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The Shepherd

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,918 ratings  ·  215 reviews
A fighter pilot faces death. Lost in the black murk of night fog with no radio, no compass, and low fuel, he believes he's finished. He knows that soon his jet will slam into freezing waves and sink life a stone. But somehow he also knows that there's another plane out there--a plane that played through this same scenario years earlier and crashed. Unabridged.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 4th 1996 by Arrow (first published November 1975)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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De Havilland Vampire

The Shepherd is a novella about a 20 year old pilot who, on Christmas Eve 1957, set out from Lower Saxony, Germany to Blighty, UK to celebrate christmas with his family. Flying a De Havilland Vampire, a British jet fighter, he knew the flight time would take 66 minutes. After being airborne for 43 minutes, while out over the North Sea in the darkness of night, his plane suffers an electrical failure, taking out his compass and ten-channel radio set. The pilot has no way of c
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, fiction
A powerful,haunting story which stayed in memory for a long time.

A British pilot finds his aircraft malfunctioning during World War II. Will it crash or will someone or something steer him back to safety despite his dire predicament ?

It is a very good description of fighter flying but the ending is unforgettable. To reveal that would be a spoiler but it gave me goosebumps.
Having never read Forsyth before (an author associated with the kind of best-selling thrillers that are translated onscreen into high octane testosterone-driven Hollywood movies raking in the buck), I hit the 'request' button for this quite impulsively on Netgalley (and partly out of curiosity I believe).

Aaaaaand it has turned out to be exactly what the blurb advertises. Another obligatory tale of a Christmas miracle in which a young English pilot's life is saved by the ghost of a World War 2 b
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I initially heard the CBC Radio broadcast of this story for Christmas 2012 read by the late Alan Maitland. It is a beautifully written story about a pilot who is lost in a terrible fog on Christmas Eve. His instruments fail him, and his fuel is running low. He is certain he will die until a mysterious second pilot arrives to shepherd him back to safety. It’s a beautifully written story that truly comes to life. A story does not have to be long to have special meaning and a warm yet mysterious en ...more
Shabbeer Hassan
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Started off as the last book for 2019, it became the first one for 2020 and what an amazing one it was! A masterfully written thriller which some modern authors can take notes from. Oh, and the radio adaptation featuring Alan Maitland as the narrator is top-notch too.

My Rating - 4/5
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
A novella by Forsyth which is a quick read and much unlike his other works.

There are sketches included as well. Read this if you get your hands on it. It won't take much of your time and the story is simple enough.
Ian G
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the best short stories of my younger years; While not strictly YA I would have no hesitation recommending it to those readers.

A pilot heading home to England on Christmas Eve in the 1950's suffers instrument and radio failure over the English channel. Alone and in the dark, he's waiting for his fuel to run out when he sees the Shepard.

Forsyth creates a gripping tale with an unembroidered, absolutely convincing prose style that will likely have you finishing it in one sitting. A former
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
After leaving two books after just a couple of chapters yesterday (Dev Lok and 1984), my rhythm of reading was severely disturbed, so the best solution was to go back to one of my favourite Authors.
There is a reason that Frederick Forsyth is regarded as one of the world's best thriller writers. I was quite sure that I had read all his novels, but then realised there was this 120 page short story that I had somehow missed (it's a standalone novel itself published first in 1975).
Don't let the nam
Charles  van Buren
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An aviation classic

By Charles van Buren on December 30, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Many of the negative reviews of this novella are from people who claim that the book description did not state that this is a "short story.". I checked the Amazon descriptions for the e-book and the hard copies. All descriptions list the book as having either 123 or 129 pages. Others seriously complain that the book is not worth the price because it is short. Personally, I do not buy my literature
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I, too, read this every Christmas season - and think of it often throughout the year. I've always read (and re-read) the condensed version that appeared in Reader's Digest so many years ago, torn from that old magazine and treasured in my files. But just this month I finally got busy and located and purchased a used copy of the book. Now I will treasure the book as well as the old, dog-eared pages from RD. The first time I read it, I wasn't paying attention and thought it was a true story, but s ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, spy-fiction-etc
My other half found this in a second hand book shop. Having never read anything by Frederick Forsyth i thought i'd read it as it was short and an easy addition to my reading challenge.

OK, so he wrote it after his wife requested a ghost story. A nice gesture on his behalf but it didn't mean he had to release it. It's a fairly weak story with a predictable conclusion. I won't judge the author based on this.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What to do when suffering an electronic instrument panel malfunction at thirty thousand feet and swirling fog. This is a fast paced and atmospheric short story that evokes the challenges facing a fighter pilot as he encounters a thick bank of fog and loss of visibility, simultaneously with the loss of his instruments : altimeter, compass and fuel gauge. Death looms large as he realises a World War Two Mosquito is flying alongside, wing tip to wing tip. A memorable tale.
Alex Brightsmith
I stumbled across a Frederick Forsyth interview on TV one day (it was about gravel pits encroaching on his Bedfordshire village) and thought, if the man speaks like this he has to be worth reading. Then I discovered the average length of a Forsyth novel, and wavered a bit.
Then I discovered The Shepherd. It's a gem of a tale, beautifully told, nicely revealed, and short enough that there's not much more I can say about it without giving something away.
If you don't want to start on a Forsyth doors
Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a short simple story, following a pilot on his way home for Christmas and the misfortune he faces.

