SPOILERS from the previous book(s) in the series are unmarked.
- Any of the (many) moments when Temeraire says something incredibly awkward without realizing. Case in point:Temeraire: Oh, you mean whores.
(after some explanation)
Temeraire: "I am merely curious now, if that is all there is in Dover. For Roland is too young for whores, is she not?"note
Laurence: "I am beginning to feel the need of a glass of wine to fortify myself against this conversation."
- Catherine Harcourt reflects on the one time she suffered sexual harassment.Harcourt: ...when I was sixteen... a dreadful fellow sat next to me and whispered impolite remarks until I poured a pot of coffee into his lap... he went away straight after.Berkley: Christ above, Harcourt, if I ever have reason to offend you, I will make damned sure you have nothing hot at hand.Harcourt: Well, I would have struck him, but I would have had to get up.
- Hearing this, Laurence finds himself torn between outrage at the insult offered the young woman and visceral horror at that woman's response.
- The short story Feast or Famine (set between the first two books) that has been made available on her website, all of it. Opening the cattle pen at the covert? Simple enough for a dragon that bothers to examine the mechanism and has enough fine dexterity in his foreclaws to lift the bar holding the gate closed. Keeping the cattle therein from stampeding out? Or barring that herding them back in? Less so.
- Not to mention when Temeraire confesses this to Laurence in Throne Of Jade... who then cracks up laughing, much to Temeraire's indignation.
- Captain Riley's discovery of Emily Roland's gender forces Laurence to explain the Longwing handling requirements, which becomes a discussion about (and attempt to explain to Temeraire) the general taboo concerning (human) women serving in the military, leading to....Laurence: "It is different for dragons than for people. Among other things, women must bear children, and care for them through childhood, where your kind lay eggs and hatch ready to look to your own needs."Temeraire: (surprised and fascinated) "You do not hatch out of eggs? How then"Riley: "I beg your pardon, I think I see Purbeck looking for me." (unceremoniously flees the dragon-deck, to Laurence's resentment)
- Prince Yongxing's blunt knot cutting when confronted with the reality that the Celestial he seeks to fetch home is not going anywhere without the common soldier he has grown attached to manages to lighten the mood of thrown ultimatums."Then plainly Captain Laurence must come also; or will you now attempt to convince us that he cannot be sent?"
- When Temeraire received the following message from an exhausted, injured, and at least slightly loopy due to a head injury Laurence shortly afterwards, he becomes understandably concerned.Never fear; I am going; the Son of Heaven will not tolerate delays, and Barham gives me leave. Allegiance will carry us! Pray eat something.
- When Temeraire received the following message from an exhausted, injured, and at least slightly loopy due to a head injury Laurence shortly afterwards, he becomes understandably concerned.
- Upon being warned against offending Prince Yongxing or the Chinese embassy in general at the start of the voyage.Temeraire: [resentfully] "I do not care if they do not like me, maybe then they will let me alone, and I will not have to stay in China." [visibly perking up] "If I were very offensive, do you suppose they would go away now? Laurence, what would be particularly insulting?"
- Laurence orders his crew to take a hot soak on medical advice (long story), forgetting that his command is gender-integrated. One look and some frantic bundling into a blanket later:Laurence: "You must not bathe with the others."
Emily Roland: (bewildered) "Mustn't I?"
Laurence: (under his breath) "Oh, Christ." (firmly) "No, it is not suitable; you are beginning to be a young lady."
Emily: "Oh, Mother has told me all about that, but I have not started bleeding yet, and anyway I would not like to go to bed with any of them."
- The band of Pamir 'ferals' and their chief Arkady are almost always hilarious - their boisterous barbarism and general anarchy are played for laughs against the disciplined British Aerial Corps. Lawless, fun-loving and not terribly interested in changing their ways.
- There's also the fact the one of their major forms of entertainment appears to be... committee-conceived dragon soap operas, which is broadly told by one person, but whose details and subplots are thrown in by the whole audience.
