Dunwall, the capital of the Empire of the Isles, was once a booming, thriving, industrial city full of life and possibilities. A remarkable sight, taken captive by the Rat Plague and corrupted politicians throwing the city into the depths of despair. It’s when Dunwall’s Empress Jessamine is wrongfully assassinated that the city’s fate took a hard spiral downward.
After the assassination, her daughter Emily was taken hostage, and it was the duty of the Royal Protector, Corvo Attano, to bring her back. Dishonored: The Corroded Man takes place 15 years after these events.
I’ve never been overly fond of books based on video game franchises, and I suppose that was always because they lacked the one thing I needed: proper imagery. See, video games rely heavily on imagery — in some cases it may be the opposite. When it comes to books, the author needs to completely immerse their readers into the world they once could literally see. This isn’t an easy task, being a writer myself. But as I was reading through this novel adaptation, I could literally picture every detail of Dunwall, and more. Author Adam Christopher described not only the obvious landmark’s labeled throughout the game, but the despair and grief the city had tried so hard to overcome. I could feel the sorrow the families felt after losing loved ones to the Rat Plague, and the helplessness the city felt as their Empress was taken.
The book starts off with three separate prologues: The first begins as a mysterious, ragged figure plans his escape from a forsaken “prison” stuck in the middle of the arctic. The Prisoner manages to kidnap three guards: one for his clothes, the second as a distraction from the hungry wolves, and the third for his bones in a ritualistic sacrifice. It’s then that he manages to escape.
The second prologue begins with a more familiar face: Emily. Now Empress for 15 years, Emily has been spending most of her time practicing the art of stealth as she scales rooftops at night. Lord Protector and Royal Spymaster, Corvo, has been mentoring Emily, and it’s at night that she really seems to test her limits.
“Young Lady Emily is undisciplined, I’m afraid. Here within Dunwall Tower, she receives instruction from the finest tutors known in the Isles, yet her mother spoils her and she spends most of her time lost in imagination, wasting her time drawing, or asking Corvo to teach her to fight with wooden sticks. The girl might rule the Empire some day; every moment spent at play is a moment wasted.” –Hiram Burrows
The third prologue introduces us to Galia Fleet: a former member of the Whaler gang, and now-turned security detail at The Golden Cat. Reminiscent of her previous life, before her leader Daud vanished, Galia’s life changes when Zhukov (the Prisoner from the beginning) appears at The Golden Cat coming to “rescue” her. Dying for a taste of power, the Zhukov promises her just that if she comes with him. Working together, they manage to revive the Whaler gang, with Galia as their leader. Interestingly enough, this man seems to possess powers from the Outsider. The very same powers that both Corvo and Daud possessed. Remarkably similar to Corvo’s story in the first game, this antagonist has been framed, locked up, and is out to seek revenge. It’s at this point that Zhukov promises Galia powers from the Outsider if she helps him.
On one of Emily’s nightly runs through the city, she comes across a group of grave-robbers. After observing them for some time, she decides it’s wiser to run back and explain things to Corvo. Unaware of the fact that Corvo was watching not only Emily that night, but watching the grave-robbers as well. Corvo had come to the realization that these weren’t mere grave-robbers, but Whalers. It’s when both Emily and Corvo unveil Zhukov’s plan that they decide he must be stopped. It’s at this point that Corvo asks Emily to not intervene, as he is the Royal Protector, and he must fulfill his duty. Emily being the daughter of Corvo, couldn’t simply stay idle. As Corvo formed his own plan of taking down Zhukov, so did Emily.
This book definitely caught me by surprise. Being someone who loves the Dishonored world and story, I was hesitant when picking up The Corroded Man. I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It dove deep into not just the relationships of the characters, but the world itself. I felt for each character, becoming understanding of their motives whether good or bad.
This novel does a fantastic job at leading up to Dishonored 2, and leaves me wanting more.
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