As you would expect from a novel this short (look at the number of pages then add in the fact that there are sketches as well and you can truly begin to understand just how short the story really is) events progress at quite a speed, keeping you interested from start to end. There isn’t all that much depth but it easy conveys the feelings you would expect from this kind of work.

As something
Andrew Ives
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
At only 120 pages, many of which are filled with rather moody (charcoal?) drawings of the aircraft featured, The Shepherd makes for a brisk read. A simple story of a Vampire pilot lost over the North Sea at Xmas, with a 'shepherd' aircraft to guide him home, this is very well-written as one might expect from Forsyth, engrossing and rather moody, lonely and seasonal too, but just lacked that little extra plot twist it needed to make it really enjoyable. 4/5
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Re-read almost every year since 1976. One of my favorites to read at Christmas time.
This is an intensely dramatic and wonderfully told short story about a young Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter pilot's struggle to make it home to the UK from West Germany in his DeHavilland Vampire jet fighter on the night of Christmas Eve 1957. Frederick Forsyth - one of my favorite writers - was himself at 20 the youngest fighter pilot in the RAF little more than 60 years ago - and his evocation of the sensation and perils of flight in a sleek and swift, single-engine jet fighter, puts the reader ...more
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent Christmas story from a master.
Graeme Bell
Very good. BTW Not read as a book. Heard s a radio play on YouTube.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great little book with a supernatural twist. An Airforce pilot gets into trouble flying home and has no way of surviving when out of the blue, a 'shepherd' appears to guide him home. Only all is not what it appears which the young pilot finds out to his amazement when he lands. A wonderful quick read. Highly recommended.
Chels Patterson
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A classic Christmas read! It’s perfect in every way!
Sandeep Kashyap
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very meticulously constructed short story from the master of the political thrillers. As I started this book and barely in to few initial pages, I started getting to know lot of concepts and nuances of handling and maneuvering a fight jet. As always is the case with Frederick's novels, it's filled with grandiose narrations of everything that features in the novel. Treat to your brain are the elaborate explanations about the winter conditions of the North Sea and it's adjoining areas.

Since the
Jim Puskas
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novelette, fairly well known and often read as a Christmas story, is quite different from any of the rest of Forsyth's novels. It harkens back to an earlier setting and it also represents a style of writing that Forsyth left far behind when he embarked upon his famous novels of spycraft and terrorism. The story could very well have been written by Nevil Shute; it bears all the hallmarks of that great writer of an earlier day. An engaging little piece of work, very well worth the hour or so ...more
William Richardson
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was amazing the 1st time I read it and it's been amazing every time since. My favorite Christmas book. Always sends goosebumps my way. It made me believe that there are paranormal happenings. I am a believer in ghost. I'm a sentimental person, this book from the 1st time I read it to every time I read it makes me cry and not ashamed to admit it. If you have never read it please do I read it every Christmas, for it keeps with the "spirit" of Christmas.
Another read of this great amazing book. O
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A quick read, only 123 pages with many full-page illustrations. A compelling and haunting story about a young RAF pilot on Christmas Eve in 1957 who is trying to navigate his way at night from Germany to England. Usually not a problem, but the airplane's radio and compass stopped working mid-flight. He's running out of fuel and the clouds have rolled in. How will he survive? Will he land safely or crash into the North Sea?

Highly recommended to anyone who loves flying.
William Bradford
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
A great short Christmas ghost story a little reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone". You basically know the story a few pages in, but Forsyth does a great job fleshing out the details (he was an ex-RAF pilot and has a lot of detail - although there are a couple of internal discrepancies), and the illustrations really help. A nice way to remind readers that miracles happen in unexpected places.
Erik Graff
Sep 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Forsyth fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
One chilly spring evening up at the Michigan cabin, having nothing to read, I found this on the shelf, probably left by some previous guest. A novella, it was just the right length to fill the time before bed in front of the fireplace. It may also be Forsyth's only occult story.
Will Macmillan Jones
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a ghost story. It's a flying story. Forsyth, at this stage of his career, is in great storytelling mode. There's nothing about this story to dislike. Sparse, evocative and full of atmosphere. Recommended.
Hugh Evans
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
As an aero engineer I enjoyed this book. It's short, simple poignant.
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Play Book Tag: The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth - 1 star 1 9 Nov 26, 2018 10:24AM  

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Frederick Forsyth, CBE is an English author and occasional political commentator. He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil's Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan, and recently The Cobra and The Kill List.

The son of a furrier, he was born in Ashford, Kent, educated at Tonbridge Scho

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