The Saga Continues: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars’ by Sam Maggs

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Probably one of the most beloved Star Wars video games of all time, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was released in 2019 and the sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor comes out in just a few weeks on April 28th. The novel Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs is set during the intervening years and allows us to catch up with the Stinger Mantis crew ahead of Survivor‘s release.

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Five years have passed since the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and cracks are beginning to show among the crew of the Stinger Mantis. Cal, Merrin, Cere, Greez, and BD-1 have been living in each other’s pockets and it’s starting to become obvious that their once-shared goals may be starting to drift apart. While Cere desperately tries to atone for the loss of her padawan to the Inquisitors, Cal wants to continue working as a strike team against the might of the Empire, Merrin longs for revenge for the loss of her sisters through any means, and Greez dreams of the day when they allow themselves to say they’ve done enough and it’s time for them to stop and get to enjoy their lives before the Empire puts a more forceful stop to them instead.

When, during a routine mission against the Haxion Brood, the crew picks up a stormtrooper named Fret who claims she wants to defect, they find themselves torn on whether or not to trust this new addition. While Merrin forms an immediate and intimate attachment to her, the others aren’t so sure. However, Fret comes bearing information about a secret weapon that could spell disaster for the rebels and hidden Jedi alike should it fall into the hands of the Empire. With everyone hiding secrets and distrust brewing, can the crew bring themselves back together once more to prevent this deadly creation from falling into the wrong hands?

I’ll be honest from the get-go and start by saying that Battle Scars was not at all what I was expecting. I suppose that, from its title and the first game, I had expected an action-adventure story filled with lightsaber fights and exploration. But while there was naturally plenty of action—this is a Star Wars novel after all—what I wasn’t expecting was for the core of this to be a romance, and perhaps the steamiest one I’ve ever come across in Star Wars.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Battle Scars and largely for that unexpected romance. The relationship between Merrin and Fret was exciting and it was great to see an LGBTQ romance taking center stage rather than being a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the background. However, I can also appreciate that this isn’t how the book appears either from its cover or blurb. The cover in particular feels intentionally misleading after reading the book, mostly due to it prominently featuring a character who is a background antagonist at most. The fact that Battle Scars is largely a romance has most likely taken many readers by surprise, especially those who wouldn’t have picked it up if they’d known what genre this really was—something that may explain the book’s low average rating on GoodReads.

What I can’t understand is the suggestion that the crew are somehow out of character here. OK, I’m not sure any of us expected Merrin to be quite so… *ahem* amorous, and I can certainly understand the disappointment felt by the Cal-Merrin shippers out there. Still, those readers suggesting the rest of the crew are OOC seem to want them to be precisely the same people they were at the end of the original game with no development in the intervening years which, to me at least, feels even more unbelievable.

I genuinely enjoyed Battle Scars. It’s a fast read filled with romance, action, tough emotional stakes and a core mystery regarding Fret’s true motives. The writing has been criticized for being overly simplistic, but I enjoyed its uncomplicated nature and felt that it added to the movie-esque feel of the book, I felt like I was reading something more akin to a novelization of an ’80s blockbuster than a deep dive into Star Wars lore. Rather than being the letdown some people are claiming it to be, what this book really suffers from is a failure in marketing which is a real shame.

Buy Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars.

GeekMom received a copy of this title for review purposes.

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