Devil's Cauldron

Published Date

August 2012

Devil's Cauldron

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

A tired ship and a tired crew, trapped in the Congo in the biggest war in Africa. No one to help, nowhere to go except to break out to the sea. But to do this they have to get through one of the most treacherous passages of any river in the world, while fighting their way through the combined enemy armies that are intent on stopping them at all costs.




With the British Merchant Navy in a state of collapse, the few remaining British crews are sinking into despair as their Red Ensigns are hauled down and replaced with ensigns of a bewildering array of nations. For many, this signals redundancy and the end of a life at sea.

This is the story of one such ship and one such crew. They are a long way from home, overdue their leave, battling breakdowns, and trapped in the Congo River during the largest war in Africa. The rebel armies are closing in on the port and the ship and, to make things worse, refugees look to the ship as their only hope. They must risk everything to escape to safety, breaking through the rebel army and then through the Devil’s Cauldron, a dangerous maelstrom of currents and rocks, and then on to the sea.

It is a story of ordinary seafarers caught up in events beyond their control and who discover the resolve and strength to continue their increasingly desperate attempts to get their ship through against the odds.

Title: Devil's Cauldron
Number of Pages: 268
Product Code: WS1371K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-556-3 (9781856095563), ISBN 10: 1-85609-556-8 (1856095568)
Published Date: August 2012
Binding Format: Paperback
Book Height: 180 mm
Book Width: 110 mm
Book Spine: 20 mm
Weight: 0.41 kg

Customer Reviews

Captain Michael Lloyd once again proved that in addition to being a unique Captain, he is also a promising writer. Review by Nikolaos Chalaris
Captain Michael Lloyd once again proved that in addition to being a unique Captain, he is also a promising writer.
The book is not just an adventure story, its not a fiction story, most importantly it is a modern story of our days. Being a captain and a maritime writer myself I can only say that Captain Lloyd has done a spectacular job.
Technically, he is accurate and reliable, the nautical part of the book is accurate and at the same time amazing, since such a sequence of events is breathtaking and not an everyday routine. As a writer he balances on an equilibrium of action, romance, and adventure, mixed properly but carefully.
The result is a fantastic book that will facinate the reader who is thirsty for a pure sea novel. Especially as it is a modern - nowadays - story, that is so close to our times, it is a more interesting theme to be absorbed by.
I read it non stop and could not put it down. (Posted on 08/02/2013)
The book tells the story of the crew of a multi-purpose support vessel 100 miles up the Congo River who become dragged into events as rebel forces advance on the port of Matadi. Review by Nautilus Telegraph
There is a long tradition of merchant seafarers falling victim to global conflicts – the Gulf ‘tanker war’ of the 1980s being just one example – and the scenario of crew members being caught up in events far beyond their control is the starting point for this rip-roaring novel by former NUMAST Council member Mike Lloyd.
Set against the backdrop of the real-life tragedy known as the First Congo War – a bitterly-fought revolution in Zaire in 1997 – the book tells the story of the crew of a multi-purpose support vessel 100 miles up the Congo River who become dragged into events as rebel forces advance on the port of Matadi.
Short of spares, accused of stealing weapons from UN peace-keeping forces, and carrying desperate refugees from the fighting, the seafarers enter into a frantic race to escape after the collapse of the government – not only having to get past the fighting factions but also having to navigate the Devil’s Cauldron, a treacherous stretch of water with whirlpools and shifting sandbanks normally navigable only in daylight hours. It’s a gripping tale, made all the more suspenseful by the knowledge that it was set against actual events. There is also a strong sense of realism in the descriptions of trying to coax an ageing breakdown-prone vessel into action and to navigate it through the testing waters of the Congo.
Plausibility may be a bit stretched by the way in which the ship – flagged with ‘some banana republic’ – is crewed by British seafarers from top to bottom, including a cadet. However, Mike Lloyd does well to capture the prevailing sense of unease that flows from the time in which the book is set and the fear that the end of the charter means the end of one’s employment.
The cast of characters – including a transvestite steward, a cook of indeterminate age, a chief mate with a bit of a drink problem and the seemingly obligatory ‘love interest’ – may verge towards the stereotypical at times, but Mike Lloyd manages to give them all some depth and there is a poignant twist or two as the book reaches its closing stages.
Witherby Publishing has presented the book nicely and for a very good price. This is Captain Lloyd’s first novel, although he has written a number of handbooks for shipmasters and officers, and the book strikes a good balance in describing the technical aspects of ship handling and operation, and in conveying the reality of life at sea, without sacrificing readability.
After its scene-setting opening chapters, the narrative gathers pace and rattles towards a dramatic conclusion which includes the following lines: ‘Sailors’ lives are generally not tidy; they tend to be like torn tapestries that hold their stories but the whispers of threads untied, for their life at sea and their life ashore are separate. They meet, they sail, they part, only to re-emerge on another ship with other shipmates. One day they leave and are forgotten by the ships they’ve sailed on, scattering to the corners of the world which they found pleasant and they settle there, usually close to the sea which they will always belong’.
(Posted on 08/02/2013)
The theme is a mixture of high adventure on a nautical theme and is very realistic, Review by Captain Martin
For a first book, this author looks very promising. The theme is a mixture of high adventure on a nautical theme and is very realistic, just a touch of romance as well! (Posted on 22/08/2012)
A Real Page Turner! Review by Merlin
Whilst this is this the first fictional novel for this author he is well published for his technical novels on various aspects of pursuing a career at sea in the modern world of seamanship. It is easy to see how his style has transferred from the technical novels to a work of fiction, as, even in his technical novels, especially 'In Command'In Command: 200 Things I Wish I'd Know Before I Was Captain his writing style allows the casual reader to be engaged without having to have any real knowledge of life on the ocean.

Back to 'The Devil's Cauldron', the author appears to have struck the right balance between character development, technical knowledge and story development to ensure a cracking good read. I would think that those with knowledge of life at sea will be satisfied with the level of accuracy used in describing various technicalities of the ships operation, without turning of the casual reader by being too technical.

Story development move at just the right pace ensuring that you keep turning the page to see what happens next.

Finally, character development, the characters are well developed to a point that you really care about what happens to them, obviously the author has pulled on his long history at sea, to give flesh to these characters, which in turn makes them feel real, as in real life, their flaws, idiosyncrasies and failings are well described and only add to the sense that you really understand their various characters. There is the ubiquitous love interest, however, and I must admit to not being a fan of these in novels, it is handled in a very real way, and, surprisingly to me, only added to what is a most admirable first novel.

This is one of those books that you read, and think, this could make a very good film, and even imagine the actors who will play 'Harry' etcetera!

I highly recommend this book! (Posted on 22/08/2012)
very difficult to put down Review by Gary Dickinson
I read the book twice and found it a brilliant mix of fact and fiction and very difficult to put down. It gives the reader insight into shipboard life without detracting from the imaginatively plotted story in any way. It culminates in a final battle and escape out to sea and ends with a touching description of the burial at sea of Willie, the ship's cook. I hope there will be more to follow in another book as I'd like to meet these characters again. (Posted on 22/08/2012)
10 20 50

Bought this product? Why not review it?

If you have a question about this product, please contact us directly.