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Firefly #1

Big Damn Hero

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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.

279 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 20, 2018

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About the author

James Lovegrove

136 books529 followers
James Lovegrove is the author of several acclaimed novels and books for children.

James was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and, having dabbled in writing at school, first took to it seriously while at university. A short story of his won a college competition. The prize was £15, and it had cost £18 to get the story professionally typed. This taught him a hard but necessary lesson in the harsh economic realities of a literary career.

Straight after graduating from Oxford with a degree in English Literature, James set himself the goal of getting a novel written and sold within two years. In the event, it took two months. The Hope was completed in six weeks and accepted by Macmillan a fortnight later. The seed for the idea for the novel — a world in microcosm on an ocean liner — was planted during a cross-Channel ferry journey.

James blew his modest advance for The Hope on a round-the-world trip which took him to, among other places, Thailand. His experiences there, particularly what he witnessed of the sex industry in Bangkok, provided much of the inspiration for The Foreigners.

Escardy Gap was co-written with Pete Crowther over a period of a year and a half, the two authors playing a game of creative tag, each completing a section in turn and leaving the other to carry the story on. The result has proved a cult favourite, and was voted by readers of SFX one of the top fifty SF/Fantasy novels of all time.

Days, a satire on consumerism, was shortlisted for the 1998 Arthur C. Clarke Award (losing to Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow). The book’s genesis most probably lies in the many visits James used to make as a child to the Oxford Street department store owned by his grandfather. It was written over a period of nine months while James was living in the north-west suburbs of Chicago.

Subsequent works have all been published to great acclaim. These include Untied Kingdom, Worldstorm, Provender Gleed, The Age Of Ra and the back-to-back double-novella Gig. James has also written for children. Wings, a short novel for reluctant readers, was short-listed for several awards, while his fantasy series for teens, The Clouded World, written under the pseudonym Jay Amory, has been translated into 7 other languages so far. A five-book series for reluctant readers, The 5 Lords Of Pain, is appearing at two-monthly intervals throughout 2010.

He also reviews fiction for the Financial Times, specialising in the Young Adult, children’s, science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel genres.

Currently James resides in Eastbourne on the Sussex Coast, having moved there in August 2007 with his wife Lou, sons Monty and Theo, and cat Ozzy. He has a terrific view of the sea from his study window, which he doesn’t sit staring out at all day when he should be working. Honest.

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5 stars
1,551 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,101 reviews
Profile Image for Nina.
90 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2018
I never ever rate books I haven't read, let alone those that haven't been released, but some purple-belly gave this one star and I will not have that, no sir.

That said, holy shit! More Firefly? More of the best dysfunctional space family? Yeeeees!!
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,478 reviews1,895 followers
December 4, 2018
Some of this really did feel like true blue Firefly, fully equipped with Whedon banter and turn of phrase and characterization, but so much of it was.. dull. Slow. And the ending was so predictable it pained me.

The only upside is that I think I'll be bingeing the show over the holidays. I am now super nostalgic.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,605 reviews2,309 followers
January 16, 2022
Big Damn Hero
(Firefly #1)
by James Lovegrove, Nancy Holder
My favorite series ever was Firefly and I have watched the series yearly along with the movie. I always wanted to know more about their adventures. This series fills that longing.
Like the series, not all books have all the characters in them, it just depends on the story. In all of them, they find trouble, help each other get out of it, and are always strapped for money!
I got the audio version and the narrator sounds like Mel so it's awesome! It's written so well and has all the quirky characteristics of each team member down perfectly!
In this story, the Captain is in serious trouble and the gang must track him down and save him. They don't have much time. Of course!
Profile Image for Pippa DaCosta.
Author 69 books1,513 followers
Want to read
February 20, 2018
Seriously, that rating? Who one-stars a new Firefly novel?!
Profile Image for Kal ★ Reader Voracious.
560 reviews192 followers
January 17, 2019
It's been almost sixteen years since Firefly was cancelled 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 enjoyment and nostalgia!

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, 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.

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 Preacher. 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 top my list.

I honestly loved the plot of 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.)


10/30/2018: tfw you want a book so badly that you accidentally pre-order it twice

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Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,222 reviews454 followers
March 1, 2022
4 Serenity Stars

Why I haven’t delved into this sooner is beyond my comprehension. As a huge fan, it will come as absolutely no surprise that I enjoyed this.

