The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Feather Men” as Want to Read:
The Feather Men
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Feather Men

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,112 ratings  ·  95 reviews
The Feather Men is the riveting story of the efforts by a private British vigilance committee to eliminate a band of coldblooded contract killers. From 1977 to 1990, three hired assassins known as the Clinic tracked down and murdered four former British soldiers, one at a time. Each of the assassinations was carried out in such an ingenious fashion that there would be no h ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Dell (first published September 30th 1991)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Feather Men, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Feather Men

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,112 ratings  ·  95 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Feather Men
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I became aware of the novel, THE FEATHER MEN by Ranulph Fiennes after watching the action movie version called Killer Elite. At the end of the movie, it was stated that this movie was based on the 1991 non-fiction true story historical novel by author Ranulph Fiennes. Having enjoyed the movie I decided to read the book.

The novel is well written and is about assassins and victims. It is about a group of contract assassins, The Clinic, who were hired by an Oman sheikh to carry out revenge killing
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book a slog to get through, and kept checking the percentage progress in the hopes of seeing it leap forward. I only persevered because it was part of a reading challenge so was determined to see it through. This was partly due to the writing style which I found flat and often uninteresting, and partly due to the fact that it didn't seem to know if it was a thriller or a non-fiction retelling of actual events.

It was written like a non-fiction work (every acronym or slightly unusual
Oct 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The military & those with strong stomachs
At first I struggled to get my bearings in this book. Once I’d grasped the plot, I surprised myself in realising that I had actually begun to rather enjoy it; that is if a reader, who in this situation is essentially a voyeur, can actually claim to be favorably interested in seedy sex, brutal violence and carefully calculated cold blooded killing. Not my usual fare, I must admit.

By three-quarters through there was no way that I could have laid this book down unfinished. But I continued to quest
I'm amazed this hasn't been made into a movie. What a suspenseful, complex, and compassionate real-life story this is, a gem of a book. For better or worse, I almost never read a book without finding out what it's about, but I do wish I hadn't read the foreword until I'd gotten into the story. Really, it seems misplaced at the beginning. It would have been enough to know "The Feather Men" chronicles the systematic murder by a team of technically savvy contract killers of several British SAS men ...more
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: military
This is allegedly a true-life account of a group of contract assassins (The Clinic) who were hired by an Omani shiekh to carry out revenge killings for the deaths of his four sons during Oman's civil war against Marxist rebels. The targets for assassination end up all being British SAS officers who were "seconded" to the Sultan's army during the war. Now supposedly there was a secret British vigilante organization (the "Feather Men") looking out for the health, welfare and families of former SAS ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
My dad recommended this book to me & said I would not be disappointed. It wasn't until I watched Killer Elite & found out the movie was based on this book that I decided to read it. My dad was right it was a excellent read & I wasn't disappointed. The only downside being I wish I read the book b4 I watched the movie. Strong 4 stars & hard to believe that it's based on True Events. ...more
Oct 05, 2017 added it
Shelves: new-in-2017
If it is as non-fiction as it claims to be, this book renders 007’s evil at the Grade school level, and even limits Le Carre to early post-secondary stuff. What Fiennes somehow manages to do is humanize everyone, even when there is no doubt which side he is on. And one of the “good guys” is D Hallett ... have to like that ...
Suzanne Auckerman
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Best book I have read in a long time and it is a true story, with a lot of it set in Oman, a country I have never thought very much about. However, Jo is arranging a trip to Oman in October that I have told her I would go on. I found this book in a NY Times book review section on mysteries and did not know it was about Oman, when I started to read it. The review said it was a bestseller in England for years. Interesting how things start to intersect.

