Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars book review: What you need to know before playing Jedi: Survivor!

To celebrate the release of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at a book that released last month, one that ties in to the game quite well. Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars is written by Sam Maggs (in her first full-length Star Wars novel) and tells a story with the Mantis crew in-between Fallen Order and Survivor.

There’s a five-year gap between those games, which means that there is plenty of time to explore, and when we meet the heroes at the beginning of Battle Scars it’s clear that they’ve grown into a tight family who work extremely well together. There’s the heroic Jedi Cal Kestis, whose ambition and abilities make him the de facto leader of the team, both to guide the others but also to draw attention away from them in emergency. There’s Cere Junda, Cal’s Jedi Master who has grown to re-connect with the Force through and after the events of Fallen Order. There’s Greez Dritus, the skilled pilot of the Mantis with a checkered past whose reluctance for heroics is merely a cover for his care and concern for the others. There’s Merrin, the Nightsister of Dathomir and a survivor of General Grievous’s purge of her people during the Clone Wars. And then, of course, there’s the ever-lovable droid BD-1, who almost never leaves Cal’s side.

The story is a rather straightforward one, as the team has to go on a mission that could turn the tide of the fight against the Empire, looking for a device that they can’t let fall into the Empire’s hands. Anyone who has played Fallen Order will recognize a task like this. But what really drives things are the characters – their interactions with one another and their development throughout the story. Merrin is front and center of the story, which is great, and seeing how she continues to grow in using her powers is terrific, while also seeing what’s really driving her behind it all.

In many ways that’s at the heart of the book, as we get to see how the different members of the Mantis crew are in it for different reasons. That divide is especially apparent, for example, between Cal and Cere: they’re both working together toward a common goal, but that goal begins shifting a bit. Cal’s working toward it in order to strike back against the Empire; Cere’s working toward it in order to re-establish the Jedi Order. So while they work well together, they’re realizing more and more these nuances that differentiate them. So much so that a lot of the book is intended to get you thinking about where they might go after this, which all sets up the events of Jedi: Survivor.

It’s a testament to the developers of Fallen Order just how likable each of these characters are and how reading a book about them feels like old friends, yet it’s also a testament to Sam Maggs how the book introduces you to each of them in different ways and stretches and grows what we knew to be true of them. For fans of the Star Wars Jedi game(s) and characters, this book will be quite rewarding, and I hope that we get more stories like this filling in more missions from the crew.

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