-Jayne is still a roughneck asshole
-Zoe is tough as nails but puts her feminine side to good use
-One gets a glimpse of the feelings brewing between Kaylee and Simon
-River utilizes her amazing impossible powers
-Shepherd Book’s elusive past comes to the fore
-Wash is still his funny quirky self
-Inara continues to impress with her various non-Companion skills

And Mal? Still honorable and ruthlessly practical in all the right ways.

Loyalty is the key word here as Mal’s past comes to bite him in the ass, and he must rely on his ragtag crew to figure things out to rescue him before he’s hanged for a crime he didn’t commit.

This was very enlightening as flashbacks show Mal as a teenager, grappling with first love, and becoming a man as he enlists in the fight for Independence against the Alliance.

For all enthusiasts of Firefly, this is a must, and I’ll be eating up the rest of this series soon!
Profile Image for Charles  van Buren.
1,769 reviews197 followers
August 17, 2023
If you are a serious fan of the Firefly tv series and the Serenity movie, you may have some trouble relating the book characters to those you have in your mind's eye. Once over that, this is a good scifi adventure novel.
Profile Image for Jackson.
199 reviews57 followers
August 23, 2022
Big Damn Hero is a weird one for me. The Browncoat in me wants to love it because... well it's Firefly - but another, more objective, part can't help but notice it's shortcomings.

I shall start with the positive.
The dialogue is very strong, and the performance on the audiobook version really enhanced this for me, kudos to James Anderson Foster.
All of the characters used their specific dialect perfectly and their word choices were spot on, particularly in regards to characters like Wash and Kaylee. Lovegrove is clearly a huge fan or he studied the show very closely. Either way - he has made the characters and their speech work exceptionally well.

This ties into something that at first I appreciated and then grew somewhat exasperated with as the book went on; the direct and sometimes entirely pointless references to the show.
As I say, at first I thought it wise; to mention a few events, establish a timeline, remind the readers of a certain character's history, etc... Then it just kept happening, and with smaller and smaller things that mattered less and less.
There really wasn't much of the Firefly TV show, and I presume most of the people reading this book are fans who are already rather familiar with the canon. Thus the constant references to the measly 14 episodes we got on screen became overbearing and it felt a little patronising and "hand-holdy".
This honestly wouldn't be so bad if it was written with some subtlety - instead it was written like;
"Remember the time when..."
"He thought back to the time when..."
Yes, we remember, and if we didn't - the chances are that we didn't actually need to remember in this instance anyway.
Even the title could be mentioned here; an iconic line from the series that had literally nothing to do with anything that happened in the book. It isn't even appropriate for the story.
Maybe this is all just me. I understood the use of the references in the early stages of the book, but in the latter half it just felt so forced and on-the-nose.

Lastly, the story itself. I don't think I liked it.
I admit, maybe this is because I am currently reading/seeing a better version of a very similar story take place in the Greg Pak graphic novels - 'Firefly: The Unification War'.
At the beginning of this review I referred to myself as a Browncoat; the self adopted names that the fans of Firefly gave themselves as a collective. In the world of Firefly, Browncoats are soldiers and mercenaries and veterans that fought for independence against the Alliance.
A consistent thing with both Lovegrove's 'Big Damn Hero' and Pak's 'The Unification War' is that both make the in-world Browncoats out to be stupid, reckless, violent pieces of shit - which is not what they are seen to be at all in canon.
Even considering they 1) lost the war, 2) are down on their luck and 3) are looking for chances to get back at the alliance, I always saw their comradeship, their loyalty and their desperate, scrappy and oftentimes underhanded attempts to help innocents retain their freedoms as being key elements of what it is to be a Browncoat.
We didn't see that here.
They were not freedom fighters.
We saw them as a largely faceless crowd of bloodthirsty bandits. Bloodthirsty to the point of trying to kill other Browncoats! The same people that they served with!
To me, this just isn't what I want from a Firefly story. It doesn't feel like the plot of an episode and seemed like it was just an easy way to create conflict - using the conflict of the past.

Another similarity and critisism of both works, but primarily Big Damn Hero, is the trend of taking Mal away from his crew and having them rescue him.
This just isn't fun to me. Not only do we miss out on almost all of Mal's interactions with his team, and make out like Mal's role in the war is all he is, but it removes any tension - because he is Malcolm bloody Reynolds. He isn't going anywhere in the first book of a series and we all know it.

