The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars

By George Bate

Few Star Wars characters have generated the kind of universal love that Cal Kestis, Merrin, and the little guy BD-1 have in recent years. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a video game developed by Respawn Entertainment, was released in late 2019 to favorable critical and fan reception, with the sequel Star Wars Jedi: Survivor arriving on April 28, 2023. Jedi: Survivor takes place five years after the events of Jedi: Fallen Order, leaving a gap in time here to explore in other mediums. That’s where Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars comes in, a new book from author Sam Maggs, who previously wrote several issues of IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures comic series and the short story “Luke on the Bright Side” in Stories of Jedi and Sith.

Jedi: Battle Scars follows Cal Kestis and the rest of Stinger Mantis crew as they continue to navigate dangerous lives in the Imperial era. On a seemingly routine mission involving the Haxion Brood syndicate, the crew come across a rogue Stormtrooper, who may prove vital in their fight against the Empire. Not only do the crew have to deliberate whether the Stormtrooper can be trusted, but their journey puts them on a collision course with the Inquisitor known as the Fifth Brother.

Sam Maggs is familiar to the world of Star Wars, but Jedi: Battle Scars marks her first full novel in a galaxy far, far away. And, as many of the best Star Wars authors have done before, Maggs crafts a story that fits right into broader Star Wars lore while managing to give the novel a voice that is distinctly her own. Maggs doesn’t shy away from contemporary language in her novel (describing a certain purple-skinned character as “hot,” for instance). While certainly marking a departure from some of the stiffer dialogue found in the prequel trilogy, Jedi: Battle Scars is tonally more similar to Finn’s hilarious and endearing “You got a boyfriend? Cute boyfriend” line to Rey in The Force Awakens. 

Jedi: Battle Scars is certainly a tale of a small group of rebels fighting back against the tyrannical Empire, but, more than anything, it’s a true romance at its core. This true romance, however, is unlike the romances previously seen in Star Wars. Han and Leia’s romance unfolds slowly and the two bicker significantly before finally admitting their love for one another. Anakin and Padme’s romance, meanwhile, was about forbidden love that eventually brings an end to both of them. The central romance in Jedi: Battle Scars is decidedly different – the words ‘steamy’ and ‘passionate’ come to mind. It’s with this romance that Maggs integrates incredible and seamless LGBTQ+ representation, something various Star Wars stories like Alyssa Wong’s Doctor Aphra comic series have also excelled in. 

With the romance playing such an important role in the novel, Maggs makes an interesting choice in positioning Merrin as the lead character. Merrin was certainly one of the more intriguing characters from Jedi: Fallen Order, a Dathomirian Nightsister who survived General Grievous’ massacre of the Nightsisters and fell under the spell of former Jedi Taron Malicos. Unlike Jedi: Fallen Order, which is firmly Cal Kestis’ story, Jedi: Battle Scars is Merrin’s story. The novel dives deeply into her traumatic past, her found family with the Stinger Mantis crew, and a new romance.  

Although Merrin is the main character, Maggs spends plenty of time focusing on the other members of the Stinger Mantis. Different chapters are often told from different characters’ perspectives, with Greez being the focus of one chapter, Cal the next, and Merrin the one after that. This approach allows the reader to spend valuable time with all of the members of the Stinger Mantis in ways that were not possible in the video game Jedi: Fallen Order. Indeed, reading Jedi: Battle Scars adds such a depth to these characters that it likely will change the way in which fans play and view Jedi: Fallen Order and the upcoming video game Jedi: Survivor.

The central story of Jedi: Battle Scars is interesting and takes plenty of twists and turns, some of which are more unexpected than others. At 273 pages, the novel flies by, but would have probably benefited from a meatier story and a stronger villainous presence. The Fifth Brother plays a very limited role in the book, although Maggs makes the character as menacing as he was in Rebels and Obi-Wan Kenobi. A more consistent antagonist, however, would have increased the stakes of the mission in Jedi: Battle Scars and provided a nice counterpoint to the perspectives of the Stinger Mantis crew.


Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars, the new novel by Sam Maggs set in between the Jedi: Fallen Order and Jedi: Survivor video games, is a romantic tale unlike anything seen in Star Wars storytelling to date. A unique and approachable writing style makes for a Star Wars read that feels distinct and contemporary. Merrin the Dathomorian Nightsister shines brightest as the lead character in a steamy and endearing romance, while the other members of the Stinger Mantis crew are given plenty of moments to shine. Although the novel would have benefitted from a stronger villainous presence and a meatier plot, it undoubtedly will change the way in which Star Wars fans view and play the Jedi video games and serves as a perfect reintroduction to Cal Kestis, Merrin, Greez, Cere Junda, and BD-1. 

Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars is out March 7, 2023.

The HoloFiles

The HoloFiles is a website and series of social media accounts, including Star Wars Holocron, Marvel Tesseract, DC Motherbox, Film Codex, and Horror Necronomicon. We love cinema and television, and aim to spread positivity across different fandoms. Come to us for news, reviews, interviews, trivia facts, quotes, behind the scenes photos, analytic features, and more!