Never Forsaken (Book 5)
By: Michael Anderle

Quick-take: Time to exit this series.

Dan's Review

Bethany Anne takes out another high-level baddie. She reaffirms her unquestionable superiority over everything. The not-so-good sci-fi aspect is expanded.

The one thing the books get right is focusing on Bethany Anne. She is a full-throated no-apologies force of nature. She has the power and the finances back up her statements. The ruthlessness frequently comes out. That's good entertainment in a fantasy novel. She is supremely overpowered compared to anybody else, and I actually like that the book does not try to hide that when she shows up. Everything quickly collapses to her will.

My problem is all the side stories. I have no interest in them, or I disagree with the premise. Also, the author has zero subtlety with the points he is trying to make.

The least interesting character is probably Pete. Supposedly, he was a spoiled useless brat until Bethany Anne came along and took a chance. Now, the book constantly states he has grown so much into a respectable leader with duty. However, I completely disagree. I don't like the character he has become. He works for a lady with an insane God Complex that will without hesitation play judge, jury, and literal executioner. She has deputized Pete to carry out her death sentences. Here comes another scene where he takes command, and book proclaims "Look again how much he has grown!" OK, I get it, he is coming-of-age. You've been saying it for 5 books...

I don't know why anybody would want to work for Bethany Anne or find her an inspired leader. A little game she plays... trying to string together a long series of creative curse words and insults without repeating any. It's fun. She encourages others to do it to her. However, she will also beat you to near death if you do insult her / disrespect her. There was a scene where somebody supposedly did such a thing, and she made sure he suffered. My thought, "Her underlings call her worse things every day, and they all laugh? What happened this time around?" How did she know, other than the author simply saying so, this time the "disrespect" was not a joke?

She will also threaten extreme punishment for something so minor as stocking the wrong soda. The book implies that she is joking with those threats, but I would not want to take a chance. Would she really throw me overboard for the wrong brand of soda? Maybe... I think I want off that boat.

She demands complete 100% fealty, for life, with her title being "Queen". Falling out of line, with her definition of whatever that could mean, is death or a memory wipe. Crazy. I have made mistakes in my work. Everybody does. It happens. What happens if I happen to fail Bethany Anne? Is my punishment death? No thanks. This lady is not a hero. She is a villian.

I won't touch on the sci-fi side story. A werewolf computer hacker trying to build a super AI system may be an interesting story, but it just isn't what I was looking for when I picked up this book. However, I will say, I think Michael Anderle did decent research for it. All of the technobabble explaining what was happening with the computers seem reasonably grounded in reality. That side plot is simply not interesting, and it seems it will play an even bigger role in the next book.

Score 4/5. This was a stronger entry than the previous book. The plot actually did inch forward in a meaningful way. I might come back later to the series. For now, I do not care to stay on board for 15 more books.

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