The Armageddon Rag

George R. R. Martin
The Armageddon Rag Cover

The Armageddon Rag


The Armageddon Rag may very well be one of the weirdest books I've ever read. And not the good, China Mieville kind of weird.

When a millionaire rock music promoter is murdered in a vicious, bizarre manner in his house, ex-hippie and journalist Sandy Blair finds himself delving deeper and deeper into the mystery. It's a mystery that leads him to newly-reformed Nazghul, one of the most influential rock bands of the sixties, who in addition to having a new lead singer to replace the one that was assassinated, have a new flavour of music that's absolutely demonic.

This book reads like George R. R. Martin tried to capture the spirit of the 60s. Having very little interest in that time period as pertaining to American culture, in addition to minor fact that my mother wasn't even born until the latter half, means I'm in no way able to say whether he does this or not. He certainly does a decent job of creating a unique atmosphere for his tale, whatever that counts for.

As I mentioned, I found the book to be weird. As Sandy investigates the murder, he slowly finds himself confronted more and more with memories and remnants of the 60s, the chaos, the drugs, the borderline sense of anarchy. And at its helm, as if they were the 60s personified, was the Nazghul. Why do I find this weird? There were some pretty wacky parts. Like one where Sandy's in a building and he can see the ghosts of events in the 60s happen. And then there's the hippie reservation.

But at the center of it all is a clear thread; with the impending return of the Nazghuls, it's all coming back. The excitement, the freedom, the chaos. The mystery leads Sandy to an equally wacky end, where the apocalypse is about to begin, the Nazghul are the harbingers, and the Armageddon Rag is the tune that will signal the end.

On hindsight, I can't say I enjoyed it, but I didn't hate it either, and it is a great tale of the inspirational power of rock. There was some interesting supernatural twists at the end I just didn't see coming from given the nature of the entire book, and it just exacerbated what I already felt; this is a really wacky novel.

All in all, it's George R. R. Martin's tribute to the 60s and the emotions of people who've lived through those times. It's as absorbingly written as you would expect, but overall it's a book that just plain didn't do it for me. Combined with an out-of-the-blue ending that left me with a sense of relief at finally learning whodunit which meant that the book was nearly over, I'd have to say it wasn't one of my more fun reads.