With Firefly being so open ended and having such a diverse cast of characters and settings, it frustrates me how little is done with it's potential.
I want to see genres collide.
I want to see unlikely cast combinations forced together.
I want to see twists.
I want to see heists.
I want to see smart teamwork.
I want the key conflict to involve more than just Mal.

So yes, I wasn't completely taken with the story. I appreciated the voice and the dialogue, and the performance of the audiobook was really good, but for Big Damn Hero overall...

2.5 stars, rounded up for the Audible performance.

I really hope the next book in this series is an improvement, because despite not really enjoying this one I shall definitely be giving it a go, albeit with my fingers crossed.

Thank you for reading my review!
I know it's a long one so if you've read this far it means a lot.
I hope you are reading good books and feel free to talk Firefly with me whenever!
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,143 followers
March 7, 2021
Well, we no longer need to find a Firefly-like novels or series, do we? We have it already! The real deal, in fact, not some sorry copycats.

Some of the plot devices and the dialogue from Wash (should be funnier) but the gorram book is still shiny.

We have multiples POVs; while not all of them clicked yet (in my own head canon), some are truly enjoyable: Book and Jayne especially. I had so much fun with Mal and the rest of crew and cannot wait to have another adventure in the next book, which will focus on our very own hero of Canton.
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
1,017 reviews529 followers
November 29, 2018
This would have been a 4 star read if it wasn’t for that phoned in and so so typical ending.

The beginning got off to a slow start, meeting up with Captain Mal again but as the plot developed I was intrigued.

Unfortunately, once we meet his past love interest things just follow the can’t be bothered book ending in so many books that just choose to cash in on a franchise.

Zoe was dope, so was Mr Preacher Man.

There was wittiness in the dialogue which I enjoyed, but the last quarter of the book just disappointed me after all the effort the author put into the first half of the book and developing that plot with all the little twists and turns and other characters.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
917 reviews283 followers
December 3, 2019
There is no doubt that an appetite for Firefly/Serenity multiverse stories continues to exist. With the exception of the original Star Trek, no other cancelled series has ever accumulated as much content as Firefly. So here we have a new story given to us in novel format (there are also graphic novels and comics to date). And while the story itself is decent (thanks to Nancy Holder); the actual execution by writer James Lovegrove leaves a bit to be desired.

The one thing that is clearly perfect in Big Damn Hero is the dialogue and attitudes of the characters. Without a doubt Lovegrove knows these characters as intimately as most fans. Without this strong connection to the characters and feeling like it really was Jayne, Mal, Kaylee, etc. speaking I wouldn't have been likely to keep reading. This is the primary reason I gave this story 3 stars.

There are a few odd plot points here that I wonder if are the fault of Holder or Lovegrove. Because Holder wrote the 'story concept' it's hard to know where the discrepancy originated. Regardless, there are two points that really stuck out as too convenient to me. Both rely on the 'power' that Shepard Book has with the Alliance to get our folks out of trouble (or as the official back-up plan). I hate when an obscure unknown power can suddenly 'make things better'. It makes the plot outline feel sloopy and unfinished to me.

Going into this book I was really looking forward to an action packed story. I expected shoot-outs, danger everywhere and lots of activity by our characters. Unfortunately we get a lot of talking instead. Big Damn Hero just lacks the excitement that makes this world so engaging (after the awesomeness of the characters is considered). At the 20% mark we hadn't even left port! I really wanted guns firing, high-speed chases and other 'western' style action. This was the biggest disappointment to me of the entire novel.

While it's always nice to visit multiverses that I have a huge love for; I really only want to spend my time in these worlds if the new story upholds the expectations of the original content. I'd rather have no new Firefly content than poorly executed books or comics. This may seem a bit weird; but after the disaster that has been Buffy in comics (Season 8 & 9 just ugh!) I have come to the conclusion that I would prefer the left the canon alone for these popular series if they aren't going to give 110% to the integrity of the universe. Perhaps that's very snobby of me, but it's also the absolute truth.
I'm not sure I will try the next Firefly novel as it's also written by James Lovegrove. Had Nancy Holder written it I'd read the book for sure as she rarely lets me down. That said maybe Lovegrove will be able to do better with a story he came up with instead of adapting Holder's plot?
Hard to say.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,788 reviews675 followers
March 22, 2022
There is a real challenge in writing a novel based on a drama. You can see it in the attempts to novelize Star Wars. Some succeed but a lot more fall short. Part of the reason may be because the author is forced to “check so many boxes” in the minds of the potential audience so that they can feel “comfortable” with the adaptation.

