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Temeraire, Lily and Maximus in Dover by Rob Carlos
Temeraire, by Gotry7
Temeraire in water, by Kiu. (c) Kiu
Temeraire, by Anke Eissmann. (c) Anke Eissmann
Temeraire and Lily, by Beardeddragon

Character Profile

Name: Temeraire (known to the Chinese as Lung Tien Xiang)
Date of Birth: January 1805
Breed: Celestial
Captain: William Laurence
National Loyalty: Britain
Appearance: Large, black with blue/grey markings on the edge of his wings
Special Abilities: Divine Wind
Status: Active


Temeraire was hatched onboard the HMS Reliant in January 1805. His mother, Lung Tien Qian, had laid two "twin" eggs sired by Lung Qin Gao. (Unlike most reptiles and birds, who lay their eggs in clutches, dragons usually only lay and brood one egg at a time. Two eggs laid one right after the other would be considered to be twins.) One egg was to hatch Lung Tien Chuan and one was to hatch Lung Tien Xiang (as the Chinese named Temeraire). Chuan, the elder twin by a small margin, was to become companion to Crown Prince Mianning, so Temeraire's egg was sent away so as to not create a rival prince. Since Celestials are only supposed to be companions to members of the Chinese imperial family and since Napoleon Bonaparte had recently crowned himself Emperor of France, Temeraire's egg was offered to him. The French ship Amitie was carrying the egg to Napoleon when it was captured by the Reliant.

On hatching, Temeraire immediately took a liking to the Navy Captain William Laurence even though Laurence was not the officer who had been chosen to harness him - and therefore had given no thought to a name for the newly hatched dragon. In a moment of inspiration, the startled Laurence offered the name Téméraire, after the British ship of the line. He was chagrined later on when he learned that British dragons are usually given Latin names, but in fact the name Temeraire - which in French means "bold" but can also mean "reckless" or "rash" - turned out to suit the dragon's character well.

Typically for a Celestial, Temeraire was extremely intelligent. He was hatched able to speak fluent English, French and Chinese, probably of the Mandarin dialect as he commented that the Chinese spoken in Macao did not sound the same. Later on he acquired fluency in the draconic language Durzagh and some command of Turkish, German and Xhosa. He loved learning about anything new to him, a trait which Laurence encouraged by spending hours reading him books, even books on subjects which Laurence didn't fully understand himself. Temeraire was especially fond of books on mathematics and science.

List of books Temeraire read

Because of Temeraire's curiosity and intelligence, he often asked Laurence to explain concepts like "property", "duty" and "authority" that Laurence had always taken for granted and not really thought much about. Laurence often felt himself at a disadvantage in these conversations but persisted in doing his best to convey the principles he felt to be right to Temeraire.

As members of the Aerial Corps Temeraire and Laurence were trained at Loch Laggan covert, where they were assigned to Lily's formation and where Temeraire became close friends with Lily and Maximus. Their first major battle was the Battle of Dover in November 1805, in which Temeraire turned the tide of the battle when he discovered and used Divine Wind against French forces attempting to land in Britain.

Temeraire's Officers and Crew


Since the Divine Wind is possessed only by Celestials, news of the battle brought it to the attention of the Chinese government that a Celestial had been harnessed by a "common soldier", as they considered Laurence, and was serving in the British armed forces. This was rather shocking to them, as in China Celestials are not supposed to fight. An embassy led by Prince Yongxing was sent to Britain to retrieve Temeraire. However, Temeraire refused to leave Britain without Laurence, so Temeraire, Laurence and their crew travelled aboard the HMS Allegiance to China, arriving in Macao in June 1806.

It turned out that Prince Yongxing had meant to use Temeraire to create a rival claimant for the imperial throne, one under Hongxing's control. After Yongxing's death, the matter of Laurence's unsuitabilty to be companion to a Celestial was speedily resolved by having Laurence formally adopted by the Emperor, after which Temeraire and Laurence took oaths of companionship. Temeraire's mother, Lung Tien Qian, may have had some influence in this matter, as she had requested a meeting with Laurence to question him about Temeraire's upbringing. It was after this meeting - but before Yongxing's death - that Qian allowed Temeraire to choose one of her own possessions, a sword, as a gift for Laurence, saying that it was traditional for a dragon's sire and dam to give a gift when the dragon took a companion.

During his stay in China, Temeraire was greatly impressed by the amount of freedom given to dragons there and by the ease with which they interacted with the human population. In particular, he was struck by the fact that they had a choice of occupation, money with which they could make purchases and comfortable pavillions to sleep in (rather than the bare ground of the British coverts). He also acquired a taste for Chinese cooking and grew to prefer having his meat cooked and seasoned with spices rather than eating it raw as was customary for British dragons.

In fact, Temeraire would have preferred to stay in China, where all his kin were and where he had become involved in a romantic liaison with Lung Qin Mei. However, he knew that Laurence would not be happy in China, so he decided instead to return to Britain to work on improving conditions for Lily, Maximus and the other British dragons.

