“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” – C.S. Lewis
Empress Emily Kaldwin may not see herself as a tyrant but, as Dishonored: The Peeress and the Price reveals, some of her subjects would rather she stepped aside in favour of a fairer system of government. It’s a strong start to this, the second Dishonored graphic novel, and will leave you dying to discover how Emily deals with her citizenry’s demands for democracy. She claims to want a brighter future for all but what if that future, which takes place after the events of Dishonored 2, doesn’t involve her?
Sadly, this utterly intriguing premise is swept aside in favour of a more action-oriented tale, which has Emily combating a new gang of ne’er do wells. Her father, Corvo, is at her side for much of the book but when events escalate it’s very much Emily’s show. If, like me, you played through Dishonored 2 as Emily, you’ll be inwardly grinning as this imperial badass puts her enemies in their place. The Peeress and the Price establishes that, in Dishonored canon, Emily accepted the Outsider’s powers. I was mildly disappointed by this revelation since in my playthrough she told that lanky, miserable meddler just where he could shove his gift.
There’s certainly no faulting The Peeress and the Price’s art style. Each subdued, dimly-lit yet detailed scene has a curiously dreamlike feel to it and when light finally does break through the darkness it almost leaps off the page. It’s no coincidence that the bulk of The Peeress and the Price takes place at night and, coupled with the book’s aesthetic, it’s almost feels like you’re lurking in the shadows with Emily; which is entirely appropriate given how stealth-focused the Dishonored games are.
The Peeress and the Price is another opportunity to see Emily in action, even if you’re not in the driving seat, but the story’s promising premise is squandered. The book sweeps the whole democracy issue under the carpet with an insultingly simplistic ending which doesn’t gel with Dishonored’s morally ambiguous world. Nor do any characters, Emily and Corvo aside, stand out; her nemesis is two-dimensional at best.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a tale with depth or were hoping for an exploration of the games’ mythos, you won’t find it here. But if you’re desperate for more Dishonored then The Peeress and the Price will fit the bill.