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The Shepherd (1996)

The Shepherd (1996)

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3.79 of 5 Votes: 3
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0099642514 (ISBN13: 9780099642510)

About book The Shepherd (1996)

It's Christmas Eve, 1957, and a 20 year old pilot has just climbed into the cockpit of his Vampire jet fighter, taking off from an RAF air base in Germany to return to England and home in time for Christmas day.But ten minutes after taking off, over the North Sea, the pilot runs into his first bit of trouble - the jet's compass is not longer working. Before long, the jet suffers a complete electrical failure and the young pilot needs to call up every bit of emergency information he had received while still in training. Before long, the pilot is completely lost in the fog over the North Sea and beginning to run out of fuel. Bailing out isn't an option - the fighter jet just isn't made for that and it would most likely mean instant death. Not far from the Norfolk coast, he decides to use a last resort technique - flying triangles in the hope that the odd behavior would be noticed and bring out a rescue plane that could bring the Vampire down safely. The triangular pattern works, and suddenly, a pilot in an old World War II de Havilland Mosquito fighter with the initials JK on the side is signaling that he understands the problem and will shepherd the Vampire to safety. Shepherding is when the rescue aircraft flies wing-tip to wing-tip with the disabled plane. The Mosquito shepherds the Vampire slowly into the descent. By now, the Vampire had pretty much run out of fuel. Suddenly, "without warning, the shepherd pointed a single forefinger at me, then forward through the windscreen. It meant, 'There you are, fly on and land.'" At first, the pilot sees nothing. Then, the blur of two parallel lines of lights become visible in the fog. The pilot is able to safely land his Vampire.After being rescued and brought back to RAF Station Minton, now just a supply depot run by the elderly WWII Flight Lieutenant Marks, things begin to get odd. To begin with, Marks can't imagine how the young pilot found his way to the runway on this now preactically deserted base that had been a thriving hub of RAF pilots and planes during WWII. And, the young pilot doesn't seem to be able to find anyone who knows anything about the pilot in the mosquito who had shepherded him to safety. The whole story begins to become more and more sinister until the young pilot notices an old WWII picture in a room and recognizes the pilot in it standing by his Mosquito with the same JK initials. But, who is the mysterious shepherd who brought a young pilot to safety on Christmas Eve 1957? All through the novella, the young pilot provides himself with the rational explanations of how and why everything he experiences happens. And most of the explanations are fine. That is, until he comes to the part about the shepherd, where all rational explanation fails, giving the story its surprise ending.The Shepherd is a short, 144 page novella written in 1975 by Frederick Forsyth, author of novels like The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File. It is said he wrote The Shepherd for Christmas as a present for his wife. This tightly written illustrated story is perfect for Christmas Eve, with its message of hope. Every year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts a reading of The Shepherd by Alan Maitland on CBC Radio One. Maitland passed away in 1999, but recordings of him reading The Shepherd are available on YouTubeThis book is recommended for readers age 14+This book was purchased for my personal libraryThis review was originally posted on The Children's War

There's nothing like a really scary ghost story. And this is nothing like a really scary ghost story. It is, however, a delightful, gentle story about a pilot trying to get home on Christmas Eve. He's lost, his instruments are down and he's lost wireless contact with the airfield. It's a story well told although the discovery (spoiler alert) that the pilot and plane which guides him down is a ghost is dragged out far too long. At first, I forgave Mr Forsyth as it was obviously written in the late 1940s. But then I noticed it was written in 1975. Oh well. Ghost stories are best when they are subtle and this certainly ain't subtle. But that said, it's a delightful read and one you'll want to visit over and over again.

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A terrific and classic Christmas story. The British have always associated ghosts with Christmas. Not a combination you think would work, but it does. I first read this slim little novella back in Christmas 1981. Like many of the other reviewers here I re-read it every Christmas. It's never gotten old. The story remains suspenseful and the artwork goes well with the story.Essentially it's a suspenseful story about a young R.A.F. pilot trying to make it home to England from Germany on Christmas Eve 1957. Like so many of these stories he almost doesn't make it, but he does (in the end) and in the process learns a little bit about himself, life and the specialness of Christmas. Good story.

—De Havilland VampireThe 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 contacting airforce personnel on the ground. The single seat Vampire could not be fitted with an ejector seat, making it almost impossible to bail out of. The pilot is frightened and devastated. "As the fighter slipped toward Norfolk the sense of loneliness gripped me tighter and tighter. All those things that had seemed so beautiful as I climbed away from the airfield now seemed my worst enemies. The stars were no longer impressive in their brilliance; I thought of their hostility, sparking away there in the timeless, lost infinities of endless space. The night sky, its stratospheric temperature fixed, night and day alike, at an unchanging fifty-six degrees below zero, became in my mind a limitless prison creaking with cold. Below me lay the worst of them all, the heavy brutality of the North Sea, waiting to swallow me and my plane and bury us for endless eternity in a liquid black crypt where nothing moved nor would ever move again. And no one would ever know." During his intensive training, the young pilot had learned that should he ever lose his radio and be unable to transmit his emergency, he should try to attract the attention of RAF radar scanners by adopting a triangle manoeuvre. This involved moving out to sea, then flying in small triangles, turning left, left, and left again, with each leg of the triangle being of a duration of two minutes' flying time. This manoeuvre should allow the air-traffic controller to spot the distressed aircraft and divert another aircraft to find it and bring it in. The rescue aircraft was called the Shepherd.The pilot did two turns of the triangle manoeuvre and waited. Nothing happened. Nobody came. Distraught at this point, all sorts of things go through his mind.He tries doing the last left turn, and again waits. By this time he has just 5 minutes of fuel left. He prepares himself for death. "It's a bad thing, a sad thing, to die at twenty years of age, with your life unlived, and the worst thing of all is not the fact of dying but the fact of all the things never done."Then suddenly, to his right, he notices something. It's a De Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber of World War II vintage. It worked! His shepherd has arrived. The young pilot is led back to a safe landing. But, who is the mysterious shepherd who brought this young pilot to safety on Christmas Eve 1957? All rational explanation fails, giving the story its surprise ending.The Shepherd is a short, 144 page novella written in 1975 by Frederick Forsyth, author of novels like The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File. It is said he wrote The Shepherd for Christmas as a present for his wife. Every year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts a reading of The Shepherd by Alan Maitland. Maitland passed away in 1999, but recordings of him reading The Shepherd are available, like this 32 minute reading on You Tube. is a short, pleasant read / listen.3.5* / 5

This was a short book. I quite like short books, I seem to have a problem drifting off into my own imagination when I'm reading. So short books are a nice little way of keeping me occupied.A lonely pilot, returning to England from an RAF base in Germany is lost somewhere over the North Sea. All hope seems to be lost and he has resigned himself to an unfortunate fate. All of a sudden, a mysterious plane appears out of nowhere to guide him home. Who and what this gentle specter is, I'll have to let you read to find out.I found this story to be nicely written. There is some technicality to the text, but nothing that I would consider alienating for the audience if they were to know the inners and outters and inbetweeners of flying. The idea focuses more, I'd say, on the a realistic romanticism of flying in the 50's when technology was improving but still fairly Luddite. A pilot relied on the jet engine behind him but there was no radar to guide him, only his eyesight and analogue systems. It must have been thrilling and scary to fly at night in those days.The monochrome illustrious are dramatic and haunting and compliment the writing immensely. Their detail is a nice little touch for the reader. As the story progresses, so does the distancing loneliness of the cockpit as well as the tragedy which faced these chaps on a daily/nightly basis.This is a haunting read and something I would enjoy again and again.

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