After reading The Wyrmwood Deceit, I wanted to see more of what is in the world and, as novels tend to have more in-depth details due to narration, I was hoping “The Corroded Man” would fill that itch.
Now that I’ve finally finished reading the book, here I am to provide a review for you without giving much away.
The Corroded Man takes place one year after the events of The Wyrmwood Deceit. Empress Emily Kaldwin rules the Isles with the assistance of her father, Lord Protector and Royal Spymaster, Corvo Attano.
A new threat comes from the cold, harsh island of Tyvia, bringing the Whalers back to assist with a dastardly plan that may mean the end of not only the Empire, but the lives of many both in and out of Dunwall.
==What You Get==
Weighing in at 386 pages, The Corroded Man is about the same size as an average novel.
The book tells a story of revenge that fits in snugly with the rest of the franchise and expands the story between Dishonored and Dishonored 2.
A man wronged by his country embraces a dark power to not only escape his captors, but to gain revenge by changing the very fabric of reality to do so.
The best part of the book, without a doubt, is the expansion of the story and setting. We see Tyvia firsthand, and get to learn of her people, government, and landscape. We are shown the landscape of Dunwall as repairs from the Rat Plague are still ongoing. Elaboration on the powers the Outsider grants, including what is going through Corvo’s head as he uses them, are much appreciated and plentiful. Snippets regarding Emily’s training, as well as the dynamic between her and Corvo are also plentiful and further fill in the gaps of the games.
Which brings up an important point: a sizeable chunk of the book revolves around Emily, and rightfully so. We know Corvo’s basic story thanks to the first Dishonored game, and even more thanks to the comics, but we knew very little of Emily’s outside of the kidnapping and, by paying close attention to secondary details (many being hidden), knowing that she is Corvo’s daughter. We get an inside look of how she thinks, what her goals are, what drives her to do what she does as Empress of the Isles. Some of what we are presented with are minor asides as to her training, some are even full-blown flashbacks, which helps round out the character. We don’t get the full details as to why she has powers in Dishonored 2, but the steps are there.
We also see into Corvo’s mind. No longer a stereotypical silent male protagonist, we see his goals, his fears, and what drives him to do the things he does. We get a deeper Corvo than the “kill everyone for revenge and move along” character that we could play in the video game, which is always a welcome sight.
The existence of this book and the story it tells also ensures there is some canon material for the tale. We see a number of characters that appear or are referenced somehow, often with notes as to how Corvo acted with them or how Corvo changed their lives. It confirms that the low chaos ending is canon, as well as who survives. I won’t give names, but there are some characters that clearly survive, others that suffered a fate worse than death, and even more that turned around and refuse to give up.
The writing of the novel is solid. It has a few bland moments here and there that feel like they drag, especially in the earlier chapters (and a few balls dropped in the end), but many points of the story are riveting and suspense-filled, often making one unwilling to stop reading as curiosity has taken hold.
Part of the issue with the story is within the villain. At first, our villain is mysterious and highly dangerous, motivated and having the means and willingness to do what it will take for his revenge. He has and offers power that confounds Corvo, to the point of altering the very fabric of reality, and is removed in a rather anticlimactic way.
I’m sorry, but when you have an awesome villain, there should be more than a <HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER> hand-waived assassination to end it.
We also have some other elements that don’t quite fit in the story. Corvo has an almost unhealthy fear of the Whalers, even though he destroyed the organization single-handedly, while also having a number of powers that would have made his entire mission easier that he never even attempts to utilize (yet we see them used in the Wyrmwood Deceit, taking place a year prior).
Emily, while an awesome and strong character, gets a few hard knocks with regards to the story. She’s strong-willed, dominant, and is a great foil to Corvo with regards to tactics and getting things done, but she also needs to be saved by him on multiple occasions, especially in the anti-climactic ending (but she saved him there, so I guess it’s fair?). Some elements felt shoe-horned in, especially with the female character side of things, and it did hurt the storytelling a bit.
Last minor stab: why the smeg are we getting the images from Dishonored 2 for a novel that takes place WELL beforehand? Yes, the story explains Emily’s outfit in Dishonored 2 (she basically makes the decisions for the final thing at the end of the novel), and there are multiple scenes involving the throne room (and one training session flashback involving aggressors in the room), but it felt sloppy to use something from a different product that has little to do with the actual book.
In the end, I would have to give The Corroded Man 3.5 buns.
The writing is decent, the pacing is solid, and the details really help flesh out the setting as well as understand the relationship between Corvo and Emily. We also get some stronger-than-average female characters, but don’t expect this to be a solid feminist work. Sadly, the ending is rather anticlimactic, and some parts are not clearly explained.
If you are a fan of the Dishonored franchise, this book is an absolute must read, solely because of the expansion of the setting. If you’ve not a fan of Dishonored, it’s still fun, but you won’t get the same enjoyment out of it due to not knowing the setting or the characters.
Dishonored: The Corroded Man is available as a paperback novel at most major book retailers. It is a sequel to Dishonored and takes place a year after the events of the recent (and ongoing) comic series.