Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars is an adult Star Wars novel written by author Sam Maggs and published by Random House Worlds. This book acts as a bridge between the fan-favorite video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) and Star Wars Jedi Survivor (2023) by Respawn Entertainment.
I was able to get an early review copy of Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars from Random House Worlds but it will go on sale publicly on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023. This post is my spoiler-free review.
Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars A Drunk Wooky Book Review #starwarsjedibattlescarsTweet
The book follows Order 66 and Jedi Purge survivor Cal Kestis and his gang of misfits known as the Mantis Crew. Named after their ship The Stinger Mantis which doubles as their home. This crew includes another former Jedi (and Cal Kestis new Master) named Cere Junda, a Nightsister survivor named Merrin, an adorable droid named BD-1, and their four-armed Latero pilot Greez Dritus.
The story kicks off after a bit of a time jump from where we left the crew at the end of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. They’ve been working together for a while now and have become a highly efficient and dangerous team. Merrin is the stealth, Cal is the muscle, Cere is the support, and Greez handles getting in and out. Sam Maggs does a fantastic job portraying this teamwork and describing each member’s role.
The book shifts perspective chapter to chapter giving the reader an inside look at what each member of the crew is thinking and feeling during the events in the book. This element of the writing really shines as one of the core reasons the group bonds so well together is their shared trauma at the hands of the Empire and Palpatine.
That being said, while everyone is featured, this book is mainly centered around Merrin. The way she interprets her “nightsister magick,” her deep loneliness after losing everything she knew on Dathomir at the hands of General Grievous, her appreciation of her new-found family the Mantis crew, her need for revenge against the empire, and her longing for deeper connections with others are on full display in the book.
For better and for worse.
I think Sam Maggs did a great job in most of this book fleshing out Merrin’s character. She’s wounded. And dangerous. Her nightsister magick is rooted in the Dark Side. Unlike Cal and Cere, Merrin is not afraid to tap into the dark side when going toe to toe with the Empire.
Her journey to find herself and addressing her feelings are at the core of the story being told in this book. While I really liked the overall story there were parts of the book that lost me a bit. Merrin’s obsession of a love interest introduced in Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars was a bit over the top for me.
There are sections of the book with page after page of Merrin describing her feelings for this character. Describing in vivid detail about what was attractive about them. How the sweat dripped over the curve of their collarbone. How they made her feel. Stuff like that.
At points, this felt like a romance novel when I was expecting a more adventure-based action story. Not saying this is bad. I think it was well written. Just not what I was expecting or my cup of tea. Honestly, there were parts that read more like a coming of age Young Adult novel than a full adult Star Wars novel.
While at the same time, this book is easily one of the most violent novels in terms of action I’ve ever read in a Star Wars story. The way Cal and Merrin narrate their attacks on their enemies almost has a gleeful tone to it. That they are happy to dismember, suffocate, and kill their Imperial prey. At no point did it feel like a Jedi was doing the fighting as there was no reflection of the loss of life. Just happiness that the enemy has been weakened. In short, when there was action… it was intense. I loved the action sequences because of this. Full of emotion and clarity.
Also, Maggs makes the 5th Brother absolutely terrifying and does a fantastic job displaying just how much of an advantage the Dark Side provides those who succumb to it.
In conclusion, I liked this book quite a bit. Great characters. Great action. Tons of character-building. But some parts that felt like they took eternity to get through. Mostly Merrin working through her feelings and getting hot and bothered by her newfound obsession. I think some will love that aspect of the book but it just wasn’t for me.
Be sure to pick up your copy on March 7th and see for yourself!
May the force be with you.
Grand Admiral Frik!