A Brief History
Back in 2015, Star Wars returned to the cinema with a brand new trilogy. It all kicked off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, followed by a spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and continued with a few more movies before taking a break. Lately, we’ve seen more Star Wars projects coming to Disney Plus, including live action (The Mandalorian and Andor) and animated series (The Bad Batch and Star Wars: VISIONS).
We’ve even seen more Star Wars games emerge and new ones on the horizon. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, and now the sequel to Fallen Order and the continuation of the Cal Kestis story, Star Wars Jedi Survivor. There are also new Star Wars games in the works from different studios (Star Wars Eclipse, Star Wars: Hunters, a Ubisoft project and more).
There is a third area of the Star Wars content which I’ve been a fan of for quite some time, the Star Wars Literary Universe (Not the official name, I just made that up). Star Wars novels go way back to the 70s and 80s, but many of the books published before the Disney acquisition are now known as the Star Wars Legends series, meaning they are not canon to the current timeline. I have read a few of these older “Legends” books, but I’ve mostly stuck to the newer stories and comics.
I’m not talking about novelizations of films or current series. What I enjoy are the in-between stories. I love the pre- and post-adventures. When Rogue One came out in theaters I already knew all about the relationship between Orson Krennic and Galen Erso, thanks to the novel Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. I also got a glimpse into the backstory of Iden Versio before ever playing the story mode in Star Wars: Battlefront II all from reading Battlefront II: Inferno Squad.
I’ve also read plenty of original Star Wars stories, featuring side characters from previous projects and brand new characters (Dark Disciple, Aftermath, Join the Resistance). Just last week, I read a new comic all about Ewoks. The Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View collections of short stories feature side quests starring minor characters from the original trilogy.
Recently, a new era has been introduced into Star Wars Literature, The High Republic. It all began with some novels and comics, but I’m pretty sure that some films and/or series are in the works. This era takes place well before the prequel trilogy, in a time where the Jedi Order was in its prime.
Now that you’ve had that brief history lesson, let’s go over the latest Star Wars book I read, Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars by Sam Maggs. This story follows Cal Kesis and the Mantis crew’s journey after the events of Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order. It occurs in the years leading up to Star Wars Jedi Survivor (which released just last week).
The thing about these novels taking place right before a movie, show or game is that you can usually predict that nothing of significance will happen to any of the main characters — big moments are always saved for the screen. Still, I enjoy reading them to get some backstory and learn a bit more about these characters and what they’ve been through.
Battle Scars tells the tale of a great adventure for the Mantis crew* (Cal, Merrin, Cere, Greez, and BD-1) featuring some newcomers. This is a story of love, trust, betrayal, friendship and more with some great battle sequences. Since the first game followed Cal closely, it was nice to get a glimpse into the rest of the crew and their dynamic as a group — especially since Merrin joined the group to end the first game.
*Spoiler Alert! I have already begun my journey into Star Wars Jedi Survivor,
and it’s interesting that Cal begins on his own with the crew scattered across the galaxy.
The story also features a complicated love story between Merrin and a new character. I saw it as a comparison to what some couples today are going through. Can two people with different beliefs still love each other? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but overall this was a very captivating part of the book. I knew of some of Sam Maggs’s previous work in games writing and graphic novels, but I’m excited to see what comes next.
Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars features some references to the first game (Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order), including some callbacks to climbing and those terrible ponchos**. The group also faces a familiar Inquisitor, to fans of Star Wars Rebels and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Fifth Brother makes his return (with his silly sun hat/helmet).
**In the first game, I barely wore the ponchos. I hated the look of them,
but we’ll talk about ponchos in later posts about the first and second games.
As I previously stated, usually nothing too big or crazy happens in these side stories. However, in this book there was a big moment when it comes to Greez***. I like that the new game treats this situation as a IYKYK (If You Know You Know) situation.
***Spoiler Alert! He lost an arm.
When meeting up with Greez early on in Star Wars Jedi Survivor I noticed the change, but not everyone will. If you read Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars you will most likely be looking for it as I was. For those who didn’t read the book you may or may not notice the change. In fact, you may notice it and think, was this always this way? It’s not really a game-changing moment, however it is different to see something high-stakes happen to one of the key characters in a Star Wars novel.
I’m extremely satisfied with the way they handled that moment in the game. The story is out there for those who want to read it, but if you didn’t we’re not going to spoon feed it to you either. I would feel cheated if I took the time to read this book, and the game just gave us a quick recap of the whole story.
Back when I first played Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order I was interested in the lore and world story, mainly because it’s more Star Wars. Any time a new project is announced I’ll give it a chance because I’m just excited for more Star Wars. Reading Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars before starting Star Wars Jedi Survivor really has me paying attention to everything going on. Any time I discover something new I open the databanks to read all about it.
I would love the chance to speak with Sam Maggs about the process of creating a story that takes place between two games. Until then, I would advise that any big Star Wars fan read Battle Scars before playing Star Wars Jedi Survivor if you can. It will most definitely enhance your gaming experience.
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