I went through a monumental Alan Dean Foster phase as an early teenager, reading all of his books that the local B. Dalton booksellers had. Cachalot was picked up merely because he wrote it. Lucky me. In typically ADF style, he swiftly creates a wonderful new world, one that you would long to explore yourself: in this case, a beautiful pearl of a water world, a world that we gave to the sentient whale species that we almost destroyed on earth. Now, because we are humans and we tend to take back what we give, we've been exploring their world...and suddenly, humans seem to be getting attacked by whales! Unthinkable. Well, of course, the truth is far more complicated than that, and what a wonderful time we have getting to the end. Like Voyage to the City of the Dead, the end is very creative, a twist almost out of nowhere, and in this case, it is marvelous.
This is right up there with Nor Crystal Tears or the Tar-Aiym Krang for my favorite ADF books, and is one that I have returned to with pleasure 3-4 times, and which I have also shared with my wife. We both still enjoy it--not bad for a book I read as a 12 year old originally. Oh, and every time I go scuba or snorkelling, every time I'm on a boat in Hawaii or at an aquarium, I think about this book. Cachalot and Startide Rising by David Brin both kindled my love for the sea, whales, and dolphins. ALso, pretty good for a sci-fi book. Four stars for the book, 5 stars for all the lasting pleasure it has given me over the years.