-Deprecating Humor: He understates his own abilities and significance a few times, with a laugh.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lefebvre is mentioned as being one of the Marshals to lose to the English in Victory of Eagles, although it's not clear if he was killed, imprisoned, or managed to slip away.

    General Arthur Wellesley 

An obscure British general who rises to the occasion during Victory of Eagles in order to repel the formerly-undefeated Corsican. (See our Useful Notes page for further details.)

  • Combat Pragmatist: On a strategic scale. Anything it takes to bring victory one step closer, whether it be good (granting pay and rank to dragons) or vile (encouraging Laurence to engage in war crimes) is within his capacity.
  • Four Star Bad Ass: It's the Iron Duke; what do you expect?
  • Jerkass: He's hardly the friendliest person Laurence has met. But also...
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most brass outside the Aerial Corps do not even try to comprehend it, seeing dragons as Dumb Muscle and the aviators as the Kid with the Leash. Wellesley takes the trouble to listen not just to the aviators but to the dragons themselves, and in the process becomes the first ranking officer outside the Corps to treat them as the sentient beings they are. (Which is not to say he likes them; he just won't let common prejudice hinder the war effort.)
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He's usually on Laurence's side, but for pragmatic reasons. He has a grudging respect for Jane Roland (their relationship probably starts in this trope too), but he regards Temeraire as a rabble-rouser and Laurence as a Necessary Evil.
    Wellington: I don't know what sort of genius of disaster you are, Laurence, but if you can be aimed at Bonaparte instead of us, you are worth not hanging.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Of a sort, with Roland; despite Wellington's abrasive personality and Roland's blunt forthrightness, they both share a respect for competence and levelheadedness—which both possess perhaps more than any other British officers. Towards the end of the war, he refuses to work with any other Admiral of the Air besides her.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Temeraire says that it's all Iskierka's fault for not listening to orders, Wellington roars at him to never blame subordinates for the failure of an expedition and that it's his own fault for being unable to control her, a sharp and much-needed lesson in leadership.

    Prince Moshueshue 

Prince of the Tswana, and their strategist and war leader. In our timeline, he was King Moshoeshoe I of Lesotho.

  • Badass Boast: When Laurence claims, rather lamely, that he believes the multitude of British ships engaged in the slave trade will be banned 'soon', Moshueshue agrees.
    "We will ban it ourselves," the prince said, the more ominously for the lack of any deliberately threatening tone.
  • The Good Chancellor: Tswana is a draconarchy ruled by King Mokhachane, but Moshueshue is the power behind the throne, and his foremost concern is the welfare of his people.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: After his 'father' King Mokhachane has Laurence brutally beaten for refusing to reveal military information, Moshueshue waits for Laurence's injuries to heal and then brings him in for a much more general interrogation. He gets a lot more information that way.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Justified. After allying with Napoleon for a couple of years, Moshueshue turns on him - not out of moral outrage, but to keep the Tswana from being threatened in the long run by their Incan and French 'allies'.
  • Neutral No Longer: Sometime around the sixth book, Moshueshue brings the Tswana into the wars on Napoleon's side - just for long enough to crush the Portuguese slave-holders of Brazil. After Laurence negotiates a truce by ending the slave trade in Brazil, the Tswana seem sated of war and become a sort of spoiler power. In League of Dragons the Tswana prove decisive in the final battle against Napoleon's army, as they believe the French-Incan alliance must be checked so that they can not come back to Africa with aspirations of enslaving the Tswana again.

    Governor William Bligh 

A former British naval captain assigned as governor of the Australian penal colony, a position which he seems to be having difficulty retaining.

  • Butt-Monkey: Or Laser-Guided Karma, depending on one's impression of Bligh. His time in Australia has been a series of setbacks and humiliations: Laurence and Temeraire only make matters worse for him.
  • Insufferable Genius: Laurence cannot help but admire his accomplishments as a sailor while despairing of his dickish personality.
  • Kicked Upstairs: He was assigned to Australia because his reputation in the Navy made him difficult to find a crew for.
  • Smug Snake: This is not a particularly flattering depiction of Bligh.


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