Inside Pulse 12

Book Review: Dishonored: The Corroded Man

dishonoredbookcover
Dishonored: The Corroded Man
Publisher: Titan Books
Author: Adam Christopher
Page Count: 373
Cost: $7.99
Release Date: 09/27/2016

Dishonored 2 is mere weeks away. Considering the events of the sequel are set fifteen years after the first game, a lot has happened. Emily Kaldwin is not longer a little girl. She’s the full grown Empress of the Isles, and a trained fighter under her father/protector, Corvo Attano. Rather than just being dumped into this new world, we’re being given this book to ease the transition. It’s a chance to get to know these new versions of favorite old characters.

The Corroded Man switches perspectives between several different characters throughout its length. You’ll read through the eyes of Emily, Corvo, a couple of different gang members, and the villain himself. The core of the plot centers around a man known as Zhukov. He shows up in Dunwall with unknown purposes and magical powers. High up on his list is reforming the gang of assassins that were formally led by Daud. Much of the story works like a mystery novel, in that the main characters are simply trying to work out what’s going on.

Despite having both a father/daughter and a master/apprentice relationship, Corvo and Emily aren’t exactly completely honest with each other. Emily sneaks out at night to patrol the city while Corvo secretly follows her to make sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble. It turns into a rather amusing game of “but he doesn’t know that I know that he knows that know”. They present information to the various agencies of Dunwall without revealing quite how they got said information, they don’t let the other know they’ve spotted them during excursions, and so on.

The book is heavy on action. Despite Dishonored being a stealth game at heart, the characters constantly find themselves in fights, scuffles, and even some minor battles. Corvo uses a number of his powers from the game throughout, which lends a supernatural flair to the proceedings. These scenes are generally well written and faithful to the spirit of the game.

If there’s one problem with the book, it’s that it is often bogged down with exposition. The action will slow to a crawl so the author can catch you up on how things work. Of particular note, you’ll find out the canonical fate of each of the first game’s targets. Lady Boyle was handed over to her stalker, the High Overseer was slain, and Slackjaw was saved from becoming Granny Rags’ lunch. You’ll also see a number of familiar locations throughout the story, such as The Boyle Estate and Slaughterhouse Row. This becomes a fascinating tome of lore for dedicated fans, but it also serves to make the narrative a little clunky at times.

One of the more nifty touches is a short paragraph at the beginning of each chapter. These are basically quotes form various texts and books inside the game universe. You’ll find historical accounts of various locations, opinions on famous characters, and so on. This is very similar to how you would read books in the game. It’s additional lore, and again something fans will enjoy.

This book needed to establish the characters of Corvo and Emily for the upcoming game. It certainly manages to do so. We’re given several chapters inside the head of each character and are able to see how they react under pressure and what motivates them to carry out specific actions. That being said, the antagonists are fairly well fleshed out and given time to shine. They almost certainly won’t carry over to the next game, but an interesting villain was a must for this book.

On the whole, this is a fascinating read for fans of the game, although much will be lost without that prior knowledge. While the book can get a bit clunky thanks to massive exposition dumps and background information, it likely will only serve to whet the appetite of those invested in the game’s world. It’s certainly a worthy read. More books are expected in the future, so now is a pretty decent time to get invested.

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