- When Laurence's crew arrives at the city limits of Istanbul, the feral dragons, not understanding the concept of ownership or how they need to behave so close to the capital, steal some cows, prompting a few Turkish aviators to come out to investigate the fuss....to Laurence's great relief, the captain in the lead lifted his speaking-trumpet to his mouth to bellow at them, at some length. "He says to land," Tharkay translated, with improbable brevity; at Laurence's frowning look he added, "and he calls us a great many impolite names; do you wish them all translated?"
- The first few hours of Iskierka's life. Suffice to say that she's a hyper-aggressive Bratty Half-Pint who can breathe fire.
- Recall that many in the Corps can be born, grow up, and die without EVER being considered for their own dragon. Seeing Granby's carefully constructed dream fall apart in the face of Iskierka is delicious, delicious schadenfreude.An hour after sunset they crept up the slope from downwind and made their stealthy attack; or so it might have been, save in a frenzy of excitement Iskierka clawed through the carabiner straps holding her on, and flung herself over the fence and onto the back of one of the sleeping, unsuspecting cows. It bellowed in terror and bolted away with all the rest of the herd, with the dragonet clinging aboard and shooting off flames in every direction but the right one, so the affair took on the character more of a circus than a robbery.
- Temeraire's attempt at justifying the taking of the cows to their owners: "I am sorry we have woken you up, we are taking your cows, but it is not stealing, because we are at war."
- When they are attacked by enemy dragons, Iskierka excitedly tries to attack them, despite being all of a few hours old. Temeraire has to physically carry her away to prevent her from fighting.
- Recall that many in the Corps can be born, grow up, and die without EVER being considered for their own dragon. Seeing Granby's carefully constructed dream fall apart in the face of Iskierka is delicious, delicious schadenfreude.
- When Iskierka learns that she can get money by capturing ships, she promptly goes out in the dead of night and nabs a small fishing boat, and one of the ferals has to quickly bring it back."Well, you did not say it had to be a French ship."
Oh, it is all her own notion, Granby said ruefully. She refused to see why the Navy ought to get all the prizes; and I am afraid she has suborned those damned ferals. I am sure she has them secretly flying the Channel at night looking for prizes, without reporting them, and when they tell her of one, she pretends she has just taken it into her head to go in such and such a direction. They are as good as any prize-crew ever was; the sailors are all as meek as maids, with one of them aboard.
- Becomes a brick joke: when Laurence and the crew return from Africa months later, they find Isierka and Arkady seizing French ships with practiced ease. It's revealed that while they were gone looking for medicine, Iskierka and company started taking over enemy ships on the regular, and that they've caught five since Temeraire left. Cue Temeraire sulking for the rest of the chapter. When asked whose idea this was:
- On top of that, Granby (Laurence's old second and Iskierka's Captain) is walking around dressed to the nines in a gold and terribly embarrassed by it— Iskierka insists he dress up whenever they win prize money from her conquests. Iskierka thinks he's amazingly stylish.
- Temeraire attempting to explain the Pythagorean Theorem to guests at a party.
- When Laurence bids Granby goodbye before they leave for Africa, Granby only says this."I expect you will find us all to pieces, with half of England on fire, and Arkady and his lot celebrating in the ruins, roasting cows; it will be wonderful otherwise."
- Early in the voyage to Africa, Laurence and Riley get into a shouting match over Laurence inviting freedmen to come along, reopening the old wound between them of Riley's family being slaveholders and Laurence's family being ardent abolitionists. Suddenly Berkley barges into the cabin, which is right below the dragondeck, and tells them to go knock each other down somewhere else because they're waking Maximus (who hasn't gotten any good sleep from the plague) and Temeraire's probably going to rip open the deck to stick his snout into the argument. Complete Stunned Silence ensues.
- When Harcourt confesses to being pregnant, Laurence rather dramatically contemplates how all the dragon-captains will be suspect as the father in this dreadful situation—indeed he finds himself performing the mental calculus, trying to puzzle out which of the captains it was—and how there is nothing to possibly be done but endure "the curiosity of the world"...whereupon Berkley casually asks who the father is, and Harcourt just as casually answers.