I enjoyed this book. It is kind of scary to think that these people are out there. I really like how we got so much more back story than in the movie. I came to my own conclusion that I don't feel you can have a retribution killing for something that happens in a war or military encounter, especially when the person being hunted down and killed later wasn't even the aggressor. I also liked how the past and 'current' were blended easily to tell the story.
Claude Renaud
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a number of other readers, I came to this book via the movie, which was such a success that it caused the author and the publisher to change the book's title from the original (The Feather Men). And partly because of that no doubt, I approached it at first with misconception, as a kind of action thriller, a bit like a Jason Bourne story. And it certainly has a lot of that in it. But, again because of that, I was a bit disoriented at first, because the prelude, the initial chapters, were slo ...more
Karl Wiggins
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Killer Elite is definitely the best book I’ve read in the last 12 months

One of the overriding philosophies of the book Shantaram is that it is possible to do the ‘wrong’ thing for the ‘right’ reasons. And not only is it ‘possible’ but it is sometimes ‘necessary’ to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. The important thing is to be sure that the reasons are right, and that we admit the wrong, and that we don’t lie to ourselves.

Well in Killer Elite even Chairman Mao is quoted, “In given condit
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the underworld of hired killers, anyone who has seen Killer Elite
Recommended to Geoffrey by: met the author
The author, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has written an explosive account of a very experienced and efficient contract killer company, called The Clinic, headed by Daniel de Villiers. Eventually, it was hired by an Arab sheikh to avenge the deaths of his four sons. Such an action is known as a thraa'r, though seldom acted upon in the Arab world.
The sons of the sheikh had been military combatants in various efforts in Oman and as such were killed in military combat by British SAS (Special Air Services) m
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had heard of this book before I saw the film based on it but it was only after seeing the movie reently that I decided to read it. I had thought it would be a military history type of book and was surprised that it was a "fact or fiction" thriller/ actual event novel. I found it hard going at times because the pace even of the action scenes were a little flat. I realise that the author may have chosen to write it that way so that it comes across as more factual as with the details of driving r ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's a true story, but the way the author told the story made for a slowly paced narrative and even a bit confusing from time to time. Lots of detail was left in that didn't really need to be there. The story is intriguing - hired killers getting revenge for an Arab sheik by performing hits on the British SAS men who killed one or another of the sheik's 4 sons. It was even made into a movie - The Killer Elite - but that movie veered far away from this narrative. All in all a disappointment. ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the movie adaptation and as the book had a controversial history I was interested in reading it.

The book is quiet a good read. It is almost like two stories in one as equal time is invested in getting to know the main characters on both sides. Whether or not the story is fact, fiction, or somewhere in-between, it is an engaging story of two groups chasing each other over the years on the fringes of the law.
Steve Dempsey
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well structured book that is clearly more fiction than fact albeit some of the characters did/do exist. The building of the story is plausible and exciting but there does seem to be too many coincidences and weak reasoning towards the end which is reached quite abruptly
Colin Slider
been a bit slack the last month and have fallen behind in my reading. finally finished this and have to admit I enjoyed it. How much is real and how much is fictional I don't know
Craig Barraclough
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good read been meaning to read this for. a while.

Flows well with interesting middle eastern commentary
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bought in a charity shop for 50p, so good I read it twice. Amazing insight into a different world of surveillance, stealth and daring. Robert did not expect the ending. Brilliant
Tom Hahn
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing! Really scary, but I couldn't put it down ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Mike read: Hard to like the Feather Men themselves, but interesting historically.
Matt Gantry
Sep 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thriller / Special Forces Readers / anyone
I just re-read this real-life thriller (March 2008) to my girlfriend (and goodreads 'friend' lol) Yulia. We share several books this way and this one was truly like picking up an old friend. This book was widely read in Great Britain (Sir Ranulph Feinnes) homeland. As you may or may not know he's a nut-job "this'll be the death of me surely" adventurer who's been to both poles, attempted to scale Everest, competed in 7 straight marathons around the globe for charity and served Her Majesty as an ...more
Alleged true story of a secret unit within the British military operating above the law, and their clashes with a squad of hitmen hired by an Omani aristocrat to avenge his sons' deaths at the hand of the SAS in the Omani civil war. It's quite controversial in its home country, not in the least because not just the author but his main sources have changed their stories several times. There are also no hard evidence for such an unit's existence, and if there was there'd be quite a few political s ...more
Erik Willén
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Feather men by Ranulph Fiennes - also titled Killer Elite in a new publication - is a very well written book that are based on historic accounts, according to the author. The historic accounts throughout the book are most likely true - and I doubt any government will ever admit to any of them.

