Following the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, all eyes are on the game’s sequel Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Before the sequel’s release in April, fans can learn more about what Cal and company were up to in the five years in between games in Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars. After surviving their run-in with bounty hunters, Inquisitors, and even Darth Vader himself, Cal Kestis and the crew of the Stinger Mantis look to continue their fight against the Empire. Published by Del Rey, Jedi: Battle Scars is written by Sam Maggs, writer for various issues of Star Wars Adventures (2020). Sean Kenin Elias-Reyes brings Maggs’s story to life in the audiobook version published by Random House Audio.
Jedi: Battle Scars opens with the crew of the Stinger Mantis attempting to deal with Sorc Tormo and the Haxion Brood, antagonists from Jedi: Fallen Order. The opening chapters do a great job of recapping some of the events from Jedi: Fallen Order so, even those who have not played the game can get a sense of who Cal Kestis and the ragtag bunch he now calls family have gone through so far. When their mission doesn’t go exactly according to plan, the crew finds themselves with an extra passenger, a stormtrooper defector. The deserter aims to help them deal a major blow to the Empire, but as we all know, that is much easier said than done. Especially when the crew isn’t sure if she can be trusted.
In the early days of the fight against the Empire, fans have seen that it took quite a while for the Rebellion to form the force for good we see in the Original Trilogy. For Cal and company, they are largely unaware of others who may be fighting the same fight. Cal and Cere Junda, his new master, truly believe they are the last of the Jedi. Merrin lives with the pain of losing her sisters on Dathomir. Even Greez is sympathetic to the blights under the boots of the Empire. Much of Jedi: Battle Scars explores how far their little strike team can go to cripple the Empire. How much are they willing to risk when they know that they are not capable of toppling the Imperial machine?
While Cal Kestis is the main protagonist of the video games, Jedi: Battle Scars switches narration through all of the members of the Mantis as well as the Fifth Brother, the dreaded Imperial Inquisitor who has wreaked havoc through various Star Wars projects. The personal touch that every character gets, even the gruff and loveable Greez, adds to the development of their characters leading up to Jedi: Survivor as well as fosters a greater appreciation for the crew’s exploits in Jedi: Fallen Order. Many members of the team share similar trauma and Sam Maggs’ writing affirms why the characters in this amalgamation of a crew are able to be so close-knit. In the audiobook, Sean Kenin Elias-Reyes’s methodical and intentional delivery adds great weight to the exploration of the character’s most intimate and powerful moments.
The highlight of Jedi: Battle Scars is, without a doubt, Merrin. As one of the final daughters of Dathomir, it is no surprise that her assertion into the team was harder than the rest. While Cal and Cere are bonded by the loss of the Jedi, Merrin could never fully accept the pain of the loss in the way that her Jedi counterparts did. Even her powers are dwindling making her feel disconnected from what once made her strong. Jedi: Battle Scars shows her journey back to finding herself and it is one of the best character arcs Star Wars has seen in a long time. Frethlyrin, the stormtrooper deserter, provides that connection she has so desperately been searching for after the Nightsister’s demise. However, it is her reliance on herself that truly brings her own power.
This is not to say that other members of the Mantis don’t have their own time to grow. Greez has never been one to take the unnecessary risk, but throughout his time with Cal and company, there is a clear change in what he is willing to do to save his friends. Cere also continues to prove herself as one of the most underrated Jedi in the franchise. Cere is adamant about maintaining the culture of the Jedi all while trying to stay true to the light despite the Order being long gone. Cal and the Fifth Brother serve as compelling mirrors of their views. They both were all but let down by the Jedi Order after being taken from their homes, but Cal’s dedication to his new family separates the two. I would love to see more development with Cal’s character other than reaffirming his beliefs but, I imagine that is what the game is for.
For lore lovers, there is plenty to be excited about in Jedi: Battle Scars. As a Keshiri, Frethlyrin brings a species back into Star Wars that hasn’t been seen since Legends. It also shows one of the very few non-humans with roles in the Empire. Not since Thrawn have we seen anything but humans in the Empire let alone a stormtrooper. Further, Sam Maggs’ description of the action sequences gives an interesting look at how Cal and Cere see the Force and Cal’s Force Echo ability. The same can be said for Merrin’s use of magick as well.
Those who have played Jedi: Fallen Order will be eager to replay the game’s biggest moments as more context is added to character motivations and thoughts. Those who are just jumping in to catch up for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will quickly understand the hype around Cal Kestis, BD-1, Greez Dritus, Cere Junda, and Merrin as a group. The crew of Stinger Mantis is a motley bunch and writer Maggs plays on the best parts of their chemistry together while expanding each character’s story.
Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars is available on March 7, 2023 wherever books are sold.
Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars
The crew of Stinger Mantis is a motley bunch and writer Maggs plays on the best parts of their chemistry together while expanding each character’s story.