Lovegrove and Holder try hard to get the “vibe” right: The language is right out of the show; the iconic outfits are admirably described; and there is the right dystopian aroma:
"Docks spread out in all its rusty, gritty glory. The yellow-tinged atmo stank so bad you could practically chew it—a chunky, inedible stew of rocket exhaust, carbonized garbage dump, spilled rocket fuel, unwashed humans and animals, and mountains of boiled protein blocks."

We open this story on the backwater planet known as Persephone. It has a picaresque aura:
"Overhead, one of Persephone’s two moons, Renao, was riding high and bright. Its smaller counterpart, Hades, had yet to rise."

"Here and there, ship’s captains of ill repute casually bribed customs officials, and hordes of filthy folks crawled through and over the debris of civilization like ants—some looking for work, others looking for trouble. If he was being honest, Mal had to admit he currently had a foot in both camps."

The “Browncoats” (for whom Mal and Zoë fought) in Unification War lost everything in 2511. It’s 2517 now and Persephone is a little gear in the clockwork empire of the victors.For those who favored the show, there are a lot of backstories for our intrepid crew that we didn’t get in the brief time it was in production.

Mal and the crew are living almost “hand to mouth.” All the “regulars” are present: Inara, Zoë and Wash, Kaylee, Jayne, Shepard and the Tams.

"“Lady, I try not to think too much about anything except keeping my head on my shoulders and platinum in my pocket.”"

"“River? You’ve done it. He’s out cold. Keep that up and you might kill him.”
“He was going to kill you,” she said. “And me. Fair’s fair. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a candy for a candy, a penny for your thoughts.”"

"A single clockwise twist of the wrist, and the padlock’s shackle fell open. “A Shepherd,…who can pick a lock?”
“‘And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, (said Book)’”"

If this isn’t the most rollicking adventure you have ever read, it certainly will make most fans happy.
Profile Image for M(^-__-^)M_ken_M(^-__-^)M.
347 reviews80 followers
January 8, 2023
“You can’t change the past and you can’t do aught but rue the way you sometimes acted back when you were young and stupid and thought you were immortal. Doesn’t prevent you from wishing you could.”
― James Lovegrove, Big Damn Hero

Big Damn Hero James Lovegrove,
(space shenanigans transposed straight to a wild west setting, huh seriously, yes seriously)
Now in 2019 the nutty odd ball gang continues. Captain, Mal & first mate Zoe 2 very clever and occasionally
Dumb, calculating war veterans, (the side that lost) Jayne, ( it’s a guy) all muscle, always ready to fight, sometimes not the crew.
Wash Zoe’s husband whose one hell of a pilot. Kaylee, engineer tomboy, big crush on Simon, even bigger crush on Innara.
Simon the young fugitive doctor and brother of River, who was experimented on as a child to be some kind of human super weapon,
Shepherd, a spiritual man, broad knowledge of all sorts of things, in some kind of a transition stage, but has a hidden shadowy past.
Innara the very sensual with a weird amount of tension between Mal (she's a professional you know and lives on one the ships shuttles) lastly the most important character of all the ship Firefly. Fantastic series cut way to short this fills that hole until then, anyway like the series always living on the seat off their pants nearly always broke this time Mal is captured while smuggling by veterans he fought along side off in the war. Mal is accused of war crimes and getting no where fast, how can he talk his way out of this, and time is running out like normal eases that itch with one heck of a ride.
Profile Image for Rea K.
717 reviews37 followers
August 27, 2019
Now the question for me is this: Are these going to be hit and miss like the Torchwood and Doctor Who books (Yeah, I read a couple of the Torchwood books. So sue me. I have a deep adoration for Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness) or national treasures that capture the essence of the original series? (Oh, stop. I know how Serenity ended. In ugly sobbing and a month of 'what do I do now?' Don't remind me. I know we can't reverse some probably executive decisions, but I do hope we can deepen the River storyline AND THE GLORIOUS SHIPS.) Time will tell. And I'll probably read this in six years, at my current going rate for books. I'll revisit this review when I finally manage to snag a copy and see whether my hopes and dreams have been crushed or raised.
Profile Image for Kara.
717 reviews1,246 followers
January 29, 2020
“Firefly: Big Damn Hero (Firefly #1)” disappointed. There…I said it. I loved Firefly, and I really really was looking forward to this audiobook.

