The Four Feathers
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The Four Feathers

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,146 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Just before sailing off to war in the Sudan, British guardsman Harry Feversham quits his regiment. He immediately receives four white feathers-symbols of cowardice-one each from his three best friends and his fiancée. To disprove this grave dishonor, Harry dons an Arabian disguise and leaves for the Sudan, where he anonymously comes to the aid of his three friends, saving...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 1902)
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Wanda
Jul 23, 2014 Wanda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Karen and Dagny
Shelves: 2014, real-books
8 JUL 2014 -- Call me crazy, but why is this billed as an adventure tale? Seems more of a romance to me or a study of feelings. I love it!

Response to a comment by Dagny: Thanks Dagny. I am at Chap. XIV. So far, adventure has been spoken of and hinted at, but not yet fully experienced. I am positive adventure is yet to come and I am patiently awaiting its arrival. Just the same, I am finding the characters' developing personalities extremely interesting.

I will give away no spoilers; yet, I can s...more
Phil
Aug 28, 2012 Phil rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
The Heath Ledger movie makes you think this book is an action thriller. That is false. Mason's work is a look into the emotions and decisions made by extraordinary people.

What war or fighting is described in this novel is described by characters who participated in it, and most of the story takes place in England, minus a couple chapters in Egypt and Sudan. This instead focuses on two characters trying to learn something about themselves- a confused young man who quits the military but must fig...more
Laina
This has been one of my favorite movies ever since I first watched it on the big-screen, so I decided to read the book just this week when I found it on my shelves.

Wow. The movie is incredible, and so is the book. They're both very different; the movie focuses mainly on Harry and how he atones for his disgrace, but the book focuses more on Ethne and her suffering and poor, sweet Jack.

This is a tale of wonderful friendship and drive, but the character that touched me most was Jack. Jack who sacri...more
Nick
A. E. W. Mason wrote this gem in 1902; it is still the most romantic adventure novel ever written. Made into a wonderful movie of the same name, this story reads even better than it plays on the screen. The prose is limpid, the insights into pre-WWI mores profound, and the settings unforgettable.

Mason makes me believe that we've lost more than we've gained in the century since he wrote. His descriptions of the pre-motorcar (Irish) countryside convince me that we will never see the country the s...more
Joshua Ray
Nota Bene: I can only review the book as someone who had seen the movie first.

That said, the book and the 2002 adaptation are quite different. In setting, in theme, in the portrayal of the characters, and in many other areas they differ quite a bit.

Not that that makes either of them not good. (minor spoilers follow) The movie is a romance, primarily is an adventure story, and takes place primarily in Africa. Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is the main character and the focus is on his journey to...more
Jessie J
Before I start, let me just say that the general review for the book is, I think, more a description of the Hollywood movies.

Written at the turn of the 20th century, this novel of British Empire is not exactly run of the mill. I enjoyed the adventure of the tale, but was surprised by the insights into human nature that were given. It was not all "fight for honor, queen, and country" (although that was definitely a subtext) but also focused on human relationships, their successes, and their failu...more
Beth
Full disclosure: I was e stalking an actor who was in the movie version and found out there was a book. Also this is less of a review but more of a way to remind myself of what I thought of the book compared to the movie.

There are some big differences from the movie but the main plot is essentially the same. Jack got screwed in the movie, his role was so much less but I guess they tried to make up for it. In the book he got caught out in a sandstorm and went blind vs staring down an army riding...more
J
I just finished listening to this one (great reader, British accent) and I consider it a classic that should be compared to the likes of Dickens and Austen. Great epic story of Harry Feversham, newly engaged to beautiful Ethne Eustace and a soldier in the British army. But it's 1884 and when he receives a telegram that he's about to be shipped off to the Sudan, he makes a snap decision to give up his commission and pretend he never saw the telegram. This sets in motion the events that will shape...more
Sylvia
I love the basic story behind this book. I think you need to read this book with a 19th century perspective, otherwise it might drive you crazy. I had to keep telling myself that Ethne was really worth all the trouble that these two men went through for her sake. She seemed rather shallow and selfish to me. The rules were different in those days, honor and courage actually meant something. To us in modern times it may seem some what ridiculous. I admit it was fun to lose myself in a far away tim...more
Thayne Ence
As my first book finished in quite a while, I feel quite honored to have read this thrilling, yuppish story of courage. If you like the yuppie 80s (1880s) and the exciting thrills from conversations of war stories and exploring of new lands you will love this story.
Oblomov
Have you ever seen Michael Pallin's Ripping Yarn's series? Well this is the book he was taking off.

