SPOILERS from the previous book(s) in the series are unmarked.
- Any time a dragon or their captain is separated from one another:
His Majesty's Dragon
- Praecursoris being Put on a Bus, especially the fact that while he's being separated from Choiseul, his captain, the poor thing is screaming in anguish. It was so bad in-universe that Temeraire, Maximus and Lilly were emotional wrecks for days just from witnessing it.
- Though there have been many deaths throughout the series, the death of Levitas was particularly heartbreaking. A thoroughly neglected and mistreated dragon, Levitas nonetheless showed Undying Loyalty for his captain, no matter how abusive he was. Laurence, having managed to keep his calm with Levitas' captain so far, finally loses it when Levitas is dying of his wounds and Captain Rankin is drinking wine in the officers' club. He storms in, grabs Rankin, and forcefully drags him to Levitas's side. Rankin stutters a few reassuring words, although obviously forced, and Levitas dies with a smile on his face.Laurence: Levitas, come along now; look who's come.
Levitas: My captain?
Rankin: Yes, I am here. You...have been very brave.
Levitas: You came.
- And shortly after, Laurence wraps it up with this jewel of a line:Laurence: (shortly after Levitas dies, to Rankin) "Go. We who valued him will make the arrangements, not you."
- And shortly after, Laurence wraps it up with this jewel of a line:
Throne of Jade
- Temeraire's reaction to killing the sea-serpent. The sailors are hailing him as a hero for saving the ship and everyone aboard, but when Laurence talks to him about it later...Temeraire: All I did was kill her; I do not see it is anything to be so proud of.
- Lien's reaction to Yongxing's death - the only person who cared for her and showed her any true regard. Laurence, remembering Praecursoris's reaction to being separated from Choiseul, is afraid she'll scream, but she's totally silent as she nudges at his body, picks detritus off it and then picks it up and flies away. Just about everything she does afterwards is for revenge.
Black Powder War
- Digby's death, where he falls from Temeraire's back in a failed attempt to save a dragon egg (which shatters in the process). Poor creatures.
Empire of Ivory
- Everything about the dragons falling sick. Everything: the slow, terrible deaths of the dragons, particularly of Obversaria and how badly Lenton's been affected, and even to the revelation that there's a possible cure. If you somehow didn't already see how much most aviators love their dragons, you'll see it here.
- The Tswana dragon Kefentse recounts the day he returned to his village after it had been raided by slavers, his beloved family either slaughtered or carried across the ocean.
- Laurence personally delivers the cure to France after the Admiralty deliberately infects them in a long-range plot to decimate the whole world dragon population so England will rule the air. His disillusionment with the nation he's been so loyal to is the start of an unhappy pattern that will continue for the rest of the series, and he takes the action knowing full well that he's condemning himself to hang, but he still insists on returning to England to face the music. He tries to persuade Temeraire to return to China or do what he will, but Temeraire quickly deduces what Laurence is going back to and insists on accompanying him, and even sharing his fate if possible.
Victory of Eagles
- Laurence and several others are attacking French camps, and Maximus leaps onto a French dragon to prevent her escaping, only to mistakenly break her back and kill her. As the attack continues, her captain rushes to her body and breaks down in tears; forcing his crew to drag him away when they are all finally captured.
- Every occasion where Temeraire thinks of Laurence during the time he thinks Laurence has been killed. It's gutting.
- After leading the dragons from the Breeding pen towards battle, Temeraire tries to think of strategies against the French. When that becomes too much:
- . . . He went away and curled himself tightly with his head against his flank, beneath the dark huddle of his wing, and murmured to himself from the Principia Mathematica, which Laurence had read to him so often he had it all by heart, and if he spoke low, and flattened his voice, he might almost imagine he heard Laurence instead, reading to him in the rain, safe and sheltered beside him.
- Laurence is deeply depressed all through the book, and makes no attempt to defend himself from the hatred coming at him. Though he assures Temeraire that their act of treason was the right thing to do, he experiences the consequences in ways Temeraire doesn't: he's under a death sentence, and utterly disgraced. France, enraged by the attempt at germ warfare but not at all weakened thanks to the cure Laurence brought them, have invaded Britain. Half Laurence's former crew despise him, and his blameless first lieutenant has been kicked out of the service. Even his former love interest/boss yells at him for doing a moral thing in the stupidest possible way. He finds out that his father is literally sick with shame. And then he meets a paranoid, delusional old man out in the rain and realises with horror that it's his king, George III. He's so shattered that when General Wellesley orders him to start a guerilla campaign on the French that will force him to put aside all notion of chivalry, mercy, and honourable combat, he accepts without protest.
Tongues of Serpents
- When Kulingile hatches, everyone thinks it's better if they put him out of his misery. Even Granby and Roland believe it.
Crucible of Gold
- The sinking of the Allegiance, in which Laurence's longtime friend Riley is lost. Temeraire remembers how he was one of the only people brave enough to feed him when he was just hatched, and Laurence never gets over it. Worse, after Laurence is hit with amnesia in Blood of Tyrants, he thinks that Riley is still alive and has to be told otherwise.
- The Incan population has been decimated by disease the Europeans brought with them. Now, there are less than 3 million people in an empire at least two times the size of England (population: 10 million). Cue the dragons feverishly holding on to 'their' humans.
Blood of Tyrants
- The reveal that Temeraire's brother Chuan was murdered in a failed attempt to unseat Prince Mianning as Crown Prince.
- Every moment involving an amnesiac Laurence and Temeraire before Laurence recovers. Dramatic Irony has never been so effective against the feels as you're stuck anticipating when certain events are brought up (or in part 1: when Temeraire and Laurence will reunite, but only physically). The strain of amnesia, combined with Temeraire's naivety, puts on their relationship is felt, but it fails in comparison to the moment Laurence finds out he committed treason and has a Heroic BSoD. In response to this Temeraire has his own Heroic BSoD, believing that he's to blame for everything bad that has happened to Laurence. At this point, it looks like their relationship is never going to recover. But Laurence is a better man than that.
League of Dragons
- The sudden news of Laurence's father's death, particularly since it comes out of absolutely nowhere. Worse, it comes just as Laurence is traveling back to England as a lauded war hero, which might have been enough to finally end their years-long estrangement.
Golden Age and Other Stories
- Jane Roland's backstory as seen in Dawn of Battle, or rather that of her mother Sarah. It was bad enough that a timid seventeen year old horribly ill-suited by inclination to military life was guilt-tripped into taking over for her perfectly hale mother so the Admiralty could leave actual military matters to a male nominal 2IC, but one of the "five rotters to one decent man" Jane witnessed growing up took matters to the level of outright Emotional and Financial Abuse that only ended when he was killed in action (while the guy who tried encouraging Sarah to actually command was transferred out after six months).
- At the end of the book, there are several 100 word "drabbles," some of which are in continuity, and some of which clearly aren't. Among them is a snapshot of a future Temeraire watching the procession of the Queen, implied to take place after Laurence's death.But the ceremony over, he took wing to be alone, and think of what Laurence would have said.
- Lien also gets a drabble featuring her in some future France (presumably after Napoleon's death), in a dragon restaurant above a "human club." When the serving-dragon asks her if things have changed:I will have the absinthe, Lien said. The pain remained unaltered.