A Review of Cauldron

Cauldron (The Academy, #6)Cauldron by Jack McDevitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cauldron was a pretty good book and a fairly satisfying ending to the Academy and Hutch six book series McDevitt created and wrote. A lot of the former characters make appearances again and that’s nice to see. A giant mystery is partially solved, so that’s good. But still, it’s not the best book I’ve read and thus, four stars and not five.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve read the entire series and know what to expect, but I felt as though a lot in this book was fairly predictable. New worlds are discovered. The crew goes down to a planet to explore ruins. A main character dies, which always happens in these books. They investigate a black hole. They spend a lot of time in space, bored and getting on each other’s nerves.

However, there are some differences as well. First, the Academy is no more. It’s been about, maybe, twenty years since the events in the last novel occurred and the government and the people are sick of space exploration and don’t want to fund it anymore. After all, nothing is ever found, for the most part. Why pour billions and billions of dollars into a losing effort? But there’s still a foundation in existence for space exploration. And a young scientist who was the protege of a deceased researcher who discovers a new space drive that provides for transportation at incredible speed. As in earth to Pluto in six seconds. Meanwhile, Hutch is retired, missing her dead husband and her kids who are off at college.

Rudy, the man in charge of this foundation, and Jon, the scientist, want to take this new space drive, after testing it, out into deep space where no one’s gone before. They have a pilot, Matt, a former Academy pilot who has been selling real estate for several years. But they want to take two ships and they need another pilot, so they talk Hutch into it. Sweet. Also, they take a journalist, Antonio, with them. And they decide to go to the galactic core, the Cauldron, in search of the origin of the Omega clouds seen in so many of these Academy books, which have been so very destructive. They want to find what’s behind the clouds, what the secret is. It’s a zillion light years from earth and they’re going to have to make several stops along the way and the travel will take a number of months.

As I wrote, things are fairly predictable. In fact, I got bored and thought I’d be giving this book three stars. Until I reached the last four or five chapters. The last section of the book, when they reached the Cauldron. And things changed. The ending was pretty cool. It was unexpected. It wasn’t totally satisfying, to be honest, but it was original and McDevitt tried to wrap things up while still leaving a bit of a mystery to the story, if that makes any sense. After the final scenes, there’s an epilogue telling what happened to the survivors, which is a strategy I don’t always like, but in this case, it seemed appropriate. All in all, it was a pretty good series, especially the first three books with Hutch as pilot. It went downhill when she went into administration. This book was an improvement over the previous two though. I’m sad it’s over. I’ve also been reading McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series. I have one remaining in that series too and when I’m done with that, I guess I’ll be done with McDevitt, which is sad, because I’ve really enjoyed reading his books. This book can probably be read as a stand alone novel, but I recommend reading the series in order, as you’ll have a better understanding of the overall plot. Recommended.

View all my reviews