As previously noted, this book is not an action adventure, it is a book of manly men with stiff upper lips contemplating the actions that they have performed or that they have seen performed to regain lost honour and the woman who is the "prize" to be achieved at the end of the story.

In simplest term, Harry Feversham takes the opportunity to leave the service before his regiment is sent to war in...more
David Fulmer
Perhaps better known through its numerous cinematic versions, this novel has just the sort of mixture of romance and adventure that appealed so strongly to Hollywood at its most Hollywood.

After Harry Feversham, a young officer in the British army, resigns his commission when he’s tipped off that his regiment is being sent to Egypt where things are a bit dicey just then for the British empire, three of his comrades accuse him of cowardice by sending him white feathers and a fourth is added by his...more
Sarah
I didn't think that I would like this book as much as I did.

Honestly, The Four Feathers was incredible. I was just beginning to think that British literature was becoming dull and then I read this. Just when I think I got out, they pull me back in!

I found that this book isn't well known, and general summaries and information about the book are lacking on the internet, so I'll shake things up. This review will be more of an informational review than my own opinion (of course, I'll pepper my thou...more
Kristy
1) I LOVE the movie, and this book is nothing like the movie, but surprisingly I still LOVE the book. ;) The only things similar between book and movie are the names of the characters, the fact that Jack goes blind, and the part about Harry going to Trench in Omdurman prison. Other than that, everything is different...and yet it still works.
2) Reasons I love this book so much: It is beautifully written. I've seldom come across an author who has such a command over the Engligh language as A.E.W....more
Hilarie
was very excited to read this book. Of all the choices I made for my classics challenge for this year, I was certain that I would enjoy this novel the most. In this case, my expectations were not met, and although I did ultimately enjoy this book, it will never be a favorite.

The Four Feathers is the story of Harry Feversham, an English officer, who is descended from a long line of military heroes and expected to follow in their footsteps. One night, as a boy, Harry is present when his father an...more
Wayne S.
Harry Feversham, son of a British general during the Crimean War, is haunted by both his family’s remarkable history of service in the British army and the stories of cowardice that he had heard told as a boy during his father’s annual “Crimea Nights” reunions. Due to his fear of becoming a coward and staining his ancestors’ reputation, Harry resigns his commission in the East Surrey Regiment just prior to Sir Garnet Wolseley's 1882 expedition to Egypt to suppress the rising of Urabi Pasha. Yet...more
Gregory S.
I'd seen the 1939 movie a long time ago and enjoyed it. I recently saw the 2002 remake (there have been others) and enjoyed it as well, though not quite as much. So I decided to read the novel.

The novel and the films all address the same essential topic: How culture defines courage and honor--and how that shapes the lives of the people. Where the films focus almost exclusively on the protagonist, Harry Feversham, and his quest to regain his honor, the novel also examines how those qualities are...more
Zan
Gorgeous. I remember loving the 2002 film when it came out so decided to read this. I'm glad that it has been years and years since I've seen the movie since I was able to come at this piece with only the premise in mind: the rest was an empty canvass waiting for Mason's images and emotions.