The narrator did a decent job, and it was fun reimagining the crew of Firefly. The biggest problem I had was the same I had with a Star Trek audiobook that disappointed me: it’s just too long!

Now you’d think that the longer the better (ok, knock it off; I’m a lesbian!), but the story dragged on without visuals. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and at 60fps, that means every second of video contains 60,000 words. This book is 9.5 hours, which translates to 60,000 words/sec * 3,600 seconds/hour * 9.5 = 2.052e9 words. That’s lots of words for this story; I’d rather have seen a video. The entire Firefly series of 14 episodes (44minutes per episode) was 10.5 hours. This book was not nearly as good as the entire series, less an hour.

The story wasn’t bad…it would’ve been a good episode; perhaps even a movie. But too much time was spent describing (with lots of words) what we would have seen visually in a moment. That slowed it down. Lots.

Plus, the flipping back and forth between the past and present got tiresome.

As I Firefly fan, I stuck it out, but anyone not familiar with the characters would be completely lost.

So, I rate the book as 3* - meh. If you’re a fan, you may want to check it out. There are three more audiobooks in the pipeline, so you might want to give this a try to see if the other three will be worth your credits. If you haven’t watched and fallen in love with the TV series Firefly (and you should; I’m looking at YOU - Alexis!), start with the TV series, not this audiobook.
Profile Image for Austra.
645 reviews75 followers
August 25, 2021
Ir tādi brīži [dienas, nedēļas], kad nevar ne palasīt, ne padomāt. Var truli sēdēt un bindžot ziepenes. “Firefly”, protams, ir starp favorītiem, kuru izvilkt no noputējušā plauktiņa ik pa pāris gadiem, lai atsvaidzinātu mīlestību.

Lai varētu gūt īstu prieciņu no šīs grāmatas, es teiktu, ka priekšnosacījums tomēr ir - zināt varoņus un seriālu. Es katrā ziņā šo gabalu caurcaurēm izbaudīju, varoņi šķita šūti no tās pašas drēbes, kuras seriālā, bija jauki un smieklīgi viņus atkal “satikt”. Sižetiski gan varbūt te bija bišķi par daudz action jeb drīzāk - sižeta samezglojumu, jo man likās, nu ok, kā viņi šito tagad atlikušajā laikā saslaucīs veiksmīgi kopā? Bet saslaucīja, protams. Pluspunkti, protams, ka bija jaunas detaļas par varoņu pagātni. Un tas, ka šī grāmata Audible katalogā bija b/m. Ierunātājs gan tāds... Nu nez. Viņš runā tā kā sakostiem zobiem, kas brīžiem ir kaitinoši. Bet jā, šis bija exactly what the doctor ordered, literārā vērtība minimāla, bet kuram gan tas rūp, ja sirsniņa apmierināta?
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
1,059 reviews233 followers
January 12, 2019
"Is it a good life or a bad one? The answer doesn't matter. It's the only life we have."

Oh, my fractured Browncoat heart.

How long have I been saying there should be full-length Firefly books?! SO GORRAMN LONG!!

To say this first tie-in Firefly novel was long-awaited by the fandom would be an incredible understatement. Serenity came out in 2005, people! TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE!!!

The fact we finally FINALLY have Firefly novels (the next one is set for a March release) makes me so happy. But also sad. Because Firefly.

Firefly just.. it means everything to me. It didn't last as long as it should have, but it goes to show what an all-encompassing franchise it is. It lasted one season. ONE!! With a follow-up movie and a bunch of comics. The impact it has had on people.. Browncoats are some of the most die-hard fans. Firefly was never truly over for us.

I'm sure writing a Firefly novel is similar to writing a Star Wars novel. The pressure to respect the source material, to nail the voices of well-established characters, to honor the fans that have waited for this moment. Fucking hell. In fact, it's probably harder than writing a Star Wars novel because it's THE FIRST OF IT'S KIND!! Talk about intimidation!

Big Damn Hero takes place in the midst of the original Firefly, during a time when everyone was alive. It could fit as an extended filmed episode, almost like a new adventure in that season two that we weren't given.

