Review – Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder, James Lovegtove, and Joss Whedon

Book Title: Firefly: Big Damn Hero

Book Description: The 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.

Book Author: James Lovegrove, Nancy Holder, Joss Whedon

Book Format: Hardcover

Date published: November 20th, 2018

Number Of Pages: 384

  • Writing - 8/10
  • Development - 8/10
  • Overall - 8/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)


Firefly: Big Damn Hero is the same cast we fell in love with during Firefly and Serenity. This is the first time we’ve ever seen them in novel form, but the characters carry true through the words. And naturally they all get into just as much trouble as we’ve come to expect.


Firefly: Big Damn Hero


Firefly is one of those classic shows that everyone that watched it fell in love with it, yet it never seemed to get a fair chance it deserved. Because of that love, the series has been adapted into many forms. Back in 2005, it made it to the big screen as Serenity. More recently the series has continued in graphic novel form.

Big Damn Hero is the first full novel based in the world of Firefly. It took several minds and a lot of work to get it off the ground, but here we are. Joss Whedon is the founder for the whole concept of course. He was also the editor for this particular project (a good call). Meanwhile, the idea for this specific plot came from the mind of Nancy Holder. It was James Lovegrove who took the concept and ran with it (with permission, of course). 

The novel is the first of three that will fall into the Firefly universe. The second book, The Magnificent Nine isn’t due out until sometime in 2019. The third book doesn’t yet have a title or a release date, but it is believed that Tim Lebbon will be the author for that one. 

There are a couple of things you should know before diving into Big Damn Hero. Like all the graphic novel adaptations, this novel resides in a specific point in time. Big Damn Hero is set during the course of the original series. It occurs sometime after the episode ‘the Message‘, but before the conclusion of the show


Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder, James Lovegrove, Joss Whedon (Consulting Editor)
Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder, James Lovegrove, Joss Whedon (Consulting Editor)

Firefly: Big Damn Hero had big shoes to fill. Fans of the series have been desperate for any scrap they can get, but realistically that doesn’t mean that they’ll accept just anything as canon. Turning the series into a novel was likely not an easy process.

Despite the dramatic change in medium, the characters still feel and act exactly as we’d expect them to. It’s almost like if you see the actors stepping on set once again. Maybe that’s partially wishful thinking on my part, but this tale read just like any of the episodes for me.

The characters all read the way I expected them too. This might not have been the case if I hadn’t had such a clear picture of them in my mind. Perhaps my mind filled in some of the gaps. I can’t be certain. I do think a Firefly fan would appreciate the novel more than somebody who picked it up in passing. 

Like some of the episodes but many of the graphic novels, Big Damn Hero gave us a chance to see more from the perspective of other characters. We were shown more about some characters, which is always a nice change of pace. Also, it felt like every character got a chance to have their moment, so to speak. Nobody was truly left out of the action. In that sense, it really did feel like the series all over again. 

There are a lot of perspective changes throughout the course of the novel. Mal was the main focus, naturally, but many other changes had their own chapters as well. There are also several flashbacks included. This felt similar to all of the flashbacks we were shown about the battle of Serenity Valley, so it felt appropriate in many ways.


James Lovegrove didn’t seem to be in any hurry with this novel. He allowed the tension to develop naturally, slowly letting things build up as more information was revealed. This made for a good read, though the pacing was a bit slower than any episode of Firefly had ever been. 

While reading I felt a lot of anxiety to find out the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of the situation. It took a long time to get the full reveal. The flashbacks helped to fill in some of the gaps, but not all of them. Maybe it was the tension building, but it felt like we were left in the dark for slightly too long. 

The conclusion came up quickly and had a melancholy tone to it. Considering the novel is set following the events of ‘the Message‘ this felt oddly appropriate. The ending itself was rough on the characters, but it also fits in well with both the story being told here and the overarching themes of Firefly


Firefly: Big Damn Hero is the perfect read for fans of Firefly that are desperate for more material from that world. This is especially true for those fans that always wanted to learn a bit more about a few of the other characters in the series.

On the whole, it was a fun but tense read, with lots of investigating, fast-talking, and even a bit of action. While it took longer to get to the point than a typical episode would have, it would have been perfectly adapted into something longer, say a movie.

Personally, I really enjoyed this read. The fact that they took the time to tell us where in the timeline it was set meant a lot to me. It also helped set the tone for the novel and gave me a good idea of what was to come. 



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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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