Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Between Books - Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars

Book covering of Star Wars Jedi Battle Scars showing the 4 crew members of the Stinger Mantis with a large image of an Inquistor in the background.

Cal Kestis…never heard of him!

Okay, maybe I heard about him with they started selling his lightsaber in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. I saw the excitement. I recognized the actor/model from Gotham. But I had no interest because I’m not a gamer and have never played Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Also, many of you may have suggested that Star Wars books and I go on a break because the Old Republic has made me really grumpy.

But hey, I read these so you don’t have to…you’re welcome!

Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs follows former Jedi Cal Kestis and the crew of the Stinger Mantis about a decade after the fall of the Jedi and Order 66. Kestis and his crew are drawn into a caper to acquire a super secret super powerful piece of technology before the Empire can get it. Leading the empire’s attempt to collect this item is an Inquisitor who is also seeking to kill or turn Kestis and his Jedi master. As the crew plans and executes their plan, we are pulled into all the emotions of the crew.

I am familiar with Star Wars. I know the general story of the Empire and the Jedi refugees post-Order 66. I know what Inquisitors are, I’ve seen them in comics, animation, and live-action. I even feel the pain of former Jedi as they hide from the Empire. So while I was not familiar with Kestis, there are enough context clues around me to put me into the story without me saying I know this world but this isn’t right and gosh now my head hurts. Basically, I think unlike the Old Republic the pre-knowledge from being tied to the already well-built Star Wars era makes this functional for me. So yeah, look at me not railing against this and being really mad. I was entertained!

This book is a caper. It is Star Wars: Firefly with Maggs (and the video game designers maybe) giving us a ship and a well-designed crew of misfits that many of us can see likable traits in. With my brain not hurting, I was able to slip into the story and just let it do its job, tell me a story. I was also willing to get to know the characters better.

Kestis wasn’t even my favorite character. It was Merrin the Dathomir Nightsister. Again, I think it helps that we’ve met Nightsisters before in Ventress and have been pre-delivered the background of these non-Jedi force users. Merrin gives us very “human” emotions of grief, trauma, and multiple versions of love. In fact, we see with Merrin a Star Wars character who does something I rarely believe happens in this universe, display intimacy.

Boom, Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars by Sam Maggs did the job. I was entertained! To me, that’s really the job of a Star Wars book. It is escapist fiction and works best when I get pulled into a fun adventure. Here, I also get the bonus of some real emotional character reflections that make me feel like this crew is, well, real.

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