The crew are chasing up a job with the crime lord Badger, one that involves a cargo of explosives that they must deliver. Except Mal being Mal, ends up getting kidnapped while on a side job. Mal's second in command of the good ship Serenity, Zoë, must decide between going through with the deal or heading on a rescue mission to find her Captain.

We get to see inside Mal's mysterious past while he is away from the main storyline. I loved these flashbacks to younger Mal! We are given more than just passing glimpses into what formed him as the Captain of today. Fans of the show know there is more to him than what meets the eye and this does an excellent job showing that. What has caused him some of the hurt in his life. Like a past love. OOF.

Lovegrove reproduced the voices of these characters, capturing their essence that we already know and love. There is certainly a sense of familiarity here. All of them getting a moment to shine. However, I did have a few issues with the dialogue. At times it felt a bit choppy and Jayne's character in particular seemed a little off. That could be just that it's such a hard character to do justice.. no one could do it in the way that Adam Baldwin does!

There were also a few niggling items of repeating the same moment or action. For instance, within the first 100 pages, I believe I counted three iterations of "the hairs on the back of the neck stood on end." Otherwise, this was a bloody treat to read! The pacing was perfect for fans of the television series, there was a proper story and ultimately, it was nostalgic as fuck. I dug this a lot!

It will be interesting to see how the other two books get on, once the focus shifts from OMG FINALLY A FIREFLY NOVEL!! I personally loved the Serenity: Leaves on the Wind run of comics, which I feel added much-needed story for our beloved ragtag crew. It wrapped up some questions by giving us a look into the lives of these people we have grown to know so well. How they are managing after the traumatic events in the movie. So I'm not sure if someone will tackle the post-Serenity events in a full-length novel, because Zack Whedon did a helluva job in the comics. There is always potential for an ongoing series, though. Always.

Whatever happens, I am just so fucking happy to be back in the 'Verse with the crew of Serenity. I will always hold out hope that we will get that reboot we all want and deserve on screen, but for now stories like these will do just fine.
121 reviews16 followers
December 26, 2018
”Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal”

All Firefly fans will probably remember this quote from the show, and I currently feel just like Wash’s plant-eating dinosaur must have felt, when it was betrayed by a meat-eating dinosaur.

Yes! It was a tie-in novel, and I have read my share of bad tie-in novels in the past, so I had my fears about Big Damn Hero being released more for the sake of profit than for the sake of its’ captivating story, but when I saw the production value of the book – the hardback and dust-jacket treatment – and that Joss Whedon was credited as “consulting editor” (whatever that means) – I got my hopes up.

”我的媽和她的瘋狂的外甥都” (Holy Mother of God and All Her Wacky Nephews) I felt like a sucker, when I finished this slow-paced book, after not being entertained at all throughout its’ duration. The characters mostly feel like cardboard-copies of themselves, while Jayne does have a personality for some of the book, Mal, Zoë and Book (who are the main characters in this book) all seem to have undergone personality-removals. They may be going through the motions, I just didn’t have any emotional connection with any of them, and the plot is both slow and clichéd, and every third chapter or so had a reference to one of the show's episodes, which does not contribute to the story at all.

I am done with this book series, due to this being the worst book that I have read in 2018.
Profile Image for Sarah Swann.
764 reviews1,009 followers
August 28, 2020
This was so fun! A high action story with funny lines that kept me entertained. This felt like a Firefly movie. Thumbs up!
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,080 reviews167 followers
January 4, 2023

It’s hard to write satisfying novels based on TV and film media. This author tried really hard, and it was a good book, but I wasn’t totally wowed by it. The author clearly knows the characters well and was true to their voices and personalities. The audio narrator also did pretty well at matching the actors’ speaking mannerisms.

Most of our cast of nine heroes gets their own POV at some point, but the focus is mostly on Mal, Zoe, and Book. We get a lot more of Mal’s history and a little bit of Book’s. Was it a crime to cancel Firefly? Yes. Does having books make it better? A little.

Language: Mild
Sexual Content: Off-page; not explicit
Violence/Gore: Several scenes of getting beat up, a little bloody; references to hanging; references to war and terrorism
Harm to Animals:
Harm to Children:
Other (Triggers):
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,593 reviews95 followers
November 20, 2018
"Well, look-at-this! Seems we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?"
"Big damn heroes, sir."
"Ain't we just?"

