Otherwise Known As: Lung Tien Xiang
Realm: Napoleonic Wars (Alternate World)
Featured in: The Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik
Voiced By: Non-Applicable
Temeraire is unlike any other dragon I’ve ever seen in fiction. Admittedly, the book series takes place during the Napoleonic Wars in a world where dragons not only exist but are full, sapient species with variable rights and customs depending on the region, but that’s not what makes Temeraire so distinct even amongst his own kind in the books. Temeraire is, for lack of a better phrase, an English raised Chinese dragon with American motives. While he certainly wants to see an end to the war against Napoleon, what Temeraire wants more than anything else is the same rights and freedoms for dragons in Britain as he had seen of those in China.
The irony of that statement is not lost on me.
It is understandable though considering that dragons in China are given the same rights as any man insomuch that they can work, earn wages, and pretty much do whatever it is that they wish to do. True, there are still the same social casts amongst them, breeds that are specifically raised for war and those like Temeraire whom were bred and raised for the Imperial family, but it’s far better than how they’re treated in Britain. In Britain, the dragons are treated as intelligent animals and little more beyond that. True, dragons and their captains, whom share something of a bond that can almost be described as soul mates, often treat each other with love and respect but even the affections of Temeraire’s captain are seen as odd amongst them.
Considering that all the man does is read books with Temeraire, help clean him up after meals, and generally spends time with him, I’m not seeing the oddity. Goodness knows if I were in the same situation, you’d likely never see my dragon or I apart.
As to the relationship between Temeraire and his captain Laurence, it is as I said, something akin to soul mates insomuch that he and Temeraire will go through Heaven and Hell for each other, a trait that is usually quite common amongst captains and their respected dragons. This bond is above any others that a dragon may form though many will form something similar to their respected crew as was demonstrated with Temeraire when he had something of a hissy fit when Iskierka chose Granby, Temeraire’s first lieutenant, as her captain.
Whether it was by his own rearing or his years in service of His Majesty’s Navy as a captain, Laurence is far more lenient with Temeraire than most captains are with their dragons, particularly with Temeraire’s radical, if not outright treasonous, thinking towards the government. Of course, being the captain of one of the rarest breed of dragons on Earth does tend to affect how one treats said dragon.
Temeraire is a Celestial dragon, and while not truly of the same context as those of myth and legend, in the draconic totem pole, he is near, if not on, the top. Celestials, as a species, are incredibly intelligent and can easily learn new languages and various works of science and mathematics with depressing ease. Depressing insomuch that Laurence went from being the teacher to the student very quickly.
There is also one particular trait amongst the Celestials that make them a deadly adversary to fight and that is their breath weapon. Whereas the ability to breathe fire is rare amongst most dragons, with plenty having no actual breath attack whatsoever, there are some who can shoot great splashes of acid but such is not the case for Temeraire.
His ability is known rather simply as the “Divine Wind” and its effects are unbelievably devastating to behold. In layman’s terms, the Divine Wind is a roar of pure sonic force so great, that any poor soul caught in its path is lucky to survive with their hearing forever lost if not their lives as the sonic waves crush their bones and innards like kindling. The roar is described as being so great in force that it distorts the very air it travels across.
Divine Wind indeed…
As I said previously, what makes Temeraire an interesting dragon with little to no equal in any fiction is his quest for equal rights and freedoms to dragons in Britain. To be fair, it is not overly done and does take quite a few books to reach to this point but there are hints to it in many pages of the book. One quote in particular always stood out to me and it goes, “I am very tired of this Government which I have never seen and which is always insisting that I must do disagreeable things, and does no good to anybody.”
I honestly want to see Temeraire end up in America or, at the least, meet an American citizen. I can only imagine how well they’d get along.