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The Never Army

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Initial post: Sep 28, 2015, 5:22:50 AM PDT
Mark says:
The Never Hero (Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs) (Volume 1)

Greetings fellow fans,

Following in the footsteps of our friends Collin and Hayden, I endeavor to create this discussion forum to delve deeper into The Never Hero.

In part of a letter from T. Ellery Hodges to readers in an eBook preview on his website ( he wrote: "I welcome discussion of all sorts: Are you a reader and think fans of The Never Hero or Rolly would love something else you've read? Let us know. Got a theory on where this is all headed? One of my favorite things to hear from readers."

I aim to do that and more, enlist in The Never Army and tag along.

Disclaimer: This discussion may contain spoilers. If you haven't read the book yet, do so and come on back!

Posted on Sep 28, 2015, 5:30:38 AM PDT
Mark says:
*Note: don't feel obligated to stay on the current discussion topics I'll get the ball rolling here but this is an open discussion jump in however and whenever you like.

I'll go ahead and kick things off. What was your favorite part of the book? I ask because I normally struggle with this question on any book, but in this case I can specify it down to one line: "You'd run the danger of spending your whole life as a powder-keg of potential dying to be ignited."

For a writer who kids about not knowing the definition of metaphor, he sure can use them.

Posted on Sep 28, 2015, 10:43:56 AM PDT
Mark says:
For my fellow theorists out there I'll share a simpler theory I had upon finishing the book, because I could speculate until the cows came home. This thread case in point haha.

Anyhow I have a strong feeling that Leah and/or Jack are going to be activated by Heyer. Follow along with me here, their older brother Peter was a previous Never Hero who was bested in a bout with the Ferox. So they have to be genetically compatible for an implant. Who is Peter you ask? See the prologue, ya that often glossed over psuedo first chapter while you are trying to get your bearings on a new book.

Posted on Sep 30, 2015, 8:42:04 AM PDT
Mark says:
To show just how open of a discussion this is, and unquestionably exhibit my nerdom. I give you a conversation piece I think Jonathan could stumble upon arriving home: how much money would it take to be batman?

Comic enthusiast Thaddeus Howez breaks this down brilliantly in the link below. A tid bit that made me lol "And if you're willing to do without the Batcave-Mansion combination, you can do it on a shoe-string budget of $83 million."

Posted on Oct 6, 2015, 9:22:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2015, 9:23:45 PM PDT

I'm just super excited for the next book to come out. I'm curious about whether the "bubble combat universe" rule will be overturned in the event of a full-scale Ferox invasion, and humanity's warriors will somehow be permanently activated. That would be mayhem, heh, but maybe too much mayhem. I'm also curious whether the government cell will amount to anything or just stand by watching on the sidelines. It would be cool to see Jonathan use them to tap into government resources, or get them involved in some other way, rather than just have them exist in order to provide tension with his love interest. I'm excited to see agents letting things slip while inside a bubble combat universe, giving Jonathan insights into their identities/motives without their ultimately knowing about it.

The ending has so many cliff-hangers. The mysterious woman from New York on the hunt for Jonathan. Grant cut loose and left to nurse his paranoid obsessions. The ominous way Heyer fixated on the name of the Ferox who had just been killed, perhaps a portent of the Ferox rebellion coming sooner rather than later?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2015, 10:29:57 PM PDT
Mark says:
Hey Zoe!

Was getting worried I'd crossed into Hayden rant territory haha

Interesting points, I would imagine a Ferox invasion would be by different means than the "arena" (as I've so boringly dubbed "bubble combat universe") gates. like when Heyer travels to meet Malkier and is unsure how much time will pass on earth's time-plane.

I also see no end game that would allow Jonathan to get any non-activated human's assistance without a straight jacket being involved. But not gonna lie seeing Jonathan meet Mr. Delacy would be pretty comical.

Hey, is it damns the gate or dams the gate? I only have the audiobook so far and the spelling has been eating at me for a while lol either one could be read into differently. Especially if it is damNs because what would lead the translator to use a word Ferotian's have no concept of? Loathing or clogging? The struggle is real haha. If only Heyer's advice about seeking knowledge from a loosely translated name deterred me enough to not over analyze it.

For some reason I think if a species vs. species showdown were to occur we'd be bringing the fight to them.

Thanks for joining in : )

P.S. an extra thanks for adding "B.C.U" to my nerd lingo : P

Posted on Oct 8, 2015, 5:45:57 AM PDT
Sara says:
I just finished the Never Hero and loved it!!
I think it would be really interesting to have some of the narrative from a ferox's vantage. Possibly even a female or a 'ferox scientist' (if they have them in their society) who is also looking for a solution to the mating requirement issues. It will be really interesting to see how Jonathan 'the biologist' manages to juggle all the moral issues involved so as not to become a monster in the eyes of another species.