- When a few members of Lily's formation set out to the South African wilds to find the cure while their dragons rest, Dulcia frets over her captain's safety. Aww. Beautifully illustrated in this piece of fanart.Chenery: "We will manage quite well if we meet any lions; we have six guns with us, my dear."Dulcia: "But what if there are seven lions?"
- Maximus recovers enough from being sick that he gets a hankering for a midnight snack, but doesn't want to wake his captain, who's been losing sleep from worrying about him. So he tries to sneak off and grab a couple cows. Live cows. That belong to someone else. On the other side of town. Despite being nowhere near recovered enough to attempt flying over said town.
- Just to clarify, Maximus is one of the largest dragons in the whole series, nearly twice Temeraire's weight even half-dead from consumption. And a dragon this size not only tries to be sneaky but when that fails attempts to look innocent with a cow still hanging from his bloody jaws.
- And a little later, after he takes to swimming in the harbor for physical therapy, he finds a 19 foot long shark and takes it back to show Berkley. The mental image of a giant dragon trotting down a street holding a monstrously large shark in its mouth like a stick would be terrifying if it wasn't so funny.
- The Riley/Harcourt shipboard nuptuals proved rather comical as well. The ship's chaplain was only sober because one of Harcourt's colleagues bodily hauled him up to the dragondeck and set him under guard (not that it did any good; he was so rattled that he stumbled through the service even worse that he would have drunk). The bride did not bother finding a dress, and the groom did not realize she wouldn't, so she ended up taking her vows in trousers and a coat (recall this is the early 1800s). Finally, when the chaplain got to the whole "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" bit...
- Midway through the book, Laurence's father becomes convinced that Emily Roland, a young girl, daughter to Captain Jane Roland, and part of Temeraire's crew, is actually Laurence's illegitimate daughter. Because both are proper gentlemen, Lord Allendale never directly asks his son, and Laurence never directly dissuades him. Cue Laurnece receiving letters from his mother asking about Emily's well being and sending the girl family jewelry.
- While ruminating on Catherine and Riley's wedding, as well as his own parent's misunderstanding about Emily, Laurence comes suddenly to the realization that Jane isn't a respectable woman. Cue the chapter 15 cold open:Laurence: Jane, will you marry me?Jane, immediately: Why no, dear fellow. It would be a puzzle to give you orders, you know, if I had vowed to obey; it could hardly be comfortable. But it is very handsome of you to have offered.
- And then she kisses him "heartily", according to the narration, and then casually walks with him to the Dover covert making small talk, apparently giving no further thought to the fact that Laurence had proposed to her just minutes ago. Laurence is bemused, to say the least.
- Temeraire has received an invitation to a tea party from Lien. This is the exchange that occurs:Laurence: "There is nothing evidently insincere in it; perhaps she means it as a gesture of reconciliation."Temeraire: "No, she does not. I am sure if I go, the tea will be very unpleasant, at least my tea will be, and I will have to drink it or look ill-mannered. Or she will make remarks which do not seem offensive, until I have gone away and thought them over; or she will try and have you murdered while I am not there: you are not to go anywhere without a guard, and if anyone tries to murder you, you must call for me very loud."
- Jane is defending her decision to send for Laurence:"And you may leave off your coughing and your insinuations: if I wanted a man between my legs so badly, there is a campful of handsome young fellows outside, and I dare say I could find one out to oblige me, without going to such trouble."
Having momentarily appalled her audience of generals and ministers into silence, she rode on, with no more muttering to contend against.
- In the midst of the final battle, we see British heavy cavalry charging toward an oddly hollow French infantry square. Then we see a comparatively small dragon landing in said square and the charge for some odd reason grind to a near halt save for one horse that slips in the mud and slides within reach.The Pou-de-Ciel leaned over and snatched the horse bodily off the ground with one clawed forehand, shook the rider unceremoniously off onto the ground, and with much enthusiasm opened it's jaws wide and took off the flailing horse's head with one bite; the French dragons had likely been on short commons for a while now.