The Journey Home: Turkey and Prussia

Due to a fire aboard the Allegiance, Temeraire, Laurence and their crew returned to Britain by an overland route, stopping first in Istanbul to retrieve three dragon eggs - worth half a million British pounds - from the Ottomans. The British had already paid for the eggs, but the Ottomans were refusing to release them, claiming they'd never received the money. The importance of the mission increased when it was discovered that one of the eggs was a fire-breathing Kazilik, as the British had no fire-breathers of their own. The situation was not improved when Temeraire started sharing his thoughts on liberty and improved conditions with the Turkish dragons, thereby enraging their captains.

After Sara Maden brought the British party proof that the Ottomans had indeed received the money - but then melted down the gold coins to disguise them - Laurence decided to steal the eggs. Although the smallest egg was smashed in this attempt, Temeraire, Laurence and their crew were able to flee successfully to Austria with the other two eggs. They expected to be able to obtain safe passage across Prussia to the coast. Instead, the Prussians drafted them in lieu of the twenty dragons which the British government had promised but not provided.

Throughout the autumn of 1806, Temeraire, Laurence and their crew fought as part of the Prussian forces, trying in vain to push back Napoleon's invading army. During this period Temeraire tried to interest the Prussian dragons in the improvements he had learned about in China. He was surprised and chagrined to discover that the Prussian dragons had no interest in these and considered them signs of softness and silliness.

The Cure for the Dragon Plague

Temeraire, Laurence and their crew - as well as the infant Kazilik Iskierka, who had hatched in Prussia and been harnessed by Temeraire's first lieutenant, John Granby - did not reach Britain until late December 1806. There they learned that the Dragon Plague was in the process of wiping out the Aerial Corps, with almost every dragon in Britain ill. When it was discovered that Temeraire was immune due to an earlier exposure and cure in Cape Town, during his trip to China, Temeraire and the rest of Lily's formation were sent to Cape Town aboad the Allegiance to find the cure. They were successful in this mission, returning to Britain with the cure in August or September 1807.

The British Admiralty then decided to engage in germ warfare by keeping the cure for British use only, but sending an infected French courier dragon, Sauvignon, to the Paris courier covert. From there it was expected that the plague would spread not only among the French dragons, but also throughout Europe and indeed, throughout the world, leaving British supremacy in the air unchallenged.

Temeraire could not allow this to happen and told Laurence they must take the cure to the French. Laurence had a stronger sense of duty towards the British government, a longer habit of obeying orders and a clearer idea of the consequences of treason. However, when Temeraire said he would go alone if he must, Laurence agreed to go with him. As a result of this action, Laurence was convicted of treason and imprisoned pending execution, while Temeraire was sent to the Pen Y Fan Breeding Grounds.

At Pen Y Fan, Temeraire challenged the authority of the Dragon Council, which appeared to be interested only in maintaining the status quo and protecting the privileges of the heavyweight dragons rather than defending the rights of all the dragons resident in the breeding grounds.

Napoleon's Invasion of Britain

When Napoleon invaded Britain, Temeraire raised a regiment among the unharnessed dragons and successfully led them against the French. The British army needed their help so badly that General Wellesley was willing to accept the services of Temeraire's regiment and of Laurence himself, and pay the dragons for their work. As Admiral, Jane Roland bestowed the rank of "Commodore" on Temeraire, and awarded him two blue epaulettes to wear on his shoulders.

However, Wellesley also considered Temeraire's demand for rights - and his ability to convince other dragons to follow him - to be dangerous to the British government. After Napoleon was driven out of Britain at the Battle of Shoeburyness in March 1808, Laurence's death sentence was commuted to transportation and labour in Australia on the condition that he take Temeraire with him.

Temeraire was sorry to be leaving Britain just as other dragons were beginning to receive some of the improvements he had fought for, such pavillions in more widespread geographical locations and pay for their services. Australia did not seem inviting, so he suggested to Laurence that they travel overland and return to China. However, Laurence felt it his duty to accept transportation to Australia. Temeraire in turn had come to realize how much Laurence had lost as a result of Temeraire's decision to take the cure to France. He felt that he owed it to Laurence to accept Laurence's decision to go to Australia.

Relation to other Celestials

Because little is known about the family tree of the Celestials, the following chart is conjectural. A detailed explanation on how this conclusion was reached exists on the page for Lung Tien Xian.

Two Imperials
Grandfather(Lung Tien Xian)(M)
Lung Tien Qian(F)                                                        Lung Tien Chu(M)
|                                                                        |
+------------------+                               +                     |
Lung Tien Chuan(M) Lung Tien Xiang(Temeraire)(M)   Lung Tien Ming? (M)   Lung Tien Lien(F)
                                                   Lung Tien Zhi? (M)

Positioning in Lily's Formation

             Messoria                  Immortalis
      Dulcia       Maximus      Temeraire       Nitidus