Also on a tangent, if Heyer's species' experimented with the genetics of the ferox ... Who's to say that humans and Ferox are just two of the resultant 'breeds' (think chihuahua vs Doberman)???

It's a fascinating concept and the options for this story are endlessly!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2015, 8:46:23 AM PDT
Mark says:
Hey Sara!

Love the scientific approach, I tend to do the same lol

I had similar thoughts in regards to Heyer's species playing with life, but I don't see what they would have been going for with humans. The Ferox I get it, fierceness and most likely sport much like human breeding dogs for desired qualities. For humans, they wanted beings that could approach their intelligence? I think if anything, they spread the seeds of life around the universe to see what would crop up.

I struggle with the moral implications lol but it's interesting how quickly I can embrace the "us or them" mentality. I also wonder if man made and operated battle robots could trick their biological response.

The Ferox themselves, Ferox Intrusis as dubbed by Heyer from his understanding of human phylogeny. My Latin is rusty but best guess: Fierce intruder? Makes sense. What I can't wrap my head around is how do they stay fierce? Being physically incapable of harming another human would make martial arts damn near impossible. And following their similar traits to our frogs, would they produce hundreds of Ferox "tad poles" per successful never battle? By the size of their adolescents I would lean towards no, but leaves me wondering just how many successful Ferox it requires to propagate the species.

Do I see "The Never Mother" fan-fiction headed our way? Haha that'd be awesome.

Thanks for joining in!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2015, 4:55:46 PM PDT
Sara says:
However, a martial species would pride themselves on prowess and physique (just thinking about the armour, is that worn as a seperate piece or is it part of their actual biology), either way just because they don't kill one another doesn't mean they don't spar and train, and possibly hold tournaments. Btw what kind of fickle female species demands an enemy trophy to instigate mating rituals??? I think you need to explain that a little more, especially for your female fans!

With the frogs thing ... Their species would have blown out to incredible numbers after they destroyed the other two species on their world if they produced like earth frogs, it's more likely they have difficulty conceiving and only the strongest 'tadpole/ sperm' makes it to the female egg. Perhaps the females are primitive and eat the weak young? A bit gross but not impossible. Also thinking about black widow spiders ... Perhaps the females are stronger than the males and if the males want to survive the mating process they need to be the best of the best - their sex could be deadly lol. A funny complex thought hey!?

Perhaps you could write a short story about this. Also if Heyer's brother Malkier? Is in disguise and has been for many years has he actually fathered children? Wouldn't those children be half breeds and noticeably different from the other Ferox? Has Heyer fathered human hybrid children? So many divergences are possible! I don't know how you can decide what to use :)

Thanks for the reply Mark, and good luck!

Posted on Oct 8, 2015, 8:17:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2015, 8:18:30 PM PDT
Interesting ideas. I had assumed the Ferox were bred/engineered by Heyer's race as a biological weapon, namely a shock-trooper role in ground combat. As such, they don't need sparring practice; they have the aptitude and instincts baked in. And it sounded like Heyer and his brother had "taken bodies" from among their patron races. It's unclear whether they are pure energy possessing a body, or some kind of biological parasite, but I would think any offspring would just be offspring of the body they inhabit, and lack any alien traits.

And BTW, I'm Alex but my wife and I always use this one account. I suppose I'm casting her in a nerdy light should anyone google her name...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2015, 7:09:24 PM PDT
Mark says:
Alex it is, haha that's awesome.

I took it as the alien brothers changed their form to fit in with their selected 'home' planets thus the fedora and other ambiguous wardrobe selections, but you make a good point with Heyer's luminescent eyes hmmm.

I would have to imagine Heyer would struggle to find a connection with creatures a tenth his age but also interesting. Possibly part of what ties Malkier so tightly to the Ferox?

Posted on Nov 5, 2015, 10:34:25 AM PST
Can't wait for the next book! When does it come out?

Posted on Nov 9, 2015, 11:50:54 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 9, 2015, 11:58:42 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 9, 2015, 11:59:11 PM PST
Espresso911 says:
Really enjoyed the book and can't wait for the next one! Having been there myself I'm sympathetic to the hero's "low cash flow" life style. Is there any way he can bring some money back from one of his fights? It seems if he's touching something it would come back when he's deactivated?