- Kulingile is a runt dragon born of two heavy-weights. Initially his survival is in question, and no one expects much of him, until a few weeks later when we get the signs that he'll not only live, but be one of the biggest dragons in the world: His air sacs inflate while he's sleeping and he becomes lighter than air and starts bouncing away!Kulingile, as he's rotating himself mid air by flapping only one wing, like a hovering dragon-beach-ball: Look, Demane, look at me!
- One of the convicts, O'Dea, might be a minor character but his pessimism is always good for a laugh. Imagine a grizzled convict with a flair for the dramatic, which extends to his writing when Laurence makes him a scribe.
- Jane Roland's letters. Especially where she explains differences that came with her new rank; and notes that if, due to accident or ungovernable impulse, something terminal should hypothetically happen to Rankin...well, Laurence has already been banished to a remote penal colony the better part of a year's travel from Britain, so if nothing else he probably wouldn't be able to be properly sentenced for a good eighteen months.
- As the third son of a Newcastle coal-merchant is about to be presented as a prospective bridegroom to the Sapa Inca:Hammond: "I will be sure to tell her, Captain Granby, that you have no interest in governance — that you would not seek to interfere —?"
Granby: "Yes, you may tell her I will be a proper lap-dog, and let her have her own way in everything, and not do anything but sit next to her and nod when she pokes me; and you may as well remind her if I ever care to do otherwise, I still shan't be able to, as I don't know ten words of the language yet and likely won't put a sentence together for a year to come."
- Temeraire is ruminating over the discovery that Celestials cannot breed with dragons apart from their lineage, and his previous unsuccessful attempts to sire an egg. He ponders the idea of the problem simply being the 'unremarkableness' of those he was with, which is all Iskierka needs to hear. This also coming after several chapters of obvious Belligerent Sexual Tension. Cue a normally thoughtful Temeraire stumbling about himself, and just giving up trying to stop her."You do not need to hint...but I will try with you now, if you like, and Maila can wait," [Iskierka] said, in a rather venomous tone.
"I was not hinting—" But Temeraire shook out his ruff, and hastily said, "—oh, never mind; very well."
- Because of a plague that wiped out most of the human population, Incan dragons value humans more than treasure (up to the point where being kidnapped by dragons is a very real threat). The party meets Churki, a young dragon without humans to care for, who learns that Hammond doesn't actually belong to Temeraire's crew. Cue Churki agressively trying to convince Hammond to stay with her. When he tries to dissuade her, telling her that he has a large family to go back to, she immediately decides to adopt his entire family and go live with them in England where she can better take care of them, to Hammond's displeasure.
- Laurence is lost during a bad storm, and washes ashore Japan with amnesia. He doesn't remember anything of his time with Temeraire, or being an aviator. This of course leads to hilarity. Upon Temeraire finally finding him, this exchange takes place."And you need not look like that," the black dragon added, very coldly, "only because Laurence has been shipwrecked, and does not look his best at present. The Emperor adopted him, five years ago, and we are on our way to make a filial visit. He is a prince of China, and my captain."
"The devil I am," said Laurence.
- When discussing the possibility of Temeraire siring a Celestial egg for Mianning to replace his own assassinated dragon, Iskierka, having already made a suggestion, adds, "...but I do not believe in taking foolhardy risks—", at which point the narration turns remarkably deadpan:Granby choked heavily upon his own dinner, coughing, and had to be rescued with a steady thumping upon his back, and several glasses of wine.
- Temeraire invites Lung Qin Mei to attend dinner with him and the other dragons - partly because he wants to see her, but also because he's been asked to sire a new Celestial companion for the Crown Prince. However, things go from bad to worse; first Iskierka, jealous at her own egg with Temeraire being passed over, insults Mei and leaves, next Temeraire becomes humiliated by the lack of manners of his companions, who abruptly leave so that Temeraire can arrange affairs with Mei. Finally, once they've left, Mei reveals she's been learning English to talk with him, and as such, understood everything that was said during the dinner. Becomes a Heartwarming Moment shortly afterwards though, as the two are more happy to see each other than anything else.
