Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars, a prequel novel set before the events of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, is out today. The book doesn't seem to have a massive impact on the narrative of the game, but it does set up what look to be some essential story beats, so if you're interested in finding out what's in store, we've outlined the story in a synopsis below.
Major, extensive spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars follow
The book starts with Cal and the rest of the Mantis crew attempting to infiltrate and destroy a bounty hunter base attached precariously to a small collection of asteroids in the depths of space. It very much sets the unit up as a strike team - Cal works with Merrin, the Dathomirian Nightsister that we meet during Fallen Order, on infiltration, while Jedi Master Cere provides technical assistance, and Greez keeps the Mantis in wait as a getaway driver. While Cal is pretty happy about this state of affairs, Merrin is struggling with a damaged connection to her Nightsister magic and continuing to mourn the destruction and exploitation of her people.
The infiltration goes south when the duo discovers several stormtroopers also hanging around the base. They fight their way out, but not before Merrin is waylaid by a stormtrooper espousing their desire to defect from the Empire. The trooper is taken back to the Mantis, where they reveal that they're not a stormtrooper at all, but an Imperial data analyst called Chellwinark Frethylrin, or 'Fret' for short. Fret is a Keshiri, a purple, near-human race rarely found outside Star Wars books or comics.
Fret sought out the Mantis crew in particular because of her connection to Qeris Lar, an extremely wealthy bird-like Omwati, who uses their money and resources to aid rebel causes while staying out of the Empire's attention. Qeris has a job for the team, and they eventually agree to hear him out, despite Greez and Cere's distrust of Fret.
When the crew meets Qeris, he tells them about the Shroud, a cloaking device so powerful that it can make a person invisible to any form of surveillance, including the naked eye. In the hands of the rebels, it would be an invaluable tool to keep people safe, but in the hands of the Empire, it would give them unprecedented abilities to hunt down their targets, effectively ending all hope of rebellion. Fret says its inventor was killed, but a datacard containing its schematics can be liberated from a facility on an Outer Rim planet called Murkhana. Unfortunately, the Empire is also on its way to collect that datacard, and it's sending Inquisitors - the force-sensitive Jedi-hunters that Cal battles several times during Fallen Order.
The importance of the Shroud, and Cere's desire to go to Murkahana to collect a Jedi relic called the Circlet of Saresh from the planet, sway the crew's decision, and they head for the world. Keeping the Empire off the Mantis' tail is a key concern, so the journey to the planet is long and winding. In the significant downtime offered to the crew, Merrin and Fret develop a passionate relationship that helps reignite the former's magical abilities. Cal, who is still harbouring his own suspicions of Fret, uses his Force Echo abilities on a piece of her stormtrooper armor. During that flashback, he sees evidence of a previous relationship, but more importantly, Fret's refusal to leave the Empire to be with her former partner.
He keeps that information to himself as the team arrives on Murkhana, where Cere and Merrin scout out the Imperial facility, a prison. Cere finds the circlet, which she sees as the potential starting point for rebooting the legacy of the Jedi - even if she and Cal can't restart the order and defeat the Empire, symbols of the Jedi's teaching could be invaluable in future.
Cal, Merrin, and Fret infiltrate the prison using Fret's access codes, but Cere notices a discrepancy that reveals that Fret never actually defected from the Empire. Cal is furious, but his blade is stilled by the news that the Inquisitors are already on their way to the facility. Using a prison break to cause a chaotic distraction, the team makes its way to the cell where the datacard is being stored, only to find no card, but a person; Irei, a lizard-like Nikto, who Cal recognizes as Fret's former partner. Fret also acknowledges the inventor of the Shroud, who she thought was dead.
Irei is convinced to go with the Mantis crew, but in the chaos that follows their attempt to get back to the ship, Irei and Fret flee, leaving Cal and Merrin to take on a squad of Purge Troopers. Merrin's returned powers make that pretty easy, especially when she raises many dead prisoners temporarily back to life to fight alongside her. When the Inquisitor - the Fifth Brother - arrives, however, Cal instructs Merrin to flee and resolves to fight by himself. He loses and is nearly killed, held at the end of the Fifth Brother's blade, before being rescued by Cere at the last moment.
Cal is knocked unconscious, and the lack of communication from the ground panics Greez, who decides to go and help. Before he can leave, however, Fret, Irei, and Merrin return to the ship. Irei is in need of medical help, which Merrin attempts to provide while Greez runs to find the two Jedi. When he finds them, he sees Cal unconscious and Cere attempting to bring the Fifth Brother back to the light side. A momentary lapse in concentration sees the brother make a desperate swing at Cere, which Greez tries to deflect, losing one of his four arms in the process.
Cere traps the Fifth Brother beneath the rubble and manages to get Cal and Greez back to the Mantis, where Merrin's magic is all but drained. Everyone survives the escape attempt, but they're all angry at each other; wounded and having seen Cere's attempt to convert the Inquisitor, Greez can't determine what the Mantis crew is hoping to achieve; Cere's desire to save the Jedi teachings is at odds with Cal's anti-Empire sentiments; Cal seems to be afraid of Merrin having seen the extent of her powers in the prison, and Merrin is resentful of Cal's fear and of Fret's relationship with Irei and lies about her attachment to the Empire.
The crew resolves to spend 48 hours laying low on a backwater planet, where many of their grievances are solved. They also determine that Irei has no desire to hand over the Shroud to Qeris, but the fact that a prototype has never been built means that they should be able to deceive him by making a fake one. They return to the Omwati's home, attempting to bargain for Fret and Irei's safety while refusing to develop the Shroud further, arguing that it's simply too dangerous. Qeris rejects those terms and attempts to betray the crew.
Fret takes a bullet, as it's revealed that Qeris has been working with the bounty hunters that the crew was attempting to hinder at the start of the book. In the ensuing chaos, the Fifth Brother also arrives, having tracked Irei all the way from Murkhana. He kills Qeris, and then once again bests Cal, but is held at bay by Merrin; she gets Irei and BD to tinker with the fake Shourd - actually a small detonator - and turn it into a bigger explosive, while she holds back the brother with her magic and Qeris' reanimated corpse. Cal takes another hit - lending him one of the scars he's picked up before Survivor - but the bomb brings the building down around the Fifth Brother, allowing the entire gang to escape.
Fret and Irei depart the ship at the first safe planet the Mantis lands on, staying together, if not romantically, while they attempt to evade the Empire. Fret invites Merrin to come with them, but she refuses, as the rest of the Mantis crew resolves to continue travelling together. It's clear, however, that some existential issues could drive them apart in future, which is likely where Jedi: Survivor picks up.
While the events of Battle Scars don't seem to lead directly into Survivor, there are several internal and external discussions - particularly around the motives of each member of the crew, several of whom are absent from the Mantis in the game's trailer - that are likely to prove important parts of the game's story. Sam Maggs' action sequences, especially those focused around Merrin, are also a lot of fun, but I've mostly skipped over them in this synopsis, so if you're still interested in checking out Battle Scars, there's still a lot to enjoy that I haven't revealed here.
If you're looking to explore the galaxy far, far away right now, check out our guide to the best Star Wars games.