Posted on Nov 10, 2015, 2:33:37 AM PST
Mark says:
I had a similar thought as well, but he (T. Ellery Hodges) explains that nothing persists after a bout but the human's affected neurons (memories) or a corpse going back through the portal with a Ferox. Though I don't see why he couldn't search lottery numbers, stock exchange, or sporting event results a la Marty Mcfly on his phone, other than the small detail of him fighting for his life that is haha.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2015, 2:42:11 PM PST
Marius says:
Yeah, this is true. Now, the lottery number bit wouldn't necessary work, since it would require some incredibly specific timing, like the results being tallied after a Ferox has actually come to earth, but not being influenced by it.

But, there is one thing that I thought about when reading the book. Jonathan can take any one of his friends, and tell them the truth. Then, he can ask them to think about something very specific, that only they know. Preferably making something up, so that he will never know. Then, they are told to ONLY tell him that particular "code phrase" if his chest starts glowing, and he shows off superhuman feats of strength.

That way, he can tell that code-phrase back to them when he returns, and they'll have evidence that something is going on and that he may be telling the truth.

Basically, it's possible for him to tell someone else and prove it, is what I'm saying, even though there are dangers involved. I wonder if it's a thing Jonathan will consider. It'd make me happy.

Posted on Nov 28, 2015, 5:36:46 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 29, 2015, 5:42:44 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2015, 5:53:46 PM PST
Mark says:
Right there with you Russell haha it's still being written last I heard he was 3/4 done. He tends to post updates in the book 2 discussion on this forum. Also if you haven't enlisted in The Never Army yet he has a program to recieve an email about forthcoming title releases etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2016, 1:42:33 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2016, 1:49:55 AM PST
Kian Corona says:
Mark I can see whee you're coming from concerning Heyer trying to bring someone else into the fold within Jonathans group but i dont think itll be Leah and Jack. although yes they do have compatible genes for the enhancement, i doubt Heyer would be foolish enough to give it so Jack who is waaay to young and would be pretty useless in a fight even with extra strength. Even Leah wouldnt be a viable candidate, due to Heyer being extremely thorough most of the time especially when choosing his candidates (he will most definitely run a background check) and he will most definitely realize her deception. And im not even sure he can make anyone else enhanced in that area. although he does have more implants im sure i think their can only be one activated gate per city or something. John did ask him if he could have a team and Heyer said No but i dont remember explaining why. So my guess about 1 per city might be pure speculation and nothing else

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2016, 8:48:53 AM PST
Mark says:
Hey Kian, thanks for chiming in. sorry my email notifications somehow didn't fill me in on your activity : / the hype for book 2 has me re-reading book 1 and scoping out this thread.

I think Heyer's point was that 1 stone, 1 gate, 1 implant. Having two implanted hosts on a team wouldn't help because only one could be active at a time, was how I interpreted it. From what I can gather the gate is tied to the implant not a geographic location on earth. Like at the end when we find out another implanted host is seeking out Johnathan. Also in regards to Jack these implants and battles have presumably been going on nearly a century from when Heyer said this was the sloppiest the agency had been in seeking him out since "before the cold war" I imagine another decade or so may pass allowing for Jack to be considered.

Posted on Mar 30, 2017, 10:27:48 AM PDT
Great Banana says:
I'll start by saying I like the books. However, some of the books' plot holes drive me crazy and I would love others' thoughts on these issues:

1. Why would humanity not be able to fight the Ferox? If a super-human can defeat a Ferox with punches and a metal stick, from a physics, kinetic standpoint, large caliber firearms, with armor piercing rounds, should have no trouble killing a Ferox. Or a missile. It seems to me that standard human armies would be able to defeat the Ferox - who have no technology, can't fly, have no radar or other intelligence gathering and disseminating capabilities. Don't get me wrong, there would be chaos and lots of casualties, but it doesn't seem to me that it would be the one-sided rout Heyer claims.

2. Why doesn't Heyer work with human governments to prepare for the war? the preparation he is doing seems weak - considering that aside from Jonathan, we are led to believe other activated humans don't last long (i.e., get killed pretty quickly by the Ferox). And, we are led to believe that there are a LOT more Ferox than activated humans. So, how will Jonathan lead the activated people into a "war"? People who are spread out over the entire earth? Who have never met? Who will likely all be killed off in the first wave as multiple Ferox come through their gates. It seems it would be far more efficient to work with the human governments to prepare and, perhaps be proactive - get nukes and give them to the activated humans, or set up a team of activated humans to send back through the gates after a Ferox is killed and attempt to destroy the gates, or something like that.