Harry Feversham, Ethne Eustace, and Jack Durrance are characters that live within a code and structure of honor that I think is a bit lost on a modern audience. Not that we can't understand its core principl...more
Devon  Start
So here we have one of the rare cases where I will say the movie is way better than the book(heart of darkness is another) and there are like 5 different versions to choose from. Personaly I like the 1920 silent version and the 30s black and white versions the best, and in those the ending is different as is his relationship with his father..

the book was OK, it was obviously written when and where it was written so the dialogue and some of the techniques Mason uses are dated and seem unoriginal...more
Khristy
Where to start? I believe if I broke this book into sections & analyzed it, it would be closer to 3 stars, but dang it--I can't help it. This book makes me happy.
But in the interest of fairness, let's at least touch on each individual area.
Writing:
I enjoyed the writing. I love being swept into the heyday of the British Empire--a time when the sun truly never set on her holdings & when she with all her failings, had also much to recommend her. So, the writing is not modern, but it is ea...more
Elesa Hagberg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
For those of you who are expecting something as action packed as the movie starring Heath Ledger that bears the same name, you may want to brace for some disappointment in that respect. On the other hand, if you were intrigued by the characters and fascinated by the story and its conflicts, this book will far outstrip your expectations. Protagonists really aren't what they used to be. People are so cynical anymore that authors are afraid to make a stellar good guy for fear of ridicule. People do...more
BJW
Aug 19, 2010 BJW rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves romance and adventure
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vicky
I didn't feel like reading this one at all, I had never heard of it or of the author and neither has my other half, but two days ago I figured I would give it a try for 20 or 30 pages and see from there whether I wanted to keep on reading or not. It was good enough that I kept on reading but I did it knowing that it's a book I would never read again.

It is well written, it is very classical in it's form and it follows a "successful recipe"; dosing carefully the elements as to obtain an intrigue...more
Joanne
This 1902 book is interesting for all of its assumptions about what honor is. The premise is that a young British soldier resigns just as he receives his next assignment for battle -- because he's getting married. His colleagues, though, send him feathers as a sign of his cowardice, and his fiancee, when she hears his explanation of the feathers, also gives him a feather. So he leaves in disgrace and decides to 'redeem' each of the feathers by acting so bravely that the person who gave him the f...more
Curtiss
May 07, 2008 Curtiss rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
The classic story of a man who disgraces himself and sets out to remedy his lapse by making his four friends take back the white feathers of cowardice that each bestowed upon him as "tokens of their esteem".

The story is about Harry Feversham's decision to resign from his regiment on the eve of Kitchener's Sudan Campaign to defeat the Mahdi's army of dervishes and recapture Kartoom, and how his four best friends (including his fiance) each present him a white feather in rejection of his rationale...more
Eileen
Although this was well written and interesting (for the most part), I had a hard time getting through the whole thing. I think, for one thing, that the concept of honor in pre-WWI Britain just does not mesh with my current definition. There's a lot of "I cannot tell X; X can never know!" drama. People don't tell each other information that I'd consider critical, but not only do they remain silent, they do so out of honor. Although these episodes are well-intentioned, they're still strikingly dif...more
Melissa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
An excellent story about love, courage, and honor. After reading the novel you’ll realize how pitifully simple all the movies are, the only way you could do proper justice to the magnitude of the novel would be a first rate TV show. There are so many characters, so much background history, so many exploits and motivations, that the book is never boring. The characters will each evoke powerful emotions, and Mason really captures the full scope of the human mind. Harry Feversham is probably one o...more
msdanconia
It took me a while to start on this book, partly because the style of the book is so abruptly different than the 2002 movie, which I saw first. That said, I enjoyed both mediums equally, though in different ways. The execution of the message is different, and told from different points of view, but what the movie lacks in its ability to tell us a character's guarded motives, the book is able to explain and defend in detail. Ethne Eustace becomes a wholly more Victorian character in the book than...more
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217146
Alfred Edward Woodley Mason (7 May 1865 Dulwich, London - 22 November 1948 London) was a British author and politician. He is best remembered for his 1902 novel The Four Feathers.

He studied at Dulwich College and graduated from Trinity College, Oxford in 1888. He was a contemporary of fellow Liberal Anthony Hope, who went on to write the adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda.[citation needed]
His f...more
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“I think women gather up into themselves what they have been through much more than we (men) do. To them, what is past becomes a real part of them, as much a part of them as a limb; to us it's always something external, at the best the rung of a ladder, at the worst a weight on the heel.” 7 likes
“-Hay muchas cosas irrevocables- dijo Harry-, pero nunca se sabe si lo son o no, hasta que se ha averiguado. Y siempre vale la pena hacerlo.” 1 likes
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