I am a patient miser who almost never buys books new, preferring to wait until used copies hit the market. But when I learned that there was a Firefly novel scheduled for release, I preordered and didn't blink. Set during the run of the show, Big Damn Hero delivers as close as we'll get to another episode of the shiniest show that ever ran. At its opening, Mal Reynolds and the good ship Serenity are looking for work, trying to recover their reputation after the Niska disaster, and necessity compels them to take a questionable payload of explosives from the even-more questionable person of Badger. Mal's been asked to see a local businessman about a smaller delivery he can handle on the way, but something goes awry: emerging from an epic bar fight, Zoe and Jayne quickly realized the captain's been kidnapped. With destabilizing explosives in the hold, and Mal in the hands of parties unknown, Zoe and the whole Serenity gang have to work double time to figure out what's gone awry before matters get worse.

Big Damn Hero offers a fast-moving plot (a two-day story) and all the flavor of the show that Browncoats should enjoy; Lovegrove and Holder have a good ear for the show's peculiar mix of frontier drawls peppered with Chinese expressions, and none of the characters from the ship are overlooked in contributing to the resolution: it's very much an all-hands on deck kind of story, bringing even Book and Inara into the thick of things. The show's humor runs throughout, from Mal's verbal harrying of his captors, to Zoe and Wash's playful banter and Jayne's mix of wiles and tactlessness. River is...well, River, playing a flute to calm the explosives down and providing just the right amount of insight to get the team out of tight corners. There are plenty, too; with so many members of the crew separated in the search for answers. Zoe, never a weak character -- never -- is in fine form here, hobbling round town on a fractured leg, keeping the crew focused despite River's episodes and Jayne's fits and Kaylee's near panic at the idea of leaving the captain behind. The only fly in the ointment is the questionable backstory about the Alliance and the Independents, as the settling of this system is portrayed simplistically with rich people buying the core planets and leaving the poor people to the frontier planets, and then there being some confusion about the independents "seceding" from the Union...which they were not part of to begin with. That's relatively minor, though, perhaps on the scale of arguing about Klingon head makeup.

Big Damn Hero will find an audience, I think, not just because it's a new story in a beloved franchise, but because it also adds to that Firefly universe by fleshing out Mal's past and the people he loved and fought by. I enjoyed it thoroughly and hope this series keeps flying.
Profile Image for Seth Skorkowsky.
Author 21 books322 followers
March 10, 2020
Do you love Firefly?
Have you ever wanted a whole book about Serenity’s lovable crew that relies on you already loving them rather than giving you a reason to?
Did you ever wonder what Firefly would be like without the witty banter that it was famous for?
Do you like endless references to the old show crammed in and awkwardly placed at every conceivable moment for 17 straight chapters, while simultaneously not adding to what you already know, almost like a clumsy best-of script with references to the show shoehorned in every 45 seconds?
Then boy oh boy, do I have the book for you!
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But it reads like clumsy fan-fiction that relies on the reader already loving the source materiel so that the book doesn’t have to go through the minimal effort to engage the reader. There are massive info-dumps, interrupted by show references, and little else for the first half of the novel. After chapter 17, it begins to tell its own story and that was mostly a flashback of Mal when he was young, as if they had a short-story and figured out how to bloat it up to a full-sized novel, link it to the Firefly ‘Verse, and sell it to people who would be so blinded by nostalgia that they wouldn’t notice that it was a cash-grab.
Profile Image for Holly.
458 reviews28 followers
November 29, 2018
If you are a firefly fan I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
November 18, 2021
No rating since it could well be my mood. I'm not much for novels that expand on TV shows. For instance, I've never cared for the Star Trek or Star Wars novels. I have read a Firefly novel & liked it, but this one just isn't blowing any wind up my skirt. I'm impatient with the constant backstory/explanations of the characters. I KNOW THEM. I don't need to be reminded 6 times in the first chapter why Mal takes the dodgy contracts.
Profile Image for Dave Packard.
382 reviews3 followers
February 20, 2019
Back in the ‘verse! Got some back story on Mal, and a great new adventure. Probably best read with some idea what Firefly is, but I do, so for me it was 5 stars all the way!
Profile Image for Magali.
774 reviews33 followers
November 25, 2018
It was really good at the beginning. Well it had to, it was a Firefly novel. As a Browncoat, I'm always searching for new Firefly content, and official novel was the big dream (well, a dream, because the big dream is the TRILOGY obviously). Also, I liked the pitch : Mal is kidnapped, the crew tries to find him while he has to fight against something from his past, also there are crates full of a chemical that could go KABOOM at any moment in Serenity's hold. It would make a great episode !