The story is about assassins, victims, and vigilantism. All three parts are very well presented. Personally I would have liked a more in depth on the characterization, however, given the nature of the
Brian Wade
First learned of this book from my brother & his fiance. Apparently this book was published and then quickly discontinued due to classified information it contained. (That's what I've been told.) As a result some earlier editions have increased in value and the book has become a rarity. Not sure how this works since the book has since been re-published under a different title, "Killer Elite". In any case, I came across this book at one of my favorite used book stores and picked it up at bargain ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of Sir Ranulph Fiennes books I have ever read. He has about 10 out. He is an excellent writer...and wrote this one more or less under pressure...with an 18 month timeline. This is a true story. My attention was brought to this book after we watched the movie "Killer Elite." The movie was based on this book. The book is about the murder for hire by Amr bin Issa, sheikh of the Bait Jarboat tribe in Dhofar. Three men work together (the mercenaries), called the Clinic. They are int ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2011, novels
This book is certainly well thought out and very well written indeed. The plot is rich and contains enough twists and turns to hold the readers attention. My only gripe is the controversy which has surrounded this book since its original publication 20 years ago. Mr. Fiennes "clever" manipulation of the reader regarding whether it is fiction or not adds absolutely diddly squat to their experience of the book and I can only put my cynical hat on and imagine that he is trying to coin it at the exp ...more
Sam B
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have rated this book 4 stars, but had to deduct one for an issue that is actually sadly rather indicative of culture as a whole, but blatantly manifested itself here. The book was moving along, everything fine, when the author felt compelled for whatever terrible reason to include a completely unnecessary, gratuitous sex scene (with several disturbing implications at that). Did this add anything to the story? Not in the slightest - it was a waste of pages and my time as a reader. And fur ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Didn't like this book at is written by ex-SAS contract killer, who actually killed people for money, and was about to be eliminated for his crime but was all along being protected by shadowy vigilante group. In the process of making inquiry about the authenticity of the id of the killer (the author), the vigilante group was alerted of who was after him. Basically, the shadowy vigilante group proposed to write the story themselves so the story is manipulated to their liking as they disco ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under Siege
  • Bravo Two Zero
  • Controlled Burn (the Philosophy of Ascension)
  • Memnoch the Devil (The Vampire Chronicles, #5)
  • Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win
  • Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith
  • Run to the Hills: Iron Maiden, the Authorized Biography
  • Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces
  • Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump
  • Welsh Waters: Shropshire Union, Llangollen, Brecon and Montgomery Canals (Pearson's Canal Companions)
  • Wonder Boys
  • Mastermind (Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood #1)
  • Playing the Moldovans at Tennis
  • A Mad World, My Masters: Tales from a Traveller's Life
  • Moondust: In Search Of The Men Who Fell To Earth
  • James Hunt: The Biography
  • Providence Compendium (Providence #1-12)
  • The Filth
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, OBE, better known as Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes, is a British adventurer and holder of several endurance records.

Fiennes has written books about his army service and his expeditions as well as a book defending Robert Falcon Scott from modern revisionists. In May 2009, aged 65, he climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. According to the Guinness Book o

News & Interviews

When it comes to writing, Jocelyn Johnson is about that life.    The Virginia native—born, bred, and wed—has had aspirations of being a...
18 likes · 2 comments
“People should be treated the same and, if black or brown, they should neither be penalized nor rewarded. Positive discrimination is counterproductive.” 3 likes
More quotes…