What is Andrew Doran and the Mountains of Madness?
Dr. Andrew Doran is back! Narrowly saving the world from the cosmic advance of the Nazi armies, Andrew Doran is loathing with his new position as dean of Miskatonic University. The duties of a dean are too slow for the lifestyle that Andrew had become accustomed to … but he doesn’t have to wait long until he finds that the previous dean had sold documents to the Nazis direct from the library of Miskatonic University. Specifically, the documentation of a fateful voyage by Dr. William Dyer to the Antarctic and the horrors he faced there.Knowing that the German army won’t hesitate to travel to the Antarctic and seize the alien weaponry that is held there, Andrew and his faithful companion, Leo, embark on an adventure to find the missing Dr. Dyer and beat the Nazis to the lost city in the frozen wasteland at the end of the world.To make matters worse, Andrew is battling his own demons in the form of the physical manifestation of his own insanity. Can Andrew find the missing William Dyer and beat the Nazi menace to the cache of weapons before his insanity literally consumes him?
I’m a big fan of Matthew Davenport’s Cthulhu Mythos novels. I really enjoyed THE TRIAL OF OBED MARSH and thought THE STATEMENT OF ANDREW DORAN was a lot of fun. However, I was interested in where the story could go after the events of the first novel. It’s not often an author combines Indiana Jones, the Cthulhu Mythos, and Titus Crow. Where do you go from there? Well, nicely, the answer is Antarctica to prevent the Nazis and some nasty cultists from raising an army of shoggoths to destroy everything.
This is definitely not your typical H.P. Lovecraft story but a Pulpy adventure story about a two-fisted archaeologist with magic at his disposal. It takes our hero and his posse from Miskatonic University to the Western United States to the Dreamlands to the ruins of the Elder Things. I never had the slightest doubt Andrew Doran would be able to save the day but I didn’t need to in order to have a great deal of fun. There’s a lot of great moments in the book like Andrew’s decision to excise his magically-created split personality, recruiting his machine-gun toting Girl Friday Nancy, and Andrew Doran proving he’s more morally ambiguous than Indiana Jones with several Faustian deals.
In the end, though, Andrew is trying to keep the Nazis from UNLIMITED POWER so anything he does is justified. I confess, I hope Matthew Davenport does another of these novels as I’m quite eager to see how Andrew will deal with the last days of the war and the communists. Hopefully, Matthew Davenport can do better than Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.
Andrew Doran is a great protagonist even if he’s a bit too smug and self-assured about his ability to do everything correctly (except Miskatonic University paperwork). One of the funniest scenes in the book is proclaiming that he’s going to keep cultist, Nazi, and other infiltrators from joining their staff as they’ve done before. Then he sees the two hundred and fifty applications he has to go through in a day and realizes he can’t be a globe trotting adventurer as well as make the vetting calls he’d need to do it. It’s a small but hilarious moment.
I wasn’t a big fan of how the previous book treated Olivia, who was the most interesting female character in the series. I’m not a big fan of how her story ends in this book either. However, I am interested in newcomer Nancy who takes up the role as Andrew Doran’s gun-toting Girl Friday. Their relationship is strictly platonic and I appreciate Matthew Davenport didn’t create a romance when Andrew Doran’s true love is, presently, himself.
If there’s one small complaint I had about the book, it’s the fact I didn’t like how starkly Black and White everything was. I’m very sympathetic to the shoggoths since they rebelled against their slave masters. Likewise, I can’t imagine the Nazis being too fond of Cthulhu cultists (who are multi-racial individuals who reject any notion of a Master Race other than ones with gills). It seems the Bad GuysTM are a little too chummy for what would be, in my opinion, irreconcilable differences.
Despite this, I have to give the book two thumbs up and recommend it to people who want a nice WW2 adventure story involving tentacle monsters. There’s nothing quite so pulpy as a globe trotting trip around the world to fight the Third Reich as they seek to harness the power of the Elder Things. The fact shoggoths are considered to be the ultimate weapon which could wipe out the rest of the world also reminded me of SHOGGOTHS IN BLOOM by Elizabeth Bear where the protagonists debate unleashing them on the Nazis in a bit of an ironic reversal.