And it was not bad, the novel, in the end. But in most areas, it was a kind of a hit and miss thing. The story had some good moments, but also very boring ones. The whole past coming to haunt Mal drama was a big miss for me, I felt it was very [i]cliché[/i], very boring and also a little bit hard to believe it was actually from Mal's past. I like how Mal was kidnapped, I liked who kidnapped him and what happened to him, I just didn't like the why of it all, it felt like a bad fanfiction. I like the part of the story with Shepherd Book, I felt it was really good, and I felt his characterization was on the spot. I also felt River was pretty well written, Kaylee too, eventhough she had kind of a secondary part in the book, same for Inara. Wash was kinda funny but also not very important... Badger was fun to see.

Then there was Jayne. I LOVE Jayne. I basically adore that character, mostly because I feel it's one of the few dumb characters that are well done in fiction. I also like his amorality. And I was happy he was very present, particularly in the first third of the book. And he had great moments, but he had some bad moments too. Basically sometimes it felt like less Jayne would have been better Jayne. For the first time ever he annoyed me at time (particularly the author's way of making him saying Mal must be dead every five minutes. I mean, yeah, Jayne is a brute but he also has pretty good survival skills and wouldn't goat Zoë in wanting to kill him that much. Also, he is not exactly a mean person and that's how he felt at times.).

And Zoë, she was kinda meh to me honestly. She lacked a little depth in my opinion. She also was a little too rigid. I had issues with Mal too. He felt a little out of character most of the book to be honest.

The dialogues were either great, either bad. And the author had that thing were EVERY bad guy had to be ugly in one way or another and I hate that trope. Like scars, "hatchet face", being fat (that seems to be a bad thing in the author's opinion)... I mean, ugh, you don't need to be that much on the nose about everything ! Beautiful people, ordinary people can be bad guys too. I really felt again like in a bad fanfiction with that. "Oh that guy has scars, he is really bad", "that woman is ugly, she is a villain" and of course "that beautiful woman is the victim of the story". Ugh.

Honestly, if I had not been so desperate for anything browncoatish going my way, I would probably not have finished the novel. But I still can say it had fun moments and on some occasions I even felt the nostalgia of that amazing show.... (That was very clever to put the action before the Serenity movie, made it easier to follow, but I really want a good author to write about the crew after the events of Serenity, that would be amazing.)
Profile Image for Margaret.
587 reviews12 followers
November 28, 2018
On the book jacket (AND the title page), it says Big Damn Hero Firefly by James Lovegrove. Original story concept by Nancy Holder. In the acknowledgments section at the back of the book, Lovegrove thanks Holder for "letting me pick up her ball and run with it". The next page About the Authors gives a short bio for both Ms. Holder and Mr. Lovegrove.

I had assumed that this Big Damn Hero book would be a prequel to the Firefly TV show. In fact, it picks up during the "eleven of the fourteen produced episodes [that] were aired" (Wikipedia). Thus, all nine of the Firefly crew main characters are present in this new novel series. (I definitely approve of this approach as I was one of the fans very disappointed that two crew were killed off in the Serenity Firefly movie.)

I had also assumed that, with both Mal and Zoe on the book jacket, the Big Damn Hero novel would mostly be about that final battle in Serenity Valley where the Browncoats were eventually ordered to surrender (and thus lost the war to the Alliance). References to that battle are indeed included but I really liked getting Mal's backstory on Shadow, the planet where he grew up and also some backstory on Shepherd Book.

Again, new fans might enjoy this book but dedicated Firefly fans will enjoy it the most because they will know why River & Simon Tam are on the run from the Alliance and, in general, how the Serenity cargo ship is run by Captain Mal Reynolds, etc. etc.

The second book in this new authorized Firefly novel series is The Magnificent Nine by James Lovegrove, scheduled to be published in March 2019. However, the third book is listed as Generations by Tim Lebbon, set for October 2019. (This is not entirely surprising as most Star Wars and Star Trek books are by many different authors [this seems to be the pattern for sf TV/movie tie-in books].)

In short, highly recommended for all Firefly fans and the best news is that more authorized novel tie-ins are on the way as well!
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