- When everyone is departing to leave Temeraire and Mei to their "business", Temeraire delivers this gem of a line to Lily:Temeraire: Lily, do keep a lookout for Laurence, will you not? Pray do not let him wander off, or be assassinated; or lose any more of his memory.
- Temeraire's jealousy of Laurence in regards to marriage is funny in and of itself, but his explanation of why Laurence shouldn't marry Mrs. Pemberton specifically has even the narration dryly commenting on it:I do not see anything particularly remarkable about Mrs. Pemberton at all, Temeraire answered, which should make her in the least suitable for you. After all, you are a prince of China, and my captain, and you have been in a great many battles. Whatever has she done, to brag of? But I do not at all mean to be rude, he said, in succession to this piece of outrageous rudeness.
- During an argument concerning the possibility of marriage, Laurence finally nerves himself up enough to ask if Emily Roland is his daughter (with the non-so-subtle implication that he must wed her mother). Temeraire promptly reassures him that she is not, pointing out quite logically that he did not start sleeping with Jane Roland until Emily was in her eleventh year (it's implied earlier in the series that dragons don't entirely understand human reproduction, but they know that humans can't have children before becoming lovers)."But it does not signify," Temeraire added in tones of reproach, "for you have already asked her, and she wouldn't have you, because she is your commander."
- Iskierka, still being her usual self even in written form:We will certainly manage it (getting the French army out of Spain) in the spring, even if everyone is lazing in winter quarters at present. I do not suppose you will have got them out of Germany by then, however. It is a great pity you have let Napoleon get away.-ISKIERKAPS: The Spanish fire-breathers are much smaller than I am.
- No one was ready for Ning, Temeraire's and Iskierka's offspring, as not only does she have a combination of Temeraire's divine wind and Iskierka's fire (in the form of a white bolt that explodes on contact, not unlike a Night Fury's breath weapon), but she seems to have a combination of her progenitors' personalities (being both self-centered and impulsive yet analytical and farsighted with a developed if somewhat inhuman moral code). Laurence is almost sorry to foist her onto Prince Mianning should she choose him.
- After Temeraire finds out about Laurence's duel and subsequent injury, he makes Laurence promise that in the future, Temeraire shall be his second.
- Temeraire: You must give me your word, Laurence, that if anyone ever should insult you again, they must be told at once that I will insist on being your second myself. I am very much indebted to Mr. Hammond for having killed that wretched fellow, but in future, if anyone likes to prove they are not a coward by insulting you, they may fight me, and then they cannot complain of not having had satisfaction: I am sure everyone will agree they were brave, once they are dead.
- The entire episode of Laurence's "discreet" countryside recovery after a duel gone awry. There is nothing like the sight of men of all ages trying to win a young maiden's hand (through her mother's critical yet hopeful approval), going so far as to spark a clan war of sorts between Churki and Temeraire over whose human was more deserving of a wife—much to Laurence's and Hammond's disdain.
- Percitia meeting Ning, then butting heads about which form of governance is superior: Percitia supports having an accountable Parliament, while Ning supports tyranny (provided she is the tyrant).Percitia: Temeraire, I hope you will forgive me, but that hatchling of yours has some peculiar notions.
- Lieutenant Challoner leads a Boarding Party to capture one of the Inca dragons. It turns out later that the dragon took a liking to her and wants to keep her. Since the Inca dragon is perfectly willing to sign up with the Aerial Corps if allowed, everyone decided to roll with it and appointed Challoner as the Incan dragon's captain in the British air force.
- The drabble of Laurence hearing strange noises outside and going to investigate, only to find Temeraire and Iskierka in the middle of mating, then making his hasty retreat.
- One of the short drabbles near the end of the book includes a conversation between Emily Roland and Demane, presumably before their parting. In it, Demane refuses to have sex with her, claiming that he won't "dishonor" her. Roland's reaction is less than ecstatic, and she firmly blames Laurence for rubbing off on Demane.It was not that she didnt like the captain, but he had much to answer for.