3. Why would Heyer set up the escape rock to take him to Jonathan instead of Mr. Clean? Obviously, if he needed to escape from Malkier, it was going to be bad news and he would possibly be hurt - so showing up where the Cell could get him makes no sense. He could have gone to Mr. Clean and had Mr. Clean get Jonathan.

Some thoughts going forward:

1. I hope Jonathan does not end up with Leah. He shouldn't forgive her or ever trust her in the future. I see it is setting it up so that Leah changes sides or something, but I'll have a hard time swallowing anyone forgiving her participation in the Cell.

2. I hope Jonathan stops referring to Heyer as "Old Man". I found it jarring and out of character. I understand it is meant to show Jonathan's father's influence, but it just doesn't read right. Takes me out of the story.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2017, 10:29:13 AM PDT
Great Banana says:
In the 2nd book Heyer talks about a muslim activated human named Ibraham, and I believe says it was around 500 years ago. My guess is that this has been going on for many centuries.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2017, 10:54:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2017, 11:11:27 AM PDT
Mark says:
Hey Great Banana, haha nice name.

1.)simple answer, there wouldn't be a chronicles of Johnathan Tibbs for us to be discussing : P more complex, I think we are underestimating the level of change undergone in activation, I think tank ammunition might be able to scratch a ferox but the things have metal bones lol not to mention being able to out maneuver a tank and tear it to shreds. Other methods would be ineffective due to collateral damage. Not to mention we wouldn't have a concerted battle front these things would infest our major cities from the inside and wreak havoc.

2. At the end of book 2 it appears that Heyer is in fact colluding with earthly organizations though government affiliation remains to be seen.

3. I think it had to be tied to a portal stone not a locale. Not to mention if things go south with malkier Johnathan is his only chance of a capable ally.

Moving forward:

I think he'll see through the betrayal and once she divulges what happened to her brother, how could Johnathan not find solace in anorther human who will actually believe his tales and already has been there for him. I think at its core the cell is already on the same side as Heyer and the never heroes, enemy of my enemy and all that. On the bright side deceitful girlfriend, but government funding so he can stop his demolition hourly work and focus on training to save the world?!? Haha

2. Really I thought it was a funny quirk of their relationship like if aragon called arwen and old hag or something I would find equally funny and endearing.

Posted on May 31, 2017, 10:06:35 AM PDT
I too don't see why human armies would not make short work of Feroxs. They are very tough, and would totally destroy any opponent in close quarters, we would not fight them in close quarters. They have no stand-off capabilities, as apex predators, they have never had to rely on coordinated assault but, I presume, fight as individuals, and they probably have little experience with the kind of technology we would bring to bear BECAUSE we cannot stand toe to toe unarmed with large earth's apex predators and expect to win. There metal skeleton and possibly higher body temperature make them highly susceptible to any range of ground and air stand off weapons, they have shown a vulnerability to be injured from kinetic and concussive forces. I am guessing, combatant to combatant, they would also be totally outnumbered. As mentioned they have no flight capability, no long range detection, no coordinated battle strategy, not to say that they could easily be changed in book 3.

Heyer's race DID select the Ferox as a combat species, it is supposed since they were similar to humans, that they fought as humans did and would, so either the Ferox could somehow be easily trained and changed for modern warfare, or they were simply used as shock troops and close quarter affairs.

I do have a question about the premise of the Never, how come the brothers just don't make a duplicate of Earth in the Never, and implant the humans there so the Ferox can combat them to become virile. In book two, we see that Never inhabitants can exist for a time in the real world, so the slain Never person would be eaten, the race would procreate, and no humans would be sacrificed. I listen on audio, so I may have missed an explanation. All said and done, it really isn't the above particulars of the story that make it a great read, it is the way TEH weaves timeless themes of love, betrayal, forgiveness, the relative perception of good and evil, that really make the story a first class read. This book is a good book to listen to in that the characters and their relationships, motivations, and actions, as well as, the plot are easy to keep track off, unlike say the Game of Thrones series where I have to take cliff notes or just give up and buy the digital version.

All SF, and most all Fiction stories, have inconsistencies in logic and must be told in a universe of their own peculiar consistent rules. That is why stories about magic require less suspension of believe as the premise of magic itself defies logical explanation while stories involving FTL travel, time travel etc require more suspension to work.

Posted on May 31, 2017, 8:31:23 PM PDT
Teresa L. says:
Loved the book - keep writing please!!!!
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Discussion in:  T. Ellery Hodges forum
Participants:  15
Total posts:  43
Initial post:  Sep 28, 2015
Latest post:  9 days ago

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