Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove

(Last Updated On: May 12, 2020)

This Browncoat has been waiting for the opportunity to dive back into the world fo Firefly without having to also accept the events of Serenity, and this book does not disappoint!

About the Book

Publisher: Titan Books  |  Release Date: November 20, 2018  |  Pages: 334
Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Space Opera  |  Format: Hardcover  |  Source: Purchased

Big Damn Hero coverThe first original novel tying into the critically acclaimed and much-missed Firefly series from creator Joss Whedon.

The Battle of Serenity Valley was the turning point that led the Independents to their defeat at the hands of the Alliance. Yet the Browncoats had held the valley for weeks against all odds, before being ordered to lay down their arms. Command stated they refused to send in airpower because the ground war was “too hot.” But the soldiers who were there insist that was not true…

While picking up a new cargo on Persephone, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats who suspect him of sabotaging the Independents during the war. As the rest of the crew struggle to locate him, Mal is placed on trial for his life, fighting compelling evidence that someone did indeed betray them to the Alliance all those years ago. As old comrades and old rivals crawl out of the woodwork, Mal must prove his innocence, but his captors are desperate and destitute, and will settle for nothing less than the culprit’s blood.

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My Review

It’s been almost sixteen years since Firefly was canceled by FOX, and honestly, I’m still not over it. As a person that lives in a reality where Serenity does not exist, I was more than eager to dive back into the black with the crew that started my love for space opera and ragtag crews. But I was also apprehensive: would the series hold up? For me, this book was everything that I was looking for and I am so excited for the next books in the series!

Firefly: Big Damn Hero contextually happens in the middle of the short-lived tv series, which means that some jobs and events from the eleven episodes are referenced, but the great thing is that a reader new to the Firefly franchise will not feel lost among references. Holder and Lovelace did an excellent job of including references for fans of the tv series without alienating an entirely new audience.

The plot (re)introduces the reader to the cast and the world, and in my opinion does a good job of recalling the necessary worldbuilding framework to slowly bring you into the world. It didn’t read like too much information that I already knew as a fan of the ‘verse, which I have to commend the authors on. The witty banter between the characters and the sprinkling of Chinese phrases brought me so much nostalgia and felt incredibly authentic to the source material.

The Serenity crew is on the planet Persephone preparing to take a shipment off-world for Badger, but Mal goes missing during a meeting with a new client. Due to the sensitive nature of Badger’s shipment (those boxes are explosives and degrading fast), the crew has to split up between tracking Mal down and delivering the shipment. But don’t forget that the Tams are fugitives and the Alliance will stop at nothing to track down River. These three plotlines feel true to the episodic nature of the show with the big transportation job and the Alliance breathing down the crew’s necks.

Mal goes missing on Alliance Day, and it turns out that his kidnappers are Browncoats who feel betrayed by losing the war. I thought this was such an ingenious way to frame the exposition of more history, especially since so much of Mal and Zoe’s identity is in the Battle of Serenity and the cause they fought for. Where Serenity provided “closure” following an abrupt cancellation, this book series is going to provide more transport jobs, more answers about our characters, and more worldbuilding. I love the politics of the Alliance and how the world got to a point where the only two superpowers remaining in the world were the US and China… what led them to abandon the Earth-that-was and take to the sky? (This may be fleshed out more in the movie, but I am not joking when I said that I live in a reality where the movie doesn’t exist – I watched it once in 2005.) This television series honestly has some of the most loyal fanbases I have ever seen, and I think this book did us Browncoats proud. It wasn’t perfect, but I am so happy that it exists.

As much as I loved the worldbuilding and plotline of the book, I would be remiss to not mention the characters. Mal, Zoe, Jayne, and Shepard Book felt 100% true to the characters that we know and love; however, I do think that Simon, River, and Kaylee felt a little off. I am not sure what exactly it was but they didn’t sound right to me, but that could be related to them getting less “page time” in this book. I look forward to their characters shining in the next book because it is obvious that the authors can nail the character’s voices.

As weird as it might sound, I was really happy that Badger is in the book. Mark Sheppard literally was the early 00’s actor for so many science fiction shows (Romo Lampkin in Battlestar Galactica, and most notably his long run as Crowley on Supernatural).

I think my favorite character of the book has to be Book. I loved getting inside of his head and watching him approach the problems at hand, and I am even more intrigued about his past. Of everything that getting back into this world brings, the answers about Book’s life before he became a Shepard kind of tops my list.

I honestly loved this book, it was such a great way to slowly introduce some backstory on the Battle of Serenity, the politics still at play in relation to the Browncoats vs. the Alliance, and the characters backstories. This was an excellent first-in-series start that feels true to the television show without needing to retcon the movie completely. (Because let’s be real, I am not interested in anything post-Serenity, and I will never get over the sudden and inevitable betrayal.) I finished reading this book sixteen minutes before 2018 ended, and it was a great way to finish 2018! Overall, this was a wild ride back into the world of Firefly that I sorely missed; I loved learning some of the backstory that Fox robbed us from fifteen years ago and look forward to the next installment! (Which, speaking of the next installment… The Magnificent Nine comes out in March and Jayne and his hat are on the cover and I am ALL ABOUT THE HERO OF CANTON & HIS STATEMENT MAKING HAT.)

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!



  1. Jenna

    January 18, 2019 at 10:20 AM

    Whoa I had no idea this was a thing! I’m glad that it takes place in the middle of the series, because like you, I also live in a world in which Serenity does not exist.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:13 AM

      Glad to hear that I’m not the only one to personally retcon the movie! Honestly the book is so enjoyable, I hope you pick it up!

  2. Ally Writes Things

    January 18, 2019 at 12:48 PM

    I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one!!!! My brother loves Firefly, and I was thinking about getting it for him, so I’m glad to hear it was good

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:15 AM

      I definitely think that they did the franchise good and any fan of Firefly would enjoy it!

  3. Adriana (@BooksOnHerMind)

    January 18, 2019 at 2:45 PM

    I literally got teary eyed reading this. I’m thrilled that this series is in the world. I must have it! 😆

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:16 AM

      Aww, thanks so much for your comment that’s so sweet! I am really happy this series exists and I can’t wait for The Magnificent Nine to come out in March!

  4. Loretta @ The Laughing Listener

    January 18, 2019 at 3:20 PM

    Ahhhhh I’m so excited you loved this!! I’ve been super excited to read it since I saw your tweets about it, but I’ve also bee more that a little concerned. Lol. I’m so happy us browncoats got the rep we deserve!!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:18 AM

      I hear you on being concerned, I was very nervous about this one (kind of like I am TERRIFIED to read Slayer, but at least Joss was involved with this in some way). I really loved learning a bit more about Book and the war with the Alliance, and really appreciated the political spin with Browncoats after the war. I definitely recommend it!

  5. Meeghan reads

    January 18, 2019 at 6:57 PM

    This sounds awesome!!

  6. Norrie

    January 19, 2019 at 6:40 AM

    Oh, just reminds me how i never watched Firefly. Was so disheartened when it got cancelled that i decided not to watch it 🙈

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:20 AM

      I definitely understand, I have a lot of feelings about it (FOX airing the episodes out of order, cancelling it early and it being left with no ending). It’s an incredible piece of character-driven tv that was cancelled before its time. You should watch it though!

  7. Tammy

    January 19, 2019 at 9:29 AM

    OMG I loved this too! Such a well done homage to the TV show. I’m literally on pins and needles waiting for the next book to come out😁

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:23 AM

      I was so pleased and surprised with how good this was! I pre-ordered my copy of the second book last night and am currently just dancing around in anticipation.

  8. Michelle

    January 19, 2019 at 11:11 AM

    So.. I’ve never seen Serenity.. So I’m still here crying over the cancelation of a show that was never broadcasted in the Netherlands and I had to watch.. well. let’s say it wasn’t what an upstanding citizing would do :’) This book seems right up my alley, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the show and I don’t really have much time to rewatch it, even if the show is so short (I’m sorry I’m quietly sobbing here), but this seems like it would be perfect for me! After Gemina.. and Obsidio and This Mortal Coil. The Discord group isn’t healthy for me, I don’t have any time to sleep left.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:28 AM

      I am saying this with all the love in my heart and best intention Joss had… but I wouldn’t recommend watching Serenity. It was nice at the time to try to provide some closure and a bit more worldbuilding because, you know, the show was cancelled before that stuff got to the screen. But I am mad. But anyways, read this book and then scream to me about it! And muahahahaha I love adding to TBR Towers.

  9. Neni

    January 19, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    Oh! I heard about firefly from a couple of people. Maybe I should check it out. Glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:29 AM

      If you like the idea of a western space opera with a ragtag found family, I can’t recommend Firefly (show and this book) enough!

  10. Nicoline Simone

    January 19, 2019 at 12:13 PM

    I am not familiar with this series but I am happy that you loved it! There is nothing better than enjoying things you love. :))

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:29 AM

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I agree completely with you!

  11. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

    January 19, 2019 at 8:51 PM

    confession time: I’m a fake geek who has never seen Firefly 😱 it’s been on my list forever, but I just never seem to get around to it, oops. would you recommend watching the show before reading this book?

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:34 AM

      😱 Definitely watch the show first, otherwise some of the references will be lost. Not crucial, and I think the book is written in a way that is open to a new person to the world, but the characters. Fall in love with them and the hilarious one liners from Captain Mal. I’ll even watch with you.

  12. waytoofantasy

    January 20, 2019 at 7:11 AM

    I never watched much of Firefly, I wanted to but just never got around to it. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:38 AM

      I wholeheartedly recommend watching Firefly if you have the time, it’s only 11 episodes and totally, absolutely worth it.

      1. waytoofantasy

        January 24, 2019 at 9:28 AM

        It’s on my list of things to get to eventually 🙂

  13. thepaperbackpiano

    January 20, 2019 at 1:04 PM

    I really want to rewatch the show now! Though I’d be nervous about reading spinoff books…

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:45 AM

      Yea I am going to rewatch the show this weekend, hehehe. I was really nervous too but the fact that Joss was a consulting editor helped me take a chance, and I am so glad I did! It’s really more of a continuation than a spinoff, all the same characters and the plot feels very much like the way an episode would be structured.

      1. thepaperbackpiano

        January 24, 2019 at 10:24 AM

        I might have to watch it again soon too hehe. Oh that’s good to know! If it has the Whedon seal of approval, it can’t be that bad! 😉

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 28, 2019 at 10:44 AM

          Yea, a lot of my nerves were calmed when I saw he was somehow involved!

  14. proudbookreviews

    January 20, 2019 at 11:22 PM

    I have been told by so many people I should watch the show given I love my Sci Fi. Reading your review of this book I’m wondering if maybe I should read the books instead? When I eventually get around to it!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:52 AM

      While you definitely can pick up this book and dive into the world, I definitely have a huge place in my heart for the show and recommend watching it! The characters & one liners & banter are so good, and it’s worth watching those 11 episodes.

  15. Lili Star Reads

    January 21, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    I’ve never watched Firefly but this book seems so interesting. I might check it out as I’m trying Sci-fi this year.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:55 AM

      Ooohhh I think this is a great series for people newer to sci-fi! It’s a mix between a western & a space opera! and so fun.

  16. sammers65

    January 23, 2019 at 1:58 PM

    “As a person that lives in a reality where Serenity does not exist”

    I mean same.

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  18. northernplunder

    February 6, 2019 at 5:46 AM

    just rereading this to remind myselfg i goitta poick it up

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      February 8, 2019 at 11:01 AM

      DO IT DO IT DO IT!
      Honestly I got this book because of you and I am surprised you haven’t read it yet lol

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  20. Haley

    May 14, 2020 at 3:40 AM

    I’m afraid to start reading Firefly books, I already read Dr. Who books, could my shelf handle the added weight if I do lol, but it sounds SO good! DAMN YOU TEMPTRESS

    1. Kal

      June 2, 2020 at 7:09 PM

      *whispers* Haley… you should do it. They are SO GOOD and